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KLMNO By Karen M. Tracey • Edited by Peter Gordon • www.fireballcrosswords.com The Post Puzzler No. 15


SUNDAY, AUGUST 15, 2010


NICK GALIFIANAKIS FOR THE WASHINGTON POST


‘Expired’ friendships and what to do about them


Dear Carolyn: I ended my two closest friendships, one of which had lasted over 25 years. One friend just never seemed to have time for our friendship anymore, while the other had taken advantage of our friendship one time too many. By ending these friendships I regained my self-esteem. But was it worth it? I now have no close friends to talk to and the phone doesn’t ring. Worse, I find myself pushing away new friends because I do not want to risk being hurt. I believe the fear of ending up where I am is exactly why so many women cling to negative or hurtful relationships. Your thoughts?


Sad but would do it over again Your theory on hanging on to bad (or


just expired) friendships makes sense. But I think people are needlessly fearful. Since you’re living your worst-case scenario, you’re in a great position to weigh the merits of “ending up where I am.” Your phone doesn’t ring, you’re lonely, and you feel cast off and used, respectively, by your two closest friends. These are the obvious and painful downsides, and legitimate things to fear. But that’s not your whole story. Even if these friendships deteriorated well before they ended, that still leaves you with decades of quality friendship to recall fondly. And, you apparently have new friendship opportunities — i.e., your social skills are up-to-date. And, you feel good about setting some limits on how hard you’ll work (or just how much abuse you’ll take) to make the phone ring. You feel good enough, in fact, to sign off with confidence that you did the right thing despite the pain it brought on. By my math, then, your mistake


wasn’t that you trusted people to be your close friends. Your mistake was in holding onto these friends past the point where the friendships had plainly stopped working. With a close friend, it’s important to reach out when you sense s/he’s drifting away. I certainly don’t advocate


CAROLYN HAX


churning through people, taking advantage for only as long as there are advantages to be had. But sometimes your effort to reach out will fail. In that case, it’s okay to start reaching elsewhere for companionship. It’s possible to be a good friend and a decent person while still regarding friendship as dynamic — even if it’s just in retrospect, when you start thinking, “Maybe this friendship has run its course.” In fact, it’s often only in retrospect


that we realize our erstwhile close friendships were really just about living next door to each other, or raising kids together, or working in the same department, or being on countless other common paths we walk for limited times. While it may feel bankrupt to go into any relationship thinking, “This will do for now,” there’s no shame in looking back after it’s over and thinking, “Well, it was good while it lasted.” Maybe you’ll disagree with my


calculation that you received more from your ex-friendships than you lost. Still, though, your two current choices leave no room for interpretation: Open yourself to new friendship possibilities, or sit home. Or, maybe more accurately, risk getting hurt, or guarantee feeling lonely. I can’t choose for you — but I’ve been hurt by old friends, too, and it’s still a no-brainer to me.


Write to Tell Me About It, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or tellme@washpost. com.


at www.washingtonpost.com/discussions. ASK AMY


Petulant sons rule roost at girlfriend’s house


Dear Amy: I am a single parent of three children: one teenage boy and two adolescent girls. My girlfriend of one year is also a single


parent. When I was at her house, her 11-year-old son used the toilet without closing the door. I asked him politely if he could do me a favor when my daughters were there and just close the door. He answered, “No. I have never closed the door, and I will not start now.” (My girlfriend explained that her father and brothers do this at their homes.) He refuses to use his seatbelt in the car or help around the house. Both he and his older brother are disrespectful to their mother. She submits to their demands, saying she doesn’t want to listen to them complain. She asks me why they don’t respect her, but disregards my solutions. I feel very uncomfortable trying to correct what I think is unacceptable behavior of someone else’s children, and I don’t want my children exposed to it. How should I handle this? The simple answer is to break up — or I could limit my children’s contact with her children, but she wants us to vacation together with all the children along, and


we are very much in love. Good Parenting Skills 101?


