My husband and I recently moved to a new city. Our neighbors immediately introduced themselves and were very friendly to us. We went out a few times. They were fun! Then I added one of them as a friend on Facebook and saw them spreading misinformation about the Covid vaccine, various political figures and people with substance abuse problems. Oof! My husband and I have decided that we will be polite when we see them, but we will no longer drink beer or watch movies with them. Still, they keep inviting us to hang out. I feel uncomfortable refusing their invitations when I see them across the yard. Should I just explain to them why we don’t want to be friends?
NEW IN TOWN
The intriguing part of your story to me is not that your neighbors are trumpeting misinformation online. (No news there!) It’s that you had fun with them – and apparently they kept their objectionable views in check. Without social media, you might have become friends. I see this situation as a loss to all of you.
That being said, I fully understand why those Facebook posts upset you; anti-vaccination messages are a huge setback in the global fight against the coronavirus. But I don’t think it’s worth screwing up anyone’s politics based on social media activity alone. Would it be possible to wait for one of your neighbors to actually say something harmful or objectionable before refusing to see them again? (I understand this can be difficult.)
More importantly, I’m concerned that you and your husband may not have taken sensible precautions before dealing with these neighbors. (Your letter does not mention them.) Did you inquire about their vaccination status in advance or agree to pre-test? Your safety is a top priority here – and it may be the easiest way to end this budding friendship. If your neighbors don’t agree to take reasonable security measures, especially as Covid-19 cases are on the rise again in some areas, tell them you’re not comfortable hanging out. Completely reasonable!
About that mattress cover…
I went on a trip and hired a young woman to sit at my apartment. I didn’t know her but she was highly recommended by a friend. When I came back, everything was fine. She told me she changed the sheets on my bed where she slept. When I finally changed them again, I noticed that she had replaced my mattress cover with a new one. (The sheets she slept on were in fine condition.) Can I ask her what happened, or is it better to keep quiet – assuming there may have been an accident that embarrasses her?
When we hand over our home to others, we should expect accidents to happen. It’s hard for me to imagine an “embarrassing” accident here that would leave your sheets in good condition, but damage your mattress cover.
Let’s assume your cat sitter accidentally tore (or otherwise damaged) one of the pesky mesh side panels on your mattress cover and carefully replaced it for you. (She seems very responsible!) I wouldn’t draw any further attention to the problem, though. The cat sitter has already solved it.
The long tail of sorrow
I am a woman of 40 years. I have a good life with a loving husband, a job that I like and two wonderful children. I also have a problem: My mother passed away four years ago and I still think about her every day with a stab of pain. (I really loved her!) It’s not grueling or anything. But I’m not sure what to do with these feelings. Any advice?
I’m sorry for your loss, Annie. We are sorry to all of us that the stings of pain from our greatest losses rarely go away completely. My mother passed away seven years ago and I still feel them often.
When I feel a sting, I tell myself, “I love you, Mom.” Then I take a moment to remember her smile or her touch, and go about my day. Often this turns a painful moment into a more manageable one. Give it a try and let me know how it goes, okay?
My passport stamps, myself?
Once or twice a year, a good friend from high school invites me to a big party that she throws with dozens of guests. We are now 30 and this is our only contact. The last two times I went I got the distinct impression that she was showing me off to her current friends – leading the conversation to adventure travel I did after college. It felt icky to me. Her friends are rich and probably travel differently. Should I tell her how this makes me feel or just stop?
I think you may be overestimating the boastfulness of years of adventure travel. A hallmark of a considerate host is to offer potential conversation topics (for after the host walks away) to guests who don’t know each other. If you don’t like the briefing your friend prepared for you, suggest another piece about yourself or your current interests to discuss with other guests.
For help with your difficult situation, send an inquiry to SocialQ., to Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.