DEAR AMY: I recently retired from a very large organization. During my 20-plus years working there, I became acquainted with literally hundreds of people. Some of these are dear friends that I want to keep in touch with forever, some are people I was friendly with at work but not outside of work, and some I was friendly with at work only because I had to be, not because I liked them. I met my husband at work and naturally we have dozens, if not hundreds, of mutual acquaintances. I was looking forward to retirement, when I could relax and enjoy my true friends, and let go of all the rest. Enter the era of social media. I get frequent “friend requests” from former workmates whom I never knew personally in the decades we were employed together. My personal rule in accepting social media “friends” is: If we weren’t really personal friends before, I don’t accept the social media friend requests from former workmates. My husband and I worked with another married couple for decades. We never socialized together outside of work. He is one of my husband’s social media friends. She is of my third category of former workmates, one I really was looking forward to having out of my life. What do I do about the wife, who keeps asking her husband to ask my husband why I haven’t accepted her social media friend request? Do I continue to ignore her request, and neither confirm nor reject? Do I accept it, but block my news feed from seeing her posts? I don’t believe in unnecessarily hurting other peoples’ feelings, but what do I do?
Wish to Retire In Peace
DEAR WISH TO RETIRE: Stick to your guns, and run your own social media empire the way you want to. Your husband could pass along this statement, “My wife is in charge of her own social media.” You could dodge this by accepting the friend request and then “hiding” this person’s posts, but don’t do this unless it would serve your own interests in some way. If this former co-worker wants to actually befriend you, she can contact you personally.
DEAR AMY: My husband and I live in the city. In January, we decided to let one of our friends who gained employment to live with us temporarily until he and his wife could find a good apartment, somewhere convenient for their family’s commute. It has been eight months now and this couple is not in a hurry to settle down in their own home. I am getting tired, and I need my space. They said they would move out in August and have not done so. They found a house and turned down the offer. This couple has not bought a single household item or given us even a small gift since moving in. Am I expected to continue to give, or do you think I have done my part? I am getting really impatient, but do not want to lose my friend.
DEAR TRAPPED: Yes, you’ve done your part. In fact, you’ve done your part and their part. I don’t think you should have to continue to provide housing for this couple, but you seem to be on the fence about it. The fastest way to lose this friendship is for you to continue to accept a situation that eats away at your relationship. Understand that this freeloading will continue until you decide it has to stop.
Before the friendship disintegrates completely, you should say to them, “Well, it’s been eight months. It’s really time for me to get my house back, so you’re going to have to find other housing.” Don’t pile on details and complaints, keep a smile on your face, and present this as a simple fact. If they don’t make a move right away, you will have to give them a firm deadline.
DEAR AMY: I’d like to offer some wonderful in-law advice that was given to me years ago and has worked wonderfully in my 20-plus years of marriage. When there is a problem with in-laws, the married couple should discuss the problem, reach a solution, and then each spouse deals with their own people. I always deal with my family and my husband always deals with his family. This has really helped my strained relationship with the in-laws.
DEAR J: Being on the same page with your spouse is the necessary first step. Communicating separately to family members is good advice.