Originally Published: July 21, 2017 6 a.m.
Dear Annie: I currently live in a small town in rural Missouri. I grew up here, and my husband grew up here, and we plan on raising our own family here, as well. The only time I left was for college. I moved to St. Louis for four years and enjoyed the new adventures of big-city life, but I moved back home right after graduation. One of my best college girlfriends, “Jessica,” who’s also from here, recently moved back for family reasons after having stayed in the city for another five years.
Annie, my issue is that Jessica is always complaining to me about how boring our hometown is and how she can’t wait to leave, and she draws out old college experiences to make me agree with her. I’ve tried telling her that though I did love being in a big city, I’m really a small-town person. However, she refuses to listen and keeps pressuring me to move back to St. Louis with her. Don’t I miss the culture? The art? The restaurants? The job opportunities? Well, yes, sometimes. But I’m happy here. And I’m happy Jessica is here, too. When not complaining, she’s an incredible friend. How do I keep my friendship without disregarding my town? — Country Catie
Dear Country Catie: It’s time to remind your city-loving friend of the value of small-town humility. Be very clear with Jessica that though you appreciate and understand what she loves about a big city, you and your husband prefer the quiet of the country. Tell her that when she’s not complaining, she’s an incredible friend. In the end, she will appreciate your honesty. And perhaps it will cause her to pause and reflect on her current life, what’s making her unhappy and what she could do to change it — as opposed to reminiscing about her glory days in college.
Dear Annie: A recent column of yours addressed people’s making comments about a person’s height. (The letter was from “Had It Up to Here.”) Even more common is the practice of commenting on a person’s body size, either positive or negative. It seems that many people are flattered when someone comments about weight loss. I, for one, am very uncomfortable when people make any comment about my body size. It seems that it is now also acceptable to say, “Oh, I see you put on a few pounds.” When did we become a society that accepts such personal comments from people we barely know? And if a person does not want to receive such comments, what response could possibly be appropriate? — Comments Too Personal
Dear Comments Too Personal: I agree that commenting on a person’s weight is never advisable, no matter how well-intentioned. Sometimes a sarcastic response (“Gee, thanks”) is in order; sometimes it’s better to just let such comments roll off your back and leave them behind you, where they belong.
But I’m printing this letter here as a PSA: Please don’t comment on another person’s weight loss or weight gain, height, shoe size, hair loss, etc. Zip it.
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