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Have that difficult conversation now to save friendship forever

Have that difficult conversation now to save friendship forever


Dear Annie: I’m part of a group of eight women, all friends, who gather periodically for good conversation and to be together. But one of the women dominates the conversation for a significant time, every time.

It usually starts off with something like, “My husband,” or “My sisters,” or “My best friend’s son,” and most of the time it has nothing to do with the conversation we were in.

This friend is kind, generous and loving, and she certainly cares for all of us, but the overtaking of conversation is beginning to make a couple of us not want to come to our gatherings.

We can’t figure out how to let her know without hurting her. Can you help?

— Spokesperson for the Group

Dear Spokesperson for the Group: Your friend sounds kind and lovely but completely unaware of how she is dominating the conversation. People do this for all sorts of reasons, including social anxiety, boredom or feeling nervous by lulls in conversation. As her friend who truly cares about her, you need to let her know. When we know better, we do better.

A difficult conversation now will save her from a great deal of pain. If you don’t let her know what she is doing, then she will keep doing it and eventually the group will no longer be a group.

Have a one-on-one conversation with her about your concerns. Before you sit down, go in with the mindset that you are doing this out of love and respect for your friendship. And start by pointing out her many positive qualities.

Dear Annie: Regarding dating married men: I’ve been there. I was 22, and he was 37. He was very good-looking, had a great job, lived in the suburbs ... and had a terrible marriage. He saw me as the hippie — living the life that he missed. He and I would spend time together and take long walks, go for drinks, have a great physical relationship, etc. Then he would go home to his wife and kids, to the mortgage, the bills, etc. In other words, he would go home to real life!

I was his escape, his fantasy, his vacation. We didn’t end up together — though his marriage eventually broke up because his wife found out about the revolving door of women in his life.

If you think that you have a permanent relationship with a married man, then give him an ultimatum and a deadline. I guarantee you that he will find many reasons to not follow through. If he does follow through and you commit to forever, eventually you will be his middle-aged wife with the burdens of real life. Then, he will, again, need an escape. And there will be “the you that you were when he first found you” waiting to give him a shoulder to cry on.

— Been There, Done That

Dear Been There: If your letter convinces even one person to stop waiting for him to leave his wife (or her to leave his husband), it will have done good work. Thanks for writing.

Annie Lane, a graduate of New York Law School and New York University, writes this column for Creators Syndicate. Email questions to

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