Ask Amy: Pandemic brings out the boring – The Denver Post
Dear Amy: I hate to sweat the small stuff during a pandemic, but I need to air something.
I have been friends with “Mimsy” for 30 years. Mimsy never was an interesting person, and the years haven’t improved her situation.
The last time I called to ask her how she was doing, all she did was complain in a monotone voice. She claims she is bored at home. She went out not too long ago and, “didn’t enjoy the day.” All she talks about is the pandemic.
I hear enough about that just by listening to the news. The last time I called Mimsy, she talked for almost an hour about nothing. I thought the phone call would never end.
I know, if Mimsy is so boring and depressing, why don’t I stop calling her? That would be easy enough.
If I don’t call her, I doubt if she would bother to call me. But I don’t feel 100 percent right doing that. She has been the innocent victim of a lot of cruel circumstances. She thinks that I’m her friend, and she is going to go on thinking that, no matter what.
In other words, if I don’t stay in touch with Mimsy, I feel guilty.
— Loyal Friend
Dear Loyal: Balance and a sense of mutuality are important in friendships. Intimate relationships are rewarding because you feel seen and heard — and you see and hear the other person. An active friendship dynamic can be like a seesaw — each party endures and witnesses ups and downs, but no one hops off.
You don’t really have an intimate friendship with “Mimsy,” because there is no mutuality. Mimsy is simply someone you have known for a long time.
I’m going to make a radical suggestion: Stick with her. Do so out of compassion for her, understanding that you will receive little in return.
If you mentally reframe how you see this relationship, these phone calls can go from being a chore to a good deed. Give Mimsy the most valuable thing you have, which is an hour or so of your time. Instead of passively listening to her and praying for the call to end, see what it is like if you engage more energetically. If you have had pandemic-overload through the media, try for one week to turn off the media and let Mimsy be your pandemic-ometer.
I wouldn’t suggest this if your contact with Mimsy seriously depleted you, but it doesn’t seem to. Maybe you can tolerate an hour or so of boredom in order to be there for someone else. It’s worth a try. And if you try now, you definitely won’t feel guilty later.
Dear Amy: Some people are hurting, particularly during this pandemic.
Some solicit donations at platforms like GoFundMe.
If one is able to donate, do you favor giving more money to fewer people, or less to more people?
The argument in favor of the former is that their stated goals may be reached if one donates more.
But there is also an argument to be made for spreading one’s charitable endeavors.
What do you think?
Dear Generous: I appreciate your generosity, and your question.
One characteristic of GoFundMe (and other online giving platforms) is that — after you donate you can basically spread the word among your own “network” of in-person and virtual friends, thus using the power of social media to increase awareness (and multiply donations). For this reason, I think that spreading out your donations to the largest possible group might be the best idea.
I urge you to do everything possible to verify any online request for funds, if it comes from someone you don’t know. Unfortunately, tough times can sometimes inspire people to take advantage of the kindness of strangers.
Dear Amy: “Jaw Dropped in Denver” wrote to you about his wife’s terrible “office persona,” which he has noticed while both have been working from home.
Your advice about filming the wife’s rude behavior was spot on.
Being able to see and hear oneself from another person’s viewpoint is very instructive. However, the suggestion of her using a mirror to see herself was unfortunately useless.
In a mirror, we see what we want to see, and cannot hear ourselves.
One of my favorite sayings is: “The monster never sees a monster in the mirror.”
Dear JMS: Your aphorism comes as a relief to me, because when I look in the mirror, (unfortunately) I see it all!
(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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