I wanted to run this situation by everyone and see what you thought - this involves my BF, so I put it in the D@ting folder, but it could just as easily have been a friend or family member in this situation, so mods please feel free to move if it would be more appropriate elsewhere.
I spoke to BF earlier in the day and everything seemed fairly normal. He's been stressed about a recent situation lately, but he said he'd call me later today and we'd make plans or get together or something. I didn't hear from him, so at dinnertime I called him. He was upset and kind of freaking out about this situation, but wasn't saying much about it, so I didn't believe he needed to vent or just needed someone to listen to him for awhile, since, well, he wasn't saying anything! (An example - I would ask a question, "Well, did you try X?" ... long silence until he responded "Yeah.") I was also at a loss of what to say to him about it, because frankly I see this situation as one of his own making and really had no helpful advice to offer him. I couldn't think of anything to say that didn't sound like, "Well I told you so!" or "You made your bed, so lie in it."
I wanted to say something comforting, but I didn't know what to say. The truth is, everything will probably not be alright - but of course I didn't want to say that! I ended up saying that I was sorry there was nothing I could do to help and he should call me if he wanted company or dinner or something and then go off the phone. When I'm upset, I usually just want to be left alone, so I made it clear to him he could call me whenever if he wanted to talk and left him alone, thinking do unto others.
He called me a few minutes ago and said that it was rude of me to have "hurried off the phone" and that I should have stayed on the line and talked to him about the situation and comforted him, and that if someone says they are upset about something, it's rude to brush them off and not talk about it with them. At first I was defensive, but then I thought about it some more and I thought maybe he does have a point.
So tell me, EHellions - is it rude not to comfort someone when you know they are stressed or upset? (Assuming, of course, it's someone you care about - not a random stranger telling you their terrible life story.) Or is it rude to comfort someone by saying something that you strongly believe not to be true? (For example, saying everything will be ok when it really won't be.) When I'm not sure how to behave or what to say, I always try to fall back on etiquette, but maybe this is a situation without clear etiquette rules?