Ask Amy: Friendship falters over shunning
Dear Amy: My friend, “Cynthia,” and I have been close for 24 years. For most of that time, we have met for lunch once a week (when possible). We are both women over 60.
I have a 22-year-old granddaughter, who is gay.
Cynthia has decided that I am "too accepting" of gayness in general and has told me that she can no longer be my friend.
She has gay family members that she shuns; she told me she wanted me to shun my granddaughter. I will not do that.
Cynthia has four grandchildren under the age of 10. Any of them could be gay.
I asked her if we could agree to disagree, and she refused.
My granddaughter has not asked me to shun anyone who is anti-gay.
My friend has many fine qualities, and I enjoyed her company.
I realize I am much better off without her hatred in my life.
Was it wrong of me to be willing to “agree to disagree” in order to remain friends with Cynthia?
Is that disrespectful to gay people?
Dear Worried: Many people make choices to tolerate someone whose views are diametrically opposed to their own. I believe there are valid reasons to do this, among them: the hope that you can influence the person to change their thinking. Some people also try very hard to lovingly accept those whose views they abhor, as a form of radical acceptance. Also, deep and long-term friendship does mean that we see and accept that our friends are flawed, just as we are.
Where this goes awry is when your friend demanded that you adopt her hateful views. In the end, she rejected you for refusing to hate. In my opinion, this shows how irredeemable she is, and why you are now wondering why you walked even partway toward her.
I’d say that you should allow your guilt about your own acquiescence to be your teacher. To be a true ally, you must reject hatred, and not “agree to disagree,” when the matter at hand involves human beings who are simply being human.
I think you should feel very sorry for this former friend of yours, as well as relieved to be shunned by her. No doubt, you are in very good company.
Dear Amy: I am part of a referral group that is comprised of professionals. We meet weekly.
One of our members is an attorney who wears badly fitted suits.
He is in his early 30s and is in great shape.
The attorney is super-great, but I want to advise him to get a better suit, which would be more fitted, etc. I have seen his photo on his social media, and he looks somewhat dumpy (for lack of a better word).
I myself am in a different profession, and I am a lot older, but I believe that because of his profession, he needs to look less frumpy.
I have met his wife and she is very fashionable, but I don't know them very well.
My instincts are NOT to say anything since he is a bit sensitive.
What should I do? Nothing? Say something to his wife?
– Not Really a Fashionista
Dear Not Really: A business referral group is a networking group whose ultimate purpose is to refer potential clients to one another. So, if you’re a dentist and someone in your personal or professional circle is looking for a lawyer, you might pass along your fellow member’s business card and offer a positive referral.
Does his baggy suit affect his expertise?
Do your age or hairstyle affect yours?
The answer, I guess, is mainly not.
Your group might host seminars or work sessions, reviewing fellow members’ social media profiles and offering suggestions about how to improve their public posture. In my opinion, this would be the time to offer gentle, helpful wardrobe suggestions (and to accept suggestions in return).
Outside of that context, you should keep your views to yourself.
Dear Amy: “Upset DIL” wrote about the extremely unbalanced way her mother-in-law was handling her estate, essentially giving everything to one brother over another brother, who had previously been promised everything.
I would not have believed this, except this is exactly what my mother did!
In retrospect, I see her as a real game-player. As she got older, she wielded these family objects like swords.
I learned that the best response was not to care.
– Older and Wiser
Dear Wiser: “Not caring” is tough to achieve, but it is a game-changer.
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