DEAR AMY: I’ve been dating a woman for about six months now. We started dating soon after what I thought was her official breakup with her ex-boyfriend. She moved out of the house she shared with him and moved in with a co-worker of mine. I just found out that she never broke up with her boyfriend. He apparently thinks they are “just figuring things out.” When we first started seeing each other I suggested we casually date other people because she just got out of a relationship. She told me she wants me and doesn’t need anyone else. I’ve also recently found out that she has at least two other lovers — these are people she was seeing while in her prior relationship. I told her I don’t want to date her anymore, and she suggested that we just have a sexual relationship. I declined, and now she’s telling people I abused her. I try to stay away, but when a woman says something like that, it becomes “fact” in everyone’s mind. Help me! I have no idea what to do.
DEAR HURTING: How fast can you run? Strap on your track shoes and get (and stay) away from this one-woman wrecking ball.
Her suggestion that you two should segue from an emotional relationship into a sex-only relationship seems to violate your own values and standards. And this — and her reaction to your rejection — says everything you need to know about her.
You need to answer any accusation calmly by saying — to the accuser — “You know that that is simply not true.” Then separate from this person immediately. Disconnect from her on all social media, and purposely avoid having any personal or phone contact with her — or through other people.
Friends of yours will not automatically believe a false accusation. You should address it directly by saying, “This is absolutely not true.” Avoid trashing her (this could escalate her accusations), but do say, “She and I have different ideas about how to have a relationship.”
If you feel this slander has legs, and if it is having a negative impact on your other relationships, your reputation and your work, you should see a lawyer. These lies might be legally actionable.
DEAR AMY: I have a friend with whom I have been close for about 15 years. I am 46 years old, disabled and I live in my parents’ detached garage, which they have fashioned into an apartment for me. I cannot work full time because of my condition. I work part time from home, pay my own bills, buy my own groceries and buy my own clothes, etc. My problem is that my friend’s mother hates and resents the fact that I still live with my parents. Every time she sees me she screams at me that I am spoiled and have no right to be here. She feels that I am taking advantage of my parents. Besides the fact that my living arrangements are none of her business, it irritates me when she says this stuff, when after her relationship with my friend’s father soured and he kicked her out of the house, she moved in with her father and he converted the second story of his home into an apartment for her! I want to scream at her and say that my relationship with my parents is none of her business, but I’m afraid that this will cost me my relationship with my dear friend. I avoid her as much as possible, but we inevitably cross paths sometimes. What can I do?
DEAR AGGRAVATED: Avoidance is your best defense. You can also verbally dodge this person when you encounter her.
Sometimes people shout the loudest about problems they themselves have. This could be one of those times. Your friend’s mother might be trying to send her own child a message; regardless of her motivation, she should not verbally attack you.
If you encounter this woman and she starts in, you should never, ever, scream back. Let some silence build (silence makes screamers very uncomfortable). And then you can take a breath and say, quietly, “Um, respectfully, my living situation and relationship with my own parents is really none of your concern. We’re good.”
DEAR READERS: Sometimes people who dispense advice run out of answers. If you’ve ever been curious about the life behind my advice, read my new book, “Strangers Tend to Tell Me Things: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Coming Home” (2017, Hachette).