Carolyn Hax: Friend’s kindness is all about her; love in unequal amounts

Carolyn Hax
Columnist November 3, 2012

Adapted from recent online discussions.

Dear Carolyn:

Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997, after five years as a copy editor and news editor in Style and none as a therapist. The column includes cartoons by "relationship cartoonist" Nick Galifianakis -- Carolyn's ex-husband -- and appears in over 200 newspapers. View Archive

I have a friend who is a genuinely thoughtful and generous person. However, after doing you a kindness, large or small, she lets the world know about it, saying something to the effect of, “Well, yes, it was inconvenient, but that’s just the kind, generous person that I am.”

Recently she helped me move my mom to an assisted-living facility. I sent her a nice (snail mail) thank-you note and took her out to dinner, which she says wasn’t necessary. But she still tells everyone I couldn’t have managed without her, which is stretching the truth.

Am I wrong to feel a bit irritated by this? I, too, try to do nice things for people, but unless it’s something really major, a mere “thanks” is sufficient.


Validation

Your irritation sounds justified, though you might be wrong about her being “genuinely thoughtful and generous,” given that her motive apparently is to promote herself. Sure, you can find a selfish motive in just about anything any of us does, even if it’s just, “Because it feels good to be selfless,” but to find hers, one needn’t dig.

I also think you’d be nuts to ask for her help again, unless you’re quite sure her help brings more to you than her crowing takes away.

Re: Validating Your Friend:

Tell the whole world before she does, and make a BIG deal out of it. Sing it to the mountaintops. Talk about how she’s your personal hero. Then tell everyone that if they ever need help for anything, anything at all, they should go to your friend, because that’s just the kind of person she is. (Am I mean to think there is some fun to be had here?)

Anonymous

Yes, terrible, mean and awful, and I won’t be associated with the dissemination of your evil ideas. Not in the live chat, in the paper, online, through syndication, by tweeting this column or linking to it on Facebook.

Hi, Carolyn:

Am I wrong to feel guilty about the disparity between how much my boyfriend loves me and how much I love him? He loves me “so much,” I “have his heart,” etc. I really really like him a whole lot but am not sure it is love.

My mom said relationships work better when the man loves the woman more, but there’s a big gulf in my relationship. He’s a great guy, and I want the best for him. I don’t want to hurt him. Do I end it now or wait to see if our feelings grow closer?

Complicating matters is the fact that our relationship has always been long-distance. He lives in another country, so we see each other only once every six months or so but speak every week.

Love Disparity

Listen to your heart and mind, not your mom, please.

What a corrosive wives’ tale that is, blessing the use of men as a means to an end.

Loving fully feels great. Being loved fully feels great. Wanting the best for anyone you date, and for yourself, means holding out for that.

Write to Carolyn Hax, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or tellme@washpost.com. Subscribe at www.facebook.com/carolynhax.

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