DEAR AMY: A few years ago, friends of many years ghosted me, for no apparent reason. This was painful and confusing. I moved on, maintaining friendships with others in what had been our common social group. Now, as suddenly as I was exiled years ago, my former friends, "The Ghosters," have begun including me once again in invitations. I'm not sure how to respond, although I guess the stress I am feeling right now indicates that I have a clear choice? Can you offer your advice?
DEAR GHOSTED: The act of "ghosting" (cutting someone off suddenly and without explanation) is intended to protect the perpetrator from consequences. Sometimes people ghost others because it would not be safe for them to actually say "goodbye," but mainly — ghosting is an act of social cowardice. The person being ghosted is supposed to catch on over time that the relationship is a non-starter, or over. Both parties are expected to move on.
All of this is a relationship-ending reality. But in your case, the ghosters have come back from the dead and are now engaged in yet more behavior that you are supposed to both ignore and accept.
They are friendship zombies.
This invitation has you feeling stressed and bewildered. You don't sound grateful to hear from them, or eager to wordlessly re-enter their lives. However, unlike the period where you were being ignored by them, you now have a little bit of power.
You can ghost them, by not acknowledging any contact from them.
You can politely refuse their invitation: "Thank you for inviting me, but I have other plans."
Or you can respond: "Hi, George and Martha. After a very long period of no contact from either one of you, I've now received an invitation to spend time with you. This is confusing. Has something changed?"
They might respond with a sensitive explanation of what triggered their ghosting. You will then have the opportunity to acknowledge and (perhaps) forgive. Most likely, they will revert to their previous technique of being silent in order to avoid the awkwardness of explaining themselves.
You should figure out exactly what you really want to do, and then do it.
DEAR AMY: My boyfriend and I have been together for just over six blissful months. We have talked about marriage, kids, and an entire future together. We are pretty young (both 22) and live in an expensive town, so he lives with his mom and I live with roommates. He hasn't told his mom that we are dating. He even lied to her about a four-day vacation we went on, saying that he went with friends, so that he didn't have to tell her that we are together. I have expressed that it really bothers me that he won't tell his mom, after six months of us dating and him living in the same home as her. He refuses to tell her because she is somewhat toxic and manipulative. Every time he goes out with me, he's lying to her about where he is. I gave him an ultimatum that if he doesn't tell his mom soon, the relationship probably wouldn't work out. He broke up with me, and I am heartbroken. Do you think we could work this through? Am I wrong to want him to tell his mom, when he lives with her and sees her every single day? I don't know if I am being ridiculous.
DEAR SAD: You are not at all wrong to want honesty and full disclosure.
But ... you don't know this man's mother. You are still becoming acquainted with the wider world, but yes — there are people out there who cannot be trusted to handle the truth. If your guy's mother is toxic, manipulative and controlling, he is naturally going to want to operate well below her radar.
His eagerness to live his own life on his own terms should accelerate his efforts to move out. You behaved according to your own values, and, regardless of whether you two can reconcile — it is never wrong to assert your own needs.
DEAR AMY: Thank you for the advice to "Stressed Server" to not read online reviews unless directed to do so by the manager. While negative reviews can be very useful, they can also be petty and unkind. It is the manager's job to wade through them and choose the appropriate response.
DEAR MANAGER: A wise editor once told me, "Don't read the comments. That's my job."