Carolyn Hax is away. The following first appeared in 2004.
Dear Carolyn: I'm dating a man who works in information technology, is a brilliant artist and photographer when he chooses to be, is great with kids, has a B.A. in history, has no debt and minimal expenses, and hates his well-paying job. So he's finally decided he wants out of his career. He has no idea what he wants to do instead; he just wants to make the same money (right off the bat) and not hate what he's doing.
This morning, before work, he suggested I e-mail his résumé to all of my friends. Something felt really wrong about this, and I said so. I feel a little exploited.
He was very hurt and confused that I felt that way. He hasn't sent his résumé in to any employment agencies, or even submitted to other jobs that I know of. Am I being stingy?
Carolyn says: Only if that's the new word for having integrity. Some people — including your boyfriend, I imagine — would see his idea as "networking." But since he hasn't so much as clicked a mouse on his own behalf, you suspect he's using you to avoid having to make any real effort himself, and you resent it. Totally reasonable position. A position that I suspect you've been forming since long before he achieved career crisis. A brilliant artist "when he chooses to be"? Nice eye-blink editorial there.
Anyway. Because you feel exploited, you're actually obligated not to send out that e-mail; it would be wrong to foist upon your friends anything you didn't appreciate having foisted upon you. Stand your ground. If only chain e-mailees were so considerate.
A friend no more?
Dear Carolyn: I have a friend with whom I have been close for almost a decade — best friends even. Recently, though, he blows off promises, is never available and is all about himself. It's gotten to where I really don't want to hang out with him anymore, and I feel like we're not really friends, just kind of acquaintances.
I feel bad about blowing him off in return, though, because over the years he's been there when I really needed him. I try to talk to him to find out if something is going on, but he says no.
At what point do you call it quits with a friend, and to what length do you give them room to be a snot, for old times' sake?
Carolyn says: Any chance he's depressed? Cancellations and self-absorption are two familiar signs. Just a thought.
Regardless, his never being available means you don't see him anyway, which means there's little immediate, practical difference between calling it quits and giving him room to be a self-absorbed snot. Right?
So, why not — next time the phone doesn't ring, call it "giving him room." For your part, get in touch when you want, and don't when you don't.
Emotionally, it makes sense, too. You don't know whether you're ready to quit on the guy, so use his absence as an opportunity and don't force a decision. Either he'll get over himself and he'll come back — at which point your stay-or-quit feelings will probably make themselves plain — or he won't and you'll have your answer, without the usual mess.
E-mail Carolyn Hax at firstname.lastname@example.org, or chat with her at 11 a.m. Friday at washingtonpost.com.