Dear Prudence

My Friend Refused to Go to My Abortion Appointment

I was there for her during her IVF treatments. Now she won’t be there for me.

A woman sits on the floor, back against the wall, with her hands covering her face.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Chinnapong/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

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Dear Prudence,

I’ve made a difficult decision to terminate a pregnancy, as my boyfriend and I have decided this is not a good time for us to have children. It’s been a really hard decision to make and a very emotional time. My boyfriend can’t be there, as he has to work during my termination appointment (he is paid hourly). I asked my best friend, “Susan,” to come with me, since she works from home and makes her own hours. Last year, Susan stopped doing IVF after a few unsuccessful rounds. She and her husband have decided not to have kids and have seemed happy since making that decision. Susan told me that she supported me but couldn’t come to my appointment. I told her that my decision has nothing to do with her situation, and this led to a heated fight on the phone followed by silence. I feel abandoned and judged. I was there for her many ups and downs during her IVF treatments, and now that I need support, she can’t be there for me. I don’t know how or if I should reconnect with her.

—Friend MIA During Abortion

Your first priority should be to find someone who can be both physically and emotionally present with you during your appointment. Beyond that, I don’t believe that Susan’s decision not to go to your abortion with you is rooted in judgment. I know you think she and her husband have seemed happy since discontinuing fertility treatments, but it sounds like it’s been a very painful process, and I don’t think you should assume it was a simple decision for her to say no to you. She wasn’t trying to talk you out of having an abortion or claim that your choice had any bearing on her infertility. It’s reasonable for her to say she doesn’t think she can maintain her composure or offer you the support you need during an abortion when her own fertility struggles have been so recent and so painful, and it’s best that she was honest with you in advance about her own limits so you could make other arrangements. It may be that you wish she could put this aside—but I think you should strive to understand your friend’s sensitivity here. Give yourself (and Susan) some time to recover and gain perspective, then send her a note saying you’re sorry to have pushed her after she said she wasn’t up to coming with you, and that you’d love to get lunch sometime. Hopefully she’ll have an apology for you too. I don’t mean to suggest that the fault was wholly yours or that you have to beg her forgiveness, just that if you extend a genuine, loving olive branch, she’ll be likelier to respond in kind. And I hope that she’s able to provide you with other kinds of meaningful support in the future, when and if you feel ready to reach out.

Dear Prudence,

I am a 34-year-old woman engaged to a 30-year-old man I’ve been dating for a year. He has given me his phone password to use his internet data. I snooped and discovered he has a running commentary with his best friend, saying that I’m too overweight for him, them commenting on me making a good salary (and that I should be paying for everything), and heavily biased recaps of our disagreements where I come across as a terrible person. All with the ongoing theme that I’m trapping him into marriage and kids (he wants kids, not me). I don’t know if this is just stupid guy talk or evidence he’s using me for my money and just biding his time for divorce court (he’s a lawyer). What do I do? I don’t want to start dating again.

—Fiancé Has Running Commentary on My Flaws

I don’t believe there’s any particular type of “talk” where it’s meaningless or unimportant for someone to constantly criticize his partner’s weight, describe her as only good for writing checks, and disparage any future children they might have together. I think you can take him at his word. I understand that you don’t want to start dating again, but there are worse things than going on dates—like marrying and having children with a man who feels nothing but contempt for you, your body, and your feelings. Not to mention how little he must think of your intelligence: He gave you the password to a phone where he keeps up a recap of everything he dislikes about you. At the very least he knew the odds were excellent that you would find those messages. Maybe he just didn’t care if you saw them. Regardless, you know exactly what you’re getting if you marry him: a man who doesn’t respect you, doesn’t appreciate you, is willing to run you down to his friends, and only cares about your money. Even if you do marry him, I think the odds that you’ll have to start dating again in five or 10 or 15 years are extremely high. Why not save yourself a decade or two of misery and get out while it’s only been a year?

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More Advice From Care and Feeding

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