Carolyn Hax is away. The following first appeared in 2003.
Carolyn: A few weeks ago, my fiance casually mentioned that his sister doesn’t like me anymore. I was shocked. I considered her one of my good friends. He said she mentioned some “snotty” remarks I supposedly had made to her. I don’t feel there was any way that what I said to her could have been construed as “snotty”; anyway, I didn’t mean to come across that way. She’s behaving pretty normally to me, but is being kind of distant.
Here’s the deal: I want to talk to her and straighten this out. My fiance says no, because he wasn’t supposed to tell me. So am I supposed to tell her and make her mad at me AND her brother, for telling me??
Don’t Use My Real Name or Else
Never miss a local story.
And, don’t forget — make your fiance mad at you for telling her that he told. Why skimp on drama.
If it makes you feel better, you’re the one who has the more legitimate grievance with both of them (and with their parents, I suppose, for passing along such rank communication skills – though that drags in the parents’ parents, and the parents’ parents’ parents, and you do have your hands full already).
Since you were friends, the sister should have talked to you directly.
Failing that, your fiance should have insisted she talk to you.
Failing that, he should have tried to argue your side, even if he could only assume your un-snotty intentions.
Failing that, he never should have agreed not to tell you, especially since he told you.
Failing that, he shouldn’t have told you only to deny you a chance to respond.
But hey, I bet he’s really nice-looking.
Since he got into the middle of this (the first fatal failing), he can get himself out – and by doing so he can repair things. He needs to tell his sister that he leaked – i.e., take responsibility – and then ask her to try to make peace – i.e., take responsibility. A happy outcome still depends mostly on her, but he does owe it to you to ask.
Failing that, ask yourself if you’re ready to “I do” yourself back to third grade, till death do you graduate.
Carolyn: People say SO often that one great personal achievement is not caring what other people think about you. Me, I don’t overly fear rejection from stating an opinion, raising a legitimate beef, or feeling sad when I just feel sad. I don’t take it personally when the supermarket clerk doesn’t smile back at me (well, not too personally).
However, I do care that my boyfriend likes me, my friends enjoy my company, and my parents accept me for who I am (a happy homo). I mean, how can any social creature honestly say he doesn’t care what other people think of him?
What’s missing here is the context. The point is not to care (BEG ITAL)while you’re deciding who you are(END ITAL). You’re gay because you’re gay, right, and not to make people like you? Likewise, be nice because you want to, work hard because it builds character, take accordion lessons because you feel it, baby – and never just to make people like you. That’s how you become real, and that, in turn, gives people something to like.
Email Carolyn at email@example.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.