Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The Case of the Impulsive Friend

The situation is not complicated. It is not difficult to understand. Carolyn Hax is on the money this time. But, it is a sign of our times that people grant themselves the right to harass others in public, based on an appearance. In this case, a mistaken impression.

Here is the letter, from today’s column:

My friend "Kathy" is like a sister to me and would do anything for me. Her only problem is that she is really impulsive and has a bad temper.

Last weekend, my boyfriend of seven months, "Dan," went to dinner with a friend from law school who just so happens to be a woman. I didn't go because I knew they'd have more fun just the two of them, and his friend only had the one night before she had to fly out.

Kathy was in the same restaurant on a date and she saw Dan laughing and talking with a strange woman. Unfortunately, she didn't bother talking to him, just called him a cheating scumbag and dumped his water on his food. When she got home she texted me a picture of them together, and I immediately explained the situation to her and called Dan.

He wouldn't let me come over. He said the incident shook up his friend and ruined their night.

Dan now doesn't want anything to do with Kathy, but said he knows how close we are so he won't ask me to cut her off. He said he needs some time to think things over.

I haven't seen him since the incident. I'm devastated. I'm in love with Dan, which is why I think Kathy went off like she did. She texted him an apology. He won't accept it, but he also keeps telling me I have nothing to apologize for. How can I fix this so he doesn't break up with me?

— My Problem Now

I am sure that you understand that MPN has a problem. She chooses her friends poorly and defends them when their inexcusable behavior. Dan does not ask her to cut off her friend, because he apparently now knows enough about MPN to want her out of his life. Thinking it over means that it's over. It’s his prerogative. And there is nothing she can do. Short of completely breaking off all ties with Kathy. If she won’t do so, she has told us all we need to know about her own character.

Hax offers a slightly more conciliatory approach. 

Your friend needs help. Embarrassing herself, putting innocent people through an ugly scene and jeopardizing a relationship that’s precious to one of her closest friends?

That’s the kind of screw-up trifecta that can wake a person up to this fact. Apparently it wasn’t for Kathy.

So please recognize this as your responsibility in “fixing” this, your way to try to make Dan and his friend whole. He’ll get over this or he won’t, but either way you can square up and not give Kathy a pass. Not anymore. “What you did is not okay; it’s time to get help for your temper.”

Assuming she lets you, you can be at her side as she does.

We would want to know how many other times Kathy has embarrassed herself or her friend. Assuming that it has happened before, MPN has no obligation to stand by her friend while she undergoes whatever counseling might help her. Besides, why would Kathy take the counseling seriously if she is not paying a price for her appalling behavior. Too many people have been too understanding for too long. It’s time to draw a line and end the relationship with Kathy.

It's one thing to be impulsive and to have a bad temper. It's quite another to have a weak and bad character. Reducing Kathy's moral failing to a psycho issue solves nothing.


Anonymous said...

How could this woman have a close friend who acts like a five year old? Something very wrong with her discernment and level of tolerance for insanity.

whitney said...

I also suspect the friend knows more than she's saying. I don't think it was a coincidence that the friend and the boyfriend ended up in the same restaurant. I think she was sent to spy on him. The boyfriend shows some wisdom not seeing writer anymore