Friday, August 3, 2007

Dear Amy:

My best friend, "Jamie," was dumped by her boyfriend when they were in college six years ago.

They were serious, she believed, and he was invited to dinner at her home to meet her family. He didn't show, and he never communicated with her again.

They went to different schools, and he wouldn't speak to her on the phone or respond to messages.

She saw him once, a couple of years later, but didn't try to talk to him.

Jamie is now in a loving relationship but mentions this incident from time to time, and she still seems to be hurt and puzzled by it.

I feel certain that her self-esteem and confidence were shaken.

Recently, at a wedding in Jamie's family, I spent time with her godmother, who told me that Jamie's father had "scared the life" out of the old boyfriend.

She says Jamie's father (a mean man, and a control freak), answered the door when the boyfriend arrived, without Jamie knowing he was there, and ordered him to leave and never to have anything to do with his daughter again.

Jamie's father is now dead, but she still has many issues with his behavior toward her. I don't know if I should tell her what her godmother told me.

Knowing the truth might be helpful to her, but I don't want her to be angry with her godmother or other family members who might also know what really happened.

What should I do?

Jamie's Friend

You should have urged Jamie's godmother to tell her what she told you. Otherwise, you should give this a wide pass.

If you choose to get involved in this family matter, you might open a can of worms that you can't close. You can't verify anything about a story that, after all, might be incorrect.

Jamie's former boyfriend bears some responsibility for leaving her with no explanation; surely there would have been a way for him to reach out and break up with her in a way that was less traumatic for her. Now that her father is no longer in the picture, the boyfriend could offer his own explanation and apology.

Dear Amy:

I come from a family of four children. I am the only male and am a middle child. My three sisters are great; unfortunately, they are all extremely jealous of one another.

I thought this was only a phase, but we are all in our 20s now and it doesn't seem to be letting up.

My oldest sister recently announced her engagement, and instead of being happy for her, my other two sisters were envious and jealous.

Will this ever stop, and is there anything I can do?


These unhealthy patterns often first take shape in childhood; if you think back, you might be able to identify things that your parents did to bring this on -- or perhaps they didn't stop this behavior when they should have.

Now that you're all adults, you can step out from the middle of this unhealthy mess and assume some leadership. If your sisters involve you in their sniping or ask you to choose sides (and they will), refuse. Use your neutrality as the Switzerland of your family to tell each of them in turn that you are disappointed with their attitude.

Remind them that jealousy is insidious and very unattractive. A number of books explore sibling rivalry. You might suggest that your sisters read "Why Can't We Get Along?: Healing Adult Sibling Relationships," by Peter Goldenthal (Wiley, 2002).

Dear Amy:

You answered a letter from a "naturist" in your column and made some disparaging comments about gardening in the buff.

Actually, Amy, nude gardening is an extremely enjoyable exercise, something my wife and I have been doing for more than 50 years.

There is a formal "World Naked Gardening Day" each year in the first part of May.

Our garden is beautiful.

A Happy Gardener, Richmond, Calif.

Responding to this letter, I made a comment about nude gardening and hedge trimmers. Based on the responses to this letter, however, many people enjoy nude gardening, despite what I perceive as its obvious risks.

Write to Amy Dickinson ataskamy@tribune.comor Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2007by the Chicago Tribune Distributed by Tribune Media Services Inc.

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