DEAR MISS MANNERS: When I was having a sad and difficult time, a not-close relative through marriage reached out to me, told me she loved me like a sister, and “wanted to help.”
She asked me many questions, while also saying several times that she would not repeat anything I said. I now hear, through old friends, that she has spread what I told her as gossip, along with her own demeaning spin, to everyone in my hometown.
I’m horrified, and my reputation is damaged. She has now contacted me, saying that she’s available if I “need to talk.”
Obviously, I am not interested. I want to never see this woman again, and will proceed accordingly. But if she continues to contact me, or if I were to run into her, is there an appropriate way to alert her that I know, and that she should stop?
I don’t want to get into any in-depth discussion with her, and my instinct is to simply turn my back if I see her.
GENTLE READER: Not having to speak with her again and alerting her that you know what she did are understandable goals, but contradictory. If you turn your back or angrily confront her, it will surely lead to more words; if your response is a mildly cold, “Thank you,” she may not realize she got caught. Miss Manners can endorse either course of action, once you decide which goal is more important to you.