Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Dear TT,

I stumbled across your blog completely by accident, but I realized you might be able to help me. My boyfriend and I have been dating for three months, which isn't the longest amount of time, but I'm extremely happy. He's wonderful, and I finally understand how much easier a transition to a relationship is when we're friends first. So, obviously, he's not the issue. My friend is. She's been my best friend for a while, but since I started dating my boyfriend.... things haven't been the same.

Now, I assumed it would be a little rocky with us because there is a little bit of history between my boyfriend and my friend. My friend has been in a long distance relationship for several months, but when my now boyfriend, C, confessed his crush to her, she led him on very badly. Told him that she like him too, but she wasn't sure if she liked him enough to dump her boyfriend for him. They went to movies, talked on the phone... but then she broke his heart when she decided she wasn't going to break up with her boyfriend. She is still dating her boyfriend, and he is aware of this situation now, but blames it all on my boyfriend.

So when another one of my friends suggested I date C... I was a little unsure until I thought about it. We had been friends for around a year, and it seemed like the right thing to do. I went to my friend and checked that she was all right with it because I didn't want to get together with C behind her back. She told me she was ok with it, but then, later that day, yelled at me in the middle of my math class about how I had been keeping everything from her and going behind her back.

She has since apologized, but its been strained since. She's told me that I'm not allowed to talk to her about C, but she will go on for hours about her boyfriend. It makes me angry because I know that she talks about me to our mutual friends, and she will randomly yell at me for not being concerned enough about her, for not calling her, or for something like that. I don't know what to do. I've tried talking to her about this, but she just yells at me for causing these problems, blaming it all on me. Then she will turn around and be the friend that I always loved. I just don't know what to do anymore... Please help. S.

Dear S,

This is a classic syndrome. It's the "I don't want him, but nobody else can have him" syndrome. Most girls (and women) have, at one time or another, fallen in to this trap. Your best friend has succumbed to this ego-driven (yet natural) response to your new found relationship with your boyfriend. Because she respects you, and you like C, she may be thinking she shouldn't have passed him up so quickly. Or, she may be wondering if your relationship with C is stronger than the one she has with her long-distance boyfriend. Either way, she is having a push-pull with her ego, and that is why she's screaming at you one minute, and behaving like her old self the next.

Even though you are likely aware of why she's behaving badly, the affect is still the same for you, it hurts. I would try once more to have a heart-to-heart with her. Suggest you understand why it's difficult for her to see you and C together, but that you know she'll get used to it and, in the meantime, you really miss being able to speak with her freely and openly, like good friends should.

If she continues her erratic behavior over the next 3-4 weeks, you will (likely) naturally begin to withdraw from her and spend more time with your other friends. If she really is the kind of friend you want for the long haul, she won't be willing to let you drift away. If she does, she isn't ready to have a best friend.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Dear Truth Teller,

I have been into a relationship for 2-3 years. We started it off as chat friends and then
fell in love..We met in person and liked each other..Our's is a long distance relationship..
hence we are not committed..but we are serious about this relationship..we meet once in a while.

Off late there have been some fights and misunderstandings happening between us...we tried to sort it out several times, but in vain.Its me who has always called back to clear out things and not him.

He intiated the decision of parting ways recently..and I too thought that it was high time..he wants to set things right now between us.Should I give it a second chance..or just get over with it?

Confused Soul

Dear Confused,

Healthy relationships require consistent effort from both people. Many times, long distance can actually slow down the natural course of a relationship because it's easier to let a lot of things go when you aren't there to witness them first hand. (And it's easier to keep the "not so pretty" parts of ourselves to ourselves).

However, it can also be harder to strengthen the bond between you due to the distance. In addition, history has proven that your boyfriend has not been as serious about keeping up honest communication as you have. It's time to let this relationship take it's natural course and end it. View it as good practice for a the next time, when you're in a relationship with someone you see often and who cares about you and your feelings as much as they do their own. You'll be much happier. Best, TT.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Dear Truth Teller,

I was walking by two women I know in the hall of our children's school. I just heard a snippet of their conversation, but I couldn't miss the fact that they were talking about a group in which they both belong, that I just happen to facilitate. One was saying to the other, "Are you going Friday?" The woman said, "I hope so, I haven't been there in months." Then the first woman said, "I don't know if I'm going to go, it's gotten so BIG."

My question: Do I just pretend I never heard this exchange? Keep in mind I don't believe in accidents and I feel it's more than a coincidence I "happened" to walk by at that very moment. OR, do I contact the one that's clearly got the beef, and address it with her straight up? AND, if she says, "Yes, I'm unhappy the group has gotten so big," what do I do about THAT?


