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12:38 AM Fri, Sept. 21st

Dear Annie: Behind-the-back talk

Dear Annie: I have a problem with my friend “Julie” that I’m not sure how to handle. She’s a really good friend in many ways. She’s always there when I’m going through hard stuff. She’s generous with food and gifts and other thoughtful gestures. For instance, last year, when she was watching my dog while I was out of town, she took him to the vet when he seemed sick, with no hesitation. And one time when there was an issue with my apartment that required me to be out of the unit for a few days, Julie let me stay with her even though it was on very short notice. You get the picture. When we’re on good terms, you couldn’t ask for a better friend.

But whenever we have a conflict, she does something I find frustrating and immature. She tells all our mutual friends about our disagreement— and from her own biased perspective. I’ve picked up on this over the years because these mutual friends have let slip things that she’s told them about our fights. I’ve also put it together for myself because whenever she fights with another friend, she tells me all about it. I know that I’m not special and that when we have fights, she does the same thing.

Personally, I think it’s wrong to talk negatively about someone to a mutual friend, so I never want to do that myself. But I worry that with everyone just getting one side of the story, people have a skewed picture of me. Should I try to correct the record by letting these friends know my side or just be the bigger person and let it go? — Ears Burning

Dear Ears Burning: It’s bad enough when high schoolers do this. There’s no excuse for grown adults to be engaging in this sort of gossip mill. Rather than dive into the mud yourself by trying to explain your side of the story to friends, rise above and address the problem at its source. Confront Julie. Explain how her oversharing (to put it nicely) hurts you. If she continues talking behind your back after that, reconsider how close you want to be with her.

Dear Annie: I understand and sympathize with “Sleepless in Spokane.” My husband of 36-plus years and I have successfully slept in separate bedrooms for over 10 years. I like your suggestion of twin beds. I might also suggest that “Sleepless in Spokane” put a nightstand between the twin beds and use a white-noise machine or even a fan. That is what I do whenever we have company or are on vacation and hubby and I share a bed. —Been There

Dear Been There: I’m glad to hear that separate bedrooms have worked out for you and your husband. That arrangement truly does seem to do wonders for many couples these days. The white-noise machine is an excellent tip that I should have mentioned in my original answer. Thanks for writing.

Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com. To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.