Many think my best friend “Sara” has it all: four adorable children, a successful husband (“Jim”) and a beautiful home. Jim is an absolute dear, but here’s the thing. I think he’s gay.
Recently, I sat down with Sara and shared my hunch. True to form, she listened attentively and thanked me for my concern. But since then, Sara has not mentioned our conversation about her husband’s sexuality. I am concerned she is in denial. How should I gently revisit the topic?
— A Friend in Need
Never. Not gently, not roughly, not with discreet tactical brilliance, not ever. That’s how.
And if there were such a thing as boundary school, I’d sentence you to it. Because, oh my wow. This is so not your business.
With the benefit of all doubts firmly in place, I’ll venture you just really want your friend to be happy. And that’s great. But if your idea of helping her be happy includes a first step of having to persuade her that she’s unhappy, then that’s your flashing red railroad-crossing barrier, your Do Not Disturb hang-tag, your singing telegram reminding you to butt the heck (and everything else) out. If your friend wants your help, she can ask.
And while I’m here: No one, anywhere, ever, has it “all.”
I read a lot of news and culture articles online; when I see something I think a family member may like, I forward it to them.
I’ve heard from more than one that sometimes it’s overwhelming and they don’t know whether to respond to my emails.
Does this sound like a boundary problem on my part, even though I’m pretty sure they would like the information I’m forwarding? I don’t want to overwhelm them but how do I know how much is too much? I feel like this is my way of connecting with people I love.
From now on, connect with people you love only at judicious intervals and using a disclaimer at the top of all forwarded emails: “I thought you might like this. Please don’t feel any obligation to respond.” It sounds as if you’re forwarding to specific people and not blast-forwarding, but, just in case, no blast-forwarding.
And with anyone who mentions feeling overwhelmed, find some other means than email to stay in touch.
I donated to an organization that provides wheelchairs to people who can’t afford them. I posted about this on Facebook. I wasn’t trying to brag, but I wanted to give this organization some attention in case anyone I know would like to support it as well.
A friend of mine posted a comment saying my donation was “foolish,” because it would be much more productive to donate to organizations that research cures for disabilities so that no one needs wheelchairs at all. I was taken aback by this and I’m not sure how to reply. Should I reply at all?
Nope. Save yourself for actual discourse.
There will always be people looking to score meaningless points. It costs you nothing (besides a moment’s agitation) to let them think they did — while every moment spent engaging with knuckleheads is a moment gone for good.
Email Carolyn at [email protected], follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.
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