Martian Advice at Reader’s Request

Dear Mars,

Everyone has flaws; I know this. My friends are people whose flaws I am willing to ignore. However, sometimes I have a hard time evaluating these seemingly opposing forces. My friend has pushed herself right up to the edge. I used to truly enjoy her company, but it has gotten to the point where I am considering dropping her. Can you offer some guidelines for scoring to help me decide?
Friendship Accountant in Springfield, Florida

Greetings FA,

‘Flaw’ is a tricky word, as it suggests something is inherently wrong with this person. The person whose ‘flaws’ these are probably considers them imperfections that don’t require much attention, or perhaps doesn’t think of them at all. Regardless, friends have their flaws like anyone else. The question is, what kinds of flaws are they? I see 3 basic types of flaws in a relationship – minimal, restrictive, and conflictive.

Minimal flaws are bothersome to you, but do not ultimately affect the relationship. Examples include lack of table manners, poor taste in music or an annoying laugh.

Restrictive flaws limit the relationship, and are a bit more tricky. Stinginess, avoidance of new things and inability to talk about feelings, are examples of qualities that make your friendship a little more difficult. Flaws that hinder the kinds of activities or conversations that you engage in together can make it hard to spend enjoyable time together.

Conflictive flaws draw attention to your differences, in a way that makes one or both of you uncomfortable. Throw two people in a room together, and they are bound to disagree on some things. Whether you have different religions, separate values, or different ideals of what’s important, these are often unresolvable differences.

Sometimes dealing with a flaw is as simple as taking precaution to avoid it, such as suggesting an alternative to the nightclub you hate, or steering the conversation away from dangerous topics such as the new pope. However, most often a friend has a combination of the above flaws – probably from more than one category.

In weighing your situation, consider the following questions. Are you often uncomfortable while you are with this person? Do you spend more time avoiding flaws than enjoying each other’s company? Do you often feel angry or upset after spending time together? Think about how much you are compromising or sacrificing to be friends with this person, and consider that against the qualities that you find most valuable in her – her ability to listen, her sense of humor, her supportive nature. In the end, only you can decide what is the most costly or beneficial for you.


  1. Grace

    I see that you have posted a lot. I, a reader, am very pleased. I hope this trend will continue in the future.

    – Pleased Reader in Not-Springfield, CA

  2. Kel The Younger

    He’s, what, 78? Geez. I give him six years before NBC is back in St. Peter’s Basilica covering the next conclave. But yeah, booo to ex-Nazis! Wonder what God was telling him back then…

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