Five years ago, a new acquaintance told me her father died when she was a child. I remember the episode distinctly because I was very careful in my response. Now we’re dear friends, and I’m fairly certain her dad is still alive. I met him! When my friend introduced me to her father, I assumed he was her stepfather. But over the course of a long evening with her parents, it was clear that this man and her mother had been together since they were teenagers. I hesitate to ask my friend about this because I don’t want her to feel accused of lying. Should I let this go?


After my father killed himself, I told a million lies. If it was possible, I pretended he was still alive; if not, I said he’d had a heart attack. Now, my lies may be more understandable to some people than saying your father is dead when he isn’t. But I get that too: Occasionally, we try out situations we really dread (or long for) with people we don’t know well. It’s like a soft rehearsal of momentous events.

The complicating factor here is that you two became friends. But if she’s really a “dear” friend, why not say gently: “I’m confused about why you told me your dad died when you were young.” There may be a reasonable explanation, or you can help her to create one. Ask about her relationship with her father. Tell her about yours. That’s what close friends do.