Ask Amy

Blackout drunk brings on breakup

Q. I recently ended a six-month relationship with a girl who often drank to the point of blacking out and from time to time took recreational drugs.

While warning signs were there from the start, there was also an amazing connection, and we shared some wonderful moments. She was great on many levels, but her off-the-rails behavior sort of terrified me. Looking back, perhaps I was too harsh. I miss her a great deal. Did I make a mistake?

Lonely in LA

A. Each of us has his/her own personal threshold of what can be tolerated. If you are with someone whose behavior “sort of terrifies” you, then, yes, your choice to end the relationship and tolerate the attendant loneliness seems to me like an important act of self-preservation.


Furthermore, I think any relatively sober person would feel frightened and unsure to be with someone who drinks to the point of unconsciousness.

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Alcoholics are like everybody else: sometimes amazing, loving, smart, charming, funny, and compelling. Unfortunately, the fallout from addiction can be tremendous for loved ones. It is a depleting life to be with someone long term who engages in such dangerous behavior.

So, no, I don’t think you made a mistake, not at all.

Q. I have made a conscious choice to not have contact with my grandfather. He was a womanizer and mistreated his children. This isn’t your typical serial cheater. He committed several exploitative acts toward women throughout his lifetime (the details are dark and unsettling).

The choices he made resulted in total alienation from my mother and me. I was only 17 when my mother passed away, and my grandfather’s behavior at her funeral left an indelible impression. He hides behind a facade of charm, Christianity, and good deeds.


I have a young child and understand his desire to be in our lives, but I don’t want this. Recently, he inquired as to why I keep my distance. He also sent me a newspaper clipping pertaining to grandparents’ rights.

When I received his letter, I felt bad, but it and the article felt like a form of manipulation. I don’t feel the desire to reconnect. I do, however, want to answer his letter. What would be an appropriate way to respond?


A. I don’t know if your grandfather’s choice was deliberately manipulative, but I can see how you would see it that way. The most neutral thing to do is to respond to his contact, saying, “I received your letter and newspaper clipping. If I choose to reconnect with you I’ll let you know.”

Q. I read your response to the “A Refined Palate,” the man who couldn’t stomach eating a friend’s terrible cooking.

At last, someone had the courage to rein in a foodie. Thank you on behalf of all of us who are regular cooks hoping to have friends over now and then.


Some of my erstwhile friends have become “refined” to the point of being totally intolerant of ordinary home cooking.

They insist on particularities in water, wine, miniature vegetables, artisanal breads, unsalted butter, flavored vinegars and olive oils, baby lettuce — and that’s before your main course, which had better not be red meat.

I have become so intimidated that I no longer invite people over for dinner.

Marilyn in Illinois

A. You are one of a handful who agreed with my takedown of this writer. Thank you.

You can contact Amy Dickinson via e-mail at askamy@tribune
.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or “like” her on Facebook.