Do not limit your hap­pi­ness just to please friends

Austin American-Statesman - - AUSTIN360 DAILY - Carolyn Hax For more things to do, see our list­ings on austin360.com.

A few of my close friends have re­cently gone through dif­fi­cult breakups; mean­while, I’m newly in love af­ter many years of be­ing more-or­less-hap­pily sin­gle.

I’m try­ing to bal­ance grad school, be­ing a good friend, and de­vel­op­ing this great new re­la­tion­ship, but a cou­ple of com­ments from my girl­friends have made it clear I’m not really balancing the last two very well.

One friend re­cently ad­mit­ted to be­ing dis­tant be­cause she’s not ea­ger to see/hear about happy cou­ple-y stuff so soon af­ter her own breakup, and an­other was an­gry with me for can­cel­ing a “date” with her be­cause she as­sumed I’d can­celed to hang out with my boyfriend (not true, I had a school is­sue, which she knew about).

I thought I was do­ing a de­cent job balancing th­ese things un­til th­ese friends told me oth­er­wise.

How can I fig­ure out where the line is so I don’t cause pain to th­ese friends?

I tried sin­cerely ask­ing them what they’d like me to change, but that only yielded as­sur­ances that they’re happy for me and that I should con­tinue be­ing happy. — K. Dear K.: Con­sider this per­mis­sion to take them at their word.

You’re not caus­ing them pain; their cir­cum­stances are.

Merely by be­ing sen­si­tive to this, you ful­fill your pri­mary obli­ga­tion to them as their friend. It is not your job to tip­toe around as if they’re unexploded ord­nance.

Maybe you aren’t balancing well, sure, and your friends’ con­cerns re­flect that, but it seems pre­ma­ture to draw that con­clu­sion from just two in­ci­dents, quite dif­fer­ent ones at that.

The first was an ad­mis­sion that be­ing around your hap­pi­ness is hard. While it’s good you didn’t re­spond with anger or by tak­ing it per­son­ally — all too com­mon re­sponses — you still leapt to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for her feel­ings.

Say in­stead, “I un­der­stand, take any time you need,” and you ac­cept her feel­ings ver­sus pre­sum­ing to fix them.

The sec­ond was a mis­un­der­stand­ing — one you were ap­par­ently in a po­si­tion to clear up by re­mind­ing her of your prior school com­mit­ment.

If it does turn out th­ese two were re­lated parts of a larger mis­take you’re mak­ing, then you’ll soon find that out.

In the mean­time, please know there is also great kind­ness in let­ting prob­lems re­tain their nat­u­ral size. Dear Carolyn: I have bat­tled a jeal­ous streak my whole life. That said, I am jeal­ous of my hus­band’s ex-wife be­cause he still gets in touch with her.

She left him wounded from her se­rial ex­tra­mar­i­tal af­fairs, and he lost con­sid­er­able sav­ings to sup­port her ca­reer moves.

He knows I don’t like him con­tact­ing her, and he knows it in­fu­ri­ates me when he speaks highly of her. Am I be­ing a con­trol freak? — Weary of Ex-Wife Dear Weary: He could re­main jus­ti­fi­ably an­noyed by her in­fi­delity and op­por­tunism while still valu­ing her opin­ion on, say, his mom or work or a re­cent gallery show.

I don’t like propos­ing ther­apy as an only an­swer, but it seems like it’s time to call up com­pe­tent re­in­force­ments (ther­apy) in this re­cur­ring fight with your­self.

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