Dear Abby: I can’t count on old friend to help during hard times

One is there to lend support during family traumas, but the other is always a no-show.

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DEAR ABBY: A childhood friend, “Brenda,” moved away 20 years ago. Even though we were living across the country from each other, we remained close.

About 10 years ago, I lost my 9-month-old nephew to cancer. It was extremely traumatic for our whole family. His death occurred around the time Brenda and her family were visiting her parents here in town, so I notified them about the wake and funeral arrangements. Abby, they never showed. I was heartbroken and didn’t talk to Brenda for a few months. After she apologized many times, I started to talk to her.

A few years later, Brenda’s mother passed away. I was there for her and her family from start to finish, and when she was sick, I would take her mom to doctor appointments. Last year my mother died after a brief illness, and I again let my friend know. Again, she was a no-show. Money was not a problem for plane tickets for other things, but too expensive for me to have the comfort of a supposed “best” friend.

Should I ignore this again or let the relationship fizzle out? I’m hurt and have expressed this to her. She says she’s sorry, but nothing changes. — DISAPPOINTED IN NEW YORK

DEAR DISAPPOINTED: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your mother. It’s time you reevaluated your relationship with Brenda. You may be her best friend, but she is clearly not yours. A best friend is someone you can depend on. When the chips are down, Brenda has been absent. If you wish to keep her as a friend, do so, but with the understanding of her significant limitations.

DEAR ABBY: I am finalizing the guest list for my wedding and face a dilemma. A casual but long-term friend of ours is the ex-boyfriend of my maid of honor. The two are still friends and see each other occasionally, so there is no issue there. The issue is whether or not to invite his live-in girlfriend. I know typical wedding etiquette usually includes significant others, but in this case?

First off, we barely know her. Most of the time when our friend comes to our house, she doesn’t come along. When we visit his house, she’s gone or seems to avoid us. We’re having a small backyard wedding, and the ex-girlfriend and the new girlfriend have never met. Is it necessary to invite her? I want to be respectful, but it seems complicated for everyone involved, and I’d rather not have it detract from the day for my maid of honor. — BRIDE-TO-BE IN OREGON

DEAR BRIDE-TO-BE: Not knowing the ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend, I can’t offer insight into why she seems standoffish. It may be that she’s socially awkward and not comfortable with people she doesn’t know. To exclude the live-in girlfriend would be not only disrespectful to her, but also to her boyfriend. I don’t advise doing it because you could create long-lasting hurt feelings and ill will.

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order “How to Have a Lovely Wedding.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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