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Communication with college student is one-way street

Brownwood Bulletin
Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: A friend of mine from college (I graduated four years ago) is incredibly kind but terrible at keeping in touch. She has never been good at responding to texts, but now that we no longer live in the same area, we don't communicate.

When she invited me to her wedding, I was surprised because when she got engaged, I reached out to congratulate her and asked for the story of the proposal, and she never responded. Her wedding reception was postponed because of COVID-19, but I watched the Zoom ceremony.

I knew it was hard on her, so I have reached out every month or so for the past four months to tell her I'm thinking of her, but she never replies. I mailed her a card for her wedding, which she also did not acknowledge. She sees my Instagram posts, and I'm connected with her sister and brother-in-law on social media, so I know no harm has come to her, and her cellphone is working.

I miss my friend, but I'm conflicted about whether I should RSVP "yes" to the postponed reception. Normally, I would assume silence means someone doesn't want to continue a friendship, but she invited me and a plus-one. Should I accept or reach out to a mutual friend to see what's going on? -- HOLDING ONTO FRIENDSHIP

DEAR HOLDING: You stated that your friend has never been good at responding. The message she's sending through her extended silence is that you are no longer as important in her life as you were before. Your geographical separation may have something to do with it.

If you would like to attend her reception -- when and if it is held -- respond affirmatively to the invitation. However, if you do, do not expect to be acknowledged for your effort because those niceties are not in her makeup.

P.S. You can stop sending the "thinking of you" messages because they are not being appreciated in the manner you would like them to be.

DEAR ABBY: I have a child with autism. He's my world, and I love him deeply. Because he has special needs, I can't afford a babysitter, so my parents watch him all the time or I cancel whatever I need to do that day.

Because my parents are my only source of babysitting, they think they don't have to listen to me. If I tell them the time I give him his medication, so don't change it, they think he needs it earlier, and they know better than I do. I'm constantly second-guessed, and if they don't agree with my decisions, they go behind my back. If I buy my son a new toy and my dad doesn't like it, he screams at me and makes me feel 2 inches tall. He was an absent father, and my mother can't relinquish control of anything.

I'm at a loss on how to handle this because I know they want what's best for my child, but so do I. As his mother, shouldn't I be able to make that decision? -- MY CHILD IN ILLINOIS

DEAR MY CHILD: Yes, you should be able to make decisions regarding your son and expect that they will be respected. However, your parents have you over a barrel, and they know it. You do not have to tolerate it. I suggest you contact the Autism Society (autism-society.org). When you do, you will be connected with a local branch for guidance and options.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are both enlisted Army (he -- 20 years, two Iraq deployments; I -- 15 years, one Iraq deployment). We met in the service and have been married for 10 years.

Three years after our wedding, my husband told me he was no longer physically attracted to me. It hurt. A lot. It has been seven years since that day, and we're still together. I don't feel loved, appreciated or valued. I'm a logic-driven person. Emotions don't come easy for me. I have always been open about my thoughts and feelings, even the painful ones.

Since that day, I resent him, and I have told him such. He doesn't understand why I can't just "get over it" and continue to live our lives. He has refused therapy multiple times. I don't have a family of my own, and we have no children together. Must I appreciate the friendship we have, or is it time to push for a meet-in-the-middle resolution? -- UNAPPRECIATED IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR UNAPPRECIATED: That you would feel resentment after what your husband told you is normal. It appears that intimacy is either unimportant to him, or he is finding it elsewhere.

Your self-esteem may be below ground level, but you have a right to be able to feel loved, appreciated and valued. Since you are receiving none of those, there is no "meeting in the middle." Where you need to meet is a lawyer's office so you can officially end a marriage that died seven years ago.

DEAR ABBY: My dad has never been great at communicating. I'm the only one who seems to communicate with him, even though I'm across the country. Over the last few years, until recently, his new wife, "Dorie," helped to bridge the gap. I loved having Dad around even if it was second hand from her.

When my aunt, his sister, died suddenly, somehow I was appointed to write the obituary. Having never written one, I inadvertently omitted Dorie's name in the article. She became enraged and defensive. I apologized, but I also showed my teeth a bit because she was so rude about an honest mistake. Now communication with Dad is as strained as it was before. I think she screens and answers his messages, so I'm unsure if it's him replying.

Dad was sick recently, and she didn't bother to tell me. I learned about it through Facebook. I'm a nice person, but she really upset me. I have already apologized and explained it was a mistake. I want a relationship with my dad. Should I apologize again? -- FRUSTRATED DAUGHTER IN THE WEST

DEAR DAUGHTER: Yes. Apologize for reacting the way you did (showing your teeth) after the obituary "disaster." Dorie's feelings were already hurt because of your omission. If you can, smooth over what happened. However, recognize that your relationship with your father didn't make him a better communicator. You were keeping tabs on him through the efforts of his wife.