The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Miss Manners: After 30 years, an old friend is still a show-off

3 min

Dear Miss Manners: I am in my 50s and do not have anyone I can call a real friend. My closest friend of 37 years passed away a little over a year ago. Needless to say, I am heartbroken.

An acquaintance from my past recently reconnected with me through email. While she was a very fun travel buddy in our younger days, she was also a braggart, telling false stories to make herself sound better.

I used to have a lot of people asking me, “Why in the world would you want to be around that girl and her horrible reputation?” But I always felt that there was a very sweet, misguided young woman underneath it all.

Through our many emails these days, I can tell that she is bragging again, about professional matters this time (she is now married). When I email her, I reminisce fondly about the many trips we took together in our 20s. I ask friendly questions and tell her that I would love to see her again. Her responses, 9 times out of 10, are only about her job. It’s almost like she just wants someone to speak at, not with.

My questions go without an answer, even though I do not ask anything remotely prying. She just talks about her job, or how rotten her husband was the night before. (The next email will be about her job, and how sweet her husband was the night before.)

At this point, I have given up on ever getting together. Our “relationship” is very much like the one we had in our 20s.

What should I say to her? I do not want to be mean or rude, but I thought she was over herself.

It is a pitiful truth that it is often far more lonely to be with someone who treats you poorly than to actually be alone. Miss Manners is afraid that such is the case here.

This person seems too wrapped up in her own world to be in a real friendship with you, and after 30 years, she has proved that nothing you do will shake her out of it. Miss Manners therefore suggests that you put your energy and time into some new activities or hobbies — for distraction, but also to help build new friendships.

She will issue one warning, however: Do not get involved in your new friends’ marital problems. Friendship 101 decrees that one simply listen and support — and never weigh in about anyone’s rotten husband. Even if it is warranted.

Dear Miss Manners: There are so many women showing their bra straps. I think it’s unattractive! What do you think?

That you should do your very best not to notice.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

© 2023 Judith Martin