Life Advice


Health & Spirit

When having a second child means adding a soul-sucking suburban commute

Carolyn Hax on

Or [blank]?

Whatever it is, step away from self-negating hypotheticals and have the courage to speak in your own voice. That's what it means to "adult."

Hi, Carolyn:

I snapped at a dear friend last week. I immediately apologized and have apologized again since, but she is still quite cool.

Here's the context: I am renovating a house. As with every home renovation in the history of the world, it is taking longer, costing more, and creating higher stress than I anticipated or even realized was humanly possible. Over dinner, my friend asked repeatedly for details even after I told her it was a sore spot, and she mentioned all the contractors I should have hired who would be doing a better job than the ones I have.

I snapped at her -- I admit it -- and told her the woulda/coulda/shoulda was not helpful. I did not make a scene or raise my voice; no hush fell over the restaurant, no one stopped and stared.

But I was out of line, and I apologized.

Is there anything I can do beyond apologizing? Is time the great healer?

-- Snapped


Time is a remarkable healer, yes. However, it works only on people who are open to its effects, so if your friend wants to be huffy about this in perpetuity, then neither you nor time can stop her.

This hardly seems like the offense someone would carry to her grave, sure -- but acting wounded at all is already cheeky on her part. Where's her apology for butting in, judging, told-you-so-ing, and showing utter disregard for the polite roadblock(s) you set out to discourage her?

Assuming your account is accurate and complete, your saying "the woulda/coulda/shoulda isn't helpful" was perfectly appropriate -- which leaves only your tone as the potential problem. An apology was all you owed in that case.

So, now you accept the next move is hers -- and in the meantime, perhaps, you wonder how big is the rest of the issue-berg that would explain her unapologetic and outsize interest in, then enduring offense over, someone else's house.


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