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Comments are not always about you

Published December 18, 2012 1:01 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Dear Carolyn • My friend has children. I don't. Whenever I mention having done something that costs even a medium amount of money, like splurging on a piece of jewelry, her martyr complex comes out: "You're so lucky you get to do things like that!" Maybe I'm projecting, but this dialogue really irritates me (it happens with other mommy friends, too). Do you think these comments are intended as digs, or are they innocent insights into how moms of small kids actually feel? Do they think I would rather have disposable income than a family?

Philly

Dear Philly • No doubt some people take the "Must be nice having (something I don't)" tone of snarktastic self-validation — but what you describe sounds more like reflexive fatigue from people who rarely sleep. Try replacing the kids/no kids topic with one that isn't your hot button — imagine working two jobs to cover your student loans, say, when your friend says, "We're spending Christmas in St. Bart's." You just might blurt, "You're so lucky you get to do things like that!" It wouldn't be your proudest moment, but your lament also would be more insight-into-true-feelings than dig, right? So respond to your mom friends accordingly.

Dear Carolyn • What do you say to somebody who has several "I will never ——————" things, is openly snarky and condescending to those who do those things ... and then later does those same things? Then gets angry when questioned about the change of heart, and says they never thought that, or if they did they weren't THAT mean about it? And is your parent? I know it will never change. Is there any way other than, "Yeah, OK, whatever," to respond to either end of the cycle?

Oh You Won't, Will You

Dear Oh You Won't • You can relish each comeuppance, inside. You can also greet the cycle's beginning with a mild, "Perhaps you shouldn't box yourself in," and end it end with, "——————." You'll both know what goes there, so no need to keep score out loud.

Carolyn Hax's column runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.