Sunday, December 17, 2017
Parenting & Relationships

Tell Me About It: Setting absolutes can create problems

Be careful in objecting to significant other's friends

Q: Is it ever okay to veto one of your significant other's friendships? My boyfriend is thinking of getting back in touch with a friend of his who was an alcoholic who self-destructed and refused help — at which point my boyfriend ended his friendship with him. I do not want an alcoholic in my life, I can't see how this is a good idea.

Vetoing

Carolyn: Has the friend since gotten sober, or is he still abusing? Be careful, too, how you throw those absolutes around. "I do not want an alcoholic in my life" is the kind of thing that inspires people to say, "I do not want judgmental people in my life." Someone who gets and stays sober is still an alcoholic; is that person also unworthy of you?

Anonymous: No, it is not okay to veto one of your significant other's friendships. The only thing it is okay to do is to remove yourself from situations you don't want to be in. You cannot control anything another person does/says/thinks.

Carolyn: You do have the right, in exceptional situations, to object strenuously to a friendship and ask your partner to end it. The classic example is someone with whom your partner cheated on you, or someone else who deliberately tried to harm you or the relationship. If you are not personally injured by this objectionable friend, then I see the bar as pretty high — abuse, for example. Child pornography. Animal cruelty. Of course, when you get to any of these points, you're often right back to "remove yourself from situations you don't want to be in," relationships included.

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