Dear Amy: Recently, I went on a five-day cruise with three high school friends.
We do not live near each other. I had not seen “Bobbie” in 57 years. I am in frequent contact with “Christine,” and the third woman was out of touch for 50 years, but we became connected again seven years ago.
Bobbie told us all about her career, marriages, family and extensive deluxe travel. She came across as pretentious. Christine joined in with her own pretentious stories. The third friend also shared a lot about herself.
My way of participating was to ask follow-up questions to learn more about them. As it turned out, they loved my interest in them but never asked me even one question about myself!
Therefore, I never talked about my husband, family and career of 25 years. I have three college degrees that are varied and intriguing.
When I said goodbye to Bobbie, I realized she did not learn one thing about me.
The group’s enthusiastic consensus was to get together again within the year. How do I gracefully decline?
Dear Left Out: You are generous in terms of asking questions, but conversations are not interviews; a good conversation involves a real exchange, where participants actually relate to one another, instead of just trading stories and information. A really good conversation feels intimate and revelatory. (That’s why they are so rare.)
These other women didn’t make any effort to draw you out, and you seem to have missed whatever chances you might have had to pivot from interviewer to participant.
To decline an invitation, you need only say, “I can’t plan on taking another cruise, but I hope you all do it and have a great time!”
Dear Amy: My adult daughter (married, no children) lives a few hundred miles from where I live.
Her father and I visit her several times a year. It’s always enjoyable.
That said, text messages are an important lifeline and communal experience.
Frankly, I’m getting fed up with her inability to somehow confirm with me that she’s received my texts – even with a “thumbs up” icon.
I’ve made an effort over the years to chalk it up to her personal style and to be forgiving of the distractions of life.
She doesn’t have a 9-to-5 job and has stretches of time between work projects. I don’t text her daily, so it’s not like I’m inundating her with irritating updates.
I’d expect at least a simple response when I text a couple of times a month, and it’s disturbing to me that she never answers.
This behavior also extends to any phone messages.
When I’m visiting her, she responds quickly to texts or phone calls with friends, so I’d wager it’s not a systemic attitude.
We’re on good terms, and to be fair, her father gets the same treatment – and they are also close.
It leaves us both wondering/worrying about her well-being.
Any suggestions for how I could non-judgmentally approach her about this?
Dear Stumped: You don’t say whether if you ask a question (by text or in a phone message) your daughter answers.
If you text or leave a phone message, “Would you give me a quick call?” I hope she would do so.
In my experience dealing with several millennial daughters, some are in touch frequently and others are relatively silent in between visits.
If you feel connected and welcome during visits, it would be easier on you if you accepted this as her particular quirk.
You should assume that she receives all of your texts and messages, whether or not you get the “thumbs up.”
The way to approach this is to tell her you’d like to be in touch in between visits. Say, “I know this isn’t your style, but we’re far away from one another and if I don’t get a peep I start to worry. It’s a mom thing and I don’t want to crowd you, but a response to the occasional text would put my mind at ease. Can you do that for me?”
Dear Amy: Thank you for running the question from “Intolerant Caregiver,” about the challenges of providing care for an infirm parent.
I think this person should say to Mom, “If you can’t be nicer to me, I’m going to have to leave. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Dear Also: Physically leaving might not always be possible, due to safety concerns. But stepping into the other room for a few moments might be a good idea.
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