Life Advice



Ask Amy: Guilt about distance leads to more distance

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Should I continue to feel guilty?

– Guilty

Dear Guilty: Don’t ask if you “should” feel guilty. You already feel guilty. Your dilemma now is what to do about it.

I have a theory that our guilt is actually a tool whose real purpose is to ratchet – or alter — our behavior. What is your guilt going to teach you?

Your less-rational mind is telling you that if you had been in closer touch, or perhaps been a better friend to him, then maybe the outcome would have been different. At the very least, you would have known about it sooner and perhaps chosen to keep in closer touch.

What you should NOT do is to blame your friend for not getting in touch with you. He has a lot going on. When he was ready, he did reach out to you.


Some people react poorly when faced with others’ challenging illnesses. They double-down on their guilt — and run away. Don’t be that guy. Let your guilt lead you toward a better friendship. When you do, you’ll feel better.

Dear Amy: I grew up in an abusive household.

I realized at some point that most (if not all) of my relationships, sexual and otherwise, were with individuals who demeaned and abused me in one way or another.

I had this realization when I was 39 and started purging and disconnecting from these individuals.


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