DEAR AMY: I’ve had an on-and-off relationship with a guy for about six years. We’re both 45. He’s divorced with a son in high school. I’ve never been married. Recently we made plans for a Monday night. There is a history of this guy “disappearing” and not following through on plans. I emailed him a couple of times the week before, with no response. When I hadn’t heard back from him the Friday before, I emailed him, letting him know I had made other plans for Monday. I got a response telling me to erase his number and email, and to never contact him again. I’ve since sent a number of emails apologizing profusely, with no response. I can’t believe that my “offense” (making other plans and letting him know I wasn’t going to be available after not hearing from this guy for over a week) is a capital offense, one for which you’d cut all contact from someone you’ve known for six years. I’m not sure what to do at this point!
DEAR WONDERING: When someone demands that you delete him from your life, that’s exactly what you should do. I wonder how much more information you need from this man in order to get the message that this relationship is over.
Based on your version of events, he has overreacted to this particular situation. But based on other clues you scatter in your question, I suspect that you might have a pattern of putting up with a lot of nonsense and also not reacting proportionally to various social cues.
You should not offer apologies when you’ve done nothing wrong. To do so is not only confusing, but also throws off the balance in a relationship.
Now, you should redirect your energy, perhaps toward some introspection, in an effort to understand why you have been in this relationship for six years, and why you feel the need to apologize when someone has been rude to you.
DEAR AMY: Shopping last week, I bought three shirts, a pair of jeans and socks at Target. At checkout, the total was much less than I expected, which I chalked up to discounts and the sales-tax holiday. Later, I was reviewing my purchases at lunch and realized the jeans I bought weren’t on the Target receipt. I know that I put everything on the conveyor belt; somehow the cashier must not have scanned it. I rationalized that it would be unfair to punish myself for their mistake and decided not to correct it. Should I have returned to rectify the mix-up?
Sale of the Century
DEAR SALE: It is human nature to enjoy the feeling that you’ve gotten away with something, through no intent, fault, or malice on your part. However, I think the universe generally has a way of balancing out these unforeseen lucky breaks with other less appealing happenstance. (You might expect a flat tire sometime in your near future.)
I fail to understand how you can equate doing the right thing with “punishing yourself.” Is it really a punishment to pay for something you intended to purchase? Understand, of course, that if you have a problem with your jeans (they’re damaged, the wrong size), you have no recourse. It’s not like you can take your pirate’s booty to Target’s legendary customer service desk to complain, exchange, or return.
I contacted Target headquarters in Minneapolis regarding your dilemma. A corporate spokesperson responded by urging you to do the right thing (naturally): “If a guest ever recognizes an error on their receipt, we encourage them to go the Guest Services desk at the store or call our Guest Services hotline to remedy the situation.” Answering a further question of mine, the spokesperson added that the cashier who made the error does not have to compensate for the error.
DEAR AMY: Responding to the query from “A Father, Torn,” who was desperate to join the military, I don’t think you have a grasp of the role the Reserves and National Guard play in the defense of our country. They are frequently called to active duty, sometimes up to a year or more. My own mother went to Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom as a reservist. He may sign up for more than his family expects.
DEAR BEEN THERE: I think it is widely understood that reservists can be called to active duty. Presumably this writer would learn this if he looked into joining this important branch of the service.