Tuesday, February 13, 2018
DEAR CAROLYN: Today is my dad's birthday. We all forgot ... again.
I have asked him numerous times to just provide a reminder. I always give everyone a heads up before my birthday -- it's a courtesy as everyone is so busy nowadays.
So I got a midday "joking" email about how no one wished him a happy birthday. I feel guilty, but this could all be avoided if he just gave his forgetful family a little warning instead of playing this game very year. Thoughts?
-- I Forgot ... Again
DEAR READER: In the time you spent writing this question, you could have set yourself five "dad's birthday" reminders on as many different e-platforms. Time to ask yourself who's playing games here and why.
DEAR CAROLYN: About 20 years ago, my husband and I befriended this other couple. We were all recently married then. We saw each other's kids grow up, and spent time staying at each other's homes on visits.
The husbands had a falling out seven years ago and we all stopped speaking. She particularly shunned me after their argument, which had nothing to do with me or her. I felt pretty sad but moved on.
Fast forward to when I was divorced for one year and they were separated and in divorce proceedings. He and I reconnected and started dating, and we have fallen in love. While we never even flirted while we were all married, we always got along. I have never been happier in my life. It was all above board, no shenanigans.
He is now divorced and upon finding out about us, she has had a major meltdown. She is furious and accused us of having an affair because we started seeing each other while they were separated.
I feel horrible, but she and I have not been in contact for several years. What say you? Did I violate some girlfriend code? She is calling all their friends and calling him a cheater and me a hussy. Now what?
-- No Shenanigans
DEAR READER: What is there to feel horrible about?
If it's just that someone you (used to) care about is in pain, then I can see that. Of course.
But in the story you tell, you're rivals only of her making; you had no falling out with her seven years ago, and no role in breaking a marriage already broken.
And she's the one using her current misery, apparently, as an excuse to behave miserably toward you for a second time this decade. "Calling all their friends and calling ... me a hussy"? I hope that's hyperbole; even if you were somehow an agent of her marriage's demise, the back-channel smear is not the path to making herself whole.
So even if I believed in a code, which I don't, there'd be no violation of it here besides hers. She only embarrasses herself with her venom.
She also -- ironically and unwittingly I'm sure -- gives you and her ex more reason to feel joy and relief in your future by shedding new darkness on the past. Just don't get carried away with the possibilities this affords, since they're still joined by their kids. And who wants to profit from pain?
She's inviting you to war. It's up to you not to accept.
Chat online with Carolyn at 11 a.m. each Friday at washingtonpost.com. Write to Tell Me About It in care of The Washington Post, Style Plus, 1150 15th St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20071; or email
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