Maybe you set up your own hurt feelings

Hi, Carolyn: My father recently had fairly major surgery for the treatment of cancer. I was very anxious about it, and beforehand, I told a few of my friends about his upcoming surgery, and that I was very nervous. The good news is that it seems to have gone well (of course, only time will tell). But not a single one of my friends called me afterward to find out how he was doing. One of them even called me to chat, but never once thought to ask about my father. Some of these friends have a history of being self-absorbed. I can usually tolerate it, but this situation really upset me more than usual. Given that I already know these friends have a tendency toward self-absorption, am I being too sensitive? Or should I confront them about their lack of support during this critical time?



Dear Sensitive: Depends. Would you confront them for failing to note the date of your father's surgery on their calendars?

From here, at least, that appears to be what happened -- they knew about the surgery because you told them, but it wasn't on their minds when the big day came and went. I'm trying to feel the outrage, but not having much luck.


You are their friend, but it's your father; I don't think you can expect his peril to loom anywhere near as large in their minds as it does in yours. Had you simply mentioned the surgery to that "self-absorbed" friend when she called you to chat, you probably would have gotten the friendly support you wanted.

In fact, it was such a simple thing to do -- to offer a "Remember, my dad had that surgery . . . ?" nudge -- that it sounds like you consciously chose not to. Was this a test? Were you looking to bust these friends for not caring enough? That would bring self-absorption into the conversation in a way you didn't intend.

I realize that may be unfair; maybe you do in fact have a legitimate grievance with these friends, and simply chose a poor way to express it. If that's the case, though, then please just say so; don't create the conditions for hurt feelings and then wail when your feelings get hurt.

Dear Carolyn: My ex-boyfriend had genital herpes, which unfortunately he passed on to me. I'm responsible, and I take medication. I've been dating a guy for a few months and he, understandably, wants a more physical relationship. But when I told him about the herpes, he completely lost it and dumped me. He's especially angry because I didn't tell him when we first started dating. Maybe he wasted his time, but I'm not particularly happy about my condition, and I would be very uncomfortable telling someone I barely know about it. What, and when, do I tell the next boyfriend?

To Tell oR Not to Tell?

Dear To Tell: You say the same thing at the same crossroads in your next relationship. You don't need to share sooner -- you need to date kinder men.