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 e-mail or text.
Sandy has since recovered.
Lately, during the pandemic, I've noticed that she ignores any positive or upbeat information I send her.
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 my paintings or about our home remodeling projects.
I'm of the opinion that friends should be happy for 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?
Amy says: 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 spirits 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!"
Too small for comfort
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."
Here's our dilemma: My sister-in-law has kept all (and I mean all) of her grandmother's furniture, including beds that are only three-quarter size.
We would love to spend more time with them but have a 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 have ever done that (whether at our place or theirs), and asking my sister-in-law to change her decorating style doesn't seem like an option.
We love them and get along so well, but the sleep thing just doesn't work for us. Any suggestions?
Amy says: 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."
Send questions to Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.