Hax: Helping boost friend’s self-esteem

The Washington PostFebruary 28, 2014 

Hi, Carolyn: My friend is in her first serious relationship (we’re both in our late 20s). It sounds like they’re in it for the long haul, and I’m happy for her.

The thing is, she talks a lot about being afraid of “losing him” or “scaring him off,” and I can’t quite put my finger on why this bugs me. It feels like she’s undervaluing herself. I try to be supportive, but sometimes I get fed up! What’s my role here?

BEST FRIEND

Maybe it bugs you because it’s self-negating, melodramatic, and cedes all power to him while she serves as panicked supplicant?

Your role and her role are the same, conveniently: Be yourselves.

For you, that means expressing the fed-up part of you instead of muffling it in layers of timid support. For her, it’s immersing herself in the idea that if her natural behavior scares him off then she’ll have done herself the favor of revealing he’s not the guy for her.

The latter isn’t something you get to decide for her, but you can certainly advise it as part of the unveiling of your badder, straight-talking inner self: “Hey — cut that out. He either loves you as-is, or he isn’t the right guy.”

Hi, Carolyn: I’d like to know your thoughts on siblings splitting the cost of a gift for their parents. We siblings usually split the total among us.

Now my siblings want me to pay double my share, since I am married and have a dual-income household and they do not.

This seems unfair to me. After all, I have three kids and thus more expenses. Am I being unreasonable?

N.

It doesn’t sound as if you are, though I won’t commit without hearing their sides. We can declare a winner and still not solve your problem.

The path to a reasonable group gift is to say, hey, let’s leave family configuration out of it. Instead, why don’t you figure out the amount you feel comfortable spending? No skimping, swaggering or judging. Just find that total and choose a gift within the limit.

Email tellme@washpost.com. Chat online at 10 a.m. Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.

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