Author Topic: Dear Abby: When friends step over the line into your rel[color=black]ationship[/color]  (Read 5301 times)

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MariaE

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On the other hand, I was filled with incandescent rage by her answer to the first letter so my judgement may not have been sound at the point of reading the second letter.

What's wrong with the answer to the first letter? Admittedly it's 1:30am here, so I'm probably just not thinking straight, but I thought it was pretty par for the course for Abby - neither better nor worse than usual.
 
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Mental Magpie

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I was pretty upset by Abby's response.  I have a special little symbol I draw that incorporates my initials.  I have shown a few people here and there and have shown where my initials are.  If one of my friends went and got that tattooed on him I would be absolutely livid.  I can't imagine that the LW showed her close friend without describing exactly what it was even with a brief, "DH draws this in our letters, isn't it cute and sweet?"  That is a very clear "our thing" and the friend was absolutely wrong to take it as her own.  If she wanted to commemorate the wedding with that symbol, a symbol special to her friend, she should have asked her friend if it was okay to have tattooed on her.  I also think she would have showed the LW and said, "Look what I got to commemorate your wedding!", and I think the LW would have included that if she had done that.
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WillyNilly

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When I was in my early 20's my friend Susie got in my car once.  She was happy and chatty and normal and then BAM! Moody, awkward, and then she confronted me. She asked, in all seriousness if I had something romantic going on with her ex boyfriend.  Her evidence?  There was a Yoohoo bottle in my car.  She'd never seen me drink YooHoo and it was something her ex enjoyed.

You'd think I'd back away from a friendship like that right?  I didn't.  In large part because I didn't see it for toxic but rather as normal - in high school a very close friend once went off on me, f-bombs and nasty names and the whole nine - for what?  For ordering the same bagel cream cheese combination her on-again, off-again boyfriend preferred.

For all we know from the letter this "coat of arms" could be the peace symbol, or a yinyang or a heart with an arrow through it.
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AnnaJ

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Since there's no evidence that this symbol was necessarily created by the husband, nor does it seem to be a secret if friend used it as a tattoo and other people apparently recognized it, I don't think this would necessarily be considered a 'couple' thing by the friend - she may have just thought that the symbol was cool and would make a good tattoo.

Or the LW could just be saying other people have commented on the tattoo in ways that have nothing to do with LW and husband, which also speaks to the idea that it looks cool. 

And honestly, if it was strictly a relationship thing, why would the LW show/tell the friend?

Iris

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On the other hand, I was filled with incandescent rage by her answer to the first letter so my judgement may not have been sound at the point of reading the second letter.

What's wrong with the answer to the first letter? Admittedly it's 1:30am here, so I'm probably just not thinking straight, but I thought it was pretty par for the course for Abby - neither better nor worse than usual.

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LifeOnPluto

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I think it depends on how unique this character was. If it was a fairly common on, (eg, a treble clef, or an arrow through the heart (to use WillyNilly's example)) I don't think the LW has a leg to stand on.

If it was an unusual character, or one that the LW's husband invented himself (eg, he would always draw a heart with THREE arrows through it, etc) then yes, I think the friend was very presumptuous for using it as her tattoo.

That said, I wouldn't necessarily think she's trying to insert herself into the LW's relationship. It's probably more a case of her thinking "Oh wow, cool symbol! That would awesome as a tatt!" and not really thinking about how the LW would feel about it.

Assuming it's not a common character, I do think the LW is fine in asking her to keep the tattoo covered up, when they get together.

cass2591

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If this character was unique and created by the husband, then the friend did NOT have any legal right to copy it. You have a copyright on what you create, whether you legally file for it or not. I don't want to stray into legalities, but I also don't want OTHERS who stray into legalities to have incorrect info. So we should probably drop that line of conversation.

I don't know if you are right about copyright laws and I suggest you don't tell others about the law.
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That's fine. I have every reason to believe that what I have said is true, but this is not a legal site and I am not a lawyer. Which is why I said, "we should drop the legal question."

But other people shouldn't be using phrases like "legal right to use it" either.

Auntie Mame

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I fail to see why the LW i so hysterical over this.  I would personally be flattered.  Seriously off all the things to get your knickers in a twust over, this is really trivial.
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PeterM

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That's fine. I have every reason to believe that what I have said is true, but this is not a legal site and I am not a lawyer. Which is why I said, "we should drop the legal question."

But other people shouldn't be using phrases like "legal right to use it" either.

