Dear Carolyn • I have a longtime friend who I once considered a "best friend." We connect at the heart, and have relied on each other a lot over the years. Several years back, she went through a tough professional transition and completely cut me off. Not because she was angry with me, but because she needed to move through it alone. I was devastated that she would not return my calls, respond to my emails, accept my invitations, etc. That went on for nearly two years. Ultimately we worked it out, and all was well for a few years. Then she underwent another difficult professional transition, and again cut me off, again for nearly two years. I grieved the loss of our friendship, because I knew that if she came around again, I wouldn't be willing to rekindle our closeness and set myself up for this again. I love her dearly, but I just don't think I can do it again. Am I being unreasonable? Do I have to tell her this, or can I just keep her at arm's length as a casual acquaintance?
Dear Confused • Demoting her to "casual acquaintance" without explaining yourself would just be a lesser version of the same friendship crime she committed against you. So, yes, you do have to say you won't get close again to someone who takes unannounced two-year breaks from returning your calls.
Dear Carolyn • A number of friends have announced they are expecting yay! In talking to other friends who, like me, have offered (joyfully, really!) to throw a shower, we're all having the same issue: We have been presented with a list of 50-plus "people I want you to invite." Fifty people is bigger than practical for my house. Yet it seems sorta petty to come back saying, "Actually, I was imagining more like 10-12 people." Is there a reasonable way to set boundaries at this point?
Baby Shower Overload
Dear Overload • It is not "petty" to say, "Er, I was thinking more like 12" or "I'm sorry, my house can fit a dozen comfortably so maybe we can invite 20" . The shower I envisioned was about a quarter of the size you're suggesting. Let me know if you'd still like me to host it."
Carolyn Hax's column runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.