Question:

My daughter Teri and son Mark have always been close and included each other in their social lives. A couple of years ago, Teri's fiance broke their engagement. She was very hurt, of course, but several months later met her soul mate and is now happily married.

About a year ago, she had a falling-out with her best friend.

The problem is that her brother still considers these people his friends. Everyone lives in different cities, so there is no chance of anyone running into each other. But Teri feels that Mark's continued friendships are a betrayal, and Mark doesn't think she has the right to decide who he chooses for friends.

Is one person right, or is there a way to compromise? The issue of the boyfriend is mostly about hurt feelings. They had been together for several years, and Teri wanted to get married. He went along with it for a while, then admitted he didn't really want to marry her (after wedding plans and deposits already were involved).

The falling-out came when the best friend made calls to several mutual friends saying she was worried that Teri's new husband might be abusive. I'm not aware of what caused her to say this, but my daughter assures me it is not true and I absolutely believe her.

Answer:

This problem could go away in three words, except that needing to hear these words is exactly what makes someone unwilling to hear them:

Teri, grow up.

No one would deny the pain of being dumped by your fiance, or the frustration of having to defend your husband and judgment to your best friend.

However, unless the fiance and friend had ulterior motives, their behavior

was motivated by their affection for you

. Yes, the end results were two broken relationships and no small amount of humiliation - which we'll come back to in a second - but it all started with their not wanting you to get hurt.

Specifically: With his heart not in it, the fiance's only choices were between hurting you a lot now or a lot more later. And the friend was worried about you. Maybe you're angry that she didn't talk to you directly first, but wasn't she obligated to investigate her concerns? Isn't that what a best friend does?

Nobody aspires to be the publicly jilted lover or the rumor-tainted newlywed. But sometimes things just play out that way, and we end up appearing in humiliating roles that we're desperate to strike from the script.

The solution, however, isn't just to start rubbing out actors. That just punishes the innocent - and, in this case, the well-meaning - in the course of accomplishing what? It doesn't de-humiliate you. If anything, you look worse for not taking your bad news with grace.

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