Ask Amy: Walking buddies’ relationship stumbles

Dear Amy: I have been walking buddies with a neighbor for the last 12 years. We walk together about once a week.

While I usually enjoy our time, there have been unsettling emotional outbursts from her, either crying or screaming about one thing or another.

She has even yelled at me personally, which was shocking and embarrassing to me, and I admit I have yelled back once or twice – and I am not proud of it. It’s very out of character for me to behave that way, and I really hate it when I allow myself to be reduced to that level.

I can usually look past these incidents because usually I enjoy our walks, the communication, and the laughs. But last week she screamed at me again.

The latest outburst happened as she was trying to tell me about something that was bothering her about a neighbor. I was unable to follow her train of thought, so I asked her for clarification more than once.

Out of nowhere, she screamed at me to stop “correcting” her. I stopped in my tracks. I asked what was wrong with her. Again, she yelled that I was correcting her.

By then I was fuming. I said I’d had enough, and began walking the other direction.

Suddenly, she backtracks and says, “Oh, I’m over it!”

I said, “I’m not.”

The drama makes me uncomfortable and I hate confrontation.

Even if she does reach out now (weeks later) I think it will be too late. I have no problem ending this friendship now.

We do live in the same neighborhood, however, and it’s possible I will run into her at some point. So I have two questions: What should I say if I run into her and she asks if I’m “over it”?

And, since we have mutual friends who may hear about the incident and ask questions, what should I tell them?

I don’t want to talk behind her back, but I also want to clarify my standing to others who wonder what happened.

– Tired of Screamers

Dear Tired: If you want to keep this drama going, then by all means – clarify your standing with mutual friends.

If you are asked directly about this episode, you might say, “S raised her voice at me, so we’re going our separate ways.”

This neighbor might have a cognitive health problem, or perhaps she is perennially hot-headed. She might leave a wake of similar incidents as she moves through the world. Outbursts could likely relieve whatever pressure she feels building up inside her and afterward, yes, she would likely feel better.

She will not apologize, so you should stop expecting this. “I’m over it” might be the closest she can get.

When you encounter her again, my advice is to be cordial and calm. You could try one honest statement: “I don’t like being yelled at. Our conflicts make me extremely uncomfortable, so I’ve decided to keep my distance.”

Dear Amy: I’ve been seeing/sleeping with my friend “Curtis” off and on for a few months. We have what I would describe as a non-monogamous sort of “friends with benefits” relationship.

Sometimes we hang out, sometimes we go out, but we are not “a couple.”

I’m completely fine with this, and I thought he was, too.

Recently, Curtis told me that he was going to start seeing someone else, also casually.

Now I’m feeling weird and possessive. I don’t want him to be exclusive to me, but I don’t want for things to change. I don’t want him to do this.

Do you think it’s OK for me to tell him this?

– At Odds

Dear At Odds: If you can have sex with someone, then yes – surely you can be brave enough to initiate a conversation.

Yes, I think it’s always OK to tell someone how you feel, and I hope you will.

However, you also need to accept that life equals change.

Everyone involved needs to make sure that all of this casual sex you’re having is also safe.

Dear Amy: I liked your advice to “Gifting Mother,” whose 7-year-old tore through Easter gifts and immediately wanted more.

In addition to educating her about gratitude and cutting back on the abundance, I think these parents should take this child to meet children who have much less than she does.

When I was a kid, my dad responded by taking me to a soup kitchen our church ran. That was an eye-opener.

– Miss Him

Dear Miss Him: You had a great dad.