You can be wildly in love with your girlfriend, but you must also be permitted to love her kids — as it is, she is preventing this by allowing them to be unlovable. Her son should close the door when using the bathroom, and his refusal to do so makes your response simple: You will not be able to bring your daughters around, either casually or on vacation, until he is able to use the toilet privately. This could be exactly what he wants, and if his mother lets her children rule her household and control her relationships with adults, they will do exactly that. This family could use your good


example, and your girlfriend needs to be the parent her kids deserve. If she continues to resist your example and


refuses other parenting help, do your own kids the favor of sacrificing this relationship for their sakes.


Dear Amy:


This past Christmas, my son and his family gave me the gift of four floral bouquets to be delivered to me every three months throughout the year. The problem is that, while none has been especially pretty, the bouquet delivered today is hideous. It’s too ugly to even put into a vase and display. How can I tactfully tell my son that while I appreciate his thoughtfulness, the flowers have not been very nice? I hope he doesn’t spend his money for that again. I’m sure these flowers were quite expensive.


Loving Mom


You might have some luck breaking these bouquets apart and reconfiguring them into something less hideous. You could also contact the company that originates the flowers and plead with them to put together something more tasteful. In my family, we could handle this as a gag — but it’s tricky. It would involve photographing the floral display at its most awful, posing it in all sorts of humiliating surroundings and writing a note reading, “Every three months, I receive flowers and think of how much you love me.” Your son might notice that if this hideousness is a reflection of his affection for you, he’s in trouble. You could be straightforward and say to him, “I worry that the flowers being delivered to me might not be what you expected. I’m sure you spent a lot of money, but some of the bouquets haven’t been so wonderful, and I feel bad because I don’t think that’s what you had in mind.”


Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune. com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.


©2010 by the Chicago Tribune Distributed by Tribune Media Services


ONLINE DISCUSSION Carolyn Hax’s weekly Web chat is at noon Fridays


Aries (March 21-April 19) To be a leader of others you must first be a leader within yourself. To make sure you’re still holding the post, try an exercise. Command yourself to do something, and then see if you do it.


Taurus (April 20-May 20) You offer a few words of advice to someone you know and love. You don’t expect that this will sink in right away — sometimes being understood is a process. But in time, this person will apply what you say and be better off for it.


Gemini (May 21-June 21) When others tell you the reasons it


can’t be done, it only makes you see the infinite and amazing possibilities. You’re fast on the way to becoming the most positive person you know.


Cancer (June 22-July 22) If you’re not feeling good, you’re


emitting bad vibes — which usually, unfortunately, attract more of the same. Take hold of the situation when you feel it coming on. Lighten up and smile.


Leo (July 23-Aug. 22) You’ll be sure of yourself. Those around you require this of you. It makes


them feel secure to be in the presence of someone so certain. And chances are, even if you’re wrong, you’re not so far off.


Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22) There’s something marvelous forming in your life — a realization that you are an integral part of the flow. If you take action, everyone will adjust. If you don’t take action, nothing will change.


Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 23) Thinking a profound thought is like giving your brain a bath in energizing encouragement. Seek the writings of great minds — a quote or an anecdote will do. Savor the ideas. Relax into the mindset of the masters.


Scorpio (Oct. 24-Nov. 21) Your obstacles seem as real as iron bars separating you from the dream world on the other side of the gate. That’s why you would be wise not to believe what your mind is telling you at this point.


Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21) Communication will be a joy for you


today, especially when you are connecting with loved ones. It’s as if you and your people are bonded together by the code you share.


CUL DE SAC Richard Thompson


Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19) You’ll express yourself from the purest place in your heart. It takes humility. Your ego may retaliate. But you’re secure enough to quiet your ego in the name of truth.


Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18) You’re making things true because you


believe them to be true. Look at those beliefs. Take them out, and turn them around and upside down. Run the faucet over them — some of them won’t hold water.


Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) Avoid groups of people talking about how bad things are. Such conversations are shared creations of negativity. The discussion only seems true because everyone supports it.


TODAY’S BIRTHDAY | AUG. 15: You’ll busily work on a project. It starts out with one purpose, and in a few weeks, the purpose becomes more personal and profound. By the end of the year, you’ll have made a remarkable achievement. You’ll travel in September. November is romantic. December and June are fantastic moneymaking months. Aquarius and Gemini people adore you. ©2010, Creators Syndicate


TODAY’S HOROSCOPE Holiday Mathis


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