DEAR AMY: One of my close women friends has been married for many years to a sweet, “passive” man who is somewhat inept and bumbling when she asks him to help her with tasks. His intentions are always good, but he lacks common sense.
When my friend is displeased with any little mistakes he makes, she (in front of her friends that are present) reprimands him in a sharp, exasperated way, ensuring that not only will he hear her displeasure, but all those present will, too.
This not only makes me uncomfortable, but I feel compassion for her husband, who is constantly berated by her.
I want to talk to her about what I see. Would this be appropriate? If so, how can I broach the topic?
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– An Uncomfortable Friend
DEAR FRIEND: If your female friend were being berated and publicly embarrassed and reprimanded by her husband, wouldn’t someone step in to try to intervene? I assume so.
I think when you’re contemplating confronting someone over unacceptable behavior, you shouldn’t worry too much about being appropriate. Abusive people count on bystanders being too intimidated or well behaved to confront the problem.
So you tell your friend, “I want you to know that I am very disturbed by the way I’ve seen you berate ‘John’ when we’re together. If someone was treating you this way and disrespecting you like this, I’d have to say something – but you’re the one doing it.” Someone in your group should also reach out to the husband to try to discern how this affects him and offer him support.
DEAR AMY: I’m a 15-year-old girl in high school. I think I have boy problems.
I always get these super nice guys to like me. But once I find out they like me, I’m horrified. I’m afraid of relationships. There are so many unknowns.
I’m afraid of awkward silences, awkwardness in general and I think high-schoolers in general (including myself) have a problem of trying to always seem 100 percent perfect in front of their crushes.
It’s almost like the stress of being in a relationship is enough to NOT be in one. I almost feel like I would rather just sit with my normal friends at lunch instead of with a boyfriend since it’s less stressful.
I don’t understand why I can’t just be in a normal high school relationship (whatever that is; if someone could explain that that would be great) without feeling so worried all the time.
I can’t figure out what my underlying problem is, and what I get so stressed out about.
Can you help?
– Sort of Scared Sophomore
DEAR SCARED: Your “problem” isn’t really a problem. What you are going through is universal, and it’s called: Being 15.
Your awareness of how awkward young relationships can be tells me that you are actually quite mature. At least, I need to think that, because I felt the exact same way when I was your age.
The answer for you is to wait to date until you feel ready. Let yourself off the hook. Be a great friend, student and an involved citizen. These “great guys” who like you will still be great and they will still like you, whether or not you pair off together now.
When you’re ready (physically, emotionally and otherwise), many of your concerns will fall away. Try not to feel pressured about this and remember – the big secret to teen relationships that no one tells you about is that there is no “perfect” way to have them.
DEAR AMY: I am saddened that you heard not one response in support of your compassion toward the stepchild and so-called “spoiled brat” referred to in the letter from “Frustrated.”
I am an educator, and too often I see admittedly difficult children struggle because the adults in their lives fail to see their difficulty as a request for help with a problem they are having, rather than just some annoyance that needs to be “disciplined.” Kudos to you for your compassion and also for encouraging adults to act like adults!
– Pro-compassion Educator
DEAR EDUCATOR: Thank you very much.