Advice columnist

Adapted from a recent online
discussion.

Dear Carolyn: In my 20s, I made the decision to live in a developing country for work and education and stayed for more than 10 years. It was tough, as life in a developing country is, but I came out fulfilled and with a renewed sense of self. Fast-forward 20 years, and I have a friend who regularly says things like "I can't believe you decided to go there" and makes disparaging remarks about my choice and the country. I've discussed the pros and cons, and have even stated that it was once a home. But the friend doesn't let up. How do I curb the disparaging remarks?

— Peace Corps Volunteer

Peace Corps Volunteer: You’ve been telling, so maybe start asking? “You bring this up a lot. Any reason?” And/or: “It sounds as if you’re curious about my time there, since you keep bringing it up. Are there any questions I can answer?” Or even: “Where have you traveled? I’d love to hear about it.”

Think: part psychologist, part anthropologist, part subtext ninja.

If that doesn’t get you anywhere, there’s always: “Do you have any idea how narrow-minded you sound when you say stuff like that?” Because, seriously. But leave it in your pocket as a last resort.


(Nick Galifianakis/for The Washington Post)

Dear Carolyn: My husband and I have been trying to conceive for the better part of a year now with no success. It's been tough, especially with several close friends and family members getting pregnant while I haven't, but I'm trying to keep my chin up.

My mother-in-law is friends with my parents and siblings on social media and comments on every photo of my baby nephew — and my family posts a lot — with things like "You are so lucky to be a grandma!" or "Your family makes such cute babies!" These comments always end up in my feed, and they make me upset every time I see them. I feel ridiculous telling her that she can't comment on my family's photos, but her comments make me feel a lot of pressure and resentment. She has no idea we're having trouble conceiving or even that we're trying, and I definitely don't want to tell her. Do I just have to suck it up and seethe quietly to myself?

— You Know I Can See This, Right?

You Know I Can See This, Right?: Social media is not required! That is the shortest distance between you and a healthier state of mind. Unplug. Or “pause” your mother-in-law, or edit your feed to exclude the baby posts, whatever works. Let them all carry on somewhere beyond the reach of your nerves. It is as basic as advising someone whose cut won’t heal to stop picking the scab.

If you’re afraid of missing something, then tell people you normally keep in touch with that way to text you if they need you; you’re cutting out social media for a while because it’s too distracting. (Guess what!? It is.)

Use the sudden gift of free time on yourself, to do things that soothe or restore you during this stressful time.

Write to Carolyn Hax at tellme@washpost.com. Get her column delivered to your inbox each morning at wapo.st/haxpost.