DEAR AMY: I recently "unfriended" my dear older sister on Facebook because some of our political views differ — so rather than see her postings that differ from my views, I decided to eliminate that tension. Before the unfriending, I tried to "unfollow" her, but then I'd miss her posts about other things, so I'd check her page and eventually see more politics. I just can't stop offering my opinions when she posts, and then I feel chastised when she defends her point of view. We don't hang out a lot, but when we are together we don't normally talk politics; and if something uncomfortable (for me) comes up, I change the subject. My sister says, "OK, fine. We'll just live in a world of unicorns and rainbows." She is obviously not happy that I unfriended her. She says everyone has differing opinions, and that's OK. Is she right, am I living in a fantasy world by trying to keep the tension out of our relationship? Am I oversensitive?
DEAR SISTER: My take on this is that you do seem sensitive and very protective of your point of view. But (speaking as a "little sister" myself), the age differential between siblings often conveys a lifetime of dominance.
Your less-sensitive older sister feels comfortable staking her claim and then defending it when you offer your own views. You interpret this as "tension," but she seems to see it as a back-and-forth. She may also enjoy needling you regarding your sensitivity.
I suspect that after two weeks of being disconnected on social media, your blood pressure will stay down, you will stop feeling guilty and you will enjoy not being reactive and triggered by your sister's postings.
The next time she teases you about living in a fantasy world, I suggest you demonstrate that you are unruffled. Send her a GIF of a unicorn leaping over a rainbow with the statement: "Life in my fantasy world is even better than I imagined. Love you, sis — let's talk soon."
DEAR AMY: I feel betrayed by a friend of 20 years. We live close by, but rarely get together because she spends almost all her time with her husband. They don't entertain or get together with friends or family. I don't know why that is, but it is obviously a very personal decision and not my business. Every day, "Jane" and I emailed back and forth several times a day, discussing every imaginable subject, including some extremely personal things. I have told her things that I have never told anyone else. I recently joined a senior dating website. Every so often, I would share some emails men had sent me, and she would write back her comments. This has been fun. Last week she wrote to ask me to stop sharing any dating-related emails. She said that when her husband reads those messages, he misunderstands that they are to me and not to her, and he freaks out. (Jane is in her 70s and her husband is in his 80s.) I feel devastated to know that her husband has been reading our emails for 20 years and I did not know it. I am reminded of an old saying: "The saddest thing about betrayal is that it never comes from your enemies." How can I get over this?
DEAR DEVASTATED: You don't know that "Jane's" husband reads all of her emails — and has for 20 years.
Her husband could have cognitive (or other) problems that have brought this on recently. The fact is, as intimate as your friendship with Jane is, you don't seem to know much about her situation.
The way to get over this is to try to understand it. You should tell Jane that you are surprised and concerned that her husband reads her email and ask if she could give you a call so you two could talk about it.
DEAR AMY: Here's another suggestion for how to get someone to stop interrupting: Many years ago when I obviously interrupted a friend, the friend stopped me dead in my tracks by saying, "I bet you thought I was finished." I was unaware of my tendency to interrupt people until it was so vividly pointed out. It was a lesson learned and was a great way to teach me and the others who were there a lesson that I never forgot.
DEAR GRATEFUL: I love this phrasing (and expect a loved-one to use it on me very soon).