Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: I have recently found myself in a sticky situation with my boyfriend. We met six months ago through a mutual (female) friend. This person is my roommate -- and my boyfriend's best friend. From the beginning I was proactive about not putting her in the middle of our relationship because I didn't want to harm any of our friendships. I had suspicions that they were conversing about our relationship, even though he has told me that he doesn't tell her things about us. I went snooping into his phone to satisfy my suspicions and found a mountain of texts about me between the two of them. Most of the texts were harmless, but a few were alarming because of what he said about needing space from me. He said I've become too territorial. When talking with him he denies wanting alone time and diminishes any fear of my being clingy. Since I've gotten myself stuck between two very different opinions, what do I do? Should I let it go and hope he's honest with me, or confront his dishonesty?
DEAR STUCK: The first thing you should do is admit that your boyfriend is right. You are territorial.
I completely agree with your instinct to keep your relationship private from this mutual friend, but that's what best friends do -- they listen to their friends describe the joys and challenges in a new relationship. Presumably if his comments were universally benign or flattering you would not have a problem with this. Once he had vented about you, he might have decided that your actions weren't actually that troubling after all.
Your choice to snoop into his phone, however, is the very definition of being territorial (and dishonest).
Your snooping has yielded a gift of sorts in offering you some insight into your behavior and the impact it has on him. This is akin to overhearing a private conversation that reveals unflattering truths. You can blame the person for having this opinion of you, or you can take it as an opportunity to make some personal changes, based on this new insight.
DEAR AMY: My wife and I are stuck in the middle of a family problem between my wife's family. My mother-in-law lives in a retirement apartment that issues a hefty finder's fee if a new renter gets recommended by an existing tenant. My brother-in-law made a recommendation to a friend of his (the mother-in-law didn't know this person) and then expected to collect the finder's fee through the mother-in-law. When the payment came, my mother-in-law promptly announced that the money was all hers to keep. My sister-in-law is now not speaking to her mother, thinking her mother should have offered to split the money with them. It's not so much about the money, but the rude treatment to my brother-in-law. This is obviously creating an issue for family get-togethers and is very uncomfortable for us, because we are in the middle. What can we do to get these two back together?
Stuck in the Middle
DEAR STUCK: Neither party really deserves the full finder's fee, and I agree that it should be shared. There are just enough shades of subterfuge all the way around to make both parties equally at fault.
But all of this is immaterial. This has nothing to do with you. You should not offer any opinion, other than to say to both parties, "This has gone on too long. We hope you work things out, because pretty soon you'll only have bad feelings and you won't even remember how they got that way."
DEAR AMY: You blew it with your answer to "Upset Friend." The woman who suddenly and inexplicably excluded two women from the group is bullying. It's no different from high school behavior when friends are pushed off the lunch table. Bullies need to be called out and the bullied (assuming they've not done something awful to warrant the exclusion) need to be supported. As we want our teens to act so we want the adults to act.
DEAR HOLLY: I agree that the perpetrator should be called out about her behavior. Thank you.