When Friends Stop Talking

SCENARIO

You and two other women have had a friendship trio for years. All of a sudden you stop hearing from friend #1. You know that she’s been talking to friend #2 and they’ve still been getting together. You tried asking Friend #1 if there’s anything wrong, however, you get no reply. As you don’t know what happened you find the situation invading your thoughts all the time and you’re getting obsessed with it. What do you do?

ANSWER

JILL:
It is never easy when friendships change and people move on. It does indeed leave us hurt and confused.

To help you stop obsessing here are a few suggestions:

1. Move on yourself. Arrange to do some new activities; classes, women’s groups, exercise programs anything to help you feel vital, active and a part of something.

2. Ask the two ladies to have coffee with you. If they do meet with you, be open & honest about how you feel. Avoid words that are accusing or may result in hurt feelings.

It is human nature that a part of you will hope that a coffee meeting will mean that things will go back to the way they were. Be prepared that may not happen; the friend that has had no contact may indeed prefer to spend time with different friends. Try not to take it personally & leave the coffee meeting on good terms.

Try to realize that all the hurt, anger and obsession (your words) gives those people too much power over you. There are other women out there with whom you can form new friendships.

VICKI:
Right now you’re obsessing over the situation because you don’t have a logical answer for it. This is a natural thing for the mind to do as it is trying to make sense of the situation. In order to stop obsessing you either need to accept the situation as it is, in this case following Jill’s suggestions in #1 or work at getting an answer, which Jill wrote about in #2.

If you feel that asking the ladies for coffee won’t work for you I suggest writing a letter to the woman who is no longer talking to you. If you choose to do this than make sure that you write in terms of how you feel and not about the other person’s actions, which will translate to blame statements. Write from the heart. Put the letter away for a few days and then re-read the letter again before sending it.

Please know that you have no blame in this friendship ending. Even if you did do something to offend this woman it is her job to let you know what is on her mind. If she doesn’t take any steps to mend her feelings and the friendship then you cannot take responsibility.

On that note do mention to the friend who tells you of her outings with the woman no longer speaking to you how hearing about the outings makes you feel. This way you are taking responsibility to make sure that you are not building anger and resentment towards her in order for that friendship to continue.


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When Being True To Yourself Means Saying No

QUESTION

My best friend and I have had a wonderful relationship for the past 18 years. We have been there for each other through thick and thin. She recently asked me for a favor that I feel is not in line with my spiritual beliefs and values. How can I be true to the both of us?

ANSWER

VICKI:
When we are true to ourselves we are always being true to the other; this is because we are all one. By giving yourself permission to say no to your friend’s request you model speaking your truth. That is an amazing gift to give someone.

If you were to go against your own principles it would be difficult for you to feel good with yourself and your friendship. There would be a good chance that resentment may come between you and your friend in time under those circumstances, possibly ruining a great and long-term friendship. Following our own inner value system is crucial to all of our relationships.

When you decline your friend’s request remember that it is not what you say and it’s how you say it. Remind your friend of your good feelings and wishes for her and then let her know that you cannot go against your own belief system. Someone who loves you would never want you to do that.

JILL:
Honesty is the best way to be true to yourself at this time and it will also mean that you maintain the integrity of your long friendship. Arrange to meet your friend in a restaurant that you both enjoy. A neutral place is the best backdrop in which to talk openly.
Once you are both there I cannot improve on Vicki’s advice “its not what you say and it’s how you say it…..”
Allow her to react, don’t be defensive, she will with time understand because as you wrote you have been through thick and thin together before.

Age Difference In A Relationship & The Holidays

QUESTION

I have been in a wonderful relationship with a much older man for over a year now. I am in my late 20’s and he is in his early 50’s and although we both were reluctant at first to start a relationship we have found ourselves to be very happy together. With the holidays approaching we are wondering how to introduce each other to our families. I am very close in age to one of his children and he is close in age to my parents. We want to make this as easy on everyone as possible and would love any suggestions you have on breaking the news of our relationship and the age difference to our families.

ANSWER

JILL:
The only important fact is that you are ‘very happy together’. Those who want the best for you both and who love you unconditionally will accept the relationship for that reason. In the first initial moments ‘yes’ the age difference will be a surprise but the more you both make an issue of it the more of an issue it will be.

At one of the family gatherings there may be someone who makes a comment about the two of you, which will probably be followed by an awkward silence. Don’t be defensive, that indicates that on some level the person has struck a cord with you. Just smile and respond quietly.Good replies are: “I’m sorry that you feel that way”.“This really isn’t the time or place”.“___________ & I care for one another and we feel that is all that matters”.

You should each introduce yourself before hand to the person who is giving each respective family gathering. This will break the ice and establish you as an individual and as a courteous person.A phone call to say, “Hello, my name is _________ I will be ________’s guest on _______. I was wondering if there was anything that I could bring.” Whether the answer is yes or no be sure to take a thoughtful gift for the hostess (es). It is not only polite but an indication that all you want is to spend a pleasant time with the family.

So relax, be yourself and enjoy your special relationship.

