Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: A while back, an heirloom necklace of mine went missing. The only person to visit me recently had been my adult niece. I asked my niece why she took my necklace, and told her to return it immediately. My niece kept denying she had even seen my necklace. I was furious with her for lying to me. I went to the police and pressed charges against her for stealing. A few weeks later I found my necklace in the pocket of a coat I had forgotten about. I had wrongfully accused my niece of stealing from me and had pressed charges against her! I’m ashamed to admit that I also insulted her as a parent, her young children and blasted her on several social media sites during those weeks. We live in a small tight-knit community, so word traveled quickly. I was told by another family member that my niece told them she could not even go to the store now without getting dirty looks. I have, of course, dropped all charges against her and told her I made a mistake. I said, “Let’s put this ugly incident behind us and forget it happened.” My niece will not speak to me! Her husband told me that my accusations have caused my niece a great deal of anxiety and she’s been sleeping poorly, and having migraines because of what happened. I just want everything back to how it was before all of this. A close friend suggested that since I publicly humiliated my niece, a public apology would be a good place to start. I’m ready to drop the whole incident and forget it ever happened, and see no need in continuing to refer back to it.

Older but Not Wiser

DEAR OLDER: You didn’t hesitate to press charges and then spread this falsehood through social media and the community. So I guess your, “Let’s forget this whole thing happened” philosophy only kicked in when you were at risk of embarrassing yourself.

Yes, you should apologize publicly.

What you shouldn’t do is to repeat the false accusation when you make your apology. I am often surprised at how often political candidates (for example) repeat alleged falsehoods before refuting them.

So yes, you should apologize to your niece personally and privately, and while you are doing so, ask her how she would like you to word your public apology.

Then — if you’re lucky — everyone involved might be able to forget the whole thing happened, but I doubt it.

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DEAR AMY: I’m in love with my best friend. We’ve been besties for years, and over that time my feelings of friendship have developed into something deeper. We’re both single, adult women, both attracted to other women. Despite us living on opposite sides of the country, we are constantly in contact. As most female friends are, we are very affectionate with one another, calling each other pet names, signing off phone calls or texts with “I love yous,” chatting for hours on the weekend just to enjoy each other’s company. The last time we had a chance to meet up in person, we were physically affectionate as well: heads on shoulders at the movies, hands together at the bar — that sort of thing. Part of me wonders if I’m reading too much into it, but another part is annoyed I didn’t just ask her how she feels. I’ve been wanting to tell her for a long time, but I always chicken out. I worry that something awkward would grow between us. I can’t imagine losing her. I’m pretty sure that even if she didn’t reciprocate, I’d be satisfied knowing I’d at least be able to stop wondering “what if.” I’m just afraid that while I’m sitting here waffling, someone else is going to realize what an amazing person she is and I’ll have missed my chance.

California Dreaming

DEAR DREAMING: Go for it. Your friendship has already been affected by your growing feelings, so be honest now, without coming on too strong.

DEAR AMY: “Dazed and Confused” got a mysterious text from a girl, proving she had been with Dazed’s boyfriend. Your advice didn’t go far enough. Her boyfriend is a cheater. Period. End of story. She will never be able to trust him. Ever. I married someone like this, and ended up divorcing him due to the same cheating and lying.

Glad I’m Out

DEAR GLAD: I was surprised at “Dazed’s” determination to stay in the relationship; my instincts are more like yours.