Dear Amy: I am very concerned about a former co-worker. I met "Gerry" two years ago when we were on the same project team. She was a funny person and has been very open about her mental health struggles.
After the project ended, we went our separate ways, but continued to follow each other on Instagram. When the pandemic hit, Gerry would discuss how tough the lockdowns were, and we would share recipes and so on.
Now I believe that she has completely spiraled into a dark rabbit hole. On Instagram, she posts photos and links the usernames of local politicians, calling them Nazis because of pandemic restrictions.
I reached out to Gerry to see if she needed someone to talk to, but I just got chewed out and called profane names. Additionally, there was an onslaught of insults aimed at my family, that I won't repeat here.
It has been a few weeks since then, and I have stopped following her Instagram account. However, a mutual friend mentioned to me that Gerry's posts are getting worse — so much worse that she was written up at work for a particularly bad one.
I am not sure if I should reach out again, or if I should cut my losses and let her sit in the mess she is creating for herself. What is your advice?
Amy says: I think you should reach out, one more time — in a neutral and benign way, along the lines of: "Hi, I'm checking in. I've been wondering how you're doing lately."
If she responds with a toxic multi-directional rant, you could reply, "I realize this is tough; I'm sorry."
If she responds with a personal attack on you, you should not respond, back away and be done with your personal involvement.
If a mutual acquaintance reaches out with concerns about her, you might suggest that the person reach out directly to Gerry, instead of involving you.
The more the merrier?
Dear Amy: Is dating/going out with more than one person at a time passé?
You recently printed a letter from someone who is attracted to someone close (geographically) who is in a "long-distance" relationship with someone else. While I have no quibble with your response as to how to go about exploring the possibility of establishing a closer relationship, is it possible for the person at the center of this triangle to have a relationship (of whatever degree) with both people without feeling guilty?
Perhaps it was just the times I grew up in, the 1950s and '60s, but there was certainly no problem, on either side, if I and/or the girls I was dating were seeing more than just one person.
At times I was going out with three or four girls simultaneously. I wasn't alone in this. As I recall, most of my friends were doing the same.
Amy says: Generally, if you are interested in or attracted to someone whom you know is in a long-standing monogamous relationship with someone else, respecting that person's other commitment is the most ethical thing to do, even if it goes against your own self-interest.
It also happens to be an extremely attractive way to behave. And it has been ever thus.
Emotional issues aside, awareness of the risk of contracting STDs has made it important for people to be transparent about their dating and sex lives (even though they often are not).
That having been said, seeing more than one person at a time is not passé, especially if everyone involved knows what the situation is. After all, playing the field is basically why the internet was invented.
Send questions to Amy Dickinson at email@example.com.