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updated: 5/9/2013 1:23 PM

Staying true to yourself is vital with off and on BFF

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Q. I have a longtime friend who I once considered a "best friend." We connect at the heart, and have relied on each other a lot over the years.

Several years back, she went through a tough professional transition and completely cut me off. Not because she was angry with me, but because she needed to move through it alone. I was devastated that she would not return my calls, respond to my emails, accept my invitations, etc. That went on for nearly two years. Ultimately we worked it out, and all was well for a few years.

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Then she underwent another difficult professional transition, and again cut me off, again for nearly two years. I tried calling, texting and emailing for months and finally gave up.

I grieved the loss of our friendship, because I knew that if she came around again, I wouldn't be willing to rekindle our closeness and set myself up for this again.

She has emerged from her difficult transition and now wants to reconnect. I love her dearly and I've missed her terribly, but I just don't think I can do it again. Am I being unreasonable? Do I have to tell her this, or can I just keep her at arm's length as a casual acquaintance?

Confused

A. Demoting her to "casual acquaintance" without explaining yourself would just be a lesser version of the same friendship crime she committed against you.

So, yes, you do have to say you won't get close again to someone who takes unannounced two-year breaks from returning your calls. Whether you're being reasonable is beside the point (though you seem so to me); what matters is that you remain true to yourself and transparent with those you love just as your ex-best friend unwittingly taught you to be.

Q. A number of friends have announced they are expecting yay! In talking to other friends who, like me, have offered (joyfully, really!) to throw a shower, we're all having the same issue: We have been presented with a list of 50-plus "people I want you to invite."

Fifty people (or even 35 who accept, let's say) is bigger than practical for my house, and hosting at a park or other reasonable outdoor venue in D.C. in August would be ill-advised. It's also more expensive than I anticipated when I made the offer. Yet it seems sorta petty to come back saying, "Actually, I was imagining more like 10-12 people."

I also can't help but think the less-close people on the list of 50 maybe would be OK not being invited to a shower. Is there a reasonable way to set boundaries at this point?

Baby Shower Overload

A. Fifty? And this is common? Take to the shelters, they're breeding.

It is not "petty" to say, "Er, I was thinking more like 12" or "I'm sorry, my house can fit a dozen comfortably so maybe we can invite 20" or "50! You're funny."

Since that moment has passed, circle back to it with, "I should have said this right away, but I felt bad: The shower I envisioned was about a quarter of the size you're suggesting. Let me know if you'd still like me to host it."

The burden here is on the grabby, not the grab-ee.

• Email Carolyn at tellmewashpost.com, follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at washingtonpost.com.

2013 The Washington Post

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