DEAR AMY: Some years ago I introduced an acquaintance to my closest friends. At that time I did not know she was a meddler who would do anything to get ahead socially, no matter whom she hurt along the way. Shortly thereafter I lost a valued client due to her meddling. As a result of this and other similar problems with her, I severed our relationship. Later, she learned my closest friends were hosting my daughter's pre-wedding events. She informed my friend who was hosting the bridesmaid's luncheon that she was now co-hosting this function. When I learned of this, I told my friend there had been a mix-up and my sister would be hosting this event instead. I would not tell my friend the real reason for the change and our relationship has not been quite the same since. I cannot tolerate this meddler. My friends feel sorry for her because she has no job or life of her own. They invite her to the same social functions I am invited to. I make up excuses for not going but I really miss seeing my friends and sometimes feel I should tell them why I no longer go. Instead I suffer in lonely silence as the choice to exclude myself was mine.
Lonely and Frustrated
DEAR LONELY: Your meddling former friend didn't even need to work very hard to hijack your friendships. You basically passively rolled over and gave them to her.
Imagine how confused your friends must be that you have stopped socializing with them. Surely they must wonder why you keep making excuses to avoid them. They might also blame themselves for your absence.
It is appropriate to be honest with your treasured friends. You should say, "I have an ongoing conflict with (the Meddler), and I find it necessary to avoid her. That's why I've been lying low lately."
DEAR AMY: My grandson was born with cystic fibrosis. He is now 2 years old. My daughter is raising funds for an annual CF walk event. I have a hard time dealing with the members of my family who do not donate to this cause. My sister-in-law borrowed thousands of dollars from me years ago (not repaid). She has six grandchildren that I (and my daughter) purchase gifts for every Christmas. I am so offended by her choice not to donate that I want to send her an email asking why she does not help our cause. It's not the dollar amount that matters to me -- it's the thought. How do I deal with this? It literally brings me to tears every time I think about it.
DEAR GRAM: Don't combine your sister-in-law's debt load or your generosity toward her own grandchildren when you deal with this. When you make your "ask," the most effective approach for you is a combination of transparency and positivity. Here's some suggested wording: "Dear Sister-in-law: Unfortunately little Benjamin has joined a club no child wants to belong to: He is one of the approximately 30,000 Americans who have cystic fibrosis. I know you are a devoted grandmother and I'm hoping I can count on you to join our family 'team' by donating for the Cystic Fibrosis walk for Benjamin's sake. No amount is too small -- but having 100 percent family participation would feel like a real win for all of us, as we support research to fight this devastating disease. If you have questions, I'd be happy to talk to you about this; you can also check the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation website at cff.org." If she responds negatively to this email, then you can call her and very honestly say, "I've been so supportive of you and the kids over the years -- it really hurts my feelings that you aren't willing to step up for us now."
DEAR AMY: I hooted and howled when I read your response to "Revolted," who caught her husband urinating in the sink during an early morning bathroom run. Your suggestion to stretch plastic wrap over the sink reminded me of an old fraternity prank I heard about of putting plastic wrap over a toilet bowl.
DEAR READER: Great minds prank alike!