Dear Ann Cannon • I think we all have that one friend. You know, the one who insists on carpooling but never offers to drive, who’s usually late when we all meet somewhere as a group, and who always has to be right in every argument or discussion. I like my friend who’s like this, but over the years some of these behaviors are really starting to wear on me.
I don’t want to end our friendship, and in fact that would be very difficult to do as our social circles overlap in many cases. Short of having a heart-to-heart with her (I don’t think that would be effective given her personality), what are some other strategies for coping with her and protecting my time, money and feelings?
— Worn Out
Dear Worn Out • Well, I don’t know your friend, but it sounds like she might be a “taker,” i.e., someone who’s focused primarily on meeting her own needs and interests at the expense of yours.
So, how do you deal with this kind of personality? First, accept the fact that she probably isn’t going to change. Then ask yourself what you can and can’t put up with where she’s concerned. In other words, define for yourself what your boundaries are in the relationship. Are you sick of waiting for your friend? Tell her politely you can’t wait. Then don’t. If you’re a pleaser by nature, this will be hard to do. But give it a try a few times and see how you feel.
Taking back some of the power in this relationship may actually make you resent your friend less in addition to protecting your “time, money and feelings.” Good luck!
Dear Ann Cannon • I started my first college classes at the end of August. I am taking the general classes I need to qualify for a radiography program. I’m super scared because I live with my family still (I’m 19) and they stress me out so bad; there are three young children living here and one on the way. I haven’t been able to keep a job due to the fact I have no vehicle and no way to get one. That’s why I haven’t moved yet. If I could, I would.
Anyway, I’m really worried that my family is going to be really distracting and stressful. I love my family, but there are so many of us living under the same roof, and it’s hard. Any advice? I’m not sure what I’ll do. I have to keep good grades to succeed.
— Worried New Student
Dear Worried • It sounds like you’re taking important steps toward achieving the kind of independence you desire. Well done, you! OK. My advice is the same whether you’re taking classes online or on campus: Find yourself a quiet place AWAY from the house to study on a regular basis and don’t go back until you’re finished with your homework. (FYI, I still leave the house when I write even though my kids are all grown up and gone. Otherwise, I organize drawers, clean out closets, hunt for missing socks in the laundry room and generally engage in any other kind of avoidance behavior that occurs to me.)
You can do it! Have a great semester!
Meanwhile, I received a number of emails, including the one below, from readers who offered similar advice when it comes to dealing with neighbors who don’t clean up after their dogs.
Dear Ann Cannon • We had a neighbor with two dogs who never cleaned up their backyard. The stench got so bad that we called the county health department to complain. Someone came out to check and “ticketed” them for creating a health hazard. They had a short, specific time frame to clean it up or face a fine. The whole family was out there with 40-gallon Hefty bags and hauled out many bags full. It never happened again. Speaking about it didn’t work and they couldn’t be shamed about it either. Tell your writer to call the county health department.