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Carolyn Hax: Can’t understand why brother blocked your number? Hello?

(Nick Galifianakis/for The Washington Post)

Dear Carolyn: A message from my brother: " 'John,' you have tried to call me a few times, wondering why I don't answer. . . . When you were sending those group messages to me and I politely asked you to stop, your comment was, 'I like to include you, why does it matter.' So I blocked your number. I hate those and you're not the only one that I have blocked. And another comment you said to me is, you have to watch what you say to me because you might [tick] me off. So for now Messenger is the only contact until you stop those group texts or I will block again."

You agree he's overreacting?

— "John"

“John”: I agree with him, that blocking you was a reasonable next step after his reasonable first step — asking you not to send him group texts — which you refused to honor.

Disrespectfully refused, and for reasons I can’t fathom.

My advice is to remove him from your group messages and apologize for not doing so when he asked.

I also suggest you review “what you say to me” for any points you’re belaboring, axes you’re grinding or drums you’re beating thin. Between the lines, I see siblings whose differences have been exposed and prodded to the point of releasing toxins. Sometimes it’s better for everyone, even for your top causes, to give these differences a rest. Find what unifies.

If he doesn’t respond to these steps by accepting your calls, then that’s possibly an overreaction; only your history together can say so for sure.

Dear Carolyn: My husband and I are in our mid-30s and don't plan to have kids. We live modestly in a small condo, but do treat ourselves to the occasional luxuries. I treat my toddler nieces to gifts and fun activities as often as I can.

My mother has latched on to my being childless and more flexible with finances and suggests I do more, from buying more gifts for the kids to taking her on a lavish vacation. She always accused me of being cheap when I was growing up, and I've spent my better-paid years showing people that I'm not. However, I fear my mother has named me to treat her and others to all sorts of things. I don't know how I can set the record straight without being the "cheapskate daughter" again.

— Designated Round-of-Drinks Buyer and More

Designated Round-of-Drinks Buyer and More: Please forgive the bearer of unwanted news: The only path out of this is to become the “cheapskate daughter” again.

I suggest you embrace it, though. With gusto.

And with the force of all that is right and justified.

You become the “cheapskate daughter” only when your mother decides she wants something you’re not willing to give. That’s not the same thing as actually being a cheapskate; that’s merely exercising your prerogative to spend your money as you choose. Your mother’s entitlement and name-calling don’t change the basic fact that your money is not hers to spend.

In fact, your mother’s entitlement and name-calling, to my mind, make her claims to your money even less legitimate than they were to begin with, and since they had zero legitimacy to begin with, let’s take a moment to be grateful that emotional physics don’t have any pesky laws to adhere to.

So. You don’t have to justify your choices to your family. They’ve taught you to, but it’s worth the hard work of unlearning.

You don’t have to buy rounds just because you didn’t have children.

You don’t have to live modestly to preserve your right to say no.

And you don’t have to pay your mother to stop insulting you.

Good people don’t use loved ones’ vulnerabilities to extort vacations from them. They teach that in the first semester of advice school, and it’s a good one to keep in mind.

Dear Carolyn: I broke up with my boyfriend two weeks ago after about eight months of dating. Living about two hours away from each other, we'd been drifting apart for a while.

Now, ex-boyfriend has decided to block me on all social media, repeatedly tell me he has no idea who I am, blame me for issues he's having, etc. Most recently, a friend outed me as bi to my ex. Ex has decided this means I cheated on him.

I'm mad at both the friend — she was apparently mad on his behalf about how our breakup went — and my ex for telling people I cheated on him, despite no such behavior.

What is a healthy way to move forward with this? I would really like to keep both in my life, but it's just looking harder to do so.

— Recent Grad

Recent Grad: Why? So you can feel like the good guy, whose breakups are amicable?

Move forward by recognizing it’s over x 2 — friend and boyfriend — and disengaging. They’ve disqualified themselves as friends. Save your emotional energy for people who don’t throw it back in your face.

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