The Friend Who Diagnoses Too Much

ANONYMOUS

Color me not as surprised as you, Anonymous. Men and women grow up side by side. It doesn’t shock me (though it bums me out) that a woman raised in a system that allows for harassment and abuse may be more comfortable attacking accusers than questioning a culture that produces abusers. We’re steeped in the power of men!

Next time, walk her through one of the meticulously reported stories of harassment — or don’t. For some nonbelievers, this may be analogous to the gay rights movement: They may need to know one brave accuser personally before believing (and supporting) the others. But never fear: I suspect there are many still to come.

Friend or Ghost?

I have a close friend who doesn’t respond to calls or texts when she wants to get out of a plan we’ve made. Then she claims to have “missed the messages.” This seemed plausible the first time, but after six more, not so much. The last time, I wanted to say something because the lie was transparent, and it hurt my feelings. But I don’t want to spoil our relationship. Any ideas?

J. D.

This is a common problem — by which I mean, I have behaved as badly as your friend. I was fearful that saying no to invitations, or “I’ve had a rough day. Can we reschedule?” would make my pals angry. So, I froze and did nothing, then cooked up some baloney to feed them later. It’s childish (and scarily self-important), but we all have our weak points.

Be a friend and help out. The next time you have dinner, say: “Amy, I’ll be fine if you want to cancel plans or reschedule. But pretending you didn’t get my texts hurts my feelings. Can you be more careful about that?” It didn’t spoil the relationship when my friend called me out. Like you, he was only asking to be treated respectfully.

He’s the Cat’s Meow — and Allergic to It, Too

I just started dating a very nice guy. And I mean “just.” We’ve had two dates. But he is seriously allergic to cats, and I have one. My apartment is tiny, so I can’t quarantine the cat. Meanwhile, the guy won’t come to my house while the cat is here. Also, I love my cat. How would you deal with this?

SUSAN

Let’s not project too far down the road, either where Mr. Whiskers is concerned or otherwise. Most of us are terrible fortunetellers, and part of the fun of a new relationship is riding the teeter-totter in the moment. (“It’s working!” “It will never work!” “Oh, yes, it will!”) Right now, you’ve met a terrific guy, and…

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