Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: Almost five years ago, a very dear friend of mine began what would become a very tumultuous relationship. Several months after it began she became pregnant. At the time, she and the baby’s father were not together, and due to the very clear issues between the two of them she chose to terminate the pregnancy. It was an incredibly difficult decision for her to make, and she continues to struggle with it today. Since then, she and the baby’s father continue to be off and on, but mostly off. He has controlled the terms of the relationship the entire time, and he will disappear for long periods before sauntering back into her life and sleeping with her. It has become a never-ending and devastating cycle. Over the years I have tried to persuade her to seek therapy and move on, especially in light of the fact that he now lives out of the state with no intent to return. She continues to hold out hope for him, despite the relationship being dwindled down to text message exchanges. I know that she is going through some post-traumatic stress and depression from the abortion, but after almost five years of this I am having an increasingly difficult time watching her struggle. It infuriates me to see him pop back into her life. For the past several months I have considered contacting him myself and expressing my very serious concerns about his behavior, but I do not want to jeopardize my friendship with her. The problems he has created are not only causing her heartbreak and stress, they are infringing on our friendship. Is there a right way to go about this or am I overstepping my bounds?
— Exasperated Friend
DEAR EXASPERATED: Let’s play this out: You contact this manipulative jerk and tell him you don’t like the way he treats your friend. He either doesn’t respond or he shoots back a salty version of “mind your own business.” Then you two can play text-tag for a while, after which he complains to your friend, and she in turn feels betrayed.
Your friend’s choices are hers — not yours. Watching someone you care about engage in a destructive relationship is extremely challenging — even heartbreaking — but your role is to support her healing and encourage her toward strength, not try to force this guy to stay away from her.
It would be very kind of you to research a local support group and/or therapist and offer to take her to an appointment. Be in her corner but remember that she owns all of her own choices — even the ones you don’t like.
DEAR AMY: I need a woman’s advice. I had a girlfriend many years ago that I loved deeply, but did not treat well. I was an immature jerk. I learned recently that my time in this world is short. I always thought we might meet by chance and I could beg forgiveness. That seems unlikely now. My only living relative, my nephew, told me he would honor my last wishes whatever they may be. Should I write her a letter now and have him mail it after my passing? Should I call her myself? Should he visit her in person after the fact? I don’t wish to upset her. I just feel a compulsion to make amends while I still can. Would it just be too weird to get an apology second-hand after 25 years?
— Want to do Right
DEAR RIGHT: I’m so sorry this is happening to you, and I applaud your desire to apologize and make amends to someone you cared about and hurt a long time ago.
Your idea for your nephew to handle this after your death might make a plot line for a Nicholas Sparks novel, but it is very complicated and unnecessary.
Please — follow your heart now. Pick up the phone or write a letter. Be completely transparent and honest. I assure you — you will feel better and she will feel touched. I hope she takes the opportunity to forgive you so that you can both close the loop and have a peaceful resolution to this relationship.
DEAR AMY: You printed a question from “Concerned Homeowner,” who had evidence that someone had used the family’s vacation cabin for a sexual liaison. Homeowner’s wife wanted to leave this issue alone — perhaps she is the one having dalliances at the cabin? I think that when this husband is looking for a culprit, he should look closer to home.
— A Reader
DEAR READER: Several readers suggested this scenario. The plot thickens!