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by Abigail Van Buren

Friend Refuses to Quit Using Hurtful Language

DEAR ABBY: I have a dear friend I've known for 25 years and I consider to be family. We recently had a falling-out because I set some boundaries I feel are necessary for my own wellness as I grow into my 40s. The boundaries revolve around disrespectful or belittling speech.

My friend is gay and excuses the disrespect as the way his community speaks among themselves. He often calls me the b-word in fun, as well as similar names. I have told him it hurts me, but he refuses to acknowledge it, dismissing it as "you know, since high school that's how we talk." He might show some restraint at times, but when he's drinking (which is often), he reverts back to making cruel or hurtful comments.

I am now a single mother, looking to grow and evolve into a better person, rebuild my self-esteem and possibly find a partner in life, but my friend keeps pulling me back into a dark place every time we speak. I care too much about him to walk away from this friendship. What can I do? -- BOUNDARIES SET IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR BOUNDARIES: You have already taken the first step. You told your friend (frenemy?) you will no longer tolerate being called a b---- or any other offensive name. For some in the gay community this may be considered "fun," but it ISN'T funny to you. That he would continue doing this after you expressed that it hurt your feelings makes me wonder if he values your relationship as much as you do.

Maintain your boundaries by leaving his presence if he uses that language. Oh, and one more thing: When you know he's been drinking, avoid him because, if you don't, you know what will follow.

Read more in: Friends & Neighbors | Lgbtq