Carolyn Hax: When is it okay to intervene in a friend’s relationship uninvited?

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Adapted from two online discussions, here And here.

Dear Carolyne: Someone I’m close to recently had a major relationship disagreement with their partner. They only told me about the disagreement after it had been “resolved” with their partner and never directly asked my opinion on the disagreement. I wonder if the disagreement was actually resolved fairly, or if this person simply decided to live with their partner’s version of the disagreement. But I think, generally speaking, people shouldn’t interfere in someone else’s relationship unless they’re asked directly. Do you agree with this premise?

To say something?: There’s always this: “Are you asking me what I think, or are you just sharing?”

After the moment has passed, you can come back to it by saying, “I was thinking about what you said to me the other day. Were you asking for my opinion or just sharing? I was wrong to remain silent, but I realized that I might not have been useful.

As for your premise, I’m generally okay with keeping quiet, but it’s good to consider human variety. Some people will ask you directly when they want something, some won’t, some think they don’t want your opinion but really do, and some think they want your opinion but really don’t. The best way to clear up any doubt is to ask what would be most helpful to them, and then not push.

Dear Carolyne: I’m allergic, so I never grew up with dogs, I was never excited by them – or by any pet, really, not to pick on dogs. My husband grew up with dogs and his entire family currently has dogs except us. I take an allergy pill when I visit: their house, their dog, their period.

I just found out that they ask to bring the dogs when they come to visit, for the day and night, and my husband said no, citing my allergy and not wanting dog hair in our house.

I appreciate him paying attention to me, but I feel like an opponent of something that is completely normal for them. Is there a compromise that still keeps dog hair out of my house? THANKS!

This system works perfectly. 1. You are not a “naysayer”, you have a physical condition that precludes dogs in your home. 2. You’re already compromising by taking a pill and visiting their furry homes. 3. Your husband understands this and defends you.

The only problem here is that you see this as a problem.

I guess I’m wondering why you always feel like the bad guy, like you need to apologize. Does anyone in their family give you a hard time? Plus keep asking if they can bring their dogs when they know you’re allergic, which is rude, if that’s what they do.

Caroline: Nobody gives me a hard time! In fact, they’re all so adorable about it – and pretty much everything else – that I want to make sure I see all the options and not just the “no dogs” version, since that’s been my life so far. I will count my blessings!

Still allergic: Phew. GOOD.

· I’m someone who apologized to a rug for tripping on it, but even I see no reason to apologize for a health issue.

· Once upon a time, it was completely normal for people to NOT bring their dogs when they went to visit people, although I suppose it’s perhaps more common these days. There is absolutely no need to do anything differently or even have any feelings about it.

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