Life Advice



Ask Amy: Time to sell a gift that has outlived a friendship

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: Eighteen months ago, a friend gave me two highly collectible vintage items. I had always loved them, and she said she didn't care for them anymore.

About a year ago she abruptly moved across the country to live with her boyfriend, and cut all contact with everybody; it's clear that she has no intention of speaking with me again.

I still have the items she gave to me, and while I do like them, since our relationship ended on a sour note I don't want to keep them.

I want to sell them, since they're quite valuable (about $800 for the pair), but to complicate things I'm really great friends with her brother, “James,” who still lives in my city.

James and his sister shared the items in childhood (a gift from their mother), and so I'm feeling torn. Would it be rude of me to sell them? I don’t think he has any interest in keeping them (his sister told me this), and they'd probably just get put in storage.

Should I give him a portion of the money, or ask permission to sell them?

Is it OK to just sell them and keep the money?

– Deliberating

Dear Deliberating: These items were given to you and, because they are now your property, you have the right to sell them.

However, since you still have a very close relationship with one of the members of this family, the ethical thing to do is to offer these items to him.

Tell “James” that because your relationship with his sister seems to have faded, you wonder if he would like to have these family heirlooms. Even if you suspect he wouldn’t display them, he might choose to pass them along to a child – or another family member.

If James tells you he’s not interested, you should tell him you’d like to sell them. Transparency will help to preserve your close friendship with him. Whether to share the money with him is a judgment call – it’s not necessary to offer.

Regarding the larger question, you need to ask yourself how you would feel if a close friend of yours sold a memento from your childhood without at least running it past you first.

Dear Amy: Five years ago, my husband and I were invited to spend a week at the beautiful home of a couple we know (but don’t know well). They had other guests there, too, and they were wonderful hosts.

The last night of our stay, the group (10 adults) went out for dinner. Everyone had a lot to drink. We were all engaged in a spirited discussion about politics. In the course of this, the husband (“William”) raised his voice and directed some extremely personal and completely disparaging remarks at my husband. Truly – it was like a movie.

The evening screeched abruptly to a halt. We didn’t react, but were quite stunned, and left early the next day to catch our flight.

We have a wide tolerance for mixing it up (we’re both from big families), but this was unprecedented.


People had been drinking, and missteps are to be expected, but this was personal and vicious. The wife apologized, the husband didn’t, and I sent them a cordial note and gift, thanking them for their generosity.

The couple moved away and neither side has made any gestures.

I just got a text from the wife; they’re back in town and she says they want to get together. We do not hold a grudge, but don’t want to spend time with someone who so obviously does not like or respect one of us.

We don’t have any desire to see them, but I don’t know how to react. Should I ghost her? Explain things? Let it all go?

– Confused

Dear Confused: Ghosting seems easy – you just ignore, but it gets complicated when others don’t read the signal and you run into them at the Safeway.

I vote for a phone call. You’ve posed the question, so you get to make the call.

Don’t blame or shame – but explain your interpretation of this long-ago event.

Dear Amy: “Judgmental Teen” was worried that she always judged others based on their clothing.

As a mother of three who lacked the altruistic gene, and who were quite judgmental, I urged them to volunteer.

By doing this they not only learned about people different from themselves, but it opened their hearts and whittled away their judgmental responses.

– Mom of Three!

Dear Mom: This is great advice. Thank you.


(You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

©2023 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.



Sarah's Scribbles David M. Hitch David Fitzsimmons Jeff Koterba Gary McCoy Jack Ohman