DEAR AMY: My husband and I are in our mid-30s. We’re not introverts, but we are particular about the people with whom we spend our limited free time. We have a reasonably large collection of carefully chosen friends about whom we care deeply. One of our good friends is far more social than we are; she seems to meet a new close friend everywhere she goes. She is, as you might imagine, gregarious and fun to be around, but she has a habit that’s starting to get under our skin. Every time we (or I) invite her to do something, she invites other people to join us. This happens whether the event is a small gathering at our house, a shopping excursion or a night out at a performance. Sometimes she asks if it’s OK to bring specific people, but sometimes she replies to an email invitation saying, “Yes, I’d love to attend!” with four or five new people unexpectedly copied and thus invited to join us. And sometimes she just shows up with unexpected guests. Often these are people we’ve never met. Sometimes they’re people we have met and aren’t really interested in hanging out with. Are we uptight for being irritated by this? Is there any way to address it without sounding like sticks in the mud?
DEAR CROWDED HOUSE: Your gregarious friend’s high-energy inclusiveness may be an overall positive trait, but it is not her job to invite strangers to your shindigs and outings — and certainly not to your house.
You will simply have to communicate this to her. Do so in a way that acknowledges her positive social traits, but also clearly states your own need, which is to have your own invitations respected.
You can say, “We love how you always have a crowd around you, but please remember that when we invite or include you, we’re being intentional. Please don’t spring extra people on us or include other people unless you ask us first, OK?”
DEAR AMY: For the umpteenth time I’ve read one of your columns about how best to deal with issues arising from Facebook postings and the like, and yet not once have I seen a response suggesting that perhaps people should try weaning themselves from social media, rather than attaching so much importance to it. You tend to address the symptoms of the problem without ever going to the core issue: People are engaging in addictive behavior by basing their entire worth on something as silly as Facebook. I would have expected more from you.
Ralph, in Washington, D.C.
DEAR RALPH: Thank you for your comments. I agree with you that interacting through social media can be addictive — or seem addictive — but because I am active on social media, I don’t see how I can in good conscience take a position that engaging in this way is always bad for people.
Social media opens up worlds and relationships that wouldn’t otherwise exist. But — as always happens when you open a window into your own life — there are risks attached.
Mainly, I think it is most helpful to learn how to manage these risks, rather than try to eliminate them entirely.
Readers who are struggling with and want to break free from the addictive feeling of obsessively engaging in social media can try two things: Delete all social media apps from your phone (this will dramatically cut down on engagement); and/or take a full-on sabbatical from using social media.
I have found both of these techniques to be very useful for realigning perspective and decreasing stress.
Anyone taking a break from social media will learn how large its presence is. You also learn that all of your friends and family are still there when you return.
DEAR AMY: The letter from “Daughter at a Loss” was painful to read. She was struggling with how to deal with her abusive adoptive parents, who were now elderly and needy, but had not changed their behavior toward her. One of the Ten Commandments instructs you to honor your mother and father. What it should say is, “Honor thy father and mother, if they are honorable.”
DEAR UPSET: Many readers responded with compassion and concern to the letter from this adult daughter, who had tolerated verbal put-downs and abuse her entire life. Now that her parents were elderly and in a nursing home, she struggled with the decision to perhaps cut them out of her life entirely.