Ask Amy

Wednesday, July 29, 2009 at 9:00pm

DEAR AMY: My friend was unceremoniously dumped by her husband for another woman. Since then, every conversation is dominated by details of the divorce: "How could he do this; how could he do that?"

Blah, blah, blah.

At lunch she even cornered the waiter and told him the whole story!

While I was sympathetic at first, I'm sick of it now.

My friend refuses to talk about anything else, and this has been going on for several months.

Is there something I can do besides eliminating her as a friend?

— Bothered Friend

DEAR BOTHERED: Friends listen to each other and absorb the endless details about all sorts of things, but when it has gone on too long, friends also tell each other the uncomfortable truth.

At some point, obsessing over your cruel fate stops helping — especially when the details don't lead to insight, understanding or progress.

You should find a way to share your goals with your pal. You can say, "I want for you to feel better, to move forward and make progress. I don't think you can do that if you continue to obsess. Telling your story to the waiter isn't fair to him."

A professional counselor would not only listen but would offer your friend the challenge of working things through in an appropriate environment. You should suggest it.

My favorite book about the "blah, blah, blah" of a broken relationship is insightful and funny: "Heartburn," by Nora Ephron (1996, Vintage). Your friend might appreciate it, or the film version with the same name.


DEAR AMY: About a month ago I received a letter in the mail that I would receive a wedding invitation in the mail in a month. I did not recognize the names, and I don't remember meeting the people who sent it.

The lovely invitation arrived, and I think they must have the wrong person — I do not know these people!

I am 84 years old and not very active. How do I tell this couple I do not know them and cannot attend their wedding, but that I wish them every happiness?

— Grandma in San Francisco

DEAR GRANDMA: You could prevail upon a younger friend or relative to help you determine whether you know these people by another name or if you have perhaps forgotten them.

Basic identifying information about most people is available through the Internet. If you don't have a computer, ask someone to look this up for you. If you cannot solve this little mystery, you probably shouldn't reply.


DEAR AMY: You published a letter from "Confused in Louisiana," who wondered if she should tell a future husband about an adulterous affair she'd had before they met.

You replied: "You should discuss this episode as part of your mutual disclosure about previous relationships."

Amy, since when is there a requirement to disclose sensitive information to someone when it has nothing to do with that person?

I have known too many people who unburdened themselves regarding past escapades, only to find out that they've opened a very large can of worms.

Most men are aware that their wife probably had a sex life prior to marriage, but they don't want their noses rubbed in the details.

If AIDS or STDs are a concern, then Confused should get herself tested.

You should not be handing out advice that could wreck a relationship.

You should have told Confused to think long and hard before burdening a prospective husband with ghosts from her past.

— S

DEAR S: I agree that someone should think long and hard before disclosing challenging issues, but I also feel strongly that people who are about to get married should know the truth about each other — or as close as they can get to it.

When making these disclosures, it is kind and respectful to spare the other person details we think they might find too painful. No one's nose should be rubbed in any detail — that's just unkind and unfair.

Send questions to askamy@tribune.com

Filed under: Lifestyles