Dear Abby: We talked almost daily for decades, then friend stopped answering my calls

They still email and get together, but man is hurt that his longtime confidante has ended their phone relationship.

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DEAR ABBY: I’m a single man who has a close female friend who is also single. We live about a half-hour apart, so for the last 25 years, much of our relationship happened on the phone. We talked almost daily.

Two years ago, I noticed she had stopped calling me unless it was to make plans to get together. Then I noticed that when I called her, she’d let it go to voicemail and not return my call for days. About a year ago, she stopped returning my voice messages altogether. I tried reducing my calls drastically, but no dice. I also tried switching to texts, but she doesn’t respond to those, either.

You might conclude that she’s unfriending me, but that’s not the case. We still get together often for dinner or a movie, usually at her suggestion via email, and she still acts like we are close friends and nothing is wrong. But not returning, or even acknowledging, my calls or texts sure feels wrong to me. I have tried asking her about it, but she brushes it off by saying she “didn’t hear the phone.” Or she’s “bad at checking voicemail and texts.”

Her latest excuse is, she’s “just not good on the telephone.” Abby, I know phone etiquette has changed and young people rarely use the phone these days. But we are in our 60s, and for 25 years our relationship was largely on the phone. It’s one thing to want to cut back on that, or even to stop calling me. But ignoring my (now infrequent) calls or texts seems hurtful. Is this normal, and should I still consider such a person one of my closest friends? — GHOSTED IN THE WEST

DEAR GHOSTED: A sudden change in pattern is not normal. SOMETHING has changed. Because you can’t get her to explain what has caused this change in her behavior, consider taking a page out of her playbook. Communicate with her via email only in response to her emails to you, and find some other friends who will treat you courteously.

DEAR ABBY: I am a widow, and I miss my husband very much. We used to go out to dinner together often. I have friends I have dinners with, but sometimes I go out by myself. Every time I do, after I say I am dining alone, the host or hostess asks, “Just you?” It is like an insult — just me? Like I need a reminder that I am alone without a husband.

I recently mentioned this to a friend who told me he experiences the same thing when he dines alone. He, too, considers it insulting. Please share this with readers who work in the hospitality industry. — JUST ME IN COLORADO

DEAR JUST ME: I’m printing your letter, but I think you may be reacting to a question that may be more about procedure than a social commentary. Your host or server may ask that question because they want to know whether the extra place settings should be removed from the table.

DEAR READERS: As I reflect back on this past year, I also want to wish you a happy, healthy 2023. Did 2022 fly by for you as quickly as it did for me? I will join you tonight in “toasting” a new year that, I hope, will be a less stressful one for all of us. If you are celebrating tonight, please take measures to protect not only your own health, but also the safety of others. Happy New Year, everyone! — LOVE, ABBY

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order “How to Be Popular.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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