This friend complains about her fiancé all the time. The dud isn’t her problem; she is.
Carolyn is away. The following first appeared on Jan. 21 and Feb. 6, 2004.
DEAR CAROLYN: What do you do when a good friend is about to tie the knot with a dud? He’s not a bad guy; he’s just a dud. They live in different cities and fight all the time because he doesn’t call, he doesn’t write, he’s not doing this, he’s not doing that — that’s all she can talk about, unless it’s the size of the ring she wants.
Anyway. I’m just venting. I feel like I’m about to lose a very close friend. Yet it’s not something I feel I can address with her. When they’ve fought before, I’ve made it clear I think she deserves better, so my feelings are “out there.” I want to be happy for her, but I just can’t. Is that wrong?
— Common Scenario
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DEAR COMMON SCENARIO: Not at all.
Wrong is slamming the guy when all the gagworthy behavior seems to spew from your friend. Yeah, yeah, he’s 50 percent of every transaction between them. But all she can talk about is his not calling, not whatevering, not ponying up a big ring?
If a million foreheads get slapped in the forest, does it hurt?
Her 50 percent contribution sounds like a tour de force of stereotypes, clichés and need. Maybe you don’t want to see it because she is such a good friend, and that’s actually a cool thing. But the dud isn’t her problem; she is.
In fact, ultimately, choices always speak most of the chooser. Please keep that in mind whenever you get the urge to remount the whole you-deserve-better ballet. She doesn’t deserve better, not until she conducts herself better, sets her priorities better, articulates better, picks her battles better, knows herself better.
Unfortunately, when you air that particular viewpoint, your friend-loss risk tends to spike.
Probably for good reason. Your friend is an adult making what she thinks is the best decision for her. (More than) enough said.
Unless she hands you the opportunity to express your concerns about her — her fighting, her discontent, her possible doubts — it’s time to trust her and let this play out.
Carolyn: In a nutshell: Boyfriend of three years broke up with me after I asked for a stepped-up commitment — not marriage, but concrete plans to be in same city again. We had been long-distance for half of our relationship. I was heartbroken.
Anyway, now he seems to want to have the serious conversation I had been requesting before we broke up. But I have been determined to start over and even begun dating. I do love him and miss him but also feel like he missed his chance to sort things out before. Should I keep moving or hear him out?
DEAR WASHINGTON: Depends. Are you not giving him a chance because you don’t want to any more, or because you decided not to? One sounds like a mature reaction, and the other like a grudge you’ll live to regret holding.
Besides, it’s just a conversation, one you haven’t already had. The only thing that stands to suffer from that is a mind that would rather stay closed.