Published On: Sun, Nov 5th, 2023

Carolyn Hax: Is it wrong to ask girlfriend to drop angry male friend?

Carolyn Hax: Is it wrong to ask girlfriend to drop angry male friend?
Carolyn Hax: Is it wrong to ask girlfriend to drop angry male friend?


Dear Carolyn: My girlfriend has a male friend who recently drunkenly expressed that he hates me, while he attempted to physically intimidate me. I de-escalated the situation, but it still made my girlfriend cry.

In subsequent days, the male friend soberly reiterated his hatred of me.

My girlfriend and I have been together two years, and she has been friends with the man for five. Would it be appropriate for me to ask my girlfriend to end her relationship with her friend?

Anonymous: It would be appropriate — and better for you in the end — to holster any requests, demands or ultimatums and ask your girlfriend what she intends to do about him. Not only are any consequences better if they’re her decision, but you also want to know what exactly her decision would be.

Specifically: You want her to rethink the friendship because she sees his behavior as grounds for that, not just because you do.

And if she doesn’t, then you definitely want to know that — and why, and whether you respect her reasoning — so you can plot your well-informed course from there.

Dear Carolyn: My mother died a few years ago, and my dad is now remarried. His new wife and her adult daughters are very focused on weight and looks. They talk all the time about who has lost weight and who looks good or not.

Dad was always a big guy, but new wife and daughters are very proud of how, with new wife, he has lost a lot of weight. They frequently say things that imply that my mother was responsible for him, like, “He was always so heavy when he was married to your mom,” “Your mom didn’t seem to care that he was heavy,” “Your mom never made him lose weight,” and “Our mom would never put up with an overweight husband.”

Their “fat talk” makes me feel bad, since I’m a little overweight, but it especially angers me that my mother is posthumously criticized for not having — what, controlled the weight of an independent adult? I feel I need to defend her, which is also ridiculous, because she is dead.

I want to get along, and I try to change the subject or say things like, “Eh, in my house, we don’t worry so much about this stuff.” But the looks and weight obsession is painful, and it’s one of their main topics of conversation. Advice?

Stepfamily: There is nothing “ridiculous” about defending your mother’s memory against these calorie trolls.

Especially since the party you’re really defending is you: You care about your mom, your values and loyalties are being mocked, you feel the sting of their insults.

So, next time: “Please don’t talk about my mother that way. Thank you.”

Follow up as needed: “My dead mother, remember? I love her. Please stop.” Invite them to get along with you for a change.

I mean, holy doughnuts. I realize the daughters are adults now themselves, but the values their mother taught them (and presumably her parent(s) force-fed to her at some point, tracing ever backward) sound like child abuse to me.

I’m also sorry weight and looks are what pass for interesting conversation when you visit your dad. Dreadful. You have my condolences.

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Dear Carolyn: My 22-year-old daughter received some bad health news and had an appointment to find out if things were bad, or really bad. My long-term girlfriend was on vacation, aware of the situation, and knew how much I was stressed out.

I didn’t hear from her until a day and a half after the appointment; she had cell service and plenty of time to text or call. To me, that lack of follow-up was a shot through the heart of our relationship. To her, it was no big deal.

Am I overreacting? She’s never been great at emotional support, so part of me thinks I shouldn’t be surprised, but the other part thinks it’s time to go.

Asking Too Much?: Those last two points aren’t opposite ends of a scale, you know — you can be utterly unsurprised and still recognize it’s time to go.

There also is no objective standard for reacting vs. overreacting. It is all relative to your needs and whether, in your estimation, they’re being met well enough to justify staying with your girlfriend.

If you decide you’d rather not date anyone than date someone who doesn’t call when you’re upset and has “never been great at emotional support,” then breaking up is a proportionate reaction — response — to her behavior. Who was “right” or “wrong” about the value of calling is beside the point.

Alternately, if you end this long relationship out of pique over the non-call, only to regret it as soon as your emotions settle, then that’s an overreaction.

So to prevent overreactions, resist the impulse to react, period. Wait till you aren’t as upset — and say so, if needed: “I’m not sure yet how I feel.” Then trust your calmer mind with the real question: Are you better with her, or without?


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