Thanks to everyone who sent me feedback about comments. Most readers seem to suggest that they don't mind the off-topic stuff when it comes later in the day. Most readers who e-mailed me (many of whom are lurkers/don't comment) said they wanted a good few pages of real advice discussion before everybody gets chatty. Some people said they feel that when they pop in with real advice after 1 p.m., their comment gets lost in a sea of other stuff. Many people told me that they want the option of going off-topic, whether it's to build a community, to be entertained by the masses, or to talk about other love problems. Of course, everyone who e-mailed me had different wants, needs, and wishes, which made my head spin a bit. But perhaps, for the moment, there's a compromise somewhere in there. I think so. And again, you all sent such thoughtful e-mails. I am a lucky blogger-type person to have you. We all seem to agree that we shouldn't spend the day debating the off-topic issue on the blog. If anyone else has any more thoughts, e-mail me. And, of course, letters, please. And yesterday's letter writer e-mailed to say: thank you, thank you, thank you. Goo goo, ga ga, etc. She read all of your advice and said some of your comments were a serious wake up call. The stuff about her avoiding a guy who's into her hit home a bit, I think. This letter started as a question in yesterday's chat, which covered everything from "a woman's place" to disclosing a miscarriage. I'm running the letter today to close the loop.
Dear Meredith, Many years ago I dated a wonderful man. The relationship didn't work out, and he ultimately married the woman he started dating when we broke up. We didn't stay in touch, but I've stayed relatively close with his best friend. This friend is getting married this summer, and my ex will be in the wedding party. I feel like I should go to the wedding, and I think that my friend will be hurt if I do not attend. That said, I think that going will be incredibly stressful for me. Weddings can be hard enough when you are single and in your early 30s. Add to this seeing my ex, meeting his wife and two children for the first time, and having to attend alone (I was not invited with a guest). I want to be strong enough to go to the wedding and feel good about myself. But perhaps, in this situation, being strong means taking care of myself. Does this make me a terrible friend? Am I being a chicken (as some might suggest)? Do I have to go? Thanks for the advice!
– Do I Have to Go?, Cambridge
You don't have to go, DIHTG. In the spirit of disclosure, I'll tell you that I skipped a wedding years ago because Draco Malfoy was going to be there. My justification at the time was that if I went to the wedding, I was going to make it all about me. I wasn't going to be able to focus on my friend. I was going to be so concerned with how I look, Draco's new life, and a number of other stupid things that I wouldn't be able to focus on my friend's happiness. I figured I'd wait until I was in a better place to celebrate with my friend. What I didn't realize was that I'd see Draco Malfoy at a different wedding just a few weeks later. I survived that, and then I regretted skipping wedding No. 1. I was sad that I had missed my friend's big day simply because I was avoiding the inevitable. Skipping the wedding doesn't make you a bad person. And you have every right to do what's best for you. But I want you to think about whether it would be as bad as you think. Maybe you'll make some new friends at the wedding. Maybe you'll see your Draco and feel great about yourself. Maybe it will stink. I have no idea. Just consider how it will feel to know you missed the experience. And consider that you'll probably see your Draco again anyway, because that's life. At least this way, you know its coming and can plan an outfit. Readers? Should she stay or should she go? Discuss.