Dear Ann Cannon • I have a vegan friend. It’s cool with me that he doesn’t want to eat meat (or eggs or cheese or honey). What’s not cool, however, is every time we go out to eat together, he wants to criticize me and my eating choices. I’m not a huge meat eater, but I still don’t like being judged all the time. How do I handle this situation?
— Mostly Meatless
Dear Mostly • Oh, Americans these days. I’ve said this before and I’ll probably say it again (because apparently I like to repeat myself now that I’m old): We used to judge each other because of the choices we made about sex. Now we judge each other because of the choices we make about food. I’m pretty sure, for example, that there are people in my life who judge me because I drink soda. So much soda. A LOT of soda. I once even wrote a column about how drinking soda — especially sugary soda— is the new smoking. Seriously, you have to go outside and stand 20 feet away from a building whenever you feel like knocking back a Dr Pepper.
But whatever. That’s not the point. The point is that you have the following options.
1. Give your friend a taste of his own medicine and be all judgy judgy about HIS food choices.
2. Choose to ignore your friend’s snarky comments and carry on as usual.
3. Talk to your friend and tell him his judgmental attitude bothers you.
Frankly, I’d sidestep the first option and focus on the others. Ask yourself how much his behavior really bothers you. If the answer is “it bothers me a lot,” then you should talk to him. Opt for a light touch, even a little humor, when you do.
Hope this helps!
Dear Ann Cannon • My husband won’t let the cat sleep in the bed with us. Should I a) sneak the cat into the bed after he’s asleep, or b) divorce him?
— Cat Fan
Dear Fan • Because I am not personally acquainted with either your husband OR your cat, I confess that I don’t know which option you should choose. But hey! Good luck with that!
Dear Ann Cannon • My stepdaughter doesn’t like me. I’ve tried to make friends with her while also giving her her space. She’s a teenage girl, after all, and she has her own mother. I don’t want to be needy or take away from her other relationships. Her father and I have been married four years now, so I don’t see the relationship really changing. She’s always polite, which is great, but I’m feeling a little sense of loss that we’re never really going to be close.
— Not a Wicked Stepmother
Dear Not Wicked • As my brother always says, life is long and things can change. Still. As of right now, you don’t have the kind of relationship with your stepdaughter you clearly desire. That’s hard. It’s always disappointing when relationships don’t turn out the way we want them to.
I do think your instinct to be friendly (especially if you don’t come across as overeager), while giving your stepdaughter her space, is spot on. Furthermore, as a woman who raised five teenagers, I can totally tell you it’s a blessing to live with an adolescent who’s generally polite. Do not take that for granted! Meanwhile, keep doing what you’re doing and focus on the relationships in your life that nourish rather than disappoint you.