Q. I have a long-standing platonic friendship with “Brian.” He was recently diagnosed with a very serious illness.
I have often treated Brian to restaurant meals and entertainment. I have more than he has, and I am genuinely happy to do this. However, lately he’s asked me to take him and his incoming visitor friend/cousin/grandmother, etc. to dinner. I have no interest in taking people I don’t know to dinner.
I have paid a lot of money for all kinds of sometimes major expenses for him over the years.
The last time I paid for dinner, Brian sounded angry. He sneered and said we are “just a couple of gossips.” It’s true that I talk about what is going on with me and mine. He also tells all in great detail. To be honest, we’re both pretty boring — and so are our family and friends.
We all make mistakes. We are all human. I have lots of regrets, and I’ve always talked honestly about them. I celebrate the good news I hear from him, and I feel sad when I learn about tougher events about his friends and families. And then I forget it. We all are just living our lives and doing the best we can.
I am tired of being asked to pay for all kinds of things. Is that rude now that my friend has a serious illness?
If I do choose to pay for dinner again, what dinner conversation is now appropriate?
I guess if we are not allowed to compassionately discuss our friends and families, then we are left to discuss the news. I find the news pretty depressing.
Am I just a “gossip”?
A. Your friend is seriously ill. This is bound to make a person reflective and occasionally grouchy.
When he remarked, “We are both just a couple of gossips,” he was referring to himself, as well as you. I see this as a fairly common observation to make when you realize that the bulk of the conversation is usually about other people.
You should talk about it! Say, “I’ve always thought our conversations were pretty benign. I never judge anyone you’ve told me about, and honestly think we’re all pretty boring. But does it really bother you, or were you just blowing off steam?”
You’ve obviously been keeping a tab and have reached the end of your tether concerning picking up the check. If you don’t want to treat others to dinner, you should be honest, and say so.
But yes, I would say that completely pulling the plug on this friendship now that your friend is ill is less than compassionate.
You say, “We are all just living our lives, doing the best we can.” Ask yourself: “Am I doing the best I can?”
Q. I have been married to my husband for two years. I knew he had issues when I said, “I do.” However, his addiction has put so much extra stress on me.
He rages and at times I fear him. I am an “over-the-road” truck driver and he will call me all though the night. It is mind control with him.
I have thought about divorce, and even contacted lawyers, but I get sucked right back into his lies.
When he is sober, he is the man I fell in love with. Right now, he is locked up, charged with assault with a deadly weapon (not a gun).
I know this is my chance to leave. But my heart won’t reason with my mind.
How do I give up on someone I care about?
LOVE SUCKS IN INDIANA
A. You don’t have to give up on someone you care about. However, you shouldn’t be married to, living with, or physically near someone who puts your own health and safety at risk. Care about him — from a distance.
I hope you will put your own well-being at the forefront of your life. Please find a sensible friend, family member, or counselor to talk to. You are a part of his problem, and you need to let go.
Q. As the parent of transgender and non-binary young adults, I have become very aware of how often (and needlessly) we use gendered language.
The adorable word “nibling” gets us past the awkward “nieces and nephews” quite well and I’m going to start using it for the 17 (soon to be 18) humans in my family!
A. I like it, too.
Amy Dickinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.