Do I tell my friend I’m losing respect for her? How do we inform our friends that their kids bore us? Should I ask my client if he’s a cross-dresser?
I have a friend who is having a hard time in her marriage. I have tried to be supportive because I really like her and her husband is not the easiest person, but her marital problems have revealed a side of her that I am having a very hard time reconciling with the woman I thought I knew. For a few months now, she has been having an affair with a guy she claims not to even like very much but who is a well-known local celebrity. (This is not in Providence, by the way.) She met him at some business function and he’s on TV pretty regularly and is prominent in his field, so he is well known, but she’s acting like she’s dating Brad Pitt. The entire thing is so tawdry and hard to take seriously, I find I am losing respect for her. Should I tell her how I feel in the hopes she can see how ridiculous this whole thing is? I feel like she needs the conversational equivalent of a good shake!
Are you disappointed that she’s having an affair? Or disappointed that she’s not more particular about who she’s having an affair with? From your letter, it’s kind of hard to tell.
Your friend is going through a very difficult time (obviously), so it’s understandable that she might not be making the best choices right now. I do think you should talk to her, but as a supportive friend, not as someone she’s disappointed with her choice of lovers. Let her know that the stress and sadness of whatever is going on at home may be causing her to do things she might regret at some point, then see what she has to say. If there’s a conversational opening for you to explore this with her, take it. But I think you should make it more the equivalent of a hug than a shake.
My husband and I don’t have any kids and don’t plan to. I hate the way this sounds, but we’re just not crazy about children. The problem is, we’re young and so are most of our friends, and babies are becoming part of the scene when we’re socializing. And we’re friends with two couples who completely lack awareness about how mundane and tedious their toddler’s achievements are. (Sorry for the tone, but this has been building for a while!) This weekend, we were subjected to a pre-literate toddler reading us a book that took an agonizing ten minutes to get through. That might not seem like such a long time, but it felt much longer. And this is definitely a pattern. What are these parents thinking? That question was rhetorical, but this one is not: is there anything we can (or should) say to let these parents know they’re kind of boring their guests and, if they have the boss over (or someone else they want to make an impression on), they should probably forgo an overview of Billy’s dubious achievements?
Dear Captive Audience,
There is a time-honored tradition of subjecting guests to boring things under the assumption that what is of interest to their hosts will be equally compelling to everyone else. And childless couples are just as guilty of it, as you know if you’ve ever pretended to pay attention as someone narrated photos of their vacation. I would consider it the price of friendship, though, and ask yourselves if these particular friends are worth the cost. Because there’s simply no way you can say, “I’m really not interested in having Good Night Moon read to me by someone who can’t read yet” without your friendship suffering anyway. Be patient, though, and keep in mind that as their children grow, most young parents realize a kid’s specialness has a genetic basis: usually, only the parents can see it.
I work in a clothing resale shop. We specialize in high-end women’s clothing that was very expensive when new but is affordable for a wider audience when resold. We have a very loyal clientele with about 80% of our sales made to repeat customers.
I have become friendly (in a retail way) with one of our customers who I see quite often and who seems to seek me out for help picking out clothes for his wife—except I don’t believe they’re for his wife. I believe they’re for him. He’s very tall, well over six feet, and he buys up what little inventory we have for women that tall. He’s mentioned once or twice that they are for his wife and joked about how she’s slightly taller than he is, but he returns them for credit quite often, too. I think what happens is he gets home, tries them on, and they don’t fit or don’t look good on him.
We pride ourselves on offering exceptional service, and I feel like I could really help him shop if we could drop the pretense these are for someone else and I could select clothes I think would look great on him. And I really do think I can help and he would be happy with the results. I’m thinking of just coming right out with it and asking if they are for him. My sense of him is that even if they are not or he doesn’t want to admit that they are, he’s the type of guy who would just laugh it off. He doesn’t seem especially tightly wound. So what do you think—do I take a well-intentioned chance? Or leave well enough alone and let this continue as it has been?
Dear Personal Shopper,
I choose option number two for the simple reason that even if your suspicions are correct, he apparently wants to keep this private. Sure, there’s a chance that he simply can’t bring himself to say these clothes are really for him, and it would be a relief if you brought it up first. But this scenario is outnumbered by the ways your plan could backfire. Besides, do you really have to have this conversation in order to help him? Can’t you suggest clothes you think would look great on him while playing along with the pretense that they’re for his wife? Helping him pick out a nice outfit without prying into a part of his life he may not want to share with you seems to me to be the best customer service you could provide.
Special note from John: The upcoming holidays offer countless opportunities for stressful situations, unpleasant interactions, and possibly-alcohol-fueled lapses in judgment. Do you have a holiday-related problem or question? If so, please write in for a special column I’ll be putting together over the course of the next few weeks. Thanks!
Originally appeared at GoLocalProv.com.