Dear Conflicted,

Since you believe in "no accidents", I think it's pretty clear how you should handle this situation. Contact the woman who clearly has the beef, and ask her why she is bothered by the bigness of the group. If you believe what she says has validity, perhaps you could split the group into two sessions, or create some other combination of groups. If you don't think what she says has merit (or you just aren't able to accommodate her issues) just say, "I'm so sorry you feel that way--and if you choose not to come, I completely understand".

Let me know how it goes. Love, TT

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Dear The Truth Teller,
I'm currently in a relationship, and have been for just about 9 months. At first we were just dating commitment. But over time things got more serious, and upon the new year we decided to make it official... I've never been in a healthier relationship! This girl treats me well, she understands me, she accepts me, and she is so unbelievably patient with some of my relationship hangups (mostly sexual). She has helped me discover things about myself and about what I want/need/deserve in a relationship, and through her I have discovered my feminine side, which has been in hiding for a loooong time. At the same time, she has grown healthier by dating me, and has also discovered things about relationships that she never a good way. Yet, my feelings toward her continue to fluctuate between "she's so wonderful," and "ugh..." Hard to explain, but sometimes we connect, and things are great...and just as often I am annoyed and wish to be alone.

I have never been in a more honest relationship in my life, platonic or otherwise...and I am truly blown away by how great this girl is. No one has ever accepted me like she does, and it is so refreshing; something that was missing in my former relationships. She consistently goes out of her way to do nice and thoughtful things for me; she is so giving and so generous...but something is missing for me. I know that this is not the girl I will end up with, I have even failed to tell my family about her her (including my favorite cousin who is ordinarily the FIRST person I tell about a new relationship). I don't feel like I'm embarrassed of her, but for some reason I keep her separate for the most part.

I try to just not think about the future as much, and try to just enjoy my time with her (i.e. live in the present)...but then I struggle and wonder if I'm using her in some way, as if to just keep her around until someone better comes along. I am clearly not consciously doing this to her, but I am so fearful that I'm doing something unethical or wrong... is it wrong to be with her if I'm positive that I'm not going to end up with her in the long run?


Dear Abby,

First and foremost, please let me apologize for my extended absence.

Now, on to important issues--your relationship anxieties. I assume you have heard the expression, "Methinks thou doest protest too much"? (Gotta love Shakespeare for cutting to the bone). Every time I hear a man or woman singing the praises of their mate (without a hint of sarcasm), I suspect they are having an affair. I used to think I was just being snide, or jealous--but my intuition has all too often been correct.

Your extolling of the virtues of this healthy relationship and how well you're being treated rings a bit of a false note. Just a slight one, but there nonetheless. The fact that you haven't told your family (especially your cousin!) is another clue to the possible truth.

Remember, the beginning of the relationship is the FUN part! The part where you just get to be smitten, and wowed and blown away. If you are already rationalizing, it's just not a good sign.

I truly believe in the value of being in the present, and in enjoying whomever you are with--but it is even more important to be honest with her about your feelings. If you tell her you feel something is "missing" even though you love spending time with her, and she accepts it, then you are not doing anything unethical. But if you are keeping it to yourself, then now's the time to fess up. A relationship between two adults--where each person knows where the other is coming from and accepts the terms, is a "true" one--even if it's complicated and messy. But when one partner is hiding their feelings, it's not fair to the one who is putting it all out there.

Listen to your gut, and listen carefully to her response when you open up. You may end up smitten--or alone--but it'll be your truth. I hope you'll keep me posted.
- Show quoted text -

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Dear Truth Teller,

My kid has special needs and a lot of therapeutic activities are part of the deal. Lately, I feel suffocated by other parents as I wait and watch my child do her things. Last week I got caught between two other mothers (loud talkers) who went on and on ad nauseum about the problems at their respective schools and the special ed services they offer. It was the same thing this week. Not covering any new ground, just on and on verbal venting.

At another activity, a different mom regularly tries to talk my ear off (for 1 1/2 hours) about her kid and his issues. When I try to look disinterested, putting my nose in a book, etc. She taps me, repeatedly. WTF? Sometimes yapping away even when it is my baby's turn to do her thing and I want to concentrate on her. There is only one waiting space at both of the activities I am describing.

Am I an awful person for wanting a little quiet or time to focus on my kid? Do I have a "dump on me" sign on my forehead? Any ideas on how I can stop the incessant chatter?


Had it up to here with the yap yap yapping

P.S. The one that taps has bad breath.

Dear Had It,

I HEAR YOU. Although you don't want to be rude, it is your time, not theirs, and you have to put boundaries around it--or (if you're like me), one day you'll just bite one of their heads off and then feel horrible.

