I met my friend when we were in graduate school, and we enjoyed hanging out together outside of classes. After receiving our degrees, we both left school to live in different states. That was 10 years ago.
We've kept in touch, but our phone conversations and twice-a-year visits became opportunities for my friend to talk endlessly about her problems. When I tried to fill her in on my own life, she obviously tuned out.
In the past few years I've not visited her at all and dread her occasional phone calls and visits to my house. She invites herself now because I no longer invite her. When she's at my home, she literally follows me from room to room, talking nonstop, until I make an excuse to get away from her. I tell her I need to take a nap, but I don't sleep. I sit in my room and read or enjoy the quiet.
Here's the worst part. She and her family, including two young children, are moving to our city. Her family has a small income, and they are buying a house in a grand neighborhood they can't afford. She asked if she and her husband and her children can stay at my home on their trips to our town to deal with house matters.
My husband and I have no children. Even though our home is tiny and perfectly sized for us, I let them stay. She told me her husband would start his new job before they finished purchasing this house. I felt obligated to offer him our guest room. If I hadn't offered, she would have asked anyway.
Now he's here, and it turns out he'll be staying on through the weekends. I am seething.
I would never, ever, under any circumstances impose on a friendship this way. I feel used, resentful, and don't care if I ever see her again. Should I end this friendship? I'm getting absolutely nothing from it but a knot in my stomach.
Lorraine, life hands us lessons all the time. When we don't learn the lesson, life gets more and more difficult until we do.
You were making and accepting calls from a woman you didn't even want to talk to. Now her husband is living in your house. Furthermore, she plans on moving in with her two small children. Where does this lead? Count on being a free, drop-in babysitter. Count on her asking you to pick up her kids after school. Count on imposition after imposition until you finally learn to say no.
Tamara often uses the example of oatmeal cookies. If you don't like oatmeal cookies, don't be “polite" and say you do. Otherwise you will always be offered oatmeal cookies, and friends will make you gifts of oatmeal cookies. That is why you cannot fake emotions out of a false sense of politeness.
Everything is being done to the advantage of your “friend. " Nothing is to your advantage. This arrangement isn't working, and her husband needs to stay elsewhere. It is too much of an imposition. Call her tonight and tell her. Pick a day soon, like Friday, and tell her that will be his moving day. Let her know she and her family must make other arrangements when they move, whether their house is ready or not.
Don't waste time on long explanations or sugarcoat it. Make the call short and factual.
You are so absolutely positively right. I am instant messaging my husband right now to discuss our visitor's last day. I think what I found most helpful is your pointing out that I'm accepting calls and visits from someone I don't want to talk to. It's so crystal clear. Thanks for giving me the kick in the butt that I need.
Lorraine, tonight we will lift our glasses and toast your victory.
Wayne & Tamara
Direct Answers - Column for the week of October 18, 2004
About The Author
Authors and columnists Wayne and Tamara Mitchell can be reached at www.WayneAndTamara.com .
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