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ASK AMY: Friend worries about toxic effect of pandemic

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Dear Amy: I am very worried about a former colleague.

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I met “Gerry” two years ago when we were part of the same project team.

Gerry was a funny person and was very open about his mental health issues.

After the project ended, we parted ways, but we continued to follow each other on Instagram.

When the pandemic hit, Gerry was talking about the harshness of the lockdowns, and we were sharing different recipes, etc.

Now, with the rise of the Omicron variant, I believe it has completely turned into a black rabbit hole.

On Instagram, she constantly posted photos and linked the usernames of local politicians, calling them Nazis because of the restrictions.

I reached out to Gerry to see if she needed someone to talk to, but got chewed out and called a “privileged b****”. In addition, there was a flood of insults towards my family, which I will not repeat here.

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It’s been a few weeks since, and I stopped following his Instagram account. However, another mutual friend mentioned to me that Gerry’s posts are getting worse – so much worse that she was written off at work for a particularly bad one.

I don’t know if I should reach out again and offer her a friendly shoulder to cry on, or if I should cut my losses and let her sit in the mess she’s creating for herself.

Your advice?

– Torn

Dear Torn: I think you should reach out, one more time – in a neutral, benign way, along the lines of, “Hi, I’m checking in. I was wondering how you’ve been lately.”

If she responds with a toxic, multi-directional rant, you can respond, “I realize this is difficult; I am sorry.”

If she responds with a personal attack on you, you shouldn’t respond, back off and end your personal involvement.

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If a mutual acquaintance raises concerns about him, you can suggest that he contact “Gerry” directly, instead of getting involved.

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Dear Amy: Is dating more than one person at a time passed?

You recently printed a letter from someone who is attracted to someone close (geographically) who is in a “long distance” relationship with someone else. While I have no problem with your answer as to how to explore the possibility of establishing a closer relationship, is it possible for the person at the center of this triangle to have a relationship (of any degree whatever) with both people without feeling guilty?

Maybe it was just when I was growing up, the 50s and 60s, but there was certainly no problem, either way, if me and/or the girls I was with went out each saw more than one person.

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Sometimes I would go out with three or four girls at the same time.

I don’t think I was the only one in this case.

– wondering

Dear amazed: Generally, if you are interested in or attracted to someone who you know has a long-standing monogamous relationship with someone else, respecting that person’s other commitment is the most ethical thing to do, even if it goes against your own interest.

It also happens to be an extremely attractive way to behave.

It has always been so.

Emotional issues aside, awareness of the risk of contracting STDs has made it important for people to be transparent about their love and sex lives (even though this is often not the case).

That said, seeing more than one person at a time is not okay.

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Playing the field is basically why the internet was invented.

Dear Amy: I love your suggestion of putting “a book on each bed”.

I fear however that no matter how many books I give to my great-nieces and nephew (my surrogate grandchildren), they will not be read!

I don’t think their parents prioritized reading for them.

They seem to prefer their tablets.

They are 8 year old twins and a 9 year old boy.

Is there a way for me to encourage remote reading since I don’t live nearby? Or is giving them books the best I can do?

I’m looking for well-reviewed, age-appropriate titles.

– Loving Aunt

Dear Aunt: You could create a virtual “book club” with these children. Ask the three of them to choose a book from their collection, and then you can have a Zoom or FaceTime session where you read together and “revise” your selections.

Keep your sessions short, fun, and understand that it could get crazy.

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