Carolyn Hax

Carolyn Hax: Pal’s girlfriend says mean things about her

 

Dear Carolyn: A close friend of mine has a new girlfriend. I don’t like her. She’s treated me with disrespect (talking about me behind my back) and she just doesn’t seem to be a nice person. She’s said some really mean things about people right in front of them.

I’m planning on having a little housewarming party. Is there any polite way I can say my friend is invited, but I don’t want him to bring his girlfriend over when I’m hosting events?

You’re Invited but Your Girlfriend Isn’t

When she’s said these mean things, you’ve asked her to clarify/apologize/step off, right?

If not, then you need to.

And if that doesn’t improve the situation, then you tell your close friend you’re concerned about some things his girlfriend has said. You ask if you’re reading these situations correctly. You listen to his answer.

Then you give the girlfriend extra chances to show you why your close friend likes her, because that’s what you do for close friends.

In the meantime, your party will happen, so invite her despite your reservations because that’s also what close friends do.

Then, if you’ve dealt with the girlfriend directly; taken your concerns to your friend; granted the girlfriend second, third, nth chances to win you over; invited her to your event(s); and yet she’s still mistreating you or others, (BEG ITAL)then(END ITAL) you get to say to your friend, “I’m in a bad spot because you’re one of my closest friends, but Meanie has said awful things to so much of my guest list that she’s no longer welcome at things I host.”

Then you show concern for your friend because, if you’ve reached this point, how likely is it that he’s spared of her abuse?

Dear Carolyn: How do I renegotiate the terms on which I relate to my in-laws? I was an independent adult when I met their son; he and I have been married two years. I had hoped for a close relationship with them and put in the work to that effect, but it’s clear they’re not interested. They ask me to call them Mr. and Mrs., among other subtle things that keep me at arm’s length.

While this makes me sad, I can accept that’s the relationship we have. But … they call me “Dear,” which makes me very uncomfortable given that it’s obvious they don’t think I’m a “dear” anything. How can I dial it back to “Mrs. Lastname” without sounding snooty?

In-Law

“Dear” isn’t confusing when you treat it as a term of patronage, vs. affection. My guess is you tried to relate to them as a peer when they were more comfortable with hierarchy.

Call me cynical, but when you say “renegotiate,” I hear that you’d like to take another shot at getting the relationship with them you want. If that’s your intent, then spike it now; challenging boundaries rarely endears us to anyone, but especially not to Mr. and Mrs. Formality.

The only change I suggest is that you base your expectations on what your in-laws are willing to give, as opposed to what you’re hoping to get. Less food for resentment that way. Besides, from your brief description, it really does sound as if arm’s length is their preferred distance, not just from you.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at washingtonpost.com.

Read more Lifestyle stories from the Miami Herald

  • What do you recommend?

    “The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton — it’s a book built around characters and plots inspired by astrological principles. It’s a neo-Victorian murder mystery and a mere 832 pages long, and it made 28-year-old Catton the youngest person to win the coveted Man Booker Prize. The voice is natural, easy to understand and ambitious; she’s a novelist who is seeking to reclaim the authorial, a writer who seeks to entertain and enlighten.”

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">The Boom:</span> How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed the World. Russell Gold. Simon & Schuster. 384 pages. $26.

    Nonfiction

    Book considers the pros and cons of fracking

    Author considers both sides of the controversial issue.

  • Southern Cross Stargazer for April 20-26

    By nightfall Spica follows fiery Mars, in Virgo, higher in the east. Telescopes reveal the white ice cap shrinking in the Martian summer and subtle dark details on the iron-rich red Martian desert. Binoculars enhance the planet’s bright color. Mars sets in the west about dawn and will remain bright for a few weeks.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category