Dear Amy: My husband and I have lived in our neighborhood for about 10 years. We’re friendly and neighborly.
One house has always been a “trouble” house. Loud arguments are heard, the SWAT team showed up to arrest an adult son (yikes), neighbors accuse the kids of stealing tools from their shed, and recently police were there again, with reports of gunshots fired.
Last summer, we hosted a backyard party and set up a bar in our basement.
The mother from that house came by, uninvited.
Not wanting to be rude, we welcomed her. She then brought in her son and his girlfriend, who ensconced themselves at our bar.
They all seemed friendly enough, but when the guests were leaving, they asked to stay. I said: “Last call.” They wanted to stay longer, offered to help clean up, tour the house, use the bathroom (they live a block away!).
I finally got them to leave by sending them with to-go drinks.
They have already asked me once, in passing, if we will host again (they can see into our yard from their place).
I don’t have a good feeling about them in our home.
Should I host, and if they show up, say “private party.”? I don’t want to be friends, but we are neighbors. Help!
– Hospitality Has Limits
Dear Limits: If these neighbors approach you to ask if you are planning to hold a party – any party – you should say, “Nope. No plans.”
And then you should host any party you want to host.
If these people show up, greet them outside the entrance, say a friendly “Hi, I can’t talk right now because I’ve got some guests here.”
If they try to invite themselves in, you’ll have to be friendly but firm, and tell them that it’s a private party and that you’ll catch up with them another time.
Dear Amy: About six months ago, I had to place my husband of 64 years into assisted living, due to mental and physical decline.
He has adjusted very well. I visit him every day.
I have also adjusted to my new life alone, with the help of our children and grandchildren, who visit him every week.
I am fortunate to have caring and friendly neighbors and friends. However, there is one problem that greatly bothers and disturbs me.
Of our married friends (very few couples left), very few have even called since the very beginning of all this.
My very best friend, whom I have known for more than 50 years, has never visited me, rarely calls, and only invited me once to her house for coffee.
I feel I have been abandoned by my closest friends, at a time when I need them the most.
What has happened? What have I done? Am I a threat to them? If so, why?
I have heard from my widowed friends that the same thing happened to them.
I realize that I have to make new friends, and I do. I am active in church and community activities, but I am disappointed in my “old and true forever-friends.”
Any ideas about what is happening – and why?
Dear Searching: It sounds as if you have adjusted very well to this huge life change. It’s a shame that you have to do so without the company of some of your closest friends.
You have done nothing wrong. I also don’t believe that you are a “threat” to your friends. Your situation, however, is threatening. For some, it’s a tender reminder of the possibility of challenging times ahead.
The geometry of your life has changed, and this change has upended the balance with your friends who are couples.
You might try to be a little more proactive with these friends. You could ask if they would visit your husband with you and then you could have lunch together afterward.
Talk frankly with your “bestie” – tell her that you miss her and that you hope your friendship can weather this adjustment.
Dear Amy: Grrrrr. that letter from “Stepmom in the Middle” regarding her stepson’s condom use and the fact that his girlfriend didn’t use birth control! I didn’t appreciate how birth control seemed to be her responsibility.
If a condom isn’t enough and if this guy doesn’t want to have children, maybe he should get a vasectomy?!
Dear Dismayed: To be fair, this family’s position was that birth control should be both partners’ responsibility. I appreciated that they were discussing this, but agree that ultimately it is not their choice to make.
You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.