A reader sent me this recent Dear Abby column, wanting to know what my advice would be to this LW:
After she went away to college, she got pregnant by a non-boyfriend. When she had an abortion, she swore me to secrecy because she didn’t tell the father. Shortly thereafter, he came to me and tricked me into telling him. To this day, Jenny still blames me and says I was out to get her and ruin her life.
Jenny spread rumors about me around our group of friends, on the internet, and told my mom horrible lies about me. She even threatened a lawsuit. Ten years later, she still pops up out of the blue to attack me. A year ago, she sent me a message saying she wished I had died in a tornado that struck my area. She sends taunts about an old boyfriend of mine who got married and had a kid.
I never respond because that’s what she wants. She pops up at the worst times and makes me feel worse. How should I deal with her? — At a Boiling Point in Tennessee
You can read Dear Abby’s advice here. Mine is below:
Your frenemy’s father “tricked” you into telling him your frenemy had an abortion? This is the same frenemy who constantly berated you through high school, accused you of taking advantage of her, and put you down to make herself feel better? And it was only by being “tricked” by her father that you let slip that she had an abortion? I don’t believe that. I believe you had a lot of built-up hostility and resentment toward Jenny and saw a chance to get back at her a bit and that it didn’t take much, if any, arm-twisting by her father to get you to betray her trust and reveal a deeply personal and intimate secret of hers. I think that’s pretty pathetic. Did you ever even apologize? Perhaps, if you want Jenny to stop taunting you, an apology for betraying her is in order. And if that doesn’t work, take this as a lesson in the future to: 1) not be friends with people you don’t like; 2) not betray someone’s trust by sharing deeply personal information about her or him.
One must believe, based on Jenny’s behavior toward you all these years, that she truly feels that you tried to ruin her life and that, based on your description about the way she treated you in high school, it’s not hard to see how that might actually be the case. Shame on you.
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].
MissDre January 18, 2017, 2:10 pm
WWS, plus figure out what you need to do to take responsibility for your actions and then move on. Also, just block her. That way you don’t get her messages that keep popping up.
K January 18, 2017, 2:13 pm
I read the column as, she didn’t tell the baby’s father about the abortion. Not her father. But the advice still holds. I think the LW and Jenny are both not nice people.
Dear Wendy January 18, 2017, 2:14 pm
After re-reading the letter, I think you’re right. Same advice though.
MaggieB January 18, 2017, 2:13 pm
I wouldn’t be surprised if Frenemy’s Non-Boyfriend did trick LW into telling her, especially if LW isn’t very bright or adept at drama-rama secret-keeping.
My guess is that Non-Boyfriend already suspected the truth, and came to LW claiming that Frenemy had already told him about the pregnancy/abortion, at which point LW inadvertently confirmed that it had happened.
Sketchee January 18, 2017, 2:17 pm
I think “tricked” is a word that doesn’t hold enough responsibility for the LW. If she’s not good at keeping secrets, that’s self knowledge that she can take away from the situation. Useful in applying Wendy’s advice. Whatever happened, the LW needs to acknowledge accountability for their part in it
Northern Star January 18, 2017, 2:23 pm
No, that’s the lesson JENNY should take from this: Don’t tell people your secrets, especially people you don’t even like or trust.
Northern Star January 18, 2017, 2:22 pm
That’s a strong possibility. Or maybe the LW did tell the father on purpose. But I don’t see how Jenny having an abortion, not telling the non-boyfriend father, and then having the secret come out “ruined her life.” And honestly, regardless of the situation, Jenny is an unhinged loon for continuing to go after the LW, who according to her letter, is ignoring her. But why the LW hasn’t blocked Jenny completely, I don’t know. It’s such an obvious solution.
ScreenSinger January 18, 2017, 2:56 pm
Yeah, I don’t really see how it ruined her life either. I mean, I’m sure the non-boyfriend might not have been happy to learn about it. And regardless of your feelings on whether or not the father should be involved in the decision, it’s crappy that he wasn’t even notified. But what exactly did that do to the frenemy? Ruin her relationship with him? According to the letter, they already weren’t in a relationship. Sounds like situation normal to me.
Ron January 18, 2017, 6:43 pm
Your post seems bizarrely dismissive, screensinger. No, the non-bf father didn’t have a right to know. Likely she didn’t tell him, because she knew the reaction would be bad. Since LW told him, the poor frenemy likely did suffer that bad reaction and was harrassed, possibly subjected to physical abuse. Perhaps frenemy texts LW when she gets a new load of verbal/emotional abuse from the non-bf father. Perhaps non-bf father got revenge by telling her parents. There is a lot of serious bad shit which could come out of this ‘inadvertent’ on-purpose disclosure.
ScreenSinger January 19, 2017, 9:06 am
Okay Ron, let’s say he didn’t have a right to know. Does that make it any less decent to tell him? The abuse angle did occur to me, as it’s the only truly acceptable reason I can think of for not telling someone that they fathered a kid. As for why I “bizarrely” dismissed it, I simply can’t see any indication that it’s a factor. I mean, wouldn’t Jenny have told the LW if that was the case? I realize abuse victims don’t go around shouting it from the rooftops, but it would have been pertinent information in this particular instance. And since it appears the relationship between Jenny and the LW has always been fairly hostile, I can’t imagine she’d tell her about something as personal as an abortion at all if she wasn’t going to include such a vitally important reason to keep her mouth shut about it.
