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Carolyn Hax: Demoting a former BFF to a casual acquaintance’; baby shower demands


Dear Carolyn:

I have a longtime friend whom I once considered a “best friend.” We connect at the heart and have relied on each other a lot over the years.

Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997, after five years as a copy editor and news editor in Style and none as a therapist. The column includes cartoons by "relationship cartoonist" Nick Galifianakis -- Carolyn's ex-husband -- and appears in over 200 newspapers. View Archive

Several years back, she went through a tough professional transition and completely cut me off. Not because she was angry with me, but because she needed to move through it alone. I was devastated that she would not return my calls, respond to my e-mails, accept my invitations, etc. That went on for nearly two years. Ultimately we worked it out, and all was well for a few years.

Then she underwent another difficult professional transition and again cut me off, again for nearly two years. I tried calling, texting and e-mailing for months and finally gave up.

I mourned the loss of our friendship, because I knew that if she came around again, I wouldn’t be willing to rekindle our closeness and set myself up for this again.

(Nick Galifianakis)

She has emerged from her difficult transition and now wants to reconnect. I love her dearly and I’ve missed her terribly, but I just don’t think I can do it again. Am I being unreasonable? Do I have to tell her this, or can I just keep her at arm’s length as a casual acquaintance?


Demoting her to “casual acquaintance” without explaining yourself would just be a lesser version of the same friendship crime she committed against you.

So, yes, you do have to say you won’t get close again to someone who takes unannounced two-year breaks from returning your calls. Whether you’re being reasonable is beside the point (though you seem so to me); what matters is that you remain true to yourself and transparent with those you love — just as your ex-best friend unwittingly taught you to be.

Dear Carolyn:

A number of friends have announced they are expecting — yay! In talking to other friends who, like me, have offered (joyfully, really!) to throw a shower, we’re all having the same issue: We have been presented with a list of 50-plus “people I want you to invite.”

Fifty people (or even 35 who accept, let’s say) is bigger than practical for my house, and hosting at a park or other reasonable outdoor venue in D.C. in August would be ill-advised. It’s also more expensive than I anticipated when I made the offer. Yet it seems sort of petty to come back saying, “Actually, I was imagining more like 10-12 people?”

I also can’t help but think the less-close people on the list of 50 maybe would be okay not being invited to a shower. Is there a reasonable way to set boundaries at this point?

Baby Shower Overload

Fifty? And this is common? Take to the shelters, they’re breeding.

It is not “petty” to say, “Er, I was thinking more like 12,” or “I’m sorry, my house can fit a dozen comfortably so maybe we can invite 20,” or “50! You’re funny.”

Since that moment has passed, circle back to it with, “I should have said this right away, but I felt bad: The shower I envisioned was about a quarter of the size you’re suggesting. Let me know if you’d still like me to host it.”

The burden here is on the grabby, not the grab-ee.

Write to Carolyn Hax, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or Sign up for Carolyn Hax’s column, delivered to your inbox early each morning, at



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