Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Woman's choices make friend consider a breakup
North Carolina: Is it okay to break up with an old friend over ethics? My college roommate is one of those people you read about who made millions off the recession as an investment banker — she retired at 35. I'm a college professor, and happy with my life (I'm not that materialistic), but she has no remorse or feeling for the people who are losing their homes or jobs. It would be one thing if she was now volunteering or doing something worthwhile, but her main occupation is travel and complaining about her portfolio.
Carolyn: The ethical argument is tricky. Do you have "remorse" for using the huge prosperity advantage you gain from being American? Maybe you're not getting rich off someone's losses, but you do benefit from the artificial barriers that keep others out of your country and mired in the poverty of theirs. If your parents were financially stable and educated, then you had another, more local competitive advantage.
I don't see why it has to be about ethics anyway. If you see her as whiny and self-indulgent, or cold, or just a portfolio-preoccupied bore, then you can just choose not to be friends.
If it's envy of her money/freedom, or certainty that you'd be generous vs. self-indulgent with such wealth, then that gets a little more complicated. You would need to remind yourself of the reasons you stayed friends after college — and of the reasons it's good to check ourselves when we start to feel superior.
Wronged party wonders if forgiving obligates one to forget
Va.: Do you think it's ever okay to refuse someone's apology and interest in friendship? The person apologizing seems sincere about his throwing me under the bus and wants to make things right. However, I was already at a bad point in my life, and though that's not his fault, I want nothing to do with him ever again. Is it okay to just move away from this?
Carolyn: If the apology is sincere, then I think you have a duty to accept it. That doesn't mean you have to stay friends, though. It's perfectly fair to recognize the incident as an occasion to revisit your interest in his company. If it's gone, it's gone.
Discuss . . . : I suppose one could say, "I hear that you sincerely regret what you've done. And I appreciate that. That said, I think I need to take some time to heal. When I'm ready I'll come to you . . ." And then never speak to the person again.
On a side note, if your partner cheats and you forgive them, can you still leave because of it?
Carolyn: I define accepting an apology as acknowledging the perp's remorse, and thanking said perp for expressing it. "Thank you, I appreciate your saying that." Done. The "I'll come to you" version seems insincere. As for the cheating ex, yes, of course — you can forgive and still leave. Forgiveness is acknowledging someone's humanity and frailty, and choosing not to remain angry or seek retribution. But that doesn't mean you have to put yourself back into a shared home with that particular bit of human frailty ever again. They're two separate things.