Q. “Ellie’’ and I have been friends for nearly 50 years. We have been through much together, even though we live in different states. However, we have never been able to discuss politics or religion since we are diametrically opposed in these areas. I long ago accepted that limit on the friendship.
Recently, I invited her to visit for three days to see a special art exhibit, attend a cooking class, and have dinner with my friends here. We had a great time until she went on a political diatribe one evening while we were watching the news. I had to ask her to stop screaming at me, even though I was not participating in the dialogue. After she went home, she sent an e-mail that reawakened my hurt feelings, and unfortunately, I responded in kind. However, after a few exchanges, we both apologized, and I thought we were ready to move on.
It’s now been more than a month, and she is still reading and re-reading the e-mails and demanding I respond to her. This upsets me and makes me overly anxious. I keep telling her it’s over for me and asking her to move on, but she refuses to accept this. I don’t know what to do besides refusing further discussion and giving her time to work it out for herself. It’s all so exhausting.
A. People who can’t let go can really gum up a friendship, and I think that has already happened in your case. You do not need to defend yourself or go through a rerun of your differences. As for her “demanding’’ that you respond, well, stick to your guns. What can she do - send you to your room? I fear the friendship had a shelf life of 50 years, which ain’t bad. And do bear in mind that age does nothing to smooth over these kinds of situations. If an announcement of severed relations is required, make it.
Q. Lately, I’ve realized my mother is not talking to me. It all started when she launched into a rant about how I wasn’t giving her grandchildren. It’s really been frustrating! Along with this, I have to deal with a proposal. I do not think I’m ready for marriage yet, but my current boyfriend (of four years) has been pressuring me. Sometimes I just want to say to my mother, “Whoa! Slow down. I don’t know if I even want to marry this man . . . so having kids is a whole step ahead.’’ She is constantly “reminding’’ me that she got married at 20 and gave birth to me at 23. She is making me seriously nervous.
A. In your circumstances, I would be grateful my mother wasn’t talking to me. She is way off base to push you to marry so she can have grandchildren. Frankly, I’ve never understood parents (and fathers can be just as bad) who are so eager for grands that they badger their kids - and you are not even married yet.
Tune her out, dear, and you might consider informing her that 1) you’ve not decided on a husband, 2) you find it intrusive for her to be pushing you for reasons having to do with her desires, and 3) when it’s time for her to go shopping for little things, you will let her know. Continue to go at your own speed. You are wise to resist pressure, and I hope the grandmother-in-waiting gets a grip.
All letters must be sent via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.