Dear Abby: I made a friend six years ago on social media. We have never actually met in person, but we have stayed in touch. She began contacting me on a daily basis about a year ago, which was great at the time, because I took a few years off work to care for my baby. It was lovely to converse with another adult as a stay-at-home parent. She’s a very nice lady who is old enough to be my mother but, unfortunately, suffers from severe agoraphobia. She rarely leaves her house. Her window to the world is her cellphone.
Her family keeps their distance from her because she has a tendency to be judgmental, condescending — even sometimes downright rude. She’s been directing this sort of behavior at me lately. I have always tried to be patient and compassionate because she can be so sweet. I feel sorry for her because she doesn’t have anyone in her life. However, I’m growing very tired of her negativity and constant complaints.
I have just returned to work and have had less time to converse with her. I feel guilty about it because I’m actually happier the less we talk. I still care for her, but I want less contact with her. What can I do without hurting her feelings or gradually “ghosting” her?
Change of Heart
Dear Change: Not only have you had a change of heart, but you have also had a change of circumstances because you are back at work. Tell the woman, as kindly as possible, that you are UNABLE to continue talking as long or as often as you did before. If she responds in a rude, judgmental or condescending way, tell her the truth — that you refuse to be treated that way — and end the call. If you do, either her behavior will change, or SHE will ghost YOU.
Dear Abby: Every year, my brother and his wife have come to visit us. They stay for two weeks. The first words out of my sister-in-law after “hello” were, “I’m not doing a thing because I’m on vacation!” My response was, “We are all retired, so every day is a vacation.”
Abby, she is rude, nags my brother and asks him if he has showered, changed his underwear, etc. She treats him like a child, and “reminds” everyone else how smart she is. When they visit, she expects everyone to wait on her because of the distance they’ve traveled. We feel three days is long enough. How do I tell them without hard feelings this is not an acceptable length of time to stay?
No Servant in North Dakota
Dear No Servant: May I be frank? With someone like your self-entitled sister-in-law, you should EXPECT hard feelings as you roll back the welcome mat. Tell your brother and his wife that while you love them, you are unable to accommodate them for longer than three days and, if they wish to stay in your city longer than that, they will need to arrange other accommodations. Then batten down the hatches, prepare for a storm and stick to your guns without arguing or explaining further.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.