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I think if we had two cable companies operating in Greenville we might see improved customer service. But what can you...

Fielding a Facebook request from your middle-school tormenter

Carolyn Hax

Carolyn Hax

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Carolyn Hax

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Q I just got a Facebook friend request from an old classmate. This woman was my main tormentor in eighth grade, and while I managed to steer clear of her through much of high school, I still wince at some of the public humiliation she put me through. (I was not her only victim by any means.)

My first instinct is just to delete the request, but now I’m wondering if there’s any reason to accept. I mean, it has been decades, and I assume she’s not planning to pick up where she left off. Should I take the request itself as an olive branch? Or should I just let this be? — Return of the Mean Girl

A There are no “shoulds” in baseball. If you don’t want any part of this person ever again, then delete the request. This downside of Facebook, at least, we can bat away like a gnat.

Besides, it’s possible she is just on some reunion committee.

Or she did the touch-screen equivalent of butt-dialing you. Butt-friending.

And/or she is the same kind of mean, only time-lapsed.

Even if it is a bona fide olive branch, remember too: Such an offer is largely for the benefit of the person offering it — to soothe a guilty conscience, presumably, but there could be some other motive — and so you’re under zero obligation to accept it.

Still, there are other reasons to crack open this door. To witness a tormentor’s regret can be healing in ways that surprise you even if you’ve imagined the scene for years. It can also help to treat her as someone you’re not afraid of anymore.

So make a risk vs. reward calculation. What is the worst case — besides burning even this much of your remaining time on earth thinking about this — and what is the best? Then click as you see fit.

 

Q I’m a 43-year-old divorcee, as is my boyfriend of four years. I’ve always struggled with his communication style. He talks constantly, in excruciating detail about boring topics, expecting active interest and comment from me. Yet many a time there is no active listening on his part at all, including flat-out silence and no acknowledgment that I’ve even said anything. Often he’ll just start to talk about something else.

At the same time, he gushes about how much he loves me, and is extremely physically affectionate.

I like those aspects of our relationship, and it’s kept us going for a long time, but the lack of substantive two-way conversation grates on my nerves.

We’ve spoken at length about this problem, but this seems very ingrained in his personality — a disability of some kind, I’ve often wondered.

How long should one stick around in a relationship that is great in some ways but excruciatingly boring and unfulfilling in others? A weekend away can quite literally be torture for me to sit through. — Bored

A Stick around forever, or not for another day.

I know, I know, I’m sorry.

But there’s no other answer. Only you can decide when you’ve hit the point where this pairing takes more from you than it gives.

Certainly you can try to change the terms — no travel, for one — but I don’t recommend merely postponing your chance to find someone you actually like.

 

Email Carolyn Hax at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.

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