DEAR CAROLYN: How do you treat someone who talks about you behind your back? She does this with everyone. Cutting her out of my life is not an option.
DEAR G.: Think of it in terms of output and input, where output is what you say to her, and input is what she says about you.
First, control your output by giving her as little information as possible. Be cordial, be vague, be neither defensive nor confrontational. “Hi, Back-Stabby” – B.S. for short – “you’re looking well.”
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Be ready with virtuous places to be other than in the room with this person.
“I’ve got the dishes – you go enjoy the fire.” (“Preferably in it,” you will say silently to yourself.)
Then, control how you handle the input.
When you learn of something terrible B.S. said about you, use this checklist: (1) This is about B.S., not me; (2) Because B.S. treats everyone this way; (3) People I respect know this about B.S.; (4) So my only concern is, can I ignore this latest backstabbing, or do I need to correct the record with key people?
Master this, and you can add another coping skill: pity. Who tears everyone down? Only those who are dying inside.
DEAR CAROLYN: It’s been a year since my divorce, and I feel like I’m supposed to want to date now. Some co-workers have even been encouraging me to sign up for a dating website.
But I’ve spent this last year doing things by myself, rediscovering what makes me happy, making new friends, and keeping my home the way I want it, without having to compromise with anybody else. It’s been great! I just can’t imagine wanting to have some other person hanging around all the time, getting in my way, and forcing me to consider them in my plans.
Is dating one of those things I need to make myself do as part of my recovery from the divorce?
Single And Loving It
DEAR SINGLE: Possibly. But it’s also possible that standing up to outside pressure to date is the thing you need to make yourself do as part of your recovery.
The way to tell which is correct, for you, is to pay careful attention to the way you feel and then honor that.
That’s the whole point of your (admirable) recovery, after all – to stop marching to someone else’s idea of what you’re “supposed to” do, and learn to listen to your own wants and needs.
That’s not always easy, even when you’re a veteran at it.
However, we all tend to have our own thought and behavior patterns that serve as a bread-crumb trail to our true beliefs, and your current “rediscovering” path is perfect for learning yours. “I just can’t imagine wanting …” sure looks like one to me.