Ask Amy: How do I apologize for an affair I had years ago?

Dear Amy: Years ago, I had an affair with the wife of a good friend (and co-worker).

The affair ended my marriage, but somehow they managed to hold theirs together. They are still together today.

Even though we all live in the same city our paths very seldom cross, but when they have, we all act like we don’t even know each other. We have not exchanged one word since the affair ended.

I truly would like to apologize for the role that I played in this mess but am unsure about whether that would be a helpful thing at this point.

I don’t know what bringing this subject back up after all this time might do to their relationship. This thought has left me unable to move forward with an apology.

Do you think that writing a letter of apology to both of them would be appropriate?

– Guilty Guy


Dear Guilty: I don’t think writing a letter of apology is necessarily appropriate, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.

You should very carefully interrogate your reasons for wanting to do this, and walk through the possible unintended consequences to this couple.

In short, who are you doing this for? Delivering an apology could definitely help you, but is there any way this could help them?

Your regret and acceptance of responsibility is laudable, but if you are looking for forgiveness, you should start by forgiving yourself. You did a very regrettable thing, setting into motion some stark consequences.

Contacting this couple would insert you back into their lives, at least temporarily. An apology letter would probably not make your occasional meetings more comfortable, but if you chose to write one, it seems to me that it should be sent to your friend and former co-worker – the husband you helped to betray – versus the two of them.

You also don’t say how you handled betraying your former wife, but writing a letter of apology to her would be a very good idea. I heartily endorse an effort to make amends with her.

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Dear Amy: Last month the spouse of a longtime friend sent a text to my spouse and myself to “save the date” for an upcoming surprise retirement party.

The text included the venue, date and time.

My spouse and I both responded the same day, saying we would both attend.

We just received a follow-up text with the timing of when to show up.

The text also contained information on the elaborate menu, and said that wine was included.

We were both shocked to see that guests had to bring $50 in cash or a check to pay for the meal and wine.

There is also a cash bar.

Nowhere in the details did they mention “no gifts.”

We are at a loss for words.

What is the polite way to back out of attending?

Neither of us want to go now.


– Upset

Dear Upset: I think you should consider very carefully whether you really want to back out of this event. Yes, the parameters do not align with what you’d expected, but you might ultimately regret it if you didn’t go.

Think of it this way: If you and your spouse took your longtime friend out to dinner to celebrate this retirement, you would pick up the check to cover the retiring friend’s dinner and it would cost you at least $100 to celebrate.

Nor are you obligated to bring a gift to a retirement dinner if you aren’t inclined (though you should bring a card).

However, if you can’t or don’t want to pay to help cover the costs of this party, you should text the spouse back quickly and say, “We’re so sorry to say that, unfortunately we won’t be able to make it to the party. We apologize for any confusion, and hope you have an absolutely wonderful time on the night.”

• • •

Dear Amy: “Seeking Family Connection” was trying to sustain the extended family’s monthly Zoom calls.

Why do their calls have to be an hour in length?

I try to get our distanced family together for Zoom calls that only last 10 to 15 minutes, just for everyone to check in.


With all the different schedules we are lucky to manage even that.

I find that it keeps the connection that we miss from living so far apart without the dread of having to fill an entire hour.

– Mary in MD

Dear Mary: You’ve hit on a possible solution. It could be that “Seeking’s” Zoom commitments were simply too long.

Amy Dickinson

Amy Dickinson writes the syndicated advice column, “Ask Amy,” which is carried in over 150 newspapers and read by an estimated 22 million readers daily. Email