Annie's Mailbox

Ask Amy column

Q. My husband and I read your column aloud every morning. Now we have a question for you.

This involves someone I would have characterized as a close friend until this year. She relocated to another city many years ago. I’ve happily visited her and we’ve traveled together as well.

I had a serious health scare this summer and let her know of it when she wrote suggesting a possible visit with us. When she comes to town to care for her aging parents, she sometimes stays overnight at our house.


For five months she continued sending us proposed dates when she would be in the area, never including a word of response to any news from me concerning my health. Finally, I let her partner know my concern about her lack of response. Her partner had been very supportive about my surgeries.

Get The Weekender in your inbox:
The Globe's top picks for what to see and do each weekend, in Boston and beyond.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

My inquiry prompted the friend to send me a vague letter about how she had missed the news about me, can’t go back or undo, but can only go forward. No word of caring about the health episode, yet providing the dates she’ll next be here. My husband thinks she is lying. She has a history of not keeping up her end of things, yet never to this extreme.

I’m well now; the parade of sad, mad, and ugh has passed. Do I reply or remain silent and let her figure out that I’m through with this friendship? I’d like to express a clear view, kindly, from the high road, even though she has not.

Fan of Golden Rule

A. You had to go and bring the golden rule into this. And so you can also use this rule to calculate your own best answer.

Treat your friend as you would like to be treated — with honesty, compassion, and understanding. Her lack of concern may seem strange, but I find it is surprisingly common. In my experience, people who respond well to a health crisis have a sort of perfect pitch for calamity. The rest of us freak out and run to our corners, and then try to cover up for our own inadequacy by acting vague and quickly trying to change the subject. This behavior is not right. It’s not fair. But can you forgive her ?


You’re through with the sad, mad, and ugh part of your illness. You cannot use silence and inattention to convey your message (that’s her trick). If you don’t want this friendship to continue, you will have to be honest with her about the reason.

Q. I enjoy your column and I agree with most of your advice. However, as an OB-GYN, I take issue with your advice to “David in California” regarding his daughter’s excessive weight gain. You stated “she could also be using birth control, which might cause some weight gain.” The vast majority of birth control does not cause weight gain, the exception being the Depo-Provera shot. Even that has been shown to cause 10 to 15 pounds, not 70.

Studies on thousands of women on the pill show they do not gain more weight than their counterparts. Most women gain some weight over time, but women on the pill tend to blame it on the pill, which is why this myth perpetuates.

I spend a lot of my clinic time dispelling the myth of weight gain and contraceptives.

OB in Washington

A. I was trying to encourage this father to explore and discuss possible medical or physical reasons for weight gain. Thank you for clarifying that birth control would not be the reason.

Send questions via e-mail to or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.