DEAR AMY: I was in a two-year relationship with “Tiffany” that ended over a year ago. I created a dishonest situation with her. I take full responsibility for my actions and continue to feel horrible about it.
After the breakup, we didn’t talk for a month. When we did meet up to talk, she asked me to help her and her children from a previous marriage move 1,500 miles away.
I obliged and did the favor. Since the move, I have kept my distance and tried to move on, continuing to feel horrible that I messed up the good thing we had.
Over the last year, Tiffany has texted me from time to time.
On a recent trip she made back to my home state, I let her borrow my car/apartment (while I was away).
Tiffany has often asked why I don’t talk to her much and why I’ve kept our conversations short. I usually reply that I’m busy (most of the time, I am).
Am I obligated to keep this friendship going? I don’t want to hurt her again. I feel like if I don’t respond to her contacts she will become upset and depressed.
At some point I want to move on to get past my own mistakes without hurting her in the process. How do I get past this?
DEAR OBLIGATED: So, you take responsibility for being dishonest toward Tiffany, and for causing the breakup of your relationship.
Now it seems that you feel obligated to do whatever Tiffany asks, including moving her and her family across a great distance.
Tiffany may be trying to take advantage of your guilt — it’s hard to tell, since she also seems to be acting like there is an assumption of friendship.
Regardless, Tiffany did not rush in and carry you out of a burning building. She merely let you betray and break up with her. Your guilt should not translate into a lifetime of obligations.
I take it that even though you feel terrible about causing the end of your good relationship, you don’t want to continue in any kind of friendship. So … you’re going to have to break up with Tiffany again. Only this time, you’re going to have to go all-in: “Tiffany, the reason I don’t communicate much with you is because I have emotionally moved on from our relationship. I continue to feel terrible about my behavior. You did nothing to deserve that. I want to be honest with you. I don’t want to ghost you. But I don’t want to continue our friendship.”
You are not responsible for Tiffany’s reactions to you. Be honest, be kind, but do not string her along unless you are willing to sincerely engage in a friendship with her (and possibly also rotate her tires).
DEAR AMY: A close friend of mine is dating a married man, “Wendell,” whose wife is in a nursing home.
I am not comfortable with this. I believe in adhering to your marriage vows.
She includes him in all of our friends’ group activities, such as dinners, parties, etc. I am polite but do not plan to include him in my future plans, such as my children’s weddings, etc.
What’s the best way to navigate this? My friend is very defensive about him.
DEAR UPSET: Your gripe seems to be primarily with Wendell. He is the person violating the marriage vows that are so important to you. Your friend is a party to his behavior, but he is ultimately responsible for it. If you feel the need to exclude him from important events for this reason, and you feel he deserves or requires an explanation, then you should tell him.
You don’t seem to know him — or have special insight into his situation. I would feel uncomfortable judging someone so harshly, until or unless you had walked in his shoes or at least made an effort to understand the circumstances.
You have to live by your own standards; it is not always wise, or kind, to insist that others must.
DEAR AMY: I was amused by the problem presented by “Won’t Host Again,” who couldn’t get her brunch/lunch guests to leave!
My dad used to say, “Well, we’re going to bed, so it’s time for you to go now.”
Subtle, Dad! But it worked.
Miss my Folks
DEAR MISS: One issue here was that these gatherings were happening during the day, so “going to bed” was more or less off the table.
You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.