Dear Annie: What do you do with an old and dear friend who now says something negative at every opportunity? "Lorene" and I live in different states, but used to be in touch daily by phone and on Facebook and have spent time together fairly often when she visits her family here.
For years, we were as close as sisters. Then, last year, as Lorene prepared for a reunion with her high school class, she began to change toward me. She hurt my feelings a number of times with subtle snipes and negative comments and, eventually, with a snub that was so insulting, we had a falling out. We didn't speak for some time, but I missed my friend and reconnected with her on Facebook. She welcomed my friend request, but ever since, the snipes and negative comments have been ongoing.
If I post a photo from a lovely vacation somewhere, Lorene makes a negative comment about the place, the weather, the cost or that I was alone there. If I post about some activity I'm planning, she's full of warnings and cautions. If I post an old family photo, she turns my happy memory into a feeling of loss, commenting about how sad it is that others in the photo died before me. When I tried to discuss her attitude, she became defensive and seemed to misunderstand me, so I dropped it.
This is someone who used to call me every day to chat. We have many mutual friends, so it's impossible to avoid her. I miss my friend and don't understand where she went. Should I unfriend her on Facebook? Should I just "take it" in silence? What would you do? - Mourning a Lost Friendship
Dear Mourning: Might Lorene be having health issues that affect her personality? Suggest she talk to her doctor because you're worried about her. Is she only negative about you? It could be jealousy or some long-forgotten argument. And it is not uncommon for some people, as they age, to develop a habit of complaining. Lorene may have no idea how she comes across.
It is unlikely that she will ever be the woman you once knew. Can you accept her as she is, ignoring the negativity and focusing only on the good things? Would you rather limit contact, using Facebook to keep track of her, but without phone calls and visits? You don't need to cut her off completely, but decide what her friendship is worth to you and respond accordingly.
Dear Annie: In my community, there are a lot of "open house" parties, especially around the holidays. I was under the impression that we are invited to come and celebrate, have a glass of wine or whatever. But many of the people attending brought gifts for the hosts. I didn't. Was this the proper thing to do? I believe your advice will help our retirement community. - No Present Guest
Dear No: Large, informal open-house parties where you drop by for a drink and leave do not necessitate a gift, but do write and thank your hosts afterward. Some people bring gifts anyway, and if this is the custom in your community (or if you would feel uncomfortable coming empty-handed), it's perfectly OK to bring wine, candy or something small and holiday appropriate.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Is There Hope for Me?" who said her husband shows no affection toward her after 27 years of marriage. Everything was the way he wanted it.
Her marriage sounds similar to mine. After 43 years, we are now in the process of divorcing. I have had more than enough of having it his way. I am a clergywoman and regret that I was not strong enough to make this move years ago. Yes, there's hope. Do something. It's your life. - C.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.