Life Advice



Ask Amy: Family secret destroys a lifelong friendship

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Holding: First of all, you don’t know if this “secret” is true. It was passed along to you by people who are not available to verify it.

Your situation is a perfect example of how destructive family secrets can be. Your lifelong friend has lost the benefit of your friendship, without knowing why. He might blame himself for your distance.

Yes, I think you should disclose this to him, but through the context of your friendship. You should frame this as a decision that the elder generation made many years ago, that unfortunately engulfed your treasured friendship.

Tell him, “I want to explain why I’ve kept my distance. My parents told this to me, and I realize that I let it create a wall between us. Now – many years later – my big regret is that I let it happen. I have no idea if this is even true, but I assume you could try to verify it if you wanted to, through DNA testing. Regardless, I hope you will accept my apology for keeping this from you. I feel terrible about my own choice, but I honestly did not know how to handle it.”

Dear Amy: I never feel like “family” at family gatherings.

I get teased for being antisocial or too quiet by my louder relatives.


They love getting together while (it goes without saying) — I don't.

I AM quiet and introverted, but their teasing doesn't make me feel welcome or want to open up to them.

(It doesn't help that I am queer and trans, and not comfortable being out to them — making it impossible to be myself).

The pandemic has given me an excuse not to attend family events, but the teasing continues!


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