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OPINION | DEAR ABBY: Platonic friendship suffers when communication dries up

by Abigail Van Buren | December 31, 2022 at 1:00 a.m.

Dear Abby: I’m a single man who has a female friend who is also single. We live about a half-hour apart, so for the last 25 years, much of our relationship happened on the phone. We talked almost daily.

Two years ago, she stopped calling me unless it was to make plans to get together. Then I noticed that when I called her, she’d let it go to voicemail and not return my call for days. About a year ago, she stopped returning my voice messages altogether. I tried reducing my calls drastically, but no dice. I also tried texting, but she doesn’t respond to those, either.

You might conclude that she’s unfriending me, but that’s not the case. We still get together often for dinner or a movie, usually at her suggestion via email, and she still acts like we are close friends and nothing is wrong. But not returning, or acknowledging, my calls or texts feels wrong to me. I have tried asking her about it, but she brushes it off by saying she “didn’t hear the phone.” Or she’s “bad at checking voicemail and texts.”

Her latest excuse is, she’s “not good on the telephone.” I know phone etiquette has changed and young people rarely use the phone these days. But we are in our 60s, and for 25 years our relationship was largely on the phone. It’s one thing to want to cut back on that, or even to stop calling me. But ignoring my (now infrequent) calls or texts is hurtful. Is this normal? Should I still consider such a person a close friend? — Ghosted In The West

Dear Ghosted: A sudden change in pattern is not normal. Something has changed. Because you can’t get her to explain what has caused the change, consider taking a page out of her playbook. Communicate only by email in response to her emails to you, and find other friends who will treat you courteously.

Dear Abby: I am a widow, and I miss my husband very much. We used to go out to dinner together often. I have friends I have dinners with, but sometimes I go out alone. Every time, after I say I am dining alone, the host or hostess asks, “Just you?” It’s like an insult — just me? Like I need a reminder that I am alone.

I recently mentioned this to a friend who told me he experiences the same thing. He, too, considers it insulting. Please share this with readers who work in hospitality. — Just Me In Colorado

Dear Just Me: I’m printing your letter, but I think you may be reacting to a question that may be more about procedure than a social commentary. Your host may ask that question because they want to know if the extra place settings should be removed.

Dear Readers: As I reflect on the past year, I also want to wish you a happy 2023. Did it fly by for you as quickly as it did for me? Happy New Year, everyone! — Love, Abby

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother,Pauline Phillips.Contact Dear Abby at P.O.Box 69440,Los Angeles,CA 90069 or visit


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