(By Dr. Andrea Bonior, Washington Post)

Q. A potential friend told me about a recent conversation where her father exploded with violence and threw furniture across the room and hit her mother.

She insists that what he did “wasn’t so bad” and she “can handle it.” Nope. She’s started texting little things about her day and wants to get together again and is clearly trying to build a friendship.

I’d be friends with her if she had a realistic view of her family’s behaviour and drew safe boundaries around it. I know most people would just be “too busy” to get together, but that’s cruel and cowardly.

Should I be honest and say, “I’m sorry, but making excuses for your father’s behaviour is a deal-breaker for me”? Or do you have a better script?

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A. I agree that she deserves the truth.

Ghosting people is rarely justifiable from a do-unto-others standpoint, and being honest could plant the seed that she and her mother are in an objectively dangerous situation that shouldn’t be condoned by anyone.

So, use your discomfort to help her. There are no magic words, but try to make it less about whether her behaviour measures up to some yardstick (so I’d ditch the “deal-breaker” part, which – though it makes sense – could put her on the defensive about not being “good enough” to earn your companionship). Instead, focus on your concern about the situation.

“I understand your stance about your family, and how hard the situation must be. But the fact that you are accepting the status quo makes me worried for you, and honestly, I would take on so much stress about the situation that I don’t think I can be the kind of friend that you would want.”

 

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Author: ANA Newswire