Hax: 'Prickly' pair make family events touchy

  • Article by: CAROLYN HAX
  • Updated: May 18, 2014 - 1:52 PM

Dear Carolyn: I have a very dear cousin and a very dear daughter, but they do not hit it off. Cousin lives out of state and only visits a couple times a year — usually at one of the big holidays.

Due to social media differences (for which both are at fault), Daughter refuses to be at family celebrations if Cousin is present. Cousin is unaware of this. Last year I asked Daughter if she minded if Cousin was invited. She said no, and said she would not be in attendance, but that it was OK with her. She would go to her in-laws’.

Now, anticipating coming holidays, she states Cousin is always chosen over her.

I feel held hostage by Daughter. I have suggested she contact Cousin to discuss differences, but she refuses. I have not broached this with Cousin and have no intention of doing so, as this is between them.

Just so you know, both are “prickly.” I love them both.

Carolyn says: You don’t have a gun to your head, you have a whiner up in your grill. Please don’t behave as if the two are equivalent.

If you don’t want to be a hostage, then you can opt not to act like one. Start by explaining to Daughter that you are not choosing anyone over anyone else. The one making choices is Daughter, choosing her grudge over attendance at family events.

And while you don’t endorse boycotting, she didn’t ask you, and her presence or absence is her decision, not yours. Assure her that if Cousin had done something unforgivable, you’d back Daughter completely, but to your mind a social media squabble doesn’t reach that bar. Let her know that if there’s more to this feud than you’ve been told, now’s a good time to tell.

If she counters with an accusation that you’re taking the Cousin’s side merely by inviting her when you know Daughter won’t come if you do, then you can calmly point out that this isn’t a social club, it’s a family. People don’t get ousted just for disagreeing.

Translation: Don’t take Daughter’s bait. Say you love her, miss her when she opts out, hope for a truce — and plan to remain inclusive regardless.

I have no illusions that she’ll take this well; expect to end up on the business end of her quills. But caving only proves to her that on you, tantrums work.

Pay forward and back

Dear Carolyn: Two years ago, when my lease had come up, my closest childhood friend, “Abby,” asked if we could live together. It has not gone well (from my perspective), but I’ve kept most of my grievances internal in order to preserve our deep and true friendship.

Now, my boyfriend of three years, who is beloved by this friend, has asked me to live with him and I cannot wait. However, his lease is up a couple of months before mine, and Abby is insisting I live out my last months on our lease before moving into the house “Mark” and I find together.

Paying two rents seems insane — not to mention that, as it is, I sleep at Mark’s five nights a week. It would make me happier than I’ve ever been just to move in with Mark when we sign our lease, but I may have insensitive love-blinders on.

Am I the crazy one for asking that she accept my offer to find a sublet for the last few months of our lease? She is keeping the apartment and I’ve already found a mutual friend to take over my room in August when our lease is renewed.

Carolyn says: You’re breaking the agreement early, so you pay till the lease ends. Not stay there, just pay.

This is basic fairness and the whole point of a lease. All the friendship stuff not only clutters up these simple facts, but also better serves as an argument for paying up. You see, you’re looking at her childhood-friendly attachment to you as a reason she should let you off this hook — if I read between the lines correctly — but any time you want to use a friendship to argue a point, you’d best be ready to have the friendship used to argue against you, too. So let’s do that: She’s your childhood bestie, and you’re ready to stick her with a sublet because you’re annoyed at how much your choices will otherwise cost you? Brr.

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