Miss Manners: Gossip poisons lifelong friendship – The Washington Post
Dear Miss Manners: About three years ago, I began a relationship with a man I am head-over-heels in love with, and we have been living together for two years.
Early in our relationship, my “best friend” (we have been like family for half of our lives) heard some gossip about my man, believed it totally for the truth, and completely changed her attitude toward him. She refused to tell me what was said about him or who said it, only that when the relationship failed, she would be there for me.
Shortly afterward, I learned from someone else what was said and who said it: a well-known liar and gossipmonger who had taken tidbits of truth and added a great deal of untruth and speculation. I could not believe my friend would even listen to someone with such a reputation for deviousness, first of all, and secondly that she didn’t have my back.
Needless to say, our friendship has become cold and distant. I have attempted to restore the friendship by extending invitations (which are not accepted) and engaging in positive, hopeful conversation about my life (which is shut down). We do talk occasionally, but it is now limited to polite conversation about family and work.
My boyfriend proposed a few months ago, and gave me a beautiful diamond that she has yet to acknowledge. Her only statement to me about my engagement was, “I just want you to be happy,” which was cloaked in her typical voice of doom.
We are beginning to make plans for our wedding. Should I send her an invitation?
Because a wedding is a major life event, determinations about whom to invite should take a medium- to long-term view of each individual’s status.
Siblings we squabbled with and hung up on last week are still invited. Siblings we broke ties with decades ago over their treatment of Father’s third wife are likely not. Friends with whom we were, recently, on intimate terms are still considered to be so, even if we no longer see each other every week.
You, not Miss Manners, will have to determine whether the person in question is still a friend, or whether the air quotes indicate a permanent change of status.
Dear Miss Manners: I have a family member who is an attention hog. She somehow always steers the conversation to showcase how she is always the rightest and wisest in situations. Every one of her stories ends in how she was right, and everyone else “saw the light” after they listened to her.
Listening to these stories is draining and I don’t want to be rude, but I can’t avoid talking to her. Is there any way to stop this narcissistic point of view?
Don’t listen. Or, more accurately, adopt a facial attitude that is sweet but distracted. You want to deprive your relation of the pleasure of being listened to — without, and this is a point Miss Manners stresses — putting yourself in a position to be accused of anything worse than being absent-minded.
New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.
2021, by Judith Martin
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