Ask Amy: Friendship has great benefits, but little luck
Dear Amy: Maybe I no longer have a conscience, or maybe I am just lucky, but either way, I’d like your opinion.
I met a married man over a year and a half ago, knowing he wasn’t going to change his situation. Nor did I expect him to.
Our intimacy has been physical at times.
He often takes care of me, giving me money, food and gifts. He has pledged to do even more as I am truly struggling with a myriad of issues I am actively working on resolving.
Now with the pandemic, times have been even harder.
I have health issues and live off a part-time job and disability insurance.
I used to feel very uncomfortable accepting these gestures from him but as he repeatedly said, “I help my friends. And this is one way I can help you.”
Of course, this is all done in secret.
He doesn’t ask for or expect anything in return. He is considerably older than I. I truly value him. Our friendship has gone through some tests, like his wife catching on about him/us. He also got sick with COVID. I had nightmares for weeks before learning that he was OK.
We had a long talk the other day and decided that we both don’t want to end our friendship.
And I have found in my 40-plus years that I never before had someone who gives this much to me. I’m a woman who has experienced abuse throughout my life.
What do you think? Should I keep this friendship alive and continue to accept his help? — A Reader
Dear Reader: You present this as if you are facing a decision, and yet you state that you don’t intend to change your behavior.
I’m not about to tell someone who is as needy as you present yourself to be that they may not accept money and gifts from a generous friend during an extremely challenging time.
However, the fact that this man is married and you two are carrying on a secret relationship means that anything he gives to you (time, attention, money and gifts) won’t be given to someone else — namely, his wife or other family members, non-secret friends, or worthy organizations.
You say that neither of you believe this gift-giving has strings attached, and yet it does. Without the adultery, this relationship would not exist.
In terms of both your conscience and your luck, I’d say that you have a deficit of both.
Dear Amy: I have acquaintances from elementary and high school who have organized monthly Zoom meetings to connect. We discuss politics, books, travel, and personal news.
While I sometimes enjoy these discussions, I feel pressured to attend.
I am not friends with and don’t even remember some of these schoolmates and personally have nothing in common with them.
I’m not antisocial and sometimes enjoy reminiscing, but most of the time I get irritated with everyone talking over each other.
And of course, invariably, there will be a couple of individuals who monopolize the chaotic discussions.
How can I politely decline these invitations? I don’t mind attending some, but do not like the pressure to always be there.
After a full day working from home, I’d like to relax. — Zoomed Out
Dear Zoomed Out: When you receive an “invitation” to a Zoom meeting, it usually comes in the form of a mass email. You either “accept” by joining the Zoom call, or you “decline” by simply not joining the call.
A social Zoom invite sent to dozens of people does not require any advance RSVP.
You could join and “mute” your video and audio and listen in while you did household chores, or you could simply ignore the invitation email and live your life, the way you did before Zoom (or the pressure to join a video conference with people you barely know) entered our lives and living rooms, which — checking my calendar — I realize was less than a year ago.
What a long strange year it has been.
Dear Amy: I disagree with your characterization of Harvard grads “being notoriously sensitive about the dilution of their brand by hoi polloi.” (Responding to “Fan, but not Alum in Chicago”.)
On the contrary, I and many of my classmates feel a sense of pride seeing anyone (whether affiliated with Harvard or not) in Harvard apparel. I hope you will not leave your readers with such a negative impression. — A Harvard Grad
Dear Grad: My comment was meant to be playful. Thank you for setting me straight.