Home Lifestyle My Old Friend Told My Stepbrother That I Used to Hate Him. Now What?

My Old Friend Told My Stepbrother That I Used to Hate Him. Now What?

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My Old Friend Told My Stepbrother That I Used to Hate Him. Now What?

My stepbrother — with whom I am cordial but hardly close — connected with a childhood friend of mine on a dating app. She told him I hated him when we were growing up (30 years ago), and he confronted me about it. I tried to laugh it off and ascribe anything I said at the time to teen angst. Growing up, I found our stepfamily dynamic challenging and struggled with eating disorders and depression. My stepbrother probably struggled too, but we’ve never discussed it. I am miffed that my friend would repeat something so personal and hurtful to my stepbrother. She and I aren’t friends anymore, but we follow each other on social media. May I ask her, via direct message, to stop sharing anecdotes about me with him? I am also considering reaching out to my stepbrother to clear the air and discuss our childhood traumas. Thoughts?

STEPSISTER

There may be excellent reasons to discuss your shared difficulties in childhood with your stepbrother. But straightening out an awkward mishap on a dating app is not one of them. And the fact that you haven’t raised these issues with him for 30 years suggests (to me) that you should go slowly here.

In my experience, people who struggle with depression or disordered eating do not usually solve the underlying issues entirely. Even in recovery, we live with shadows. I suspect you worked hard to process your challenges. But it would be a mistake to assume that your stepbrother has, too, or that he would welcome this conversation. Mull it over, perhaps with a therapist, before you disrupt this cordial-but-hardly-close relationship. Do not let a random interaction on a dating app dictate your behavior.

As for your onetime friend, let sleeping dogs lie. She has probably done her worst — possibly by accident. (Dating apps are hotbeds for weird conversations.) And contacting her now, via social media, may only revive questions about your dislike of your stepbrother that you have already put to rest. I get that you felt ambushed, but you handled it. I would let this go.

One of my closest friends since middle school, for 15-plus years now, is giving herself a birthday party. She rented a V.I.P. suite at a Drake concert and is inviting friends to join her. (The suite accommodates 15 people.) She invited me months ago, and I responded immediately that I was excited to join her. Three weeks before the event, she asked, by text, if I would be OK not coming. She wants to invite someone who likes Drake more than me instead. It felt like a terrible disinvitation. I told her I felt disrespected, but she maintains she’s done nothing wrong. How would you handle this?

OLD FRIEND

I am sorry that your friend treated you so shabbily. Invitations, once issued, are not subject to greater Drake fandom. For now, there’s not much you can do about this. Your friend has given you some unsavory news about who she is. In time, she may regret her error and apologize for hurting you. If she does, I hope you will entertain her apology. Being a friend doesn’t mean being perfect, but it definitely requires owning up to our mistakes.

I was waiting for my car at a valet stand when an incoming driver threw his keys at me, expecting me to park his car. I am Latino, and I’ve heard from fellow Latinos that this happens to them, too. I try to dress nicely and not to speak Spanish, but that doesn’t stop this from happening. I don’t want to walk away with the keys. The owners would only blame the valets. What should I do?

R.

Perhaps the most upsetting part of this story is that you seem to take some blame for the disrespect shown to you: if only you were even better dressed or didn’t speak Spanish. But you should be able to walk around in whatever clothing you like and speak any language you choose and not be mistaken for a valet because you are Latino.

I am sorry for your experience! Return the keys to the owners and ask: “What made you think I was the valet?” (And to those who believe these episodes are just honest mistakes: When did this last happen to you?)

Our kids (ages 6 and 9) spent a hot Sunday afternoon making a lemonade stand. They squeezed the lemons, painted a sign and set up shop on our corner — selling lemonade for $1 a glass. Their plan was to keep the cash they made, after paying us back for the ingredients. The problem: Half their customers asked what charity the proceeds would benefit. Did we make a mistake by letting the kids keep their profits?

MOM

Not at all! In my neck of the woods, I have noticed a growing number of children donating the proceeds from their stands to local charities. (Maybe it’s a trend?) But that doesn’t make your kids’ operation wrong. My more pressing observation is that I haven’t seen lemonade for $1 a glass in years. Tell your kids to raise their prices!


For help with your awkward situation, send a question to SocialQ@nytimes.com, to Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on the platform X.



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