DEAR ABBY: I have a long-distance friend I met online 10 years ago. I took pity on her because she was nearly destitute, and I have been helping her pay her bills. She's visited me a number of times, and I care about her a lot. However, her constant requests for money are starting to make me uncomfortable. (She can't work for health reasons, and there's a major scarcity of social services or competent care in her Rust Belt locality.)
I do not want to continue enabling her. I have tried suggesting she move closer to her sister, seek better care, etc., but she doesn't have the motivation. I have a hard time saying "no" to people. I got married recently, and I don't want this situation to negatively affect my relationship with my wife.
In my friend's current emotional state, I'm afraid if I end my friendship with her, she'll never recover from the emotional trauma. She even tattooed my name on her wrist so she'd see it every time she wanted to cut herself, like she used to do before we met. What should I do? — TIED TO HER
DEAR TIED: Start researching assertiveness training programs for yourself, because you sorely need more help than I can give you in one column. Discuss this with your wife for additional emotional support, because you are right — continuing to give your online friend financial help WILL destroy your marriage. After that, tell this needy woman you won't be sending her more money, and that you do not want her to contact you until she has moved closer to her sister so she can find the help she needs. Do not feel guilty for doing this. You have been extraordinarily generous to have let this go on for a decade.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have good friends who winter every year in another state, halfway across the country. For years they asked us to come for a visit. Last winter, we were vacationing about six hours from where they were staying. We called and asked if they were available and if it would be convenient for us to come for three days. They assured us they had no commitments and would love for us to come, which we did.
In the early morning of the third day, they announced they had been invited to go to a ballgame with a friend and would be leaving almost immediately, adding it was an hour's drive away and they would be gone all day and returning early evening. They said we were welcome to "just hang out" and wait for them to return. We said we would head home the same time they left for the ballgame. I was stunned and felt they were incredibly rude. Am I overly sensitive, or was this an acceptable way to treat guests? — TAKEN ABACK IN A COLD STATE
DEAR TAKEN ABACK: I agree that it was rude. Your friends had a choice, to fulfill their duties as gracious hosts, or be selfish and go to the game. By choosing the latter, they damaged a longtime friendship. I can see why you were "taken aback."
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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