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You Asked: What Are Friends For?




DearSugar --

A young lady came to work under my supervision for a few months, and we became friends. She began living with a guy she was planning to marry and became pregnant, despite my objections and caution about what the living situation could lead to.

When I realized she was pregnant, I wrote and tried to reach her, asking for a sit-down discussion or an explanation (because on day one she showed up with a Bible on her desk and was talking 'Jesus'). I expressed my disappointment, and that I was handling the incident well (crying and all). She has never responded, but is only sending me forwarded e-mails.

I have a problem continuing the friendship, since I feel...I don't know how to feel. I seem to be more concerned about the morality issue more than she is. Based on what I stand for, I need to know we are on the same page, and that she is simply uncaring about what happened and why. I feel like breaking up with her, as I am upset at her for not caring about how I feel and the emotional upset and disappointment I went through. If I cared enough about her situation, I feel she should care too. -- Disappointed Donna

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Dear Disappointed Donna --

It is always difficult and painful to watch friends suffer or make choices we know will invite more struggle into their lives. It seems you have a layered relationship to this young woman, as you were a supervisor who became a friend after a short period of time, and you also believed you shared a common religious orientation.

It's my feeling that, fundamentally, a friendship is something that's mutually created and nurtured. I believe we must accept our friends for who they are and share their path with them, if it does us no real personal harm. This means meeting them where they are and helping to shoulder their burdens when we can, even if that burden was preventable or foreseeable.

Life is messy and confusing and imperfect. A friend can be a refuge and a source of solace, and the best friendships are usually exactly that. This young woman's life appears to be full of major change right now, and she is probably doing her best to manage the consequences of her decisions. Like all of us, she is probably seeking happiness and love. She is also about to be a mother for the first time. There is much there to honor and support.

I know you have a great need to communicate your feelings and your values, but the timing may not be ideal for that conversation, Disappointed Donna. I suggest talking to another friend or a church member, and finding the comfort and affirmation you need elsewhere for now. I might also consider accepting that she is not someone with whom you should be friends, for the reasons you stated in your note. I believe it's possible to cease being friends without resenting her for being who she is and where she is.

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