Dear Carolyn: My aunt writes a blog about family relationships. She has a few hundred followers. Every so often, she writes something about one of her adult nieces or nephews (ahem) to illustrate a point about managing conflict, forgiveness, sibling rivalry, etc. She changes the names, but to family members and close friends, it is pretty freaking obvious who and what she is writing about. We don’t like having our dirty laundry aired, but Aunt doesn’t want to stop drawing from real life to illustrate a point. She’s a great aunt otherwise! Any advice?
Adult Niece or Nephew
Two paths to laundry peace: Either it doesn’t get aired, or you stop caring that it does.
It sounds as if you tried the first path to no avail. It’s unfortunate, of course, that you can’t make her stop.
But maybe it’s not the worst thing ever. Not caring what people say about you is the emotional mountaintop, and now you have an excuse to try to climb it. Suggested shortcut: Stop reading the blog.
Dear Carolyn: I’m currently back on the dating scene and have been wondering what will happen when I get close enough to someone where I have to admit to them this truth: My best friend is my ex-boyfriend. My ex and I spent four years together and have been broken up for two years, but still constantly text and keep each other abreast of what’s going on in our lives – essentially, we are best friends.
Neither of us is looking to get back together with the other, but I know that it may cause an issue in future relationships. I don’t want to lose my friendship with my ex, but as I begin to date more seriously, I wonder how to explain the dynamic without causing unneeded jealousy or suspicion in a future partner.
I don’t want to downplay the role my ex’s friendship is in my life to partners, but I can see why it might cause some friction.
Ex’s Best Friend
“Admit” a friendship? When you grow “close enough” that you “have to”? (Intensifying my editors’ dream of “disabling” my “quotation mark” “key.”)
It’s hard to think of a better formula for jealousy and suspicion than withholding, spinning and defending a truth about oneself, and your letter hits that trifecta.
When you go on a date, allow your best friend to come up organically. “My friend Exter always says I (whatever)” – just as you would refer to your friend Jane. And, just as you’d mention knowing Jane since you were kids, you note you and Exter used to date.
That establishes your friendship as an ordinary, utterly non-scandalous fact of you – as no explanation could, since explaining says there’s something to explain, hiding says there’s something to hide and admitting says someone did something wrong. Mentioning whenever it happens to come up is what says, “Nothing to see here.” If he asks: (Shrug). “We’re better as friends.”
Some dates will think this friendship is weird, wrong or threatening, sure. That’s their prerogative – and for your purposes, it doesn’t matter who’s right, you each just need to date others who agree with you. The best way to find these men is to be open about, and OK with, this friendship yourself.
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.