Los Angeles Times

Disengagin­g, not ghosting

- Email questions to Amy Dickinson at askamy@ amydickins­on.com.

Dear Amy: Several years ago, my daughter had a preschool teacher she loved who was fired for what seemed a dubious reason.

I related to her predicamen­t, and I met up with her a couple of times in the immediate aftermath so my daughter could see her and to talk about the situation.

I did not expect to develop a long-term friendship with her.

Since that time, she has contacted me sporadical­ly, whenever she is in a difficult emotional situation.

We are not friends, and she only contacts me when she’s having an emergency. Then it’s urgent, at weird times, and time-consuming.

She is married and has family and friends. I’m not even close enough with her to recommend that she see a therapist.

The most recent time this occurred, I hadn’t heard from her in about a year. She asked if we could meet and I told her I was busy preparing for some travel, and we’d have to schedule another time. She ignored this and tried repeatedly to contact me while I was out of town.

I’m a busy profession­al with a family and my own relationsh­ips to manage.

I would never “ghost” someone, but I was never friends with this person in the first place, and she’s ignoring my boundaries. Is it OK if I just ignore her? Not a Therapist

Dear Not: You don’t mention the content of the contact this person is pestering you with. If she is emailing or texting asking for advice and you don’t want to engage, you can respond, politely, “I’m sorry I can’t help you with this. I hope you find some resolution!”

If she contacts you wanting to get together, and you’ve already told her that you aren’t available, she needs to reread her previous messages and get a clue.

You invited her to reschedule but then decided to end the relationsh­ip instead. If she asks to get together, you can say: “Sorry, but I’ll have to decline. Life is getting in the way.”

After that, you might have to be more direct.

Dear Amy: I’ve been with “Bobby” for two years.

We got married last year (very quietly) but haven’t done the celebratio­n part yet with family and friends.

We are planning our celebratio­n and will hold it in four months.

My husband’s sister (my new sister-in-law) hasn’t congratula­ted us or given us anything like a card or gift.

Maybe she will do these things at the actual celebratio­n, but I’m not sure.

Do you think she has a problem with us getting married? Or do you think she has a problem with me? Concerned

Dear Concerned: The way you describe this relationsh­ip, you are obviously insecure about it. Perhaps you don’t know your husband’s sister very well, or you’ve had limited or negative interactio­ns with her.

Consider asking her advice about an aspect of the wedding planning. If appropriat­e, you might offer her a role in the wedding itself.

If she responds to your bids rudely, coldly or not at all, assume that she has a problem either with you, her brother or the larger world.

If you’ve done nothing to inspire her behavior, don’t take it personally!

If you are able to use this experience to acquire the extremely important skill of not taking things personally, I’d say this would be your sister-in-law’s lasting and valuable wedding gift to you.

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