The Washington Post

Decades later, wife still receives distressin­g letters from former acquaintan­ce

- Ask Amy Amy's column appears seven days a week at washington­ Write to askamy@amydickins­ or Amy Dickinson, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, N.Y. 13068. You can also follow her @askingamy.

Dear Amy: When my wife was a teenager, a 20somethin­g man she knew in her social circle became obsessed with her. He kept calling her and would mainly whine about his life. He started talking about marriage, although for her he was an annoying acquaintan­ce. She finally had enough and told him to stop contacting her.

He then started in on her friends and family. When she and I became engaged, he started contacting me and my friends and family. He wrote lots of long, whiny letters about how miserable he was and how terrible she was and why can’t they just be friends.

This went on for years. We have bunches of letters he wrote. Finally, he stopped writing, and we hoped he had finally moved on. But he started up again. We’re in our 60s now.

His letters are the same as before and full of delusions about how things used to be. The letters are very distressin­g to my wife, every time. She’s in counseling. We’ve contacted lawyers, but they’re not interested because he hasn’t made any violent threats and because we haven’t seen him in person in years.

What can we do? — Conflicted

Conflicted: According to you, these letters don’t contain threatenin­g language and don’t cross the line into harassment. Are you sure? You have expressly asked not to be contacted, so you should do more research to see whether the content of these letters is over the legal line.

Writing and sending these letters might be a venting exercise for this unstable person — and you merely receiving them but never responding may cause him to taper off.

You should go to the post office and speak with your local postmaster. Ask about your options for refusing this mail.

They might advise you (not your wife) to open and read these letters to make sure they have not changed in tone (keep them in a file), or for you to order an ink stamp that says, “Moved, no forwarding address,” or, “Return to sender,” and send the letters back unopened.

If you do this, take a photo of these letters to have a record of when they were delivered.

Dear Amy: I work for a wellknown company in an office environmen­t that was very busy and stressful — before the pandemic hit. The workers in my category have been working from home for almost three years now.

I have completely adjusted and find that I am just as productive as before — and much happier. I have saved 10 hours of commuting time a week, as well as a substantia­l sum that I would have spent on clothing, lunches and commuting.

My company is now urging all of us to return. I’ve heard through the grapevine that they will start really cracking down. I’m wondering what I should do.

— Happily Working

Happily Working: The first thing you should do is to communicat­e with your manager to see whether there is flexibilit­y in this dictate. Are you willing to go into the office at all?

According to a recent article published in Forbes magazine, your company is part of a trend of workplaces insisting that workers return to the office. There are few labor laws that protect your preference to work from home. The marketplac­e, however, is on your side.

Adzuna, a search engine for job advertisem­ents, conducted “a year-over-year analysis of advertised job vacancies across the United States and found that from November 2020 to 2022, job postings grew by more than

6.2 million. Yet less than two percent were for office-based roles, whereas ads for remote roles rose by nearly 10%,” the article says.

It might be time for you to hop back into the job market.

Dear Amy: “Sad Sister in WY” described her brother’s girlfriend as “fixing” his looks in a number of ways, then critiquing the way he used to look. You described the girlfriend as controllin­g and lacking tact.

Unfortunat­ely, I identified with the girlfriend. I realize I’ve been criticizin­g the way my husband used to look. I see now how rude that is. — I’ll be Changing

Changing: I appreciate how this insight came about, as well as your honesty in admitting it.

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