Sunday, January 21, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Friend's behavior changes a lot when her boyfriend is around

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Q: My friend Z has been dating a guy, S, for a year. The guy doesn't seem to like our group of friends and shows it by being very sullen and withdrawn when we're all together.

S also won't show a preference for where we go to dinner, what movie we see, etc., but then he's annoyed with whatever the decision is. And when S isn't happy, Z jumps to fix it somehow. They also bicker constantly about very minor things.

Z is the only unmarried one in our group, and I'm worried she's investing a lot into this relationship because she so badly wants to get married and have kids; she seems to think she's out of time and has to make this work, to the point where she has said firmly that she would marry him if he proposed. Is there any way I can approach her with my concerns that won't put her on the defensive? I'm just really worried about how her behavior changes when he's around.

Friend

Carolyn: When S expresses annoyance, you respond to him directly. (This column covers ways to do that: http://wapo.st/W4D8Mi.)

When you notice clear behavior changes in Z, you respond to her directly: "I worry about how your behavior has changed — you just did (latest clear example here), where I've never known you to do that." Do not, do not attack S directly, since that will only force her to defend him as a roundabout way of defending herself and her choices. You don't want her invested in proving you wrong.

Everything else you mention, you need not to touch with a 10-foot pole. The idea that she's desperate to join your married-people club is an offensive line of reasoning to pursue, one almost guaranteed to put her on the defensive, even if you happen to be right in this case.

There's also hubris to it because it assumes the paired-off are (a) better off than the unpaired and (b) shall always remain so. It's so much more complicated than that, as you surely already know, so bring that awareness to the conversation with your friend and leave the oversimplified conclusions out of it.

Anonymous: Please say SOMETHING to her about how her behavior changes when she's around him. I dated a guy like this. By about the six-month mark, I noticed problems, and my friends kept telling me how much he cared for me and how great he was, etc. Of course now that we've broken up (quite painfully), they all tell me how they did notice but didn't want to say anything because they thought it wasn't their place to.

Carolyn: Eesh. I can see not saying something, though I don't entirely agree; behavior changes are serious and should be noted, respectfully, once.

But it sounds as if your friends actively lied to you, either before — in telling you he was great — or after — in insisting they noticed problems. What's that about?

Anonymous 2: I think it's important to state you are not looking for a defense. The friend is an adult and doesn't need to justify anything. You just wanted to point out your concerns.

Carolyn: Love this, thanks.

Comments
2018 Children’s Gasparilla Parade: Guide and insider tips

2018 Children’s Gasparilla Parade: Guide and insider tips

On Saturday, the kids get first crack at the booty from the pirates at the Children’s Gasparilla Extravaganza, the annual alcohol-free party on Bayshore Boulevard. To kick off the season of Jose Gaspar, the fictitious marauder whose legend has...
Published: 01/18/18
You can buy the balls from Amalieís Beach Tampa exhibit at auction

You can buy the balls from Amalieís Beach Tampa exhibit at auction

More than 100,000 people showed up at Amalie Arena in 2016 to frolic in a huge ball pit. It was a sea of 1.2 million white orbs so vast that grown men could belly flop and remain afloat. Almost two years after the Beach Tampa packed up, some 15,000 l...
Published: 01/18/18

Tell Me About It: FaceTime offense lands sister on the outs

FaceTime offense lands sister on the outsQ: When does FaceTime become an intrusion?My sister-in-law recently relocated to our area. We invited her to join us for our traditionally quiet New Yearís Eve celebration. About two hours before midnight, she...
Published: 01/18/18

Tell Me About It: Cousinís husband pursues young sisters

Cousinís husband pursues young sisters Q: I just found out that my nieceís husband has made inappropriate comments/propositions to both of my daughters, one still a minor (17). I have to tell my niece, right? I donít want to hurt her.Broken HeartA: Y...
Published: 01/18/18
Plan your weekend Jan. 19-21: Gasparilla Children’s Parade, Jake Owen, Riverdance, Florida Orchestra’s Dvorak

Plan your weekend Jan. 19-21: Gasparilla Children’s Parade, Jake Owen, Riverdance, Florida Orchestra’s Dvorak

Plan your weekend † Gasparilla Children’s Parade: A week before the more raucous pirate invasion, the G-rated version hits the streets. The Children’s Gasparilla Extravaganza and Parade kicks off Gasparilla season with a bicycle safety...
Published: 01/17/18
Top things to do this week: Steve Martin and Martin Short, Gasparilla Childrenís Parade

Top things to do this week: Steve Martin and Martin Short, Gasparilla Childrenís Parade

PICKING AND GRINNING: Steve Martin and Martin ShortThere wasnít a lot of bluegrass being played around Hamilton, Ontario, when Martin Short was a kid. But his decades-long friendship with Steve Martin has made him a fan, which brings An Evening With ...
Published: 01/17/18

Tell Me About It: Mom needs reassurance of their gratitude

Mom needs reassurance of their gratitudeQ: Whenever my mother gives me or my family member a gift, she ends up asking about it several times afterward. Does not matter if it was $5 or expensive.We always thank her for gifts, and these comments feel l...
Published: 01/16/18

Tell Me About It: Sister-in-lawís gall is of epic proportions

Sister-in-lawís gall is of epic proportionsQ: Iím a two-time, currently-Stage IV breast cancer survivor. When I was told I needed a double mastectomy, I did the research and decided to "go flat."For dressy occasions, I wear prostheses, but theyíre no...
Published: 01/16/18

Tell Me About It: Pregnancy makes move harder to bear

Pregnancy makes move harder to bearIím 27 weeks pregnant and just moved to a new city for a great job, but I think I made a big mistake. I loved my old life and feel so homesick for it. But my husband and I bought a house, so moving is not a feasible...
Published: 01/15/18

Tell Me About It: Mom is floored by daughterís pregnancy

Mom is floored by daughterís pregnancyQ: Iím literally shaking as I type this. My 15-year-old daughter is pregnant. I canít believe it. We had many good discussions about waiting until she was ready, using birth control when she was, but it all did n...
Published: 01/14/18