Ask Amy: When the welcome mat becomes a doormat

Dear Amy: I’m a 53-year-old woman. Because of a stressful job I’ve had for the last 20 years, I have some friends, but making new ones can be a struggle when I’ve had to work 14- to 17-hour days.

More recently, I’ve tried to reach out to two women I’ve known for a while. Sadly, they both have kept their distance — one actually waited until the day after I asked her to lunch, apologizing for “missing my text.”

I was stung by the brush-off, but tried to give her the benefit of the doubt and waited to see if she might reciprocate the invitation. She didn’t.

I finally decided that I needed to change my lifestyle, sold my old house and am buying a small place in a very sunny popular tourist town I’ve always loved.

My friends have been congratulatory and supportive, including the two women who have been brushing me off.

They’ve both reached out (separately, they’re not friends with one another) with sincere questions about when I can host them and their families for a visit.

Amy, I haven’t even closed on my condo!

Neither of these women are making any effort to say goodbye before I leave town. They have only expressed excitement to visit me 1,800 miles away.

I’m fine leaving these people behind, but since one of them (the same one who blew off my text) has now actually sent me dates for her future visit to my condo, I’m at a loss of how to respond.

I told her I’m buying a one-bedroom place and that I don’t think that she, her husband and children will be comfortable sleeping on my couch (together), but she assured me that they’ll “make-do.”

I don’t want to tell her off and don’t want this to be twisted into any backlash among other mutual friends.

Should I just ignore her text messages, like she did mine?

I don’t want to be a doormat, and don’t want to cause friction.

Is there a response that will be both finite, yet not “rude?”

— Resentful Future Hostess

Dear Resentful: If you don’t want to be a doormat, then definitely guard your welcome mat.

This one woman’s gall is quite extraordinary (she should bottle that moxie!). You could ghost her, but I fear that might somehow translate to her showing up at your doorstep with her husband and kids.

Answer her next self-invitation text: “Oops — I’m so sorry I haven’t been clear enough. I will not be hosting you and your family in my new home at any point. It’s just not possible.”

After that you can ghost, block, ignore, unfriend. Enjoy your new life, find a few names of guest houses in your new town, and if people invite themselves to visit, you can send them a list of places to stay.

Dear Amy: I have been in a relationship with a man for over a year. He’s kind and generous.

He’s clean and dresses well. There is only one problem: He has bad breath.

His teeth look white, so I don’t know if it’s a health issue.

I don’t enjoy kissing him, and he’s not aware of it.

I don’t want to hurt his feelings. How can I tell him without coming off rude or insulting?

— Concerned

Dear Concerned: If you have been with this man for over a year and don’t enjoy kissing him, he is likely aware of this problem on some level, but he might not realize that it originates with him. So — imagine how things might be if you actually enjoyed kissing him!

Approach this gently. Avoid words like “bad,” “stinky,” “foul.” Say, “I hope it’s OK to bring up this personal topic, but I’ve noticed something … your breath seems ‘off.’ Have you been to the dentist recently?”

Bad breath can be caused by several different factors — it is not always the result of poor oral hygiene.

If he is able to correct this problem, give him positive feedback when you notice an improvement.

Dear Amy: “Shocked Mom” expressed her dismay that her daughter accused her of basically being a martyr and helping others too much.

I could not believe that you blamed this mom for being a kind and generous person.

We need more people like her in this world!

— Shocked by YOU

Dear Shocked: You’re right, but because this helping behavior seemed to interfere with her relationship, I urged “Shocked Mom” to explore her deeper motivations and the possible negative consequences of her behavior.

(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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