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Ask Amy: Keeping adult friendships alive takes effort

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DEAR AMY: I had a huge fight with my best friend of 10 years. She called me phony, among other hurtful things. She says she doesn’t care to have a friend like me because I don’t reach out to her enough and that I make no effort to make plans with her. I agree we haven’t seen each other often enough. But Amy, she doesn’t ask me to make plans either, which is why I am so thrown off by this.

This is the third time we’ve had this argument and have stopped talking for weeks each time. I feel horrible because she accuses me of not being there for her without giving me any hint that she needs me. She now says she is done with me. She has hurt me, and I don’t know if I should contact her. Should I forgive her and try to repair this friendship, or let it die? -- Sad Friend

DEAR SAD: I shared your question with Julie Klam, author of “Friendkeeping: A Field Guide to the People You Love, Hate, and Can’t Live Without” (2012, Riverhead).

Klam responded, “I think you owe it to yourself and your best friend of 10 years to have a conversation. If that’s too difficult, you should write a letter. She is accusing you of neglecting her and you are naturally feeling defensive.

“If for a moment you can drop your defensiveness and describe how you imagine she feels, you might be able to work things out rather than abandon each other.

“If she’s open to it, make a monthly plan that you can both stick to, so there is always a date on the books. As adults, our lives are so packed with family, work, life obligations that our friendships can tend to fall by the wayside, but you both need to make the effort together or it isn’t going to work. If she isn’t responsive, at least you’ll know you’ve tried.”

DEAR AMY: A colleague of mine in her early 60s, “Carol,” is on friendly terms with a co-worker in his 30s, “Stefan.” Carol’s 16-year-old daughter frequently sends text messages and talks on the phone with Stefan, often during work hours. Carol thinks it’s cute. Other than blurring boundaries, I don’t understand why this bothers me. It seems I should just be able to ignore it and let it go. What are your thoughts? -- Wondering

DEAR WONDERING: I agree with you that a teenager in frequent independent contact with her mother’s colleague who is twice her age is boundary blurring and a little creepy. Before you ignore this and let it go, you should express your concern and say to “Carol,” “I can’t help but think this contact isn’t a good idea. I realize she isn’t my daughter, but are you certain this is okay? Are you sure you’re comfortable with this?”

This is not your business, strictly speaking, but one way for parents to gain perspective on their own children is to be aware of the views of people who care about them and their kids. I also wonder about the man on the other end of this contact.

DEAR AMY: I felt for “Grouchy,” the older gentleman who had neighbors with kids who constantly hit baseballs into his yard. We had the same issue with the neighbor kids hitting balls into our back yard and constantly retrieving them.

I told the family in a friendly tone that it is unsettling to look up and see people in the yard, and that I would prefer that the kids not go in the yard but that I would throw the balls back myself from time to time.

They knew they needed more balls to allow for overthrows, and I noticed they also changed the direction of their batting. It worked out with no hard feelings. -- Been There

DEAR BEEN THERE: Several other readers suggested a version of your solution, to collect the overthrown balls and return them when it is convenient.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2012 by the Chicago Tribune

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