If nothing else, this isn't a daycare that painted Disney characters on its walls and can be legally forced to remove them. This is a friend who tattooed a symbol on her body. Copyright might or might not be in play if the letter writer or her husband really want to investigate, but whether or not that's true doesn't strike me as particularly useful information for this specific case.  What are they going to do, sue the friend to force her to remove the tattoo? I think Abby's core message of "It's done and now you have to deal with it as a done deal" has to be the basis of whatever the LW decides to do about the friendship. And of course, that still leaves her infinite possibilities, from laughing it off to never speaking to the former friend again.


EMuir

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I designed a unique tattoo for my partner and myself. It's our symbol.  I've been very hesitant about putting it in other public places in case someone decided to steal it.  I finally realized that even if someone else did use it, it would always have meaning to us.  Just like writing "Nike" on a slipper doesn't actually make it a name brand running shoe.  It would really bug me if a friend got the same tattoo, because all our friends know it was our "wedding tattoo".  If I saw it on a stranger I'd first boggle, wonder where they found the design,  then feel a bit honored they liked it that much. 

jmarvellous

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I was left wondering how memorable and unusual this symbol is if someone who (probably) doesn't have a copy of a love letter between the writer and her husband could get an exact copy of it done from memory. My guess is that it's not that off-the-wall weird or detailed.

I was thinking something like a yin-yang with hearts or a popular character with some symbolic attribute changed.

And if my assumption is right, then I don't think Kathie was that wrong to get it on her body, though I do think she ought to have mentioned it first! Getting a symbol on your body forever that you know symbolizes something significant to your close friend seems like a weird thing to do, then unveil at that friend's wedding.

FWIW, an acquaintance of mine had a unique logo (in a tattoo-like style) drawn up for her small business, and it's showing up EVERYWHERE in the U.S. on people's arms, legs, backsides, etc. as a tattoo, sometimes with her business name on it. If she finds out, she lets people know to give the original artist credit as some small token for the work she put into it (though many resist and have treated her very poorly).

I'd think that Kathie saying something like, "I got this to honor the love of my best friend and her husband, who drew it. Isn't he talented?" is about all the friend can hope for at this point.

Kendo_Bunny

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Two of my friends have a "coat of arms" symbol. It incorporates "their" special animals, and his last initial - they designed it together soon after their engagement. They use it on everything that's theirs - it was on the wedding invites, on the programs - they even had it printed on special stickers for the envelopes for everything wedding-related. So it very well could have been a pretty unique doodle that Kathie co-opted, though the couple may have put it out there as "their thing". I doubt that it had a monogram involved, since you wouldn't want to tattoo someone else's monogram on yourself, but a lot of my friends have done a spirit animal symbol with their weddings and engagements, and haven't been shy about showing them off. And none of my friends have weird spirit animals - they tend to choose common ones like wolves and dragons that a lot of people feel some sort of kinship to.

So, while what's done is done is pretty much the only advice, it isn't necessarily an easy symbol that anyone could have thought up that she remembered perfectly to dictate to the tattoo artist.

Two Ravens

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There is no where near enough information to judge. The Letter Writer calls it a character "Ever since we started writing letters and notes back and forth, he has always drawn a character on them, and it turned into "our" symbol."

So it is not stated that it is anything unique. Plus, with the random detail about Kathy being in the armed forces, it is not even clear that Kathy knew the LW and her husband had special meaning about the "character." It could even be a random coincidence, or that the "character" also has a seperate special meaning to Kathy.

Winterlight

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The letter in Dear Abby says "Ever since we started writing letters and notes back and forth, he has always drawn a character on them, and it turned into "our" symbol."

I'm not seeing where it says that this is a unique character that her husband designed, only that there was a certain character that he started putting on their letters and that over time, they adopted it as their symbol?

I agree.  I'm confused about the whole situation.  If it was a symbol her husband specifically designed, and the friend knew for sure it was something the couple considered to be romantic and intimate, then the friend's tattoo was creepy. 

But based on the letter as I read that, I didn't see that at all. 

It could be as simple as the husband liked to draw the infinity symbol, and it reminded the friend about how meaningful she found the infinity symbol (for her own reasons unrelated to the couple, or because she considers them close friends, or...something else) and she had the tattoo made as something special to *her*. 

That would make a heck of a lot more sense than someone deciding to adopt another couple's romantic symbol, anyway!

Yeah, this feels like a "not enough information" letter.
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