Dear Annie: When I was a freshman in high school, I became friends with “Agnes,” who was (like me) something of a social outcast. Agnes still considers me to be her best friend. That was 10 years ago.
We have both grown up to be very different people. I am repelled by Agnes’ lifestyle of promiscuity and high-risk behaviors. Although she is free with praise and is loyal in an odd sort of way, she is incredibly narcissistic and often condescending. Add to that a volatile and sometimes violent temper, and she is a person I no longer want in my life. Still, we have a history. When she says I am “the only one who has stuck with her,” I feel a responsibility to maintain the friendship. I am also fond of her 5-year-old son.
I don’t want to be dishonest by pretending that her decisions, her manner and her lifestyle don’t bother me. It seems dishonorable. But if I tell her any of this, I know it will lead to a nasty confrontation. The truth about my feelings would crush her. She considers friendship and loyalty to be sacred and would take my disapproval as a betrayal of her trust. Should I tell her the truth for my sake or continue the deception for hers? — Conflicted
Dear Conflicted: It depends on what you want. If your goal is not to see Agnes anymore, go ahead and let loose. People outgrow friendships all the time. You don’t have to maintain this one, although it means you would not be around to show her son what a stable person looks like. You also could slowly make yourself less available to Agnes so there is no confrontation at all while the relationship withers. But a true friend would tell Agnes gently and kindly that you are worried about her. In turn, Agnes, while not pleased, would accept your concern and not cut you out of her son’s life.
Dear Annie: My husband and I have been married for two years, and we have been together for 16. This is my third marriage and his second. He is 61, and I am 58.
I work out of the home, and he is now semi-retired. I would appreciate some help with cooking or cleaning, but he always says I wouldn’t be happy with the way he does it. I’ve told him this is a cop-out. I honestly do not care how well he does, only that there is effort and validation of my feelings. I’m exasperated. We get along great otherwise, but he is such a horse’s butt about this.
Just yesterday, he made himself a sandwich for dinner and never even asked whether I wanted anything. He doesn’t pressure me to cook. I do it because I know he likes to have dinner and I enjoy cooking. But I would certainly never eat in front of him and not offer something.
Am I being overly sensitive? Is it too much to ask for help with cleaning and cooking or to have my feelings taken seriously? — Hurt and Exasperated
Dear Hurt: We think your husband is a little lazy and has been trained to be waited on. He needs to step up and be more of a full partner. Separate the household chores and assign specific tasks for each of you. If you enjoy cooking, you could do more of that, and he could do more cleaning. Ask what he’d prefer. If he doesn’t follow through, do not pick up after him. Or, if you can afford it, hire someone.
Dear Annie: “Ms. Bit” said she was having trouble reaching certain body parts to clean them. I suggest she upgrade her toilet to a bidet toilet that provides a warm water bath and a drying fan for the parts in question. My elderly parents had one installed years ago, and it served them well. — A Fan of Being Clean
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.