And if he’s not abusive, I feel he’d have a right to know. Again, I’m not even saying she had to give him a say in the matter. Hell, she could have clued him in after the fact. A text, if she really didn’t want to deal with his reaction. “Hey, did you know you have a kid? Psych!” Not that hard.
Yeah, I know that still sounds dismissive. Largely because, if he’s not abusive, I can’t see what the big deal is in telling him. If an ex (or “non-girlfriend”) told me after the fact that she aborted my kid, I would be devastated and probably never speak to her again–but that wouldn’t “ruin her life.” So I’m just not buying that Jenny’s reaction here is normal.
em January 19, 2017, 11:04 am
depending on the cultural/religious background, Jenny may very well have faced serious stigma and potentially threats from the baby’s father/her community.
Ron January 19, 2017, 11:22 am
WTF!!! “Hey did you know you know you have a kid?” But… he doesn’t have a kid. He isn’t a father. She chose to have an abortion. You say in your response how pissed off you would be if you were this guy. This woman wisely chose not to deal with that.
for_cutie January 18, 2017, 3:01 pm
I’m with Wendy. I suspect LW is not all that innocent in the interactions, past and present. She said that Jenny is in “our group of friends” so it sounds like the LW hasn’t made the healthy boundaries she should have to move on from this. “Tricked” or not, the LW is completely in the wrong and needs to take responsibility for the damage she caused to another person. Dear Abby way simplified her response, and did not address the LW’s fault in the situation.
Miss MJ January 18, 2017, 3:30 pm
So, I think Wendy and Abby are both right. The LW should probably own that there is a reason that Jenny doesn’t like her and it’s a legitimate one, but, that said, she should block and ignore Jenny, who, frankly does sound disturbed to be sending the LW “I wish you were dead” messages 10 years later.
LisforLeslie January 18, 2017, 4:12 pm
WWS. You can’t be tricked into telling a secret unless you WANT to tell the secret (or you’re drugged). If someone says they know something happened ” I heard she had a boob lift” – you simply say “I have no idea what you’re talking about” or “If she did or if she didn’t it’s none of my business” or “You are kidding right? Her, no way” or whatever throw away line works for you.
You wanted that guy to know and that was pretty shitty. But 10 years is a long time to hold on to anger/vengeance. So accept that you did something shitty and unless she makes your life unsafe – you’re going to have to deal with it. Unless you feel telling all of your mutual friends what you did to deserve her wrath as in telling her secret again. Which would be even shittier than the first time around.
dinoceros January 18, 2017, 4:57 pm
I’d like to know how the tricking occurred. Jenny sounds bonkers, but the LW also did a really crappy thing. I’m a little surprised the LW hasn’t blocked her, though, because then she can’t just pop up out of nowhere.
Ashley January 18, 2017, 7:39 pm
What shitty obvious advice from dear Abby. LW, I mean what do you want people to tell you other than to ignore it? Or block her? Move? You live in small town that makes it impossible or what? There are some pretty ducking obvious solutions to your problem and if after ten years you haven’t solved it something tells me you are either not telling whole story or you like this drama in your life.
for_cutie January 19, 2017, 9:41 am
baccalieu January 18, 2017, 8:33 pm
While I agree that the LW isn’t taking the responsibility she should have for failing to keep Jenny’s secret (it may be less responsibility if she was in fact “tricked” but she still bears some fault for falling for it) does it really matter now, ten years later. She and Jenny had the same circle of friends ten years ago but that doesn’t mean they still do. Abby’s answer may have been uninspired and obvious, but the problem called for the obvious answer.
saneinca January 18, 2017, 11:46 pm
Jenny should not have told her secret to the LW and the LW should not have told the father. Jenny should have dumped LW a long time back and the LW should have dumped Jenny long time back.
It is better to get out of dysfunctional relationships at the earliest.
Bittergaymark January 19, 2017, 2:27 am
Eh — please — I’ve never been tricked into telling anybody anything. And neither has this LW…
Firestar January 19, 2017, 8:06 am
Why tell your big, important secret to someone you don’t even like? This thing was bat shit crazy from jump. They are both drama. Maybe Abby edited but normally when people are tricked they get into detail about it because they are the victim. I don’t think she was tricked. And Jenny’s life wasn’t ruined by a non boyfriend finding out he doesn’t now have a lifetime of responsibility. It was probably the only time the lw lashed back at Jenny and maybe that’s hard for her to get over. Who knows. Blocking exists for this reason. If the lw hasn’t then that’s on her. They sound like they deserve each other.
TheHizzy January 19, 2017, 10:16 am
The friend probably needed to confide in someone and she picked the LW because in her eyes they were probably great friends. And in LWs eyes they are NOT great friends. So LW viewed it as a way to “get back” at all the pain Jenny has caused her.
It was totally wrong for LW to tell ANYONE. LW doesn’t say what kind of pain or struggle or strife it caused for Jenny to share that news. It was not LWs to share and she should have ended the friendship a long time ago if she hates Jenny so much.
LW – dump Jenny she deserves a friend who will keep her secrets and Jenny needs to learn that putting people down is not kosher.
Hannanas January 19, 2017, 10:17 am
I know this isn’t constructive but they both sound like terrible people.