VICKI:

Do tell your respective families’ before the holidays. To just walk in with your partner may be a shock. Start out by telling them how happy you are in your relationship; let them know the ways you have enriched each other’s lives. Your happiness will be the key to your family opening their minds up, whether a little or a lot.

Then let them know about the age difference. If you have had any concerns about how the age difference may affect your relationship be honest and let your families’ know. This will demonstrate to them that you have indeed thought things out and are acting with a level head.

Before you each talk to your families make sure you are in a positive state of mind. Whatever you do guard yourself from being defensive. Remember that when we expect the worst from other that’s generally what we get; instead be in a positive state of mind and expect the best of them. Then do follow through, as Jill said, and make those introduction phone calls.

Congratulations on finding a relationship that brings you both true joy.

Mom Needs To Let Go Of Adult Son

QUESTION

I am 24, out of college and looking for work. My mom calls me three to four times a day, checking on me and offering advice. When I go home it’s the same thing, she tells me about the mistakes she made and how she doesn’t want me to do the same things. I’m starting to feel real frustrated. How can I tell her to butt out of my life without hurting her feelings?

ANSWER

JILL:
What is happening is actually not about you but about your overly loving mom. She needs to move forward and embrace the second half of her life. You need to have the “Mom, I love you but………..” talk. I would recommend that it is done face to face on one of your trips home. Sit quietly in the comfort of her home and engage in an adult conversation. She has to see you as her grown up son, who needs to move on with his life and make his own mistakes. Stay away from giving examples as they are in the past. Everything that you say is about taking you both to the next level; you as an independent man (and isn’t that really what she has raised you to be) and her putting herself first.

She will probably get emotional but keep going. If you don’t have this conversation your loving relationship will start to crumble under the weight of her interference.
Tell her when you will be calling her; at first this may still be more than you want but you can decrease this slowly.

After you have gone back to your life, you need to set verbal boundaries
If she starts to call unannounced say that you will catch up with her on whatever day you have picked.

Initially keep the conversations upbeat and general. Ask her questions about her life and encourage (don’t push) her to follow new interests.
When she strays into advice mode, just say firmly “Thanks mom, I’ll work it out”.
If she starts to criticize something you have done “Mom, I really want to share this with you and I would like you to just listen.”

Lastly, ask her for her opinion. Now that might seem to contradict what you are working towards but it isn’t. It will make her feel needed and with time stop her from worrying about every little thing you are doing. She will relax and start to realize that for the big stuff you still value her experience.

VICKI:
Your frustration is understandable on many levels:
1. You’re holding back from speaking your truth and that creates disharmony within.
2. You’re boundaries are being crossed and that causes anger.
3. When your parent offers unsolicited advice or questions you it may appear as if they have no faith in you; this can make a person feel small.

Jill was absolutely correct when she said that it is not about you. Your mother has obviously made choices in her life that she regrets and is trying to save you from having regrets. She is guilty of loving you the best way she knows how.

Follow the steps Jill has outlined for you and make sure when you speak to your mother that you acknowledge that you understand that she is acting out of love and that you love her for it.

Make sure you tell her exactly how her actions affect you; be honest about your feelings using gentle words, however when letting her know what you expect from her be firm.

Gossip After Office Romance Gone Wrong

QUESTION

I work in a law office and made the mistake of sleeping with one of the junior partners. I quickly broke it off when one of the secretaries told me that I wasn’t his first office fling. Problem is one of the female junior partners is telling everyone that I slept with this guy and is giving the impression that we are still together. What should I do, I am only a paralegal, which kinda makes her my boss? Do I wait for it to blow over or do I confront her?

ANSWER

JILL:
You should talk to her but there is a right way of going about this. The office may not give you the privacy that you need. Invite (don’t confront) her for coffee, if she is reluctant ask her to meet at the office in a room where you can close the door.

Frame your words carefully and be clear in your mind as to the outcome that you desire from this meeting.
Make the words your own, but there are some guidelines

“I have made a mistake, but it is over. (Insert her name here) it has come to my attention that you have been talking about my actions. I would appreciate it if you would stop.”
Don’t be defensive or explain yourself.
Use her name it puts you on an equal footing
Don’t accuse her of gossiping it will make her defensive and you will find it hard to reach a conclusion from that view point
Bring it to a polite end. This is not high school you are both professional women, who want to get ahead and be respected.

If she argues or blusters, say again ‘It’s over what you are saying to people is untrue.” If you are concerned that she will continue to gossip tell her that you will go to the Human Resources Department. You will have the upper hand in that you have tried to quietly deal with the situation yourself.

VICKI:
Yes you should talk to this woman which is much different than confronting someone, especially in an office situation.

You must always be careful whom you tell personal things at work as office gossip abounds. From the secretary to the female junior partner – how many people did you talk to this about? If only one then you need to talk to that original one person as that is how it all got started. Or possibly the junior partner you slept with started the talking in that case talk to him about his indiscretion.

One more thing, you are not “only a paralegal”, you are a vital part of that office and should be treated with respect at all times. If you were not vital your position in the office would not exist. Every position in every company is needed. How long would your office be able to operate if no one cleaned it? Not long I promise. Everyone contributes and deserves to be respected.