Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: I dated a gal for over a year when we were in college. She eventually dumped me, saying, “You cannot afford the lifestyle to which I want to become accustomed.” I met and married a wonderful lady and have a great life. But now, almost 35 years later, I get this request from a funding site to donate and help pay for my ex’s funeral. Hmmm. Evidently she never did find someone to afford her dream lifestyle. On the one hand, I feel sad for the family losing a wife and mother, but on the other hand she dumped me because I was not “good” enough, and I have not heard or seen anything from her in almost 35 years. So should I respond or just forget about it? — Wondering
DEAR WONDERING: Despite your assumptions about this request, all you know about this long-ago lover is that she dumped you for reasons that are both shallow and cruel. And now, 35 years later, family members are casting a very wide net to raise money for a funeral. (How did they even find you?)
Before making a choice, you should ponder not what became of her, but what became of you. Basically, you need to figure out what kind of man you are. Has all of your personal success added up to you finally enjoying the opportunity to ignore a request as a form of shallow revenge, or as an opportunity to gloat — just a little bit? If so, then ignore and enjoy. But remember, please, that living well is the best revenge of all.
But maybe you are asking this question because you want validation that you are not the kind of man who enjoys someone else’s misfortune. Of course, you are under absolutely no obligation to respond to a funding request from a bunch of strangers, but doing so might offer you a measure of completeness over a bitter memory. Plus, assuming this request springs from genuine need and not some family-generated scam, being generous is a nice way to be.
DEAR AMY: I hope that you can help me. After staying late to work on a project with a male co-worker, he wanted to start a friendship. For reasons I can’t logically explain, it makes me uncomfortable. I’m a 31-year-old female, and he’s in his mid-40s. I’m happy in my marriage, and he’s not happy in his. It started with asking me to lunch via text. I accepted, and we had a good time. Weekly lunches have gone on for the past two months. Now he’s started to text me, asking me how I am and wanting to chat. The relationship has never been unprofessional or flirty. No lines have been crossed. I try to logically think about it and justify my uncomfortable feelings away, thinking, “Maybe he needs a friend?” But if he needs a friend, then why didn’t he ask anyone closer to his age at work out to lunch? My husband doesn’t think it’s weird at all, but my friends do (I don’t think his wife knows we go out to lunch). Does the age and gender difference make this weird? Should I distance myself? Or am I making too much out of nothing? — Torn Co-worker
DEAR TORN: On paper, this relationship looks like a basic work friendship: You’re getting together, texting to check in, etc. But how do you know your co-worker is in an unhappy marriage? I assume because he told you.
Work buddies discuss the Simpson account, the boss’ bad breath, the latest round of layoffs and their kids’ soccer prowess. They don’t discuss their bad marriages. The bad marriage conversation is intimate and revealing. The bad marriage conversation has set off your Spidey senses, and it means this colleague should probably find a new friend.
You can back off by simply not being available for weekly lunches and by not responding to texts quickly, confining your friendship to the office.
DEAR AMY: “Wishing He’d Let Me Go” described getting out of an abusive marriage, only to be slandered through mass emails sent by her ex-husband. I went through something very similar, only this was pre-email. My ex sent a lengthy letter filled with lies and unbelievable allegations to people in the community. This is an abusive attempt to smear and control someone after they have left a relationship. I agree with your advice that the ex should face the full consequences — legal and otherwise — of his actions. — Survivor
DEAR SURVIVOR: Thank you.