Dear Amy: I have a long-term friend (for over 45 years) who adopted a wonderful, sweet, adorable shelter dog at the beginning of the pandemic. However, over the past two years, her laser focus on this dog has become a rapidly growing problem which borders on obsession!
It’s fine if she wants to spend lots of her time and money on the dog, but every conversation starts with a story about what the dog has done or is doing, how no one can take care of the dog to her standards (e.g., she tracks with a Wi-Fi collar the route a walker takes when walking the dog).
If one is having a serious conversation with her and the dog does something “interesting,” she will literally interrupt the conversation and derail it to talk about the dog.
I love this dog, too, but my friend’s incessant focus on her pet makes me not want to be around either of them.
How can I help her understand that her lack of self-awareness is a problem that is affecting not just our friendship, but her friendships with many other people? I care a lot about her, which is why I want to see if there is a way to bring this issue to light without hurting her feelings.
Dear Frustrated: Repeat after me: “I care about you. I also care about your dog. But this relationship is now dominating your life, and I am feeling dismissed and neglected. Your lack of self-awareness has become a problem that is affecting our friendship.”
My point is that you already know what you need to say. Speak for yourself (not other people), and understand that delivering this truth might upset her or hurt her feelings.
Very long friendships can survive the occasional truthful course correction.
Dear Amy: I’m a 33-year-old woman. My daughter is 11. She and I live with my parents.
My parents own the house, and I pay them rent each month.
Both of my parents are in their early 70s. My father works part time.
They don’t seem to need the extra money that my rent provides (they are always buying new games and gadgets for themselves).
I want to have my own life. I want to move into my own apartment, with my daughter.
I searched for apartments, made a budget, and I even concluded that I would continue to pay my parents the rent money I currently pay, so they wouldn’t be without that income.
When I told my parents of my plan to move out, they gave me this story about how sad they would be, and how they feel like I’m abandoning them at their time of need.
I don’t supply anything but money. I don’t take them to doctor appointments or the grocery store.
I’m usually at work during the day. My mom home-schools my daughter, and I wasn’t planning to change that.
I just have a need for my own place and want to move out on my own.
How can I help my parents to be more comfortable with this?
Dear Mother/Daughter: Your parents have a considerable attachment and emotional stake in you and your daughter.
That’s how parents and grandparents roll! It’s not just about the rent money you pay to them. They are attached to you. Their lifetime investment is in you.
And just as parents sometimes give their children a gentle nudge out of the nest (saying, “You can do it!”), you are going to go through a reverse of that process.
Offer your gratitude: “We could not have gotten this far without you.”
Offer an affirmation of their feelings: “I know this will be an adjustment for all of us. I’m going to miss you, too.”
Offer lots of reassurance: “We’ll still see you almost every day, and I’ll always be there if you need me, just as you’ve always been there for me.”
And then make your plan, don’t let them manipulate you, and start the next chapter of your life.
Dear Amy: “Past Completed” reported that three bullies from her past reached out to her for forgiveness.
In your response, you mentioned that you believed the pandemic had caused many people to reflect on their actions. It occurs to me that a lot of people are using the pandemic as an excuse for all sorts of things.
How long do you think this will continue?
Dear Wondering: I plan to keep it up as long as possible.
You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.