Ask Amy: When a new relationship hurts an old relationship

Dear Amy: I have a very good friend named “Carl,” who recently began dating a guy named “Samuel.” Samuel is cold to me and seems threatened by my long-standing close friendship with Carl.

I’ve mentioned this to Carl, who’s been dismissive about it.

Recently, Carl had a significant birthday, and when I asked if he was doing anything special, he said he was celebrating it out of town with his family.

On the night of his birthday, I didn’t have plans, so I went to a restaurant (solo) to have dinner at the bar, where I am friends with the bartender.

Imagine my surprise, when Carl, Samuel and a few others walked in for Carl’s birthday dinner.

It was an awkward coincidence, and I was very hurt that I hadn’t been invited and had been lied to. Carl apologized for lying, told me that Samuel put together the guest list, and said that we obviously needed to chat soon.

I didn’t have much to say since I was still processing it.


They were seated in a private room away from the bar area. I had already ordered and was waiting for my food when Samuel came out of the room and approached me, saying that my presence in the restaurant was making Carl uncomfortable and was ruining his birthday dinner.

When I told him that I had already ordered and planned on eating my dinner, Samuel told me I was selfish, making me feel even worse.

I feel like I was put in an untenable situation and am re-examining my friendship with Carl. But was I selfish and was I obligated to leave?

I’m trying to make sense of this.

– Hurt and Confused

Dear Hurt: When “Samuel” approached the bar to denigrate you (as you were minding your own business), you might have responded that if being in another room in a public restaurant was so challenging for him and the group, then perhaps their party should leave.

Given that “Carl” dealt with this social awkwardness by acknowledging it, apologizing, and by blaming Samuel for excluding you, I suggest that you should take him at his word, and not end the friendship, but put it on “pause.”

Carl is obviously allowing his current boyfriend to control the close friendship you and he share; if Samuel is isolating Carl from other people in the friendship and family circle (in addition to you), this is an alarming sign that their relationship is not only lopsided, but possibly abusive.

Don’t completely sever the friendship. Do your best to stay open to Carl; he might need you down the line.

• • •

Dear Amy: I’ve been cohabiting with “Sharon” for more than five years. Our romantic relationship has seen its ups and downs (like anyone, I guess), but something that happened recently has caused me to think about breaking up with her.

Sharon’s work history is pretty spotty, and I’ve been available and willing to support our household when she has been in-between jobs.

We don’t “keep score” about our finances, but there is no question that I have been the primary support, not only paying our rent, but also paying for her car payment during several months when she has been stretched very thin.

Honestly I’ve felt proud that I’ve been able to help.

Sharon has always expressed her appreciation for this and usually offers to “pay me back” at some point in the future. I always tell her not to worry about it.

Recently, Sharon learned that she had inherited almost $10,000 after her great-aunt’s death. She has been giddy, talking about all the things she is going to spend the money on. Not one word about compensating me, or about using any of this money to support our household.

This feels like a last straw, and I’m seeking a gut check.

– In the Red


Dear In the Red: When charting your future, you should look to your past.

You and “Sharon” have established a pattern.

If you want more of the same, you should stay in the relationship, but it sounds as if you believe you deserve something better – and I agree.

• • •

Dear Amy: “Depressing (but not depressed!) Daughter” wondered how to describe her dying father’s condition to people who asked.

A man in our community had ALS, and his wife came up with what I thought was the best reply.

She always responded, “He’s doing as well as can be expected.”

This phrase works in many situations.

– Terry

Dear Terry: That phrase seems both opaque and polite.

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