'Pretend you don't know me' comment leaves hurt feelings
Q: I am a newly out gay male. Recently I was at a bar when my friend "John" came in. John and I have been close, as we both were realizing we were gay, and had a sexual relationship as well.
When I came over to John to say hi, he asked me to pretend not to know him, as he was there with his new love and did not want to explain me to him.
I was floored! I did not say anything there, but later I sent him texts saying how angry I was and gave him an earful the next day. He did apologize, and said what he did was in bad form. However, I am still upset he would do this, especially as I was there for him over a rough patch he recently had. Do I keep him as a friend?
A: Since the alternative is punting him after one stinkin' apologized-for mistake, yes, keep him.
Also consider broadening your thinking beyond victimization. John's actions hurt John himself more than they hurt you. Fake John can have only a fake relationship with New Love. By pretending to be an emotional clean slate, John won't see how this guy responds to the messy real version — at least, not till the facade gives way. That promises more "rough patches" ahead.
If it comes up again, (please) don't berate John anew. Instead, remind him that a new love worth having is one who doesn't make him hide or snub the old ones.
Request for donation offends guest who doesn't share views
Q: Every year a female friend has a Christmas get-together. On the invitation she requests that, if we are so moved, we bring a baby item to donate to a charity she supports that is an anti-abortion group.
A number of us have a different viewpoint and do not wish to support her charity. Is declining the invitation the only way to handle this? Or should we just tell her how we feel? Or risk being embarrassed by showing up with no item to donate? I know it says "if you are so moved" but I still feel pressured. In past years, I grudgingly donated, and didn't like it.
A: As a problem that recurs annually, this one gives you a chance to find a solution by trial and error.
You can already cross "grudging donation" off the list.
Assuming the goal is continued friendship without supporting her cause, the next choice on the list is attending without donating. Since you are not "so moved," you'll merely be taking the hostess at her word — and if she uses that to embarrass you, then the problem isn't with your skipped donation, it's with the insincerity of her word.
To take the edge off your own empty-handed discomfort, a small hostess gift would be appropriate; just make it something she can consume. For one thing, hostess-gift fatigue may well be why your friend started the charity bit in the first place — and, any housewares or trinkets are likely to go to her charity, neatly defeating your purpose.
If this year's trial goes off without error, woo-hoo, problem solved! And if it turns out the unwritten rule is that you donate or be shamed, then next year you send your polite regrets. Woo-hoo, problem solved.