Ask Amy

Thursday, November 5, 2009 at 11:45pm

DEAR AMY: I have been dating my fiancé for more than three years.

He has an old friend who lives in town. She is a female friend, whom I have never met.

Over the many years of their friendship, they have on a couple of occasions been sexually intimate (this happened many years ago).

She calls and e-mails him to stay in touch.

She has invited him to meet her for lunch. The invitation is for them to have a get-together exclusive of her husband and myself.

I find it disconcerting and rude that a so-called old friend would show no interest in meeting me or extending a more normal invite perhaps to the two of us to do something with her and her husband.

I have suggested that my fiancé and I invite them to our house for dinner, but he tells me she declines these offers.

I trust my guy implicitly, but am very uncomfortable with this relationship and having it continue as a "private" relationship. What is your take?

— Friendly Fiancé

DEAR FRIENDLY: If you and your guy are going to get married and be in a family together, then you should also share your friendships with each other, no matter what gender the friend is or the history of the relationship.

Partners get to have personal friendships, but they shouldn't be completely exclusive.

Your guy should be insulted by his friend's refusal to even meet you. True friends want to share their families with one another, at least to some extent. Imagine having a friend who "refused" to meet your siblings, parents or children.

Your fiancé has a part to play in this domestic drama. If he wants to maintain this friendship, then the next time his friend invites him to lunch, he should say, "I have another idea. Why don't you and your husband join us for dinner?"

If she declines, he should take it as a sign that she's not all that interested in his life.


DEAR AMY: A neighborhood "friend" recently disclosed that she is dealing with depression.

I learned of this after we had an argument about her rude behavior and gossip.

She asks many of us (other moms) for mind-boggling favors.

We want to be sensitive to her problems, but we do not want to be taken advantage of.

We feel like we are enabling her to rely on others for many things.

Her friendship is not something I value any longer because of her troublemaking, but I don't know whether I should stick it out and help.

I know how terrible this sounds, but will she be a more positive person who doesn't gossip and use friends after her depression is dealt with?

— Fed-up Neighbor

DEAR FED-UP: Depression is a disease that strikes people of all ages, genders, types and personalities.

Depression won't transform a person into a backstabbing gossip, but it could make someone seem unreasonable, pessimistic or overly reliant on help.

Most important for the purposes of your query is your own behavior.

If you don't want to maintain a relationship with this person, then don't, but unless you have been appointed to speak for the other moms in the 'hood, then you shouldn't presume to know what they might find tolerable. And you shouldn't gossip about or undermine your neighbor.

Depression is treatable but can also be devastating. You should establish whatever boundaries you need to live your own life, but the disease should arouse in you at least a twinge of compassion for this woman and her family.

You can learn more about depression from the National Institute of Mental Health: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/.


DEAR AMY: In response to the reader who asked about whether a thank-you was required for an e-mailed greeting, I say that a thank-you for a thoughtful gesture is always appropriate.

— Kim in Maryland

DEAR KIM: Opinion is divided on e-cards. A surprising number of people say they just don't like them, though I agree with you that an e-gesture should be at least e-acknowledged.

Send questions via e-mail to askamy@tribune.com

Filed under: Lifestyles

2 Comments on this post:

By: sidneyames on 11/6/09 at 10:47

Amy said "If she declines, he should take it as a sign that she's not all that interested in his life."
Friendly, I"ll add a little footnote to Amy's comment: The ex is not intereested in "his life" with you; sounds like she wants to have a side-bar relationship with him. He should cut the ties.

My husband is not jealous of any of my ex's, but he knows I'm not keeping them on the side for my own "relationship" with them.

By: sidneyames on 11/6/09 at 10:49

I do't care for e-cards, but I acknowledge them because I don't want to hurt my friends' feelings when they send them. After all, they were thinking nice thoughts of me when they took the time to select an e-card.

I'm old fashioned; I still use the U.S. postal service and stamps.