DEAR ABBY: A few years ago, I asked a friend to accompany me to a concert for which I offered her a free ticket. (I paid $150 for each one.) The original plan was to travel from New York state to Ohio, which would have been a three-day weekend. She responded with a grateful yes, then instantly changed the location to head in the opposite direction, planned out the entire trip, including the driving, and turned it into a five-day trip!
Well, it happened again. She's a great travel companion, so I asked if she'd like to go to Nashville with me for a couple of days. It instantly changed to a week, and she invited other people to join us without discussing it with me. Within 90 minutes of bringing up the trip to her, it no longer includes Nashville! It's like she waited for me to invite her to do something just so she could change it to something she wanted to do.
It really hurts that she oversteps my invitations. If I continue to plan the trip, including everything she wants to do, we will be gone for weeks. What can I say or do to make her see I really wanted to go to Nashville? -- DERAILED IN NEW YORK
DEAR DERAILED: Here's what to say to this presumptuous person:
"The itinerary you have planned isn't what I had in mind at all, so carry on by yourself. I am going to Nashville." And then follow through. Bon voyage!
DEAR ABBY: I currently live in my parents' house with my 1-year-old son and husband. We live here not because of unfortunate circumstances or events, but because we help my elderly and disabled parents with things such as bills, rent, groceries, etc. Unfortunately, my lazy sister also lives under the same roof. She refuses to get a job or help around the house, and often creates extreme drama. Benign events seem to set her off.
I have told my parents on numerous occasions that I can't deal with the madness, and either she goes or we do. But I end up feeling such immense guilt at the thought of my parents struggling with bills and daily rituals that I end up pushing those feelings of anger and resentment aside.
I don't know what I should do. Should I free myself from my sister's unhinged behavior and move out, or should I stick it out and suck it up in order to be a good daughter and help my parents? -- ROCK AND A HARD PLACE
DEAR ROCK: The problem with issuing an ultimatum is that for it to be effective, one has to be prepared to follow through.
You haven't done that, so your protestations aren't taken seriously. You and your husband need to have one more talk with your parents and make clear that the current living situation isn't working for you because it is too stressful. Tell them if the situation isn't changed -- and your sister at the very least finds a job and contributes -- you and your husband will be moving. Then follow through.