Carolyn Hax: The ins and outs of relationships

The Washington PostJuly 4, 2014 

While I'm away, readers give the advice.

On speaking up to friends in abusive relationships:

Years ago I was in an emotionally abusive relationship that I couldn't see for myself. I was recently divorced, my head was spinning and I was feeling like a horrible failure.

I'll never forget when a close friend asked me, "Do you realize you always make excuses for her behavior?" Suddenly my mental fog lifted. He was absolutely right and I'd never looked at it that way. It was a moment that changed my life.

Years later I told my friend how helpful his "mirror" perspective had been and his reaction was, "I said that to you? I'm so sorry!" I laughed and told him to never, ever apologize and never hold back. I'm forever grateful he risked our friendship to show me the way out.

M.

On holding the parental tongue:

I've had two young adult daughters, 19 and 21, choose paths I wasn't happy with (both became pregnant after dating for six months or less). They knew how I felt about the topic. One blew up at me and lost her natural mind when I expressed my disappointment, so we no longer speak.

If you raised them, they know how you feel about their choices before you even say it. It won't change the outcome and definitely won't enhance the relationship. Share your feelings with a close friend and leave it alone. If things work out for them, hooray! If not, they'll figure it out. So zip it.

S.

On the burden of being the "bad guy":

I ended a relationship in a cowardly and abrupt fashion. My reasons were valid but my behavior was not. I felt bad for years.

I finally emailed my (perfectly sweet but quite young) ex and apologized. His response spoke volumes. He said, "You taught me that I was worth loving and I'd never known that before." We are important in each other's lives in ways we don't comprehend.

C.

Email tellme@washpost.com.

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