Dear Amy: I am a 16-year-old girl.
School is OK (I’m a sophomore), but one thing I notice is the fact that I am really judgmental. I tend to have bad and judgmental thoughts about others.
For example, if I see a girl wearing revealing clothing, I will call her a “slut” or a “whore” inside my head. Or if I see a boy wearing pajamas or slides or crocs at school, I’ll think of him as “lazy” and “sloppy.”
I also have relatively high standards when it comes to having boyfriends. Most of my standards have to do with clothing and shoes.
Even though I’ve never been in a relationship before, I will judge the person by the way they look and if they don’t match my standards, then I won’t give them a chance.
There is this senior who was talking to me, but since he didn’t match my standards, I didn’t want to be seen with him around school.
I’m one of those people who knows what they don’t want, rather than what they do want.
I’m trying to figure out what is wrong with me, but I guess I’m so used to being the way I am, it’s hard for me to stop.
I’ve been constantly beating myself up over the fact that I’m judgmental and not giving people a chance, but I feel like if I don’t change, then I won’t be able to have a relationship.
What should I do?
— Judgmental Teenager
Dear Teenager: First of all, I admire your motivation to change.
Being judgmental is a universal human trait. When you think about it, using your judgment about others is an important evolutionary survival tool. If you don’t know someone personally, you need to rely on your instincts and judgment to discern whether you are safe around them.
I agree with you that the next stage in your development should be to work on the harsh voice in your head in order to let others in — no matter what they’re wearing. When you give others a chance, you are really giving yourself a chance — to grow into the kind of person you want to be.
Can you change? Of course you can! Like all change, it will take time, practice, and persistence.
I do need to offer a corrective observation, and I hope you will pay attention.
The words you use to describe other girls (“slut” and “whore”) are rude and sexist, while the words you use to describe boys are much less offensive.
This is an example of how misogyny has permeated our culture, and you — a smart and capable girl — should not perpetuate it, even inside your head.
Using more neutral language will help you to behave differently.
Dear Amy: I have a dear friend who I’ve known for over 40 years.
She is the most generous person I know.
Recently she retired and is now traveling with her three dogs.
When she’s in town she assumes that she can stay with us for a week or two.
After she has been with us, it takes us a whole day to de-dog the house.
Honestly, I can’t do it anymore — especially since one of the dogs is now prone to accidents. I definitely can’t handle that!
How do I tell her that her dogs can’t stay with us without throwing away our friendship?
— Dreading the Dogs
Dear Dreading: Bringing three dogs to anyone’s home for an extended stay is a huge lift, but if these dogs are older and infirm, your friend is not going to leave them behind.
It’s important that you be honest about this. Understand that this will affect your friendship because she will stop visiting you.
I suggest that you tell her, “This is really hard for me to say because I treasure your visits — but I just can’t handle having the dogs with us. Can you help me to come up with an alternative?”
I assume that your friend lives within driving distance. Maybe you should visit her — or meet her for a few days at another dog-friendly location.
Dear Amy: I was disappointed by your response to “Bewildered Daughter in North Carolina,” who had forged a relationship with her toxic birth mother, who had given her up for adoption as a baby.
You never mentioned her “real” parents — the people who raised her!
Dear Upset: The letter writer also did not mention her parents, which is why I focused only on her specific question.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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