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My Oldest Friend Is Being Paroled From Prison. Can I Dump Her?

My oldest friend — we met in nursery school and are now in our 60s — is about to be paroled from prison after six years. She pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of her sister and to charges of animal cruelty. (Two dogs were also killed.) When she is released, she will have to move in with her parents, not far from me. She still insists that the reports of the police investigation are “all lies.” But it’s clear to me that much of what was reported was true. While she was incarcerated, I wrote her letters and sent her books because I felt sorry for her situation. But now that she is being paroled, I can’t abide the pressure to accept her lies. Any advice on exiting this relationship without causing pain?

FRIEND

You have no obligation to remain friends. One of the consequences of bad behavior is that others may choose to cut ties with us — even our oldest friends. Still, I find it hard to believe that the sympathy that fueled your letters and gifts while your friend was in prison has suddenly vanished now that her parole is imminent.

If I am wrong, be straight with her. Tell her you no longer want to be in contact. If you are willing to go a bit farther, though, you may be well positioned to offer a great kindness: Explain that her failure to take responsibility for her actions — claiming the reports were “all lies,” for instance — has made your friendship untenable. Encourage her to be honest with herself and others. She may not change her story, but you will have offered a true path to redemption.

Now, this approach may cause her pain — as any ending to your long friendship might. But it would seem more consistent with your loyalty during her incarceration than simply disappearing from her life. Still, it’s your decision. I urge you only to think about it.

Credit…Miguel Porlan

May I Be Excused? I’m Having Trouble Breathing.

On Thanksgiving, my family went to dinner at my sister-in-law’s house. As dinner began, our teenage daughter, who has asthma, became short of breath. I suspected it was triggered by house cats, so I took her outside and stayed with her to make sure she was OK. Eventually, I grabbed our plates from the table so we could eat outdoors. When we rejoined the party, our hostess was livid. So, I explained why we had eaten outdoors. She yelled at me and called me rude. I felt so uncomfortable that we left. She has since said she will never invite us to her home again. Was I rude?

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