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Monday question: Sex & the Pity

Posted by Robin Abrahams  November 15, 2010 05:33 AM

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Some letters don't lose anything vital by being cut for publication, but some should be read in their original form. This is one of the latter:

A 'shirt-tail' friend is in the processing being divorced from her husband. Many of us rallied to bolster her self-confidence as well as to improve her parenting during this 'shock and awe' time of her life. It's been close to 18 months and it appears we've created a 'monster' that feels if she just "plays helpless" we will all keep rallying, listening and doing what needs to be done. I'm tired. I've backed away. Twenty years ago my fiance dumped me just a few months before we were to be wed; after 10 days of crying I sought out a good therapist near my apartment so I could visit often until I felt better. A month later I was OK. What do you do with the friend who is completely stuck in a rut, isn't letting therapy 'work', uses the kids as pawns (as does the other spouse)? Do you dump and run or keep listening? It's a 'broken record' that just keeps repeating. What do you do with the intellectual 'dumpee' that insists the 'clock can be turned back, if only...." but the 'dumper' has totally moved on... and on.... and on? At what point is it OK to say that I need to not include this person in my life any longer. I've done whatever I could (and have the receipts to show for it) and the time it takes to listen and support isn't outweighing the frustration of someone letting their 'world' crumble around them needlessly. At what point can I say, "If you won't help yourself even the tiniest bit, I can't help you any longer"?

What do you think? As usual, I'll post my advice and response to your comments on Friday--and don't forget we have a chat on Wednesday right here from noon-1pm. The magazine deadline is four weeks in advance of publication, so if you've got holiday questions looming, the chats are the best way to get answers not just from me, but from the terrific cadre of regular readers and chatters!
This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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About Miss Conduct
Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at missconduct@globe.com.
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Who is Miss Conduct?

Robin Abrahamswrites the weekly "Miss Conduct" column for The Boston Globe Magazine and is the author of Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners. Robin has a PhD in psychology from Boston University and also works as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Her column is informed by her experience as a theater publicist, organizational-change communications manager, editor, stand-up comedian, and professor of psychology and English. She lives in Cambridge with her husband Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, and their socially challenged but charismatic dog, Milo.

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