The Washington Post
Sick of feigning interest in friend’s trips
Dear Carolyn: I realize this complaint is all about my dirty lens from growing up with narcissistic parents, but here goes the complaining anyway. How much “excitement” must I express about someone’s “exciting,” destination-unrevealed trip? It’s always expressed as, “I’m in London, guess where I’m going next?” I don’t give a [spit]. Tell me when you get back. It’s never, “I’m volunteering in Syria.” It’s, “OMG, the traffic in Cairo is soo bad. But getting to see the pyramids is SO rad. I am breathless with excitement.” At what point may I stop applauding? I am fed up with immaturity, my own as well as others’.
— Complaining Anyway
Complaining Anyway: Feel better now? I do. That was cathartic.
I don’t advise the full authenticity of not giving a [spit], but it sounds as if you could stand to be truer to yourself with your friends.
“No quiz, just tell me where.” Or, “I have no idea where you're going.” Or, “Mars.” Whatever. Certainly snooze or ignore any posts.
Your “excitement” is fake, so you’re at the point already where you can stop applauding.
But you have a lot of room and many possible social maneuvers between that and full-frontal hostility. Actually, I’d argue the fake cheerleading is a form of hostility … anyway, think civil authenticity instead. For example, make I’m-happy-for-you noises and change the subject to one you’d prefer. If fab travelogues hit a nerve, then let her know that. As warmly as you can muster and in the interest of friendship.
If you’re plainly mismatched (ahem), then let that express itself organically and see what happens. Give the friendship a chance to either be real, or sail off into a Santorini sunset. You really don’t have to perform.
Dear Carolyn: My daughter has a 1-year-old, our first grandson, and he’s our joy! Our son is engaged to a great gal, and they have two dogs they treat like their children.
When the grandson was an infant and introduced to the youngish dog, the dog — admittedly a handful — got super excited and curious and barked and jumped. He is not a vicious dog and is fine around other children.
This has become a wedge between the two young couples, and my husband and I are caught in the middle. My daughter and her husband refuse to come to any daily event if the dog is there, even if the dog is kept outside, and my son will not just leave his dog home.
We have tried to talk to our son about kenneling the dogs (will not) and to our daughter about coming as long as dogs are kept outside (won’t do it). Are we just stuck never getting together as a family until the dog dies or the children grow up?!
— Children Trump Dogs
Children Trump Dogs: Your children, yes?
Of course baby + rambunctious dog = err on the side of caution. Duh.
But that bit of reasonableness is buried now in the dirt of the trenches your kids have both dug. If the two sides were at all mature or interested in getting along, then they would have jumped on any of countless ways to accommodate each other.
People who want to manage, manage.
So that’s your obstacle: They don’t want to manage.
And you can’t make them. So. Hereafter, give yourself oxygen — deep breath in, deep breath out — but starve their feud of it. Not one molecule. Swear off talk of “middle.” Zero scheduling contortions. Let time offer them incentives to figure it out; there’s just no duller chore than a grudge.