DEAR CAROLYN: My best friend recently started dating someone, and it’s 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 (which she has done in the past with other guys and her family too, by her own admission). I try to be supportive, but sometimes I get fed up! What’s my role here?
– Best Friend
DEAR 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 “scar(es) 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, obviously, 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. Seriously.” Or: “The person you need to worry about losing is you. The harder you have to work to ‘keep’ him, the worse for you he is.” Rant it till you believe it.
That would kick butt if it rhymed.
DEAR CAROLYN: I’d like to know your thoughts on siblings splitting the cost of a gift for their parents. I suggested getting our parents tickets to a show for their anniversary, since they love theater. 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, but don’t expect them to factor that in. They have no children and live in apartments. I own a home and do not make huge amounts of money. Am I being unreasonable?
DEAR N.: It doesn’t sound as if you are, though I won’t commit without hearing their sides. Fortunately, establishing who’s reasonable is of little practical use; we can declare a winner and still not solve your problem, which is that your siblings don’t want to pay equally toward this gift.
The path to a reasonable group gift – which is all you really need here, to get the gift question answered – is to say, hey, let’s leave family configuration out of it, because that’s a detour down a rabbit hole. Instead, why doesn’t each of you suggest a different gift, or, alternately, figure out the amount you feel comfortable spending? No skimping, swaggering or judging.
If they choose Option B, figure out the total and choose a gift within that limit – I’m guessing the tickets are too expensive, thus the disagreement – with a card signed by just the siblings. If your spouse wants in, then you two can throw in an additional card or gift on your own.