Ask Amy: Positive Penny meets Negative Nancy
Dear Amy: I’ve known “Sandy” for 20 years. She lives on the West Coast and I now live on the East Coast. My husband and I moved three years ago, but I’ve stayed in touch with my friends.
I supported Sandy through her chemo when she was being treated for cancer.
I’ve sent her cards, letters and flowers when she was depressed about being sick and losing her hair.
I’ve sent her suggestions for good movies and shows to watch.
Whenever I phone her, she won’t answer the phone but will send me an email or text.
Sandy has recovered.
Lately, during the pandemic, I’ve noticed that she ignores any positive, happy, or upbeat information I send her.
There is just no response. Nothing. She doesn’t say if she is interested, she doesn’t ask me to stop sending her photos — nothing.
I’m an artist and I love to share news about paintings I’ve done or home remodeling projects my husband and I have managed to do.
I’m of the opinion that friends should be happy for their friends, and good news is fun to share!
If I send Sandy bad news, she’s all over it. She responded to news that our house was broken into. She responded when I told her my laundry room was flooded.
All she likes to hear is bad news. Why is this? How do I deal with a negative Nancy? — Upbeat
Dear Upbeat: I completely identify with “Sandy.”
She might be less of a Negative Nancy if you were a little less of a Positive Penny.
Have you ever been chronically and seriously ill? Have you ever been depressed? Possibly not.
Your impulse is to always try to raise Sandy’s spirts by being upbeat. But sometimes, when a person’s spirit is low, they don’t want to be jollied out of it. They don’t want someone constantly poking them with positivity.
Sometimes a person who is hurting doesn’t want to be reminded of their relatively messy lot in life.
They want a little understanding. Commiseration. A little, “Grrrrrrr. That sucks!”
So yes, your upbeat messages about the wonderful work you are doing leave her cold, probably because she can’t do these things herself.
But when bad things happen, Sandy is identifying with you. She is saying, “Grrrr. That sucks!”
Dear Amy: One of my husband’s brothers lives a few hours from us. We all love spending time together, playing games and talking until late at night and then waking up “together” the next morning.
Here’s our dilemma: My sister-in-law has kept all (and I mean all) of her grandmother’s furniture, including beds that only hold 3/4-sized mattresses. All of the beds in their house are small like this.
We would love to spend more time with them but have a very difficult time spending even one night in the guest bed.
While hubby and I are in good shape, he’s pushing 70 and we both still work and need to be rested and ready to go on Monday morning.
Hotels could be an option, but none of us on my in-law’s side of the family have ever done that (whether at our place or theirs), and asking my SIL to change her decorating style doesn’t seem like an option, either.
We love them and get along so well, but the sleep thing just doesn’t work for us. Any suggestions, or do we just suck it up? — Cramped
Dear Cramped: Because this question has come in during the dark days of the pandemic, I’m going to assume that perhaps you are planning ahead for a time when in-home visits will be safely resumed.
Yes, find a comfortable nearby place to stay. Tell these family members, “We treasure your hospitality but as we’ve gotten older, we just need a little more space and privacy, so we’re going to rest our creaky old bones at the Rosebud Motel overnight. We’ll be back at the house first thing in the morning for breakfast.”
Dear Amy: “Hurt and Angry” wanted to write an angry letter to her uncle, who had not stepped up when Hurt’s parents were ill.
I’m glad you told her to write the letter — but hold off on sending it.
Years ago, I sent a letter written in a white-heat, and it terminated the relationship. I now have a different perspective. I wish I hadn’t done it. — Missed the Mark
Dear Missed: When I face this sort of challenge, I tell myself, “I can always react ... later.”