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DEAR HARRIETTE: I went to visit my friend in Las Vegas a few months ago. She moved there earlier this year, so I was excited to see her new apartment and meet her new friends. I slept on the couch while I was there. One night she went to sleep early, and her friends — including a man she’s been seeing — stayed in the living room with me. The second they left, she walked out of her room and accused me of flirting with her love interest. I was completely shocked. I have no idea why she would come to that conclusion. She wasn’t in the room, and I wasn’t the only woman present, so it felt random that she would point the finger at me. She apologized a week later. Do you think that my friend could have some sort of hidden animosity toward me? She never really gave me a reason for why she pointed the finger at me that night. — Strange Accusation
DEAR STRANGE ACCUSATION: Chances are, your friend is experiencing issues with her boyfriend that have nothing to do with you. For her to accuse you of flirting with him suggests that he has either flirted with others or been less than attentive to her at important moments. Her insecurities became your problem when she made baseless accusations.
You may want to check in with her to see how she’s doing. Rather than revisiting her motivation for the accusation, find out her state of mind. Ask her about her new job and her life in Vegas. Ask if she is still dating the man and if she is happy. Don’t press her, but if she wants to talk about her life, give her space to do so.
My guess is that her reason for lashing out at you has nothing to do with you and everything to do with her.
DEAR HARRIETTE: Earlier this year, before I started dating my current boyfriend, my ex-boyfriend — with whom I was on good terms — sent me a thoughtful present. I didn’t think much of it at the time. Now my ex’s birthday is approaching. Would it be completely inappropriate to return the favor and send him something, too? I would feel bad if I got him absolutely nothing when he sent me such a nice present. We were good friends, after all. — Returning the Favor
DEAR RETURNING THE FAVOR: There is no rule that says you cannot remain friendly with an ex. Indeed, some people figure out that they aren’t suited to be a couple, but their friendship outlasts romance. Perhaps that is the case with this man. My vote is that you can extend a birthday greeting to him. That doesn’t mean you send him an extravagant gift. You can send him a beautiful card or some other thoughtful acknowledgment of his special day.
What you don’t want to do is keep your friendship a secret. If you truly are friends with this man now, there is no reason that your current boyfriend can’t know that. He doesn’t need to have a detailed update every time you speak, but he should be informed that you two have remained friends.