NOTE: This archive only contains Carolyn Hax columns through March 2011. Her more recent columns are located here.

Tell Me About It

Tell Me About It
(Nick Galifianakis for The Washington Post)

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By Carolyn Hax
Sunday, July 8, 2007

Dear Carolyn:

I am on the verge of "dumping" a friend of mine but feel uncomfortable about it. Rather, I've let others make me feel uncomfortable because I have been quick to end friendships in the past and therefore have earned the title of The Judgmental One. I am nearing 30 and thinking maybe I should reexamine my stance that my friends' life choices impact how I feel about them, for better or worse.

My friend of 10 years has always been a cheater, a flirt, promiscuous. She's been with someone for quite a few years now, and they've bought a house together. She recently bragged to me about sleeping with a man she met on a trip. This act feels like the breaking point in my ability to befriend her. I think she's wrong to cheat, and I think she's doubly wrong for doing it to the nicest guy she's ever dated -- possibly the nicest guy I've ever met.

I can't respect her enough to be her pal any longer. But what do you think about my (at times) moral high horse?

Princeton, N.J.

If you're judgmental, then you're intolerant of people's mistakes.

If you have judgment, then you're intolerant of people who brag about their mistakes.

Just because you have a record of the former doesn't mean you're barred from the latter. It simply means accounting for your own dark side -- i.e., your quickness to judge others -- before you weigh in on someone else's. Which is exactly what you did here.

The high horse comes out when people point the finger at others before they think to challenge themselves. It's really just using others' failings to pat themselves on the back.

There is, by the way, an easier way to approach this: You don't like this friend anymore. Right? And while there are times we have to put up with them, and it's usually best to be civil to them, there's nothing saying you have to be friends with people you don't like. The issue of judging is moot.

Dear Carolyn:

As a parent with children who are now young adults, I totally embrace the concept of "It takes a village to raise a child." I have a neighbor with whom I'm friendly but not close who has a daughter with whom I have no relationship beyond greetings in passing. The mom and I have discussed parenting on different occasions, and she has made clear her values and desires for her daughter.

The daughter is now 16, and when the folks are at work or away, her boyfriend visits. One morning I was outside when the boyfriend left the house, shirtless and pausing on the porch to zip up his pants. I know the mom wouldn't approve of having the boyfriend over with no parents present, but she has never asked me to monitor the house. What is the proper thing to do: Do I tell the mom or not?

S.

I totally embrace your embrace of the communal nature of child rearing. But is a village really better for having teenage-sex police?

Should you come to have better evidence of worse transgressions -- ones that plainly risk their house or her life -- then you talk to the mom. Until then, this is a family's private affair.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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