Dear Amy: I’m in trouble with my best friend of nine years, and my girlfriend of 13 months.
My best friend, “Tony,” sent some mean messages to my girlfriend, “Becky” regarding her physical appearance, her family and their financial status, and our relationship overall.
She said some things in response that were a bit mean, too.
He claimed she was taking me away from him as a friend and that I was neglecting him in order to be with her. (I was giving my attention to both.)
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I had told Tony that if he had anything to say about my relationship with him, he should tell me directly, but he chose instead to send messages to Becky.
About two months ago, I stopped talking to him altogether. Yesterday, he reached out to me, saying how sorry he felt. He said he just wants everything to be OK between the three of us.
He said he is even willing to apologize in person to Becky and me. My girlfriend doesn’t want to hear from him or hear what he has to say. She also doesn’t want me to talk to him or even consider him a friend anymore.
She’s had friends that were mean to me, and she stopped talking to them completely. I feel she wants me to do the same, and I’m scared she’ll even break up with me if I try to fix the situation with Tony.
Should I try to fix it with him and deal with the consequences if she leaves, or should I side with her and block him out of my life?
Dear Friendless: You are trapped between two people who are behaving badly. Both are presenting non-negotiables to you.
Your friend “Tony” should not merely offer to apologize to “Becky” for slandering her, he should apologize -- whether or not his friendship with you can be revived. You should tell him, “You owe Becky an apology, and after you offer it, we’ll see where we stand.” Everything hinges on his sincere effort to make things right.
You should ask Becky to keep an open mind. She may not want to spend time with this guy, but she should not keep you in a stranglehold if you want to have a friendship with him.
If you are scared that Becky will break up with you about this, your fear exposes an issue: Partners should commit to working things out (sometimes arguing things out) without the threat of walking out.
Dear Amy: I was so disappointed and surprised by your response to “Dogless,” the woman whose husband and sons wanted a puppy, and she did not.
In your answer, you actually suggested that if they brought a puppy home, she should leave the house for a period of time over this.
First of all, having a dog can be great for kids. It teaches them responsibility.
Leaving the home when things aren’t going the way you want is a terrible way to respond. This is not good for her marriage or her children.
A better solution would be for her to lay down some rules regarding the animal, and if the children and husband do not take responsibility, she should go on strike: Not cook dinner, not clean up after them, not drive them to soccer practice, etc.
Dear Disappointed: Thank you for the correction and suggestion.
“Dogless” was an at-home mom who had just seen two of her children off to college. A previous experience with a dog in the home did not go well (other family members ignored the animal, and, after five years, it ran away). Her husband had announced that he would bring home a puppy, regardless of how she felt.
I was floored by this lack of respect.
I agree that leaving the home is extreme and unwise. It was my version of “going on strike.”
I like your solution – if the family members don’t take care of the dog, the mother doesn’t take care of them. Great idea!
Dear Amy: The letter signed “Help Not Wanted” told of a 95-year-old mother-in-law who responded harshly when the daughter-in-law offered to help her out of the back seat of their car.
I appreciated your take on this, but this fact jumped out at me: When I drive elderly people, I always offer them the front seat. Riding in the back seat might have bothered this older woman.
Dear Been There: Yes! Not only is the front seat more comfortable, the visibility is better. Thank you.
Email Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org.