EDITOR’S NOTE: Starting July 3, “Dear Annie” will replace “Annie’s Mailbox.” Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar are retiring.
Dear Annie: “Iris” and I have been friends for 20 years. She is married, retired and has grown children. I have a long-term boyfriend and a full-time job.
I don’t see Iris as often as I used to. We never really did much except socialize at a local private club. That was when I was married to my ex-husband. He still goes to this club, and we get along, but I’d rather not sit and have drinks with him all night. But Iris refuses to go to a different club where I have a membership, and if I go without her, she makes me feel guilty. She says we never see each other and tells me I’m a bad friend. I want to cry. I would do anything for Iris. But lately, her disapproval is so overwhelming that I dread being around her.
I’ve invited Iris and her husband to my home numerous times, but they’ve only come once. That leaves her private club to socialize. I’d like us to stay friends, but I no longer know how to deal with her. Any suggestions? – Guilty Friend in Florida
Dear Friend: Anyone who tries to make you feel guilty primarily for his or her own benefit is being manipulative. If you want to stay friends with Iris, you will need a tougher skin. When she pours on the guilt, simply say as nicely as possible, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” Repeat as often as necessary. Iris already knows why you don’t want to go to her preferred club and she doesn’t care. Do not engage in this kind of defensive conversation. It will frustrate her, but she will likely stop at some point. And if not, at least you won’t be crying over it. If Iris truly wants to spend more time with you, she will accept your invitations to meet at the other club, go to your house or visit in a neutral location.
Dear Annie: “Waking Up” complained about a friend who talks a lot and constantly interrupts her. I have a friend with a similar motormouth problem. She grew up in a dysfunctional family and her childhood was chaotic.
My friend talks a lot, talks over others and always attempts to steer the conversation her way. I told her that she should let others speak and quit interrupting, but there was little change. Finally, at my wits’ end, I told her, “Shut up! You might learn something.”
Last night, she called to say that she had been with some relatives. She decided to shut up – and she learned something. – The Quiet One
Dear Quiet: We’re laughing, but we have to say that this probably wouldn’t work with most people. They would be highly offended and quite unlikely to take your words to heart. We’re glad your friend did, and it’s obvious that your friendship could withstand the criticism.