Q. During my time in high school and college, I had some tumultuous relationships with men. Most cheated, were verbally abusive, or were emotionally absent. I loved one of them in particular, but the rest were mere infatuations. These relationships left me heartbroken, and it took several years to heal.
I have not maintained any contact with any of these people; however, all of them have sent me messages through social networking sites within the past one or two years expressing regret and guilt over their treatment of me. A few even wanted to know how I was doing and hoped to have a friendship.
I declined to respond. I have no desire to give any of these exes the time of day, not to mention a reply that signifies forgiveness and/or friendship.
I have been in a healthy and loving relationship for the past four years, one that is on its way to a marriage, and I do not want to threaten it in any way. However, I feel that I am holding back on granting possible closure for these men, who may have grown up in the past six or seven years and want to right the wrongs from the past. I fear that contacting them would open up several wounds that took very long to heal. What do you think I should do?
A. You say you don’t want to forgive these men, and — given your attitude about forgiveness — why should you care about their getting some kind of “closure”? You should imagine that the act of reaching out and making whatever conciliatory statements they are making might be closure enough for your exes.
You could easily reply to these messages with an innocuous statement like, “Thank you for getting in touch. I’m doing very well and wish you all the best.” Otherwise, if you feel that replying at all would place you or your relationship at risk, then by all means leave it alone.
Q. I was running on the lakefront path early this morning. I passed two runners who were missing one leg each and were wearing prosthetics.
I have the utmost respect for any runner, but especially for someone who is disabled. As I passed by them, I smiled and said, “You’re both amazing!” Neither of them looked happy to receive this compliment, and I almost think they looked a little annoyed.
The rest of my run I was wondering if I offended them and thought maybe they didn’t like being called out. I know my intentions were good, but I still feel bad if I offended them. Do you think it’s better to not say anything?
A. You meant well and should not worry too much about this, but surely you can imagine that having an obvious disability subjects these runners to frequent comments and that sometimes they might simply like to run just like everyone else. So I do think it’s better to treat all of your fellow runners as simply athletes who are all amazing.
Q. I’m responding to the letter from “Shaking My Head,” whose adult stepson was showing poor judgment about his life and is being enabled by various family members. I teach a course in “boundaries,” and this is a typical problem. Not setting boundaries does not help the person grow up and creates “permanent infants.” I have a saying: “If you are an enabler, you are an accessory to the crime.”
A. Setting boundaries is tricky; many parents simply don’t have the stomach to watch their kids flounder. Unfortunately most of us have to flounder before we can walk.Send questions by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 North Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.