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Ask Lisi: Be prepared to walk away from negative friend

Friendly friend sounds warm, kind and open — don’t squash her superpower
Advice columnist Lisi Tesher

Dear Lisi: I have a friend who makes friends wherever she goes. It’s incredible to watch her in action. She’s so friendly and kind and talks to anyone and everyone. It amazes me how she can be so open with strangers, turning them quickly into friends.

We have a mutual friend who doesn’t agree with me. She thinks it’s “weird” that, wherever we go, our friend makes friends. And she makes fun of her, calling all her new people “strays.” Our friend just smiles, but I know that it’s hurtful to her.

The strange thing is that the one who makes fun of her moved away and has made new friends in her travels. For whatever reason, her new friends are legit, but the friends our friend makes are not.

Sometimes, I just want to yell at the one who makes fun. Who gave her the right to sit in judgment? But I feel I should keep quiet. What’s your take?

Middle Man

You’re only in the middle because you put yourself there. Get out. If you’re all old enough to move away, then I’m going to assume you’re all adults. Start acting as such. Your friendly friend sounds warm, kind and open. Don’t squash her superpower.

The other one sounds jealous. Tell her to keep her thoughts to herself because they’re hurtful to your mutual friend. If she continues, ask her flat out what makes it OK for her to make new friends. She won’t be able to answer.

If she continues with her negative narrative, you may have to walk away. Your friend needs to speak up for herself.

Dear Lisi: While I was on a much-needed week-long holiday, my mother fell and ended up in hospital. I was at a retreat with no internet connection — my choice as I desperately needed to unplug — and therefore my family couldn’t contact me. But only my father knew that, as my sister and I aren’t that close.

My father was so busy with my mother that he asked my sister to contact me but forgot to give her the appropriate information. My mother had the details of where I was staying, in case of emergency, but she was the one in hospital.

By the time I got on the plane, my phone was lighting up with the numerous texts and missed calls from my frantic sister. Her texts became increasingly angry and mean. Granted she didn’t know why I wasn’t responding, but she didn’t give me any benefit of the doubt.

As soon as I landed, I went straight to the hospital where my parents welcomed me warmly. They were both just happy I was there.

When my sister arrived, she started screaming at me and insisted I leave. She wouldn’t hear any of the reasoning behind my absence, wouldn’t let my mother speak, or hear my father out. Everyone was getting so upset that I just left, for my mother’s benefit mainly.

Now my sister has banned me from the hospital, against my parents’ wishes. Should I defy her, or wait until my mom comes home and deal with it then?

Sibling Ire

Call your sister and explain the situation. Tell her the facts — that your mom knew how to contact you in case of emergency, that your dad knew you had gone off the grid — and explain how sorry you are for not having been there for everyone, especially to support your sister during this scary time. Give her a day to calm down. But your priority now is your mom. Focus on her.

FEEDBACK Regarding the mother trying to get her adult daughter out of the house (April 9):

Reader — “Advising a mother to remove her daughter from her home — although the circumstances regarding the daughter and her boyfriend are not revealed — sounds pretty mean-spirited to me. Was the daughter not paying rent? Was she expected to help with expenses and/or housekeeping?

“It sounds like the daughter and her friend have nowhere to go. Of course, they could become part of the homeless people in their city while the mother enjoys the comforts of a home.

“I was brought up to believe that you take care of your family, no matter the circumstances.”

Lisi — That’s very noble of you. I, too, believe that family comes first, and we should do our best to look after our own. But when situations become toxic, and people take advantage, we must remember to protect ourselves first.

Lisi Tesher is an advice columnist based in Toronto. Send your questions to [email protected].