Dear Amy: Several years ago, my daughter had a preschool teacher she loved who was fired for, what seemed at the time, a dubious reason.
I related to her predicament, and I met up with her a couple of times in the immediate aftermath so that my daughter could see her and to talk about the situation.
I did not expect to develop a long-term friendship with her.
Since that time, she has contacted me sporadically, whenever she finds herself in a difficult emotional situation.
We are not friends, and she only contacts me when she’s having an emergency. Then it’s urgent, at weird times, and time-consuming. It’s bizarre behavior.
She is married and has family and friends. I’m not even close enough with her to recommend that she see a therapist.
The most recent time this occurred, I hadn’t heard from her in about a year.
She asked if we could meet up and I told her that I was really busy preparing for some travel, and that it would have to be scheduled for another time.
She ignored this and tried repeatedly to contact me while I was out of town. Amy, I’m a busy professional with a family to care for and my own relationships to manage.
I am not the type of person who would ever “ghost” someone, but I was never friends with this person in the first place, and she’s ignoring my boundaries. Is it OK if I just ignore her?
– Not a Therapist
Dear Not: You don’t mention the content of the contact this person is pestering you with. If she is emailing or texting asking for advice and you don’t want to engage, you can respond, politely – “I’m sorry I can’t help you with this. I hope you find some resolution!”
If she contacts you wanting to get together, and you’ve already told her that you aren’t available, then she needs to reread through her previous messages and get a clue.
You’ve already invited her to reschedule, but you’ve decided to end the relationship instead. If she contacts you saying, “I think you’re probably back from your travels, so can you get together?” You can respond: “Sorry, but I’ll have to decline. Life is getting in the way.”
After that, you might have to be more direct.
Dear Amy: I’ve been with “Bobby” for two years.
We got married last year (very quietly), but haven’t done the celebration part yet with family and friends.
We are planning our celebration, and will hold it in four months.
My husband’s sister (my new sister-in-law) hasn’t congratulated us or given us anything like a card or gift.
Maybe she will do these things at the actual celebration, but I’m not sure.
Do you think she has a problem with us getting married? Or do you think she has a problem with me?
– Concerned Bride/Bride-to-Be
Dear Concerned: Every time I shake my “Magic 8 Ball,” the reply is, “Outlook uncertain.”
The way you describe this relationship, you are obviously insecure about it. Perhaps you don’t know your husband’s sister very well, or you’ve had limited or negative interactions with her.
My suggestions are pointed toward trying to establish a positive relationship moving forward.
Consider asking her advice regarding an aspect of the wedding planning. If appropriate, you might offer her a role in the wedding itself.
If she responds to your bids rudely, coldly, or not at all – then you should assume that she has a problem either with you, with her brother, or with the larger world around her.
If you’ve done nothing to inspire her behavior, then don’t take it personally!
I realize this is easy for me to say and very hard for you to do, but if you are able to use this experience to acquire the extremely important skill of not taking things personally, then I’d say that this would be your sister-in-law’s lasting and valuable wedding gift to you.
Dear Amy: “Underappreciated” related the pain and pressure of having grandparents who openly favored two cousins over him.
Well, I was the favorite grandchild of all my grandparents’ grandchildren, and I have to report that their openness about this was hard on all of us.
To this day, I feel guilty – even though it wasn’t my fault – and it affected my relationship with my cousins.
– Favored and Guilty
Dear Favored: Thank you for noting the longer-term impact of favoritism.
I wonder if you might alter the outcome by addressing this with your cousins, now.
(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.)