Question:

For the last few years, my friend L. has been receiving personal training from K. They have a long, strange history that until recently had normalized.

In the last year, they began to be intimate again, despite his recent engagement to a woman in Texas and against my advice. The last time they saw each other, they were intimate but did not address his wedding or their situation.

Six weeks later, he is married, and they are involved in a dispute regarding fees that has devolved into ugly messages and calls. L. is thinking about sending evidence of K.'s infidelity to his wife.

I find this ridiculous and hurtful to everyone and am advising her to forgo the money and move on, but it seems like her anger is about more. How can I convince her this is the worst approach?

Answer: Her anger is about more, clearly. It's not, however, just about money plus wounded feelings over his marrying someone else.

This is about your friend's emotional chaos. Does she have any awareness of her own emotional health? Do you and she have a history of honesty about the larger meaning of such high-drama entanglements, be it with K. or others, since surely there have been other dramas?

If you do, that's where you start - with a reminder that you and she have been down this unhealthy path before and that she has managed to get herself off it before (right?).

If you don't have that precedent, you need to start from scratch by pointing out that her getting sucked into all this - the messing with a soon-to-be-married man, the "ugly messages and calls," the idea of spite-bombing this marriage - means she needs to take a deep breath and ask herself who she wants to be.

Does she really want to be vengeful and destructive? Does she want more of this marriage's blood on her hands than she already has? Does she want anger making her decisions for her? Or would she rather be guided by decency, courage and love?

Since there's no guarantee L. will listen, you're as much the target of this message as she is. While your intentions sound good, you also have been sucked in to the point where a deep breath would serve you well, too. Is an effort to "convince" someone not to be spiteful and petty really the best use for your energy?

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Chat with Carolyn Hax online at noon Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.