Ask Amy: How do I distance myself from someone who I don’t want to be friends with?

Dear Amy: I’m a girl in 11th grade.

In my freshman year, I made friends with “Ruby.”

Over time I came to understand that I needed to end the friendship due to Ruby’s troubling behavior toward others and with me.

Now, two years later, I have a new friend, “Sammie,” who is also friends with Ruby.

I only hang out with Sammie when Ruby is not present.

On several occasions when I was talking with Sammie, Ruby joined the conversation.

I was cordial, but I tried to limit my contact.


Now, when I see Ruby in the hall at school, Ruby waves enthusiastically and calls my name excitedly.

I don’t want any contact with Ruby. I don’t want any association with this person’s bad actions, including occasionally being violent.

I don’t want to confront Ruby to say I’m not interested in friendship, but Ruby keeps making attempts, suggesting renewing the friendship.

How can I gently distance myself from Ruby without causing conflict or hurting this person’s feelings?

– Desperate for Distance

Dear Desperate: I think that you should continue along the careful course you’ve already set. Be polite, non-committal, and avoidant.

Ruby might have changed somewhat during the many months you’ve successfully been distant, and while you should stay open to that possibility, you should not hang out with someone – anyone– who makes you uncomfortable.

If Ruby confronts you about your distance, you might say something like, “I’m just hanging back, like usual.”

Don’t let yourself be drawn in. You don’t need to answer loaded questions. Just be quiet and polite.

You don’t seem to have discussed Ruby with “Sammie” in any depth, and I also think this is wise, although I caution you that if Ruby hasn’t really changed, Sammie might be drawn into a friendship drama-triangle with Ruby at one point, Sammie at another, and you at the third.

You might wonder if Sammie is making the right choice regarding a friendship with this challenging person, but that friendship decision should be up to Sammie.

All of this is a reminder of what a social mine-field high school can be, but you seem well-equipped to handle these challenges.

If you were in my class, I’d give you extra-credit for being both sensitive and smart.

• • •

Dear Amy: I am in my mid-30′s. Over the last 10 years, my life has changed significantly.

I’m married now and my husband and I have two children.

I’ve been struggling a bit lately with looking way down the road.

I used to be this very adventurous person. I was more or less up for anything. I’d describe myself as almost daring and unconventional.


Yesterday my husband and I had a lengthy (and I mean lengthy) conversation about granite countertops.

Our kids are three and five years old. Our world revolves around them, other families with children their ages, our jobs, and our house.

I find myself wondering what happened to us and wondering how we can fix it.

– Safe but not Sound

Dear Safe: First of all, even though you are deep into the wooliest part of your family life, you possess enough perspective to remember your earlier self with fondness – and you want to reclaim access to that person and those feelings.

Some people dive into the granite conversation, and they stay there, forever, locked into choices and actions that are ultimately superficial.

My first suggestion is that you might consider the perspective that raising children at this stage is actually loaded with tiny adventures and some big challenges. You and your husband are scaling small mountains every day.

Second, I think that you two should leave your children, and your home environment, for a weekend. Two whole days.


While away, you should rest, relax, and make a determination to look at your larger life-goals. Reach for the sky and write down your list.

You want more adventure: what are some ways you can get that as individuals, as a couple, and as a family?

How can you raise your children to be free, brave, and bold souls?

When you’re young, adventure has a way of finding you.

When you’re older, you have to deliberately seek it. I hope you will.

• • •

Dear Amy: I thought your advice to “Wondering” was completely hysterical. Wondering was concerned about her boyfriend’s super-close relationship to his sister. You interpreted this as a “threat.”

Give me a break!

– Dismayed

Dear Dismayed: “Wondering” already felt threatened by the relationship, and then the sister seemed to deliver an actual threat. I thought it was wisest to walk away.

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