Dear Annie

Balancing boundaries essential

Annie Lane, syndicated columnist

Dear Annie: We have a female friend that we have known for years. She lives alone and lost her leg a few years ago, which has limited her ability to venture out.

We have made sure to invite her to events like baby showers and our Christmas cookie exchange, which she tells us are a big deal for her. She always seems excited to attend, despite the fact that she tends to be a negative person.

However, over the last few years, when she attends events that my husband and I host, she bosses everyone around to the point where several of our friends have mentioned their displeasure about her being there. She has also brought up very inappropriate conversations with some of our guests, which has been extremely off-putting. This behavior occurs when both my husband and I are not present or around to hear.

We have thought about addressing this directly with her, but we are apprehensive. We’ve also thought about just not inviting her to the events, but that’s not a good solution either, as we are sure she would inquire about them. What are your thoughts about the best way to handle this? — Bummer Friend

Dear Bummer Friend: It might be uncomfortable, but having an honest conversation with your friend about her behavior is essential. Start by expressing appreciation for her presence at your events and the value she brings, and then gently segue into the specific behaviors that have been causing discomfort.

You should also offer her the opportunity to share her perspective. She may not be aware of how her actions are being perceived and might appreciate the chance to explain herself.

Ultimately, the goal is to find a solution that respects both your friend’s feelings and the comfort of your guests. With open communication and mutual understanding, you’ll be able to strike the right balance.

Dear Annie: I have recently made a new friend who has a wonderful personality except for one thing: She is relentlessly critical. Whenever we get together, she tends to make snide remarks or point out flaws in everything from the food to the decor to somebody’s outfit. I understand that everyone is entitled to their opinions, but her constant negativity makes it difficult for others (including me!) to relax and enjoy themselves.

I’ve considered addressing this with her directly, but I’m unsure of the best approach. Should I just grin and bear it, or is there a way to address the issue without causing undue tension? — Critique Fatigued

Dear Critique Fatigued: Tolerating constant negativity can take a toll on your own well-being and the dynamic of your friendship. So it’s important to address the issue and not just grin and bear it.

Talk to your friend, and offer specific examples to illustrate your point. But avoid placing blame or making sweeping generalizations. It’s possible that your friend may not notice how her behavior is affecting others.

She may be receptive to the feedback, or she may get defensive. It’s important that you both approach the situation with open-mindedness and mutual respect to work toward a resolution.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.


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