Is it ever OK to judge a friend?

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Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: I have two friends of more than 20 years who have decided it is OK to date married men. The women are in their 50s, unmarried and with no children. This is none of my business, and I am a firm believer in having the choice to do as one pleases. However, both of these friends have wanted me to be involved in their relationships, i.e., meeting him, being social and hosting him in my home. I've had my share of questionable relationships. I am not without fault, but I didn't involve others in my actions. And I never asked either of them to participate in any of my poor choices. Am I supposed to pretend that these men don't have wives and children? This is crossing the line for me and I'm not OK with any of that, nor is my husband. When I told them I couldn't participate in their extramarital relationships, they became angry and have withdrawn contact. Why do I have to accept and participate in their bad choices to maintain their friendships? I miss both of them, but I really don't know how to change things. Am I missing something? Am I being too judgmental when I have no right to be? Am I too "old school?" Did this become acceptable behavior and I didn't get the memo?

-- Not One to Judge

DEAR NOT ONE: If we were all required to blindly accept one another's choices in order to have friendships, then our friendships would lose one of the most important qualities they possess -- the power to influence.

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I often say in this space that friends tell one another the truth. Telling (and hearing) the truth is challenging and requires an amount of personal courage. Without this element of courage, you might as well retreat to high school, where cliques keep one another in check by demanding girl code fealty.

Are you judging? Yes. But isn't this what your brain is for -- to discern and make choices? "Old fashioned" is to condemn in a huff and threaten to notify the wronged wives.

"Old school" is to be yourself, to adhere to your sense of integrity, to tell the truth, and to make choices based on your values -- at the risk of being put down and banished.


DEAR AMY: As a family member of a beloved cousin who died last year of injuries because he wasn't wearing a motorcycle helmet, I'd like to commend your answer to "Terrified," whose mother wouldn't wear a helmet. My cousin's bike was just scratched up; he is gone.

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-- Grieving

DEAR GRIEVING: My condolences. Thank you for speaking up to advocate for helmet use.

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