DEAR AMY: My husband and I have a wonderful daughter and a niece (also wonderful) who grew up very close to each other. Now our niece has cut off all contact with our daughter, citing “religious beliefs,” because she (our daughter) is gay. Our daughter has repeatedly tried to communicate with her, to no avail. Our niece would still like to have a relationship with us, and recently suggested having lunch with my husband and me. How can I nicely, gently and respectfully tell her we would feel like we were cheating on our daughter, since she is sad that our niece won’t speak to her?
Concerned Mom and Dad
DEAR MOM AND DAD: I think you should use the opportunity to try to influence your niece to rethink her views.
If she won’t, you should let her know that it is hard for you to have a full relationship with someone who is basically rejecting your own daughter. Tell her you’re always there for her and open to a fuller relationship in the future, but that you can’t accept her excluding your daughter. Reject your niece’s premise, without rejecting her.
Don’t tell her that you are completely cutting her out of your life, because then you would be doing the same thing she is doing. Be very clear about the depth of your hurt regarding her actions, and then listen to what she says and observe how she reacts.
One of the joys and burdens of the aunt/uncle relationship is that you can honestly and gently tell your niece the truth about how her behavior affects you and others, without the added complications that arise when this news is delivered by a parent.
DEAR AMY: I need advice about a guy. We’ve been talking for about three weeks on Instagram and I really like him. It feels like I’ve known him for a long time. He gives amazing advice. I feel like he is my best friend, but I’m afraid to ask him out because I don’t want to lose our friendship. He lives pretty far away, and I asked him, “Hey, can I have your Snapchat?” and he said, “It’s private.” I also asked him if we could use FaceTime, and he said no. I’m afraid he might be an older guy, but he posts pictures that make him look my age. I’m afraid the pictures might be fake. What should I do?
DEAR WORRIED: Please! This guy is not available to you. He is telling you in many different ways that he is not available to you.
As you probably know, it takes absolutely no imagination or expertise to set up a fake Instagram (or any social networking) account. This guy could be absolutely anybody — and he might not be a guy at all. Watch a few episodes of “Catfish” and you will see that you should be much more skeptical about him. The big red flag is that he won’t communicate visually with you in real time, and is hiding behind this account.
It can be challenging to “reverse image search” a photo on Instagram, but there are apps that claim to be able to help you find the source of an image. You might find out that this individual is using someone else’s photo and identity by locating the origin of some of the images he uses.
Wean yourself from this contact. Back away. You don’t need to confront him, but you should ghost and then block him. He will then troll Instagram for someone else to toy with. It would be healthiest for you to concentrate on trying to get to know people whose identity you can absolutely verify, preferably in person.
DEAR AMY: Your response to “Lying on the Beach” was terrible! This letter was written by a man whose crime was that he enjoys looking at beautiful women on the beach! You said that everybody likes to look at attractive people, so what’s the problem? As usual, your sexist take encourages women to be overly sensitive.
DEAR DISAPPOINTED: Yes, I do believe that it is a pleasure to witness young and/or beautiful people out in the world. But the man who wrote this letter described his own behavior as more ogling than passively appreciating. He described himself as wanting to “Stand up and applaud.”
I assumed it would be easy for him to alter his behavior so as to respect his wife.