Dear Annie: I have a friend who, over the years, has been a lovely person. But for the past two years, she has totally forgotten my birthday. She always used to remember my birthday with sweet gestures and nice surprises that were incredible remembrances. I have also celebrated her birthday, plus other holidays, such as Valentine’s Day, with her. So I was stunned when she forgot my birthday. I mentioned in an email to her that I was disappointed she had forgotten me and hoped that all was OK and that it wasn’t because of anything I said or did. It took her a while, but she wrote back a very snarky message saying she could not be expected to remember birthdays because her life is far too full.
How could she go over the top until two years ago and then do nothing? I would have been tickled with a “happy birthday” wish in an email. I was honestly offering to apologize in my email. If I said something wrong, I want to know. I have not replied to her response and don’t plan to, but I’m confused, hurt and amazed she could think I expected more than a wish of “happy birthday” from her.
One of her quirks is denial when approached about anything that suggests she could be wrong. In another email, I asked for her impressions about a short story I submitted for publication to our local newspaper, but she never replied. When I followed up with her, she said she had already answered completely. But she never wrote anything about it, and she would not even hint that she could have forgotten all about it.
My impression is that she has no further interest in what I thought was a worthwhile friendship and that regardless of my tact or attempts to get to the bottom of our discussions, it’s an empty effort. Should I give it yet another try or walk away? – Friend or Not?
Dear Friend or Not?: I’d call her behavior rude if it weren’t so troubling. Such an out-of-the-blue personality change can indicate underlying health issues. Tell her that you’re concerned about her change in demeanor, and offer to go to the doctor with her for a full evaluation. If there’s no medical explanation for her sudden loss of manners, then take your distance and spend time with friends who treat you with respect. Perhaps you could join a writing group and make friends with people who will happily offer feedback on your short stories.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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