Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Horrid boyfriend didn't change his stripes after breakup
Rehash: I had a HORRID ex-boyfriend. Manipulative, insecure, insensitive, and he cheated. In time I got over it.
We run into each other at many work functions. It's friendly/civil. On one such occasion he met a friend who went with me. They seemed to hit it off.
I have no more anger toward him, so when she asked if I'd be "okay with it," I bit my tongue to all the warnings I wanted to yell out (we're friends, but not very close) and told her I didn't mind. It's not my business.
He broke her heart.
Should I have warned her? I feel terrible about it. I know she's going to want to rehash everything that transpired with him and me. I'd rather not relive it.
Carolyn: I'm not saying you should have warned her, necessarily — there's no universal answer, it just depends on how bad things were, how long ago, how close your friend is, and other such variables — but your feeling terrible suggests you think you should have. One way to soothe your conscience is to let her rehash this with you.
Talking to her might also help you with the larger question of warnings. She might say she would have wanted to know — but after reflecting on her feelings at the time, would she have listened? Does she think it would have been your place to meddle? Can she think that clearly yet? Will she now warn someone else?
As long as it doesn't become a self-justification session for you, this could be the beginning of a . . . cleansing friendship.
Subtle, friendly approach works best with noisy neighbors
I Miss Hearing the Birds: A new neighbor moved in next door with her four kids (toddler through about sixth grade). I don't have a problem with the normal sounds of kids at play, but sometimes these kids just SCREAM. Very, very early in the morning. Even weekends. Outside. For no reason. (It's not like they're being hit. I always look, because it sounds like a murder.)
Please, please tell me if there's a way to deal with this nicely without coming off as kid-hating. The mother (divorced — dad is elsewhere) seems nice but standoffish, and we're introverts ourselves.
Carolyn: I'd say just to ask her nicely if they can keep the early morning noise down, but what I really think your situation needs is for someone to make a neighborly gesture to a no-doubt completely overwhelmed single mom. Bring her banana bread. Ask if she needs anything. Stockpile goodwill. The noise won't last forever, but her sense of being neighborhood blight will probably stick around.
Anonymous: Our son was drumming on something in a bookstore, and his dad didn't even notice. Someone who worked there gently said something along the lines of, "Parents get used to their kid's noise and learn to block it out, but other people aren't quite so lucky. Might I ask you please to have your son stop his drumming?"
My ex-husband was grateful to be told the kid was being too noisy, and was even more grateful for the gentle way he was told.