DEAR HARRIETTE: A good friend has been complaining about how his co-worker is always looking for validation. This same friend comes to me on a regular basis looking for validation himself. This dude sends me samples of his work so I can give my “honest opinion.” The work is good, but I’ve had enough. Once in a while, it’s OK, but this has become more and more frequent. How do I explain to him he’s doing the same thing that he’s complaining to me about? -- Enough Validation, San Diego
DEAR ENOUGH VALIDATION: Usually what upsets people in others is exactly what is true about them, though they rarely notice it. In your friend’s case, it is true that most people crave validation. We all want to feel loved, respected and seen. Depending upon our backgrounds, the need for external support can vary dramatically.
A kind way for you to address this situation is to tell your friend that what you know about people, pretty much all people, is that we want to be accepted and respected. Point out that you have noticed that he gets frustrated by the co-worker who constantly wants validation, and you understand that it can get tiring at times. Then gently point out that your friend does the same thing with you. Be prepared to give a couple of examples, as he is likely unconscious of his behavior. Give him space to be embarrassed, but point out that we are all in this thing called life together. We need to give each other some slack and work on being more confident from the inside out.
DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my family members desperately wants to get married but has horrible social skills. Overall, this person is nice and successful; she has a master’s degree and great credit, and she owns her home. But like I said, she has horrible social skills -- she either tries too hard or not at all. I would like to help.
I want to introduce her to someone I’ve dated in the past because I think they would make a great couple. There is a small problem: The woman I dated hints she wants to get back together, but I think only because she wants to get married. I’m definitely not interested. I think these two would be a great couple because they have accomplished similar goals, and both seem to be socially challenged. What are your thoughts about me introducing my ex to a close family member? -- Introducing the Ex, Seattle
DEAR INTRODUCING THE EX: Start with your ex. Be clear that you are not interested in being anything more than friends. Tell her that you have someone you think could be a great partner for her. If she seems interested, make it clear that this is a family member, so you want her to be sensitive to a meeting.
If she seems open to the possibility, speak to your family member and explain that you think your ex might be a great match for them. introduce them only if both of them are open to the idea. Obviously, you should keep your awareness of their social awkwardness to yourself.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)