Carolyn Hax

Carolyn Hax: Friend’s candor was just what he needed

 

While I’m away, readers give the advice.

On speaking up to friends in abusive relationships:

Years ago I was in an emotionally abusive relationship that I couldn’t see for myself. I was recently divorced, my head was spinning and I was feeling like a horrible failure.

I'll never forget when a close friend asked me, “Do you realize you always make excuses for her behavior?” Suddenly my mental fog lifted. He was absolutely right and I’d never looked at it that way. It was a moment that changed my life and led to me ending the abusive relationship.

Years later I told my friend how helpful his “mirror” perspective had been and his reaction was, “I said that to you? I’m so sorry!” I laughed and told him to never, ever apologize and never hold back. We can sometimes get caught in very dark places without knowing it. I’m forever grateful he risked our friendship to show me the way out.

M.

On holding the parental tongue:

I’ve had two young adult daughters, 19 and 21, choose paths I wasn’t happy with (both became pregnant after dating for six months or less). They knew how I felt about the topic. One blew up at me and lost her natural mind (a tirade of nasty/hurtful insults hurled at me) when I expressed my disappointment, so we no longer speak.

If you raised them, they know how you feel about their choices before you even say it. It won’t change the outcome and definitely won’t enhance the relationship. Share your feelings with a close friend and leave it alone. If things work out for them, hooray! If not, they'll figure it out. So zip it.

S.

On breaking free from a parent who wants grown children to stay in the nest:

For years my mother urged my younger sister to stay with her and my father “to protect her.” In truth, she wanted to keep my sister home as a buffer because their marriage was so very unhappy.

She made my sister, self-conscious and timid by nature, the referee. My mother told my sister, for years and years, that “men only want one thing,” “It’s a dangerous world with bad people”; she warned my sister that she might have immoral roommates who drank and used drugs and slept with men if she moved out. My sister needed a push from the nest and my mother instead encouraged her fear of everything.

My sister did not date, she never married and she now has no close female friends, as my mother disapproved of everyone. It’s too late for my sister; she’s 61 and is still living at home with my 86-year-old, semi-invalid mother. Young people under this kind of pressure need to grab their own lives while they still can.

P.

On the burden of being the “bad guy”:

I ended a relationship in a cowardly and abrupt fashion. My reasons were valid but my behavior was not. I felt bad for years.

I finally emailed my (perfectly sweet but quite young) ex and apologized. His response spoke volumes about grace. He said, “You taught me that I was worth loving and I’d never known that before.”

We are important in each other’s lives in ways we don’t even comprehend.

C.

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

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