Ask Amy: Apologies for ancient wrongdoings don’t always deserve a response


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Dear Amy! This year, several people from my past contacted me to ask for forgiveness. I am writing because I believe my solution will offer your readers a different perspective.

The first letter was from two dorm roommates who wrote together to apologize for their rude and abusive behavior. I went to these two women for emotional support, thinking of them as friends, only to say outright that neither of them loves me and that they only communicate with me because they assume that I will help them with their articles or research projects. This was especially painful as it happened shortly after I was diagnosed with a chronic illness.

I changed dorms at the end of the school year and never spoke to any of them again. Almost 40 years have passed.

The second letter was from a friend at my other college. She contacted me in 2008 and we started calling and emailing. “Call me anytime to talk,” she said. I did it one night and she exploded screaming that I interrupted her evening time with wine and craft and screaming that we have nothing in common because I am not married, a landlord or an artisan, and that I should leave her alone forever and ever.

I ended the call immediately, deleted her phone number, and blocked her email. This happened in 2015.

I carefully read both letters and decided that the only answer would be to destroy them.

These three women are just bad memories, and why they sought, needed, or desired my forgiveness after so many years is a mystery to me. I also don’t want any further contact with them. To err is indeed human, to forgive may be divine, but forgiveness is also optional.

– Past completed

Dear Completed: I appreciate your attitude towards this.

I believe the experience and isolation of the pandemic, and the simple passage of time, has made many people rethink their choices.

You do not say how these women expressed themselves, but these pleas are more like demands. (I also think Ms. Wine and Craft is working on one of the 12 steps.)

In my experience, the most complete form of forgiveness is achieved in private, not as a response to a request or demand.

I fully understand your reaction here, but I really think you should thank these people: their unexpected pleas for forgiveness gave you the end, as well as the final word.

Dear Amy! My husband and I moved from the Midwest to the East Coast 10 years ago.

There are wonderful world-class restaurants where we live, and we are grateful for this advantage of living here.

When we return home to the Midwest, at family restaurants and takeaways, we miss certain comfort foods.

Sometimes it’s a diner, sometimes it’s a chain restaurant that we don’t have.

The problem is that our friend “Annie” interferes with our plans and always insists that we dine at expensive establishments, wherever she would prefer to go.

If we want to go to our favorite greasy spoon because it has a specialty (Wednesday is pot roast day), Annie will say “I know that sounds good, let’s go to… Chez Louis” is usually the place where serves a limited menu and gourmet cuisine.

It’s ok for one meal but it happens throughout our visit and we don’t even stay at her house.

Sometimes you just want a hamburger or pizza from your hometown, and not filet, boiled salmon or snails, you know?

How can we avoid these conflicts other than telling her we’re in town?

– Stu in Baltimore

Dear Stu! It’s not about the kitchen. It’s about just being able to assert your own desires when someone else is asserting theirs.

This is your visit! You have the right to eat wherever you want!

Here are a few words to try: “We could have a ‘sweetie’ one night, but we can’t wait to get back to our favorite comfort foods the rest of the time.”

Dear Amy! I was completely taken aback by your response to “Charlie” who had old photographs of his ex-wife in an album.

If his current wife of many years is bothered by these photos, then he should get rid of them! I can’t believe you actually offered to send their ex. It would only create more drama!

– Dazed

Dear Stunned: The answer to my answer was a resounding NO!

You can write to Amy Dickinson at or mail to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.

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