A Friend Watched Our Chickens While We Were Away. When We Came Back, One Was Gone. 

Heading out the door? Read this article on the Outside app available now on iOS devices for members!
Download the app.

Welcome to Tough Love. We’re answering your questions about dating, breakups, and everything in between. Our advice giver is Blair Braverman, dogsled racer and author of Small Game and Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube. Have a question of your own? Write to us at toughlove@outsideinc.com.

My husband and I recently went out of town, and my friend came by to take care of our chickens. We have raised them since they were chicks and they’re very friendly. My friend is a passionate animal lover and going through some relationship difficulties, so she said that the time with the chickens would be really soothing for her. She didn’t have much chicken experience before but I showed her what to do. She sent pictures every day we were gone.

When I got back, one of the chickens was missing, and it seems like my friend has no idea and didn’t notice. I haven’t found the chicken anywhere, and I can only guess that when my friend let them out of their run, she didn’t count them when they came back in, so the chicken was left outside and eaten by predators. 

My husband and I have been talking about whether to tell my friend that a chicken died on her watch. My husband says that she was irresponsible, and she should know that that has repercussions. I feel torn about it. She’s a sensitive person with strong emotions, so I worry that she would really beat herself up about the chicken’s death. I’m sad but I’m not angry with her, but I also feel like I would end up having to comfort her, which I’m not that eager to do. Is there a point to telling her?

There’s no one right or wrong solution here, because nothing you say will bring your chicken back. You could tell your friend, or choose not to; it depends on what kind of relationship you have, what your goals are going forward, and what you’re hoping to get from the conversation.

Your logic in making the decision might go something like this.

Is your chicken-sitter a close friend? If so, then:

  1. You could tell her, because it’s important to preserve honesty in the relationship.
  2. You might not tell her, because you know she’s struggling, and you want to protect her emotions first and foremost.

Are you just casual friends? If so, then:

  1. You could tell her, so that if she made a mistake, she can learn from it.
  2. You might not tell her, because your relationship doesn’t warrant the energy that the conversation would require from you.

Your choice will depend on the nuances of her personality, your personality, and your particular relationship. Ask yourself, is your friendship built on being completely straightforward with each other? Or is it about cushioning each other from hardship, and offering comfort and support? Where do your personal values fall along that spectrum?

There’s a final reason to tell your friend about the missing chicken, and that’s that you don’t actually know what happened, and there’s a chance that your friend could help you solve the mystery. You’re guessing that your friend was sloppy—and it’s true that she didn’t notice your chicken was missing—but the chicken might not have disappeared because of negligence. Maybe there’s a hole in your coop, or you have an automatic door that didn’t function, or a weasel managed to sneak in. If that’s the case, it would be better to figure it out as soon as possible, so that you can fix the problem and protect your other birds. You could try saying something like, “Hey, the chickens seem really happy and healthy, but one of them is missing. Do you have any idea what might have happened?” That way, you’re setting yourself up to be on the same side as her—and you’re both on the side of the chickens.

You also mentioned being concerned about having to comfort her, which suggests that it might be a pattern in your friendship. There’s something particularly annoying (at best) or hurtful (at worst) about telling someone how they harmed you and then having to comfort them about it, but the solution isn’t as simple as just avoiding topics that might upset them. It’s always a better strategy to pre-empt a breakdown rather than try to change someone’s mood once they’re already upset, so if you do decide to tell her, set up the conversation as gently as possible. For instance: “I want to talk with you about something, but I really want you to know that I’m not angry, OK? I’m just telling you so you know.” (If you are angry with someone, that’s a different situation, and maybe you’re OK with them having to sit with negative emotions for a while. If you know that you’ll feel pressured to comfort them, try writing your feelings as a letter or email, so you can both have space to process.)

Your feelings around this situation will settle out with time, so if you don’t think your other chickens are currently in danger, and you want to tell your friend but dread the emotional fallout, you could also just put things off for a while. Imagine telling your friend in, say, two months’ time, when you can frame the reveal casually, as if you’ve only just remembered. (“Hey, did I ever mention that…”) Does it seem like that would make things easier? If so, you have my full blessing to engage in some intentional procrastination. And if you want to avoid delicate pet-sitting situations like this in the future, hire a professional.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *