Photo: ThinkstockBy Amy Shearn
"It's not okay that you're always late."
Things happen. Lives are complex. Of course, your life is particularly so (everyone's is), which is why it's difficult to get to brunch on time (every time), which is not your fault, exactly, because there was nowhere to park, and then before that, there was a line at the drugstore, and before that, there was the argument with your 5-year-old about whether you could take your purse he was using as Lego storage and...she knows. Your friend has too much on her plate too, which is why she would never say anything about your tardiness. But perpetually making her wait sends the message that other things are more important than she is. That, in fact, almost everything is more important than her. No one wants to feel that way. Isn't that part of why we maintain friendships, to matter to someone, to have someone matter to us? Your friend matters to someone. She matters to you. So show your love: Leave 15 minutes earlier.
"Your husband is hot."
In the 10th grade, it's cute when you and your BFF agree, between shrieks of laughter, that her crush is hot. Not so when you're a grown women and the both of you are talking about one of your spouses. The thing is, it's good when your friend thinks your husband is hot: She thinks he's hot not necessarily because he's physically attractive, but because of how he treats you. How attentive he is, how he always opens car doors, how she saw him at a party you didn't attend and heard him gushing about you and your greatness. If your partner is bad news, you will hear about it eventually. But in the weird world of polite behavior, it is sometimes impossible to say, "Hey, your husband? He's amazing. You're lucky. I'm uncreepily happy for you."
"That's my wallpaper."
As anyone who grew up with a younger sibling can attest, imitation is the sincerest form of annoyance. Sure, your heart skipped a beat when you saw your friend's jewel box of an entryway smothered in the most perfect, unique, offbeat-but-not-too, beautiful-but-not-cloying, stylish-yet-not-design-blog-cliché, so-YOU-you-just-never-knew-it wallpaper. But the reason it's so unique and perfect is because your friend spent a year shopping around for it, and the reason she spent so long looking for something nobody had is because she wanted something...nobody had. So even though she would never say anything, at the risk of sounding petty, let her have the wallpaper/haircut/baby names.
"You're at the bottom of your own list."
We all have things about ourselves that we just can't see. And we all have those baggy-T-shirt-and-yoga-pants stages of life. It just may be that yours is lasting longer than most. When is it the right time to tell this to someone? Never. Which is why you have to tell yourself: "There is a time for yoga pants, and it is called yoga. It is not that time now. Now is the time for a flattering haircut. Now is the time to identify your skin tone and work with it. Now is the time for some clothes that fit properly. Now is the time to feel good about yourself--the way you would want your friend to feel good about herself."
"Believe me, none of us noticed."
It's one those mysteries of love that, as infallible as your spouse seems in the first blush of love, a few years later he's working your nerves just as dramatically. So when your husband makes a bad joke at a dinner party and you shush him, the bickering begins. No one likes to watch a couple fight. And, P.S. No one expects you to police your partner. So unless you can make your bickering as entertaining as a Woody Allen movie, just let it go. Truly, the rest of us haven't spent even a minute thinking about the joke that fell flat, so neither should you.
"Stop spamming me."
From: Friendina Friendstein
Hey, thanks so much for your email. And call. And text and tweet and Facebook message and wall post and comment on my blog and invitation to connect on LinkedIn and Gchat hello. Hello! I'm so glad you're reaching out to me. I know that maintaining friendships as busy adults with families and jobs and social media personas to maintain is no easy task, believe me, and I am genuinely glad you're staying in touch. And I will never send this email because I'm worried you'll think I'm being prickly. But...let's pick maybe one way to communicate and stick to it. How about picking the one I'm using to respond to you? Like my phone doesn't text. Which is why I never respond to your texts. But I always call you back, right? And never tweet you back. So...do you get what I'm saying? Let's talk. Let's always, always talk--and let's never tweet again.
With so much love,
"I'm 99 percent happy and 1 percent joyful-jealous."
You know when you're living an envy-making moment. Whatever it is--you just got a fancy new job, you bought the perfect house, you regularly post awe-inspiring pictures of the gorgeous cocktails your thoughtful new boyfriend makes you--your friend is happy for your success; of course she is. But unless her first name is Mother and her last name is Teresa, she probably also suffers a quick twinge of "G#%@$%*, WHY ISN'T THAT HAPPENING TO ME?" I mean, when the tables are turned, don't you? Which is why judicious posting and/or tweeting of such moments signals you are among the most thoughtful of 21st-century citizens.
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"You owe me $5."
Yes, we all know that money and friends don't mix, but also, how could they not? Maybe your friend brushes you off when she covers your part of the girls' night tab and says you can buy her coffee sometime. Did you, though? Did you ever do that coffee? In the grand scheme of a friendship, it's not worth making a fuss over $5 or $10, so she's not going to send you a bill, but her casual generosity is not something to be forgotten. It's an invitation to buy her the biggest, bestest, most ridiculous triple-shot caramel mocha with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles that has ever existed. Without being reminded.
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"You are beautiful."If only there were a way to say it without sounding corny, a way to make you believe her, then your best friend would tell you this. It does not-repeat does not-matter if you agree. It does not matter if society's skewed perceptions of the female body concur. It does not matter what the rest of the world thinks. You know this about your friends, and they know it about you-it's like crowdsourced good self-esteem! You are beautiful, and your imperfections are, to the people who love you, part of your charm. After all, who knows your true beauty if not the people who love you?
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