Dear Carolyn: A year ago I met a girl in college. We bonded and quickly became very good friends. In fact, I think of her as one of my best friends.
The thing is, a few days ago she said something horrible behind my back, and the only reason I know is because she was recorded saying it and this recording was sent to me.
She was quick to apologize for the way it sounded, insisting it was only meant to be a joke. The person she was with when it happened does joke around with us a lot, so I kind of want to believe her, but she hurt me really badly and the few people I have consulted about this have told me a friend wouldn’t say that.
After we talked it out openly and honestly, I decided to forgive her for what she said, but I don’t know whether I should listen to others and stay away from her or just move on with our friendship as if she had done nothing. What should I do?
— A Concerned Friend
A Concerned Friend: It’s hard to know what you “should” do in a tough emotional situation, especially when trust is involved. Counting on a panel of friends to be your tiebreaker, when they haven’t lived this friendship themselves and when their feelings aren’t the ones on the line, can complicate as much or more than it illuminates.
That someone (a) recorded and (b) reported this is a nasty wrinkle of its own. (That’s the friend to dump, no?)
While you are understandably stuck on what you “should” do, I suggest just doing what you “can” — as in, can you “just move on with our friendship as if she had done nothing”?
Or, if not: Can you see this friend in a different light and be her friend on different terms? Can you be open to seeing this as an improvement, given that you’re now better informed — and maybe a little wiser about the sharp edges to the way you and these friends “joke around”?
Or, if not: Can you simultaneously keep your guard up and trust her with a second chance?
Or, if not: Can you stay in your same general group and demote this friend to acquaintance until you figure out what to believe about her?
If not: Then you have your answer — no agonizing required.
Dear Carolyn: I am throwing a baby shower for a dear friend. She opted for the traditional, ladies-only shower.
Many guests assume they can bring their children.
I am at a loss how to handle the few rotten apples making me feel bad because I won’t cater to their kids. To chastise me publicly for doing so is ludicrous. Is it not rude to assume kids are allowed? How do I handle this rudeness?
— Seething Hostess
Seething Hostess: Yes, it’s rude of them to assume, and chastising you publicly is an excellent way for these women to make asses of themselves.
It hurts to be their target, no doubt, but technically you’re not obligated — neither to indulge them, nor feel bad for denying them, nor apologize nor keep them on the guest list.
So don’t. “This is a shower for adults only. Thank you for respecting my and the guest of honor’s wishes.”