Dear Annie: I have been close friends with "Luke" for more than a year. We have a strong bond, but it's strictly platonic. However, all that changed when he started dating "Lacey," who, at age 20, is 10 years younger than Luke.
Naturally, when I first met Lacey, I was friendly. But there was something about her that put me off. Almost as soon as Luke started seeing her, she got him into partying all night and doing hard drugs and began alienating him from his friends and family. Despite our efforts to tell him that he was heading down a dark path, he ended up getting fired. Then he stopped contacting me.
After I hadn't heard from him for two months, Luke called and said he missed our friendship and wanted to talk things out. He sounded like a broken man. I was thrilled that he was coming around. But shortly after he called, I got a nasty text from Lacey demanding that I stop speaking to Luke and saying he's her man and she doesn't want any other woman around him. I was startled and angered by her rudeness and told her that Luke is my friend and I have every right to talk to him. I told her to calm down and grow up.
I haven't heard from Luke since, and I am worried. I tried calling, but his cellphone number has been disconnected. A mutual friend said that Luke's email account was also cancelled. I have a feeling that Lacey is forcing him to cut ties with us and be totally dependent on her.
It's out of character for him to abandon all the people who mean so much to him. He reads your column, and I can only hope that he can get away from this woman and know we are still here for him. — Worried Friend in Canada
Dear Canada: Lacey is isolating Luke from friends and family, which is descriptive of an abusive relationship, and it doesn't help that he is using drugs. The sad part, however, is that there's not much you can do if he is unwilling to seek help. Do you know where he lives? Is he in touch with any family members? If you can reach him, please give him the number of the National Domestic Violence Hotline (thehotline.org) at 1-800-799-SAFE.
Dear Annie: I was taught the bride and groom had one year to send a handwritten thank-you note following a wedding. Shower gifts are to be acknowledged within two weeks of the bridal shower.
In the past two years, however, the closest I've gotten is a postcard with a wedding picture of the bride and groom on one side and "Thanks for everything" on the other. If a handwritten, proper thank-you note is too difficult, I would much prefer an email acknowledging my specific gift than a bulk mail postcard. — Appalled in Georgia
Dear Georgia: There is no excuse for not decently thanking those who have taken the time and effort to purchase a gift. It's sheer laziness and lack of consideration.
However, we'd like to correct a common misperception: Guests have a year in which to give the bridal couple a gift, but thank-you notes should be written immediately, and certainly within three months.
Dear Annie: "Devastated Daughter" said her father died suddenly in an accident and she isn't sure about leaving Mom alone to attend college out of state.
If she chooses to defer admission, I would advise her to wait a full year and start school in the fall so she can "learn the ropes" with the rest of her classmates. I enrolled in the second semester, and it was so much harder because my classmates were ahead of me in every way. And when I graduated in December, it was difficult to find a job. — Winter Graduate
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.