Dear Amy: I have been friends with “Susan” for over 35 years. I have shared many extremely sensitive and delicate issues with her.
She has taken on the role of giving me a lot of personal advice.
In the past, her advice was helpful, but in recent years it has become more intrusive. A few times I have started a conversation by saying, “I want to tell you about this. No advice is needed, please.”
She listens and then immediately defies my request and insists on giving her advice no matter what.
This situation is causing me a lot of emotional stress.
I bought a new house and for a period of six to seven months I didn’t tell her. Why? Because I wanted to make the big decisions about what house to buy, what neighborhood to live in, etc., and I knew that at some point she would find a way to influence my decision making if I told her.
When I finally told her (after she moved in), she was shocked.
She also gave me legal advice (she’s not a lawyer, but her husband is) that was flat out wrong. When I pointed this out, she brushed it off.
I haven’t spoken to her in over nine months. Why? Because she advised me on an aspect of writing my will that was completely imprecise. I got so annoyed that I felt like I was about to explode inside.
I’ve been so upset that I haven’t completed my will – not even with the help of my lawyer.
I am in my sixties, female and single. My friends are my family.
What should I do?
Wanting to turn off the “tap” advice
Best wishes: Hearing advice feels worse than someone just giving an opinion different from yours, because when someone gives advice, they’re actually telling you what to do. And if this advice is unsolicited, they assume you need it, perhaps because your own judgment is wrong.
Your internal reaction to all this unsolicited advice is understandable.
However, you don’t mention ever discussing this with Susan. Your inaction contributed to the problem.
Yes, you tried to distract her at the pass, but failed, and so you now absorb all this explosive anger, rather than risk telling this very old friend how her behavior affects you.
If you want to continue this friendship, you have to give Susan the advantage of knowing how intensely you react to her unsolicited advice. Say something like, “I’ve been out of touch so many times because I find your advice oppressive. I’m looking for friendship, not advice. Can we try a reset?”
If Susan is so stuck in her habit — or so stuck — that she responds to this statement by offering advice, you could interrupt her: “Oops, there — you’re doing it. That is exactly what bothers me so much.”
Dear Amy: During our daily walks, my partner and I sometimes run into one of our casual acquaintances who soon begins to talk at length about one of his friends, whom we don’t know at all.
We politely nod and smile as we ask an innocent question or two as we wait for the conversation to end.
We don’t mean to be rude, but how do we politely tell this person that we just don’t know who they’re talking about?
No idea in Denver
Dear no idea: If you were to break into this monologue and say, “I’m sorry, but we don’t know that person,” your acquaintance would probably take the opportunity to explain the stranger’s backstory in detail.
Nodding, smiling, and showing patience are all positive traits. Think of it as compassionate cardio, which can be good for your heart health.
If you’re out for a walk and don’t want to be disturbed, you might reply, “It’s always nice to see you.” We’re going to continue. Have a nice morning!”
And then you quietly continue down the road.
Dear Amy: “Bereaved” was furious with her husband for posting an online “tribute” to her mother, including personal information.
You got it wrong. This information (including maiden name, etc.) can easily be used to steal a person’s identity.
Relatives have every reason to object to this.
Dear Leg Out There: My point was that this information is already common in obituaries and obituaries. But you make an excellent point, and this is a valid reason to be aware of the risks of disclosure, even after death.
You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or write a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.