Dear Amy: My brother was married to my sister-in-law for 29 years. Out of the blue, he announced that he had left his wife and was now living with "Kelly," a girlfriend that he had met online.
Soon after, he said he wanted to bring the new girlfriend to visit us. He said she was upset that no one in our family wanted to meet her. We suggested that we should go on an outing together, and we all set a date.
Just beforehand, my brother said she couldn't make it. The next thing we know, he's texting that they've broken up and that she threw him out.
My husband and I went on the outing ourselves and had a good time. And almost immediately, I got a picture from my brother stating that he and his girlfriend had taken this same outing a few days before we did.
I really don't enjoy my brother's drama. He's a nice guy, but makes some bad, impulsive decisions. I am not ready to invest in an iffy, on/off relationship at this point.
What do I say to my brother without hurting him? He seems to have no direction lately.
Amy says: Your middle-aged brother seems to be dating in middle school. The good news is that you don't have to do anything about it. You don't need to respond to your brother's strange behavior; you don't need to invest, or divest, in his on-or-off girlfriend. You don't need to provide shelter, money or advice.
You should carry on, living your own life. The only thing you really need to do is to treat your brother's choices and declarations with the appropriate amount of skepticism. Assume that he will be bouncing around until he gets his act together, and hope that he does.
In terms of "Kelly," you should apply the Three-Thanksgiving rule. She may or may not be in his life, and if she is and you finally meet her, you need only be polite and respectful. No relationship investment is necessary until they settle down and show up for three Thanksgivings in a row. After polite conversation at three Thanksgivings, you should assume that she will be around for a while, and build your relationship from there.
Don't let your brother gaslight or guilt you into believing that your own behavior is in question, because it's not.
What's in a name?
Dear Amy: I have an unusual name. I have to spell or pronounce it (or both) on just about a daily basis.
You would think that by now I would know what to do about people who mispronounce the name that I've had for over 40 years, but I don't.
Specifically, what should I do about acquaintances and (so-called) friends who still say my name wrong?
After the first two times of correcting people, I get stumped.
I cannot think of a polite way of saying, "Omigod! I've told you three times how to pronounce my name! What is wrong with you?"
Instead, I say nothing, and seethe. There isn't always someone else around who is caring enough to correct them for me. Please advise!
Amy says: If there is another word or phrase that rhymes with your name, use it: "Kyrie, rhymes with 'weary' " — or "Milada," rhymes with 'de nada'."
Tell your friends or others who habitually mispronounce it: "Can I be honest with you? You always mispronounce my name, and it really bothers me! Here's how to pronounce it. ... "
After one honest, calm and patient correction, then yes, if this happens again, definitely ask them what is wrong with them.
Send Ask Amy questions to Amy Dickinson at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @askingamy.