Dear Amy: I’m struggling with comments from my women friends regarding my appearance.
Weekly, at church, I have encountered comments like: “Oh, your hair is wet!” (The implication is: You come here every week, get it together!)
Here’s another: “WHAT is wrong with your chin? (Two inflamed spots.)
Or this comment after a full-body appraisal: “So WHAT are you wearing today? Hmm, the way you dress, you’re such a hippy girl!”
Amy, I am freaking 62 years old and have been going to this church for 20 years. Yet, I never really got the memo of dressing for other women.
I know of many sarcastic ways to respond, but I would rather say something more benign like, “Well, I just wanted to come to church today.”
I wish to find solidarity in my women friends, but instead we pick on each other in petty ways.
Confession: I used to do this, too, but now I only make complimentary comments.
Dear Sad: You confess that you used to talk in this openly judgmental way to other women, but now you only deliver compliments.
This is your penance. It is called: “What comes around, goes around.” Or, more Biblically: We reap what we sow.”
I like your statement, “Well, I just wanted to come to church today.”
It’s time for all of you to become more intimately connected with the Golden Rule.
Dear Amy: I’ve been friends with “Jean” for decades. Her son got married this summer at a location more than 300 miles away. Jean told me that I was “the only one of her friends” that she was able to invite to the wedding, so I felt a certain pressure to go.
The couple rented a summer camp with several cabins for guests to stay in. I opted not to stay there.
About three days before the wedding, I asked if there was going to be a rehearsal dinner. Jean said yes, but because I opted not to stay at the camp, I was not included.
I told her that in my experience, out of town guests are invited to the dinner. I said, “I’m hurt by this. Could we talk about it?” She got mad and told me that it was too late to talk about it, and that I was being “nasty” by “lecturing” her.
I apologized profusely for my words, reasoning that she was under a lot of stress because it’s her only son, and she’s been in poor health for some time. She was cordial, but distant to me at the wedding. I thought we were OK.
About three weeks later, I got an email telling me how hurt she was, and how she’s always been afraid to speak her mind to me, because she’s afraid of my anger.
She brought up an occasion decades ago when she claims I yelled at her in front of her son and my kids, which I could not remember. She says now that what happened between us before the wedding is “done,” but it’s not done for me. I drove more than 700 miles to attend, apologized for what I said, learned that she’s always been afraid of telling me her true feelings, and now, in her mind, “what’s done is done.”
I say that old friends should be able to talk things out honestly and candidly. And I want an apology. I want to have my hurt feelings recognized, too. Don’t friends owe each other a candid conversation?
Dear Upset: You are not owed an apology. You rudely insinuated that your friend had an obligation to invite you to her son’s rehearsal dinner (she didn’t), and when she was honest in her reaction and also later in her description and her feelings about your dynamic, you blamed her for that, too.
You’ve already had your candid conversation.
You should thank her for her honesty, use it as an opportunity to review your own behavior and expectations, and look for ways to get on a firmer footing moving forward.
Dear Amy: “Worried Aunt” was despairing over the future of her niece, who was marrying a man with whom she was in a stalemate.
I really appreciated your idea that the aunt could respond to this tension by suggesting pre-marital counseling. My former fiancé and I broke up during ours (thank God).
Dear Happy: The stress of wedding planning reveals fissures in relationships. Counseling can help to create paths of communication, or lead to a timely parting.