Dear Amy: I am a 21-year-old college student. I’ve been friends with a fellow student named “Rob” for the past three years. I have never known Rob to be anything but a kind and trustworthy person. For the past two years, Rob has been dating another student at our college, and their relationship seems very healthy.
Last night, while scrolling through Facebook, I saw a post made by someone Rob and I barely know, stating that Rob is “an abuser.” The post used Rob’s full name, so I’m sure it was about my friend. I was shocked and don’t know what to do now.
I sent Rob a simple message: “Is everything OK?” but haven’t heard back, and I don’t believe Rob knows about the allegation.
I have also been in touch with Rob’s girlfriend (who I have come to be friends with), and she responded, “I’m OK,” when I asked her how she has been.
Do I tell Rob about the post? Several of our mutual friends have stopped talking to Rob in the past few months with no explanation, and I’m starting to wonder if this allegation has something to do with it.
Dear Concerned: Yes, you should tell “Rob” about this post. It is vague and inflammatory. Ask him if he knows what it’s about.
Your experience with him seems to have been entirely positive. Until you have believable and credible evidence that he has abused others, you should continue the friendship.
Generally speaking, when a group of individuals break off their friendships with someone over time, there is a reason, but each of us has the right to the presumption of innocence. I can imagine any number of circumstances in which your friend is innocent, is perhaps being deliberately defamed or has been misidentified.
Dear Amy: A friend asked me to help her plan a menu for a housewarming open house. I’m a foodie, so this is no problem.
About 15 folks are invited, including some on politically opposite poles. These people are very vocal opposites. My friend has now put me in charge of keeping the peace, which is not my forte.
Since this is a relatively small group, I can’t just nudge opposing parties into discretely separate areas, nor can I oversee the food while babysitting highly opinionated adults.
I would like to nip this in the bud. What do you think of putting the following in a lovely frame on an easel at the front door: “Thank you for joining the festivities tonight. All opinions are respected, but please, leave politics at the door for the evening. Welcome!”
If things do get out of hand, I could remind them that no one will be convinced to change their minds in a single evening. It would also be very tempting to slip out through the garage and let my friend deal with the fallout.
I respect your approach to life. How should I handle this, Amy?
Foodie, not Referee
Dear Foodie: Despite what I do for a living, I don’t like to tell people how to behave, in advance of their behaving. I deal, mainly, with consequences – and with trying to gently influence people (as well as rein in my own behavior). Mainly, I spend a lot of time pointing out the obvious.
For instance: Your prospective sign says that “all opinions are respected,” and yet what you really seem to want to say is that NO opinions are respected. Do you want to be that finger-wagging person who tells people to shut up, as they are coming in the door? This is the opposite of hospitality.
Your friend has a lot of nerve in expecting this of you -- and yet no nerve in terms of trusting that people will behave well during a social occasion in her own home.
If I were you, I’d stick with the casseroles. If your friend can’t handle the tension of hosting friends in her own home, then perhaps she is not ready to open her home to others.
Dear Amy: “Unsure” wondered whether to continue to hide his (legal) pot smoking from his kids. This is an issue that is going to come up more and more, as marijuana is legalized in various states.
But I was shocked that you suggested that he should smoke in front of them!
Dear Upset: I suggested that “Unsure” should come out of hiding and basically face the music concerning his pot use. No doubt his adolescent children are already aware of it.
Email Amy at email@example.com.