DEAR AMY: One of my sisters and her husband live two hours from me and my husband. There are events in our town that my sister and her husband like to attend. When they want to attend an event here, they ask if they can spend the weekend at our house. The number of times they want to stay with us keeps increasing to the point where it’s about every other weekend, six months out of the year. This trend started a couple of years ago. If my husband and I are not in the mood for company, we don’t know how we’d ever say “no” to their requests to stay with us (we have never yet said “no”). If we said we were planning to be out of town on one of these weekends, they’d say they want to stay in the house, even if we weren’t there. Am I being selfish in not always wanting their company every time they want to come? And if we were going to be gone, how would I tell them that I didn’t want them to use our house? They have plenty of money so they could easily afford a hotel — or they could drive back home. I’m wondering if I need to just “buck up” and get over it and let them stay here, since it is family. Hoping you’ll steer me in the right direction!
DEAR RUDDERLESS: Yes, you do need to “buck up.” In this context, however, bucking up means occasionally saying “no” to this intrusion.
Saying no is so easy, as long as you say it when you want to say it, and don’t pile on with excuses or explanations. Eager (or pushy) people tend to take elaborate explanations as an invitation to plow right through. They will take their problem and deftly make it your problem. Once you master the art of a firm and friendly “no,” you will be liberated in many ways.
So here’s what you say: “I want to be helpful, but this has gotten to be too much for us. We’re going to start being very honest with you regarding staying over. If it doesn’t work on any particular weekend, I’m just going to be honest and tell you.” And if a two-night weekend is too much, you can say, “We can have you here for one night, but not two.”
If you don’t want your sister staying in your house while you’re away, then don’t offer it. If she pushes, you must learn to say, “That’s just not going to work for us. I’m sure you’ll figure something else out.”
DEAR AMY: My boyfriend broke up with me a few days ago. He says he still loves me, and he would still want to be friends because, I’m “too important” for him to kick me out of his life. At first I thought maybe because he told me he loves me, I’d have a fighting chance to win him back, but every time I’ve brought new possibilities up, he has made himself clear and has been very assertive, sticking to his decision. I said my final goodbye to him a few moments ago and have blocked him from social media. Now, I’m scared. I don’t know what to do without him in my life. I don’t want him to move on but I know that eventually he will. I’ve taken steps to schedule my first therapy session because I can already tell that this is not going to be an easy road to recovery. I’ve already joined some dance and Zumba classes. I’m going to the gym. What else can I do to keep my mind from wondering about him and worrying about what he might be doing?
Hurt and Afraid
DEAR HURT: So far, you are my champion breakup survivor. I admire how proactive you are being concerning this challenge.
You need a wing-woman. This is someone you can contact who will talk you down when you’re fighting those late-night impulses and lingering doubts.
Stay strong and stick with your recovery program. This part will pass.
DEAR AMY: Thank you for reinforcing the idea that it’s OK to be alone! “Confused” wondered how to get her friends and family to stop fixing her up with potential romantic matches. People out there who (like me) don’t want to be fixed up with “a poorly curated selection of randos” should just say no!
DEAR HAPPY: We could start a campaign: Just Say No to Randos!