DEAR HARRIETTE: What do you do when you hear one of your friends tell a bald-faced lie about something that happened in the recent past? I was at a party with a group of friends, and one of my best buddies proceeded to tell a long story about something that made him look like a hero. He was simply lying. It wasn't even an embellishment.
He went on and on with this story. I stood there looking at him, in shock. I couldn't believe my ears. I started to say something, but I wasn't sure what to say. I didn't want to out my friend so completely, and there was no way to act like he was saying something right. Instead, I walked away.
I have avoided this guy ever since. I'm not sure how to handle this. I have lost a lot of respect for him. Do I never talk to him again, or confront him? -- Beyond Hyperbole, Seattle
DEAR BEYOND HYPERBOLE: I'm sorry you didn't have the awareness to say something in the moment. You could have laughed and said, "Come on, dude. When did you make that story up?" or something similar. That would have outed him, but with humor, allowing him to back away from his story with the least discomfort.
Since you didn't say anything, know that it's not too late. Don't just dump your friend. There's a good chance he won't know why you have disappeared, and no lesson will be learned.
Tell your friend you want to get together. When face-to-face, ask him what he was thinking when he told that story. Point out that you know he was lying. Point out the truth, whatever it is. Tell him that you do not appreciate what he said and would like for him to rescind his statement and set the record straight with your other friends. Make it clear that you do not see him in the same light, given how easily and summarily he lied about the subject.
From there, observe what happens. If he continues to live that lie and/or he perpetuates others, you may choose to part ways with him and tell your friends the truth. Don't do that until you have given him a chance to explain himself.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My best friend's husband lost his job last week after his company was bought out by another company. She knew this was coming, but still it has hit them hard. He is over 60 and pretty certain that he won't find another job. He plans to retire. That leaves her to pay for everything. She is worried about how she is going to make ends meet. She is consulting a financial adviser, but as a friend, I want to know how to console her. -- Supportive Friend, Richmond, Va.
DEAR SUPPORTIVE FRIEND: Be a loving ear for your friend. Support her emotionally. Listen to her. Allow her to vent, cry, scream or be silent. But don't give advice if you don't know what you are talking about.