While I’m away, readers give the advice.
On whether to compliment people on their weight loss:
People should not compliment others for weight loss unless the person losing weight is happy about it and wants to talk about it. Yes, there will be people waiting for compliments. A close friend might ask about it, though, before being happy for them.
I am very heavy. Twice in recent years I have lost weight. The first time was because of breast cancer. The second time was because of a heart problem. And the moment someone would realize that I’d lost some weight, they’d be saying things like, “Good going!” or, “I’m so happy for you.”
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I know they meant well. But I felt like weight loss was so important that the fact that I lost it during major health crises didn’t matter. It seems like in our culture, it doesn’t matter when or how we die, but that we die thin.
If we don’t know how or why someone lost weight, we need to be very careful not to cheer on a symptom of a deadly disease.
On long-distance as the relationship kiss of death — or life:
I had a short, intense relationship with a guy when I was a senior in college. I then had to go active duty (Army) and leave for an overseas assignment. I was very conflicted about our relationship and its future.
Boyfriend, however, said I was too young to try and make a long-distance, exclusive relationship work. He said he gave me complete freedom to do as I pleased and focus on my new (hard) career, and said that if we still felt strongly about one another in three years when I returned, then we would see what happened.
This was before cellphones, texts or emails — only snail mail. I was a little hurt by what seemed to be his indifference, but was quickly consumed by my new career. We wrote long letters that discussed everything but “us.”
Six months later, he wrote that he had decided that being alone was intolerable, that he wanted to spend his life with me, and was willing to quit his job/career and join me any way I was willing. We married in an unplanned (and $0 cost ceremony) and have been happily married now for 33 years.
No discussion can predict or force the future. How you feel as your life changes is all that matters.
On dealing with a difficult person in your life when escape is not a good option:
For a few years I had a difficult problem with a co-worker who was excellent at pushing my buttons. Dreading interactions with him was filling up too much time in my head. So one day I sat down and figured out how much time in the day I had to work with him. It turned out to be such a little period of time that I was able to put that time in better context with all the time I didn’t see him, so he lost that ability to affect me so much.
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.