This is where the wonderful invention called the ipod comes in. I trust you have one--if you don't, get one. This lovely piece of equipment could become your life saver. I'm sure you realize they will not leave you alone just because you have earphones in--but when the tapping begins, remove one earbud only and assertively reply "I'm sorry, not to be rude, but I'm listening to something very important and I need to pay attention to it".

What's better, is that you CAN be listening to something important to you--and it will drown out the incessant chatter of the others, but not take your attention away from your darling.

PS: Offer her a tic tac along with your reply.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I'm really freaked out right now cause my friend has a lot of issues with her parents (issues being them verbally abusing her) and she e-mailed me saying she wants to kill herself. I am really, really scared. I don't want to tell anyone cause I don't want her to freak out but I don't want my friend to get hurt. I'm really scared. What should I do?

Dear Scared,
I URGE you to tell someone. It is the only way to help your friend. Go to your school counselor today. He/she will have experience with this issue and know how to help.

Also, this number (215) 831 6300 is the Friends Hospital Crisis hotline.

Give it to your friend and have her call if you think she might. You can offer to call with her so she knows she has your support. If you think you can go to your parents for help, perhaps one of them can take her to the crisis center. There are five centers in the Philadelphia area.

If you aren't able to do any of these, get back to me and I'll have more ideas.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Hi Truth Teller~

I am visiting your site from the link on Angie Ledbetter's Gumbo Writer blog!

I have a question about how to handle a problem my husband and I are having with good friends. We've been friends w/this couple since we moved to Ohio almost 3 years ago. We do a lot w/them socially and they have a daughter who is the same age as our oldest daughter (11) and the girls had been friends up until the beginning of this school year (5th grade). That's when things started to go south. Their daughter, "B", started being mean to our daughter, "H". B began hanging out w/another group of girls that really didn't like H. B is condescending to H, she ignores her, rolls her eyes when H says something, etc. My friend, B's mom, and I discussed the trouble w/the girls, sat them down and had a talk w/them about their feelings, etc., but the girls have since drifted apart. It's made things a little weird and strained between me and B's mom, especially, even though we still do a lot together socially.

My friend has made a number of unsettling and sarcastic comments about different things over the past few months. I'm thinking it's because of the girls' relationship and the fact that our daughter no longer seeks "play" time with their daughter. Our daughters don't eat lunch or play together at recess like they once did. The relationship has become uncomfortable for me and my husband and I don't know how to handle it. The man and woman are a nice couple--sweet, caring, fun, they go to church, they have a lot of the same family values we have. We do have a lot in common with them and we've enjoyed their company over the past few years. But my friend's comments are getting harder to tolerate and we don't want to continue bemoaning the issues between our daughters--especially because my friend defends her daughter's actions all the time. I'm simplifying here, but in the past when I've said to my friend, "H said B was mean to her today" my friend will respond with, "Well, B tells a different story and B thinks H is mean to her." Ugh. I realize there are two different sides to every story, but my friend has never said B came home crying from school because H was mean to her, or B hasn't been sleeping because H is mean, etc. My daughter has chosen to separate from B. She no longer wants to hang out w/her and play with her after school or on weekends. We're fine with this as we think H seems happier now.

So how to handle our friends, B's parents? We have a dinner date w/them this evening and we're not looking forward to it. We'll have to listen to my friend's comments and we'll have to listen to her go on and on about how wonderful B is when we've seen a completely different side of their "angel." What would you do in this situation? It's sad that the girls have gone their separate ways, but can we, as the parents of these girls, still have a good relationship?

Thanks so much for any help/insight you have to offer.

Dear Mom,

Yes, this is a sticky wicket. You've definitely got a case of "Mama-bear syndrome" and for good reason.

Once, when I was young, I overheard a conversation between my mom and an older, African-American woman. They were discussing how someone had wronged one of her children and she said to my mother, "You can pretty much do anything you want to me, but don't F___ with my baby!". I was initially shocked by the language of this very genteel woman. But the real reason it stuck with me was because of its utter and complete truth.

It doesn't matter whether it is another child her own age--your daughter has been hurt and you are compelled to protect. Since B's mother doesn't share your concern, everything she says is rubbing you the wrong way. Having said this, I believe it still may be possible for your relationship with this other couple to survive--but it will need some transition time.

For now, I would only see the couple when it is effortless--when neighbors or other friends are getting together in a larger group, but don't try to hard to maintain the relationship as it was once. It sounds like, although you had lots in common, it was also based in part upon the girls, and that part is no longer. As your daughter's each find their way into middle school, they will naturally gravitate to others, and possibly even back together again.

When the feelings are less raw, you may find yourselves in a better place to pick up the friendship, but in the meantime, let it drift and take its natural course. If B's mom keeps trying to get together, just be busy with other plans--and try not to feel guilty about taking a time out. You need it.