DEAR AMY: “Don” has been my best friend since junior high school. He moved to the opposite end of the country over a decade ago, but we’ve stayed close for decades. Don has always been what I would call a “big talker.” He embellishes every story and makes his life seem much bigger than it is. I have always accepted this about him and take his stories with a grain of salt. Ever since he moved away, he has talked to me about “bringing me there” to work with and/or for him. After going through a divorce and once my kids finished school, he invited me to his time-share — all expenses paid. While visiting him, he said that any time I wanted a job with the company he worked for, that I should let him know. I was laid off right before the holidays last year. I was shocked. I reached out to Don and mentioned his offer. Well, along came the excuses: “No one is in the office around the holidays.” “It’s slow right now.” “Things will pick up later.” I ended up getting a job with a different company several months later. I felt incredibly slighted by Don. I thought — despite his “big talk” — that this offer was legitimate. Since then, I have dragged my feet answering texts, not taking his calls, etc. I would like to have my friend back, but feel quite betrayed by his lies. Should I just let this friendship of 35-plus years die?
DEAR SAD: Ghosting a very old friend is not an effective or satisfying way to conduct a friendship, even if your intention is to end it.
You had ample advance notice that your friend “Don” is a blow-hard. People like Don talk a big game in order to artificially inflate others’ opinions of them. This tendency is most impactful when the stakes are high, and you’re relying on him to make good on his word.
I don’t blame you for ignoring a lifetime of consistent behavior and red flags in order to try to take Don up on his gold-plated job offer, but surely you knew on some level that he would not come through.
Tell him, “I’ve got another job now, so I’m OK, but I’m still very disappointed that you dangled job opportunities that never materialized.”
He’ll blow a lot of hot air in your direction. And then you can decide if his charms and your history together make it worthwhile for you to maintain contact.
DEAR AMY: I like to entertain in my home and often invite the same group of close friends to dinner parties. Sometimes people bring a hostess gift. Usually I’m in the process of greeting people at the door, and I don’t know what to do with these gifts. If it’s flowers (hopefully already in a vase), I put them on the table or counter, but other gifts I simply set aside to open later when everyone has left. I thank the giver, but I hesitate to make a big deal about the gift because I don’t want people to think that gifts are required or expected. Is this a good response? And what should I do when someone brings food to my dinner party? Am I required to serve it? Their tray of deviled eggs doesn’t really go with my lasagna, but what would I do with it, otherwise?
DEAR CONFUSED: If someone brings deviled eggs to your house, ship them to me immediately. Otherwise, yes, you should leave the tray on the table for people to sample before dinner.
If the same person tends to always arrive with food, when you issue the next invitation, you could say, “You’re always generous, but I have my meal mapped out, so please don’t bring anything. Or — just a bottle of wine would be great, if you are inclined.”
People who don’t entertain at home might feel that contributing to your meal is one way of creating social balance. Part of you being a gracious host is accepting this generosity (within reason).
Don’t open hostess gifts unless they are perishable and — yes, acknowledge and thank the giver later.
DEAR AMY: I liked your advice to “Not a Fan,” the woman whose quiet neighborhood was shattered when a professional athlete moved in next door. However, her first call should be to the PR person or GM of the sports team that employs the athlete. They would want to know.
DEAR FAN: I agree.