The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Ask Amy: My friend is taking advantage of our offer to give her rides

4 min

Dear Amy: About five months ago my friend “Stacy” fell on some hard times. I offered her rides to her job so that she could save up for another car, as her transmission went kaput. Stacy has been very good with reciprocating favors, contributing gas money, buying us groceries, etc.

Reciprocation isn’t my issue. But my husband and I seem to have become a permanent taxi service for her. Now it includes rides to the store and to run errands related to her job.

I just learned that Stacy is going on a week’s vacation to visit a friend. I immediately stated that she would need Uber to get to her friend’s place because my husband won’t do inner-city driving.

I’m all about helping someone for a temporary period of time, but now I feel like my whole life revolves around Stacy’s needs for transportation. Now that she is going on vacation, it occurs to me that she could have had a replacement car by now.

I don’t want to lose a friendship, but I want our lives back! What’s the nicest way to end our taxi service? Appreciate any suggestions!

— Tired of Driving in Ohio

Tired: You might start with a question: “How’s your search for a new car coming?”

No matter how “Stacy” responds, you should say: “I’m giving you a heads up, here. We’ve been happy to help you out, but it’s been six months now and our transportation help is going to stop at the end of the month.”

You should not have to invent an excuse or a reason for this, but it might help you to keep a statement in your pocket: “We hope you can find a working vehicle. If you find one you’d like to look at, we’d be happy to take you to a car lot.”

It sounds as if your town has people who use their cars for “ride hailing” purposes. This might work for Stacy until she can get another car.

Dear Amy: I have a friend, “Julia,” whom I’ve known for over 20 years. We live hundreds of miles apart, and so we stay in touch by email since Julia never answers her telephone.

I enjoy staying in touch with friends, and I talk about both my successes and my failures. We are all getting older, and good and bad things happen. I try to be a good listener to my friend Julia, through all of her ups and downs, but Julia is mostly a negative, bitter person who finds fault with everyone. I rarely hear her say anything good about anyone.

I’m getting the impression that she expects people to cater to her, but doesn’t reciprocate. I think friendship is a two-way street. It’s not all about one person. Over the years I’ve noticed that Julia is not interested in hearing about anything good in my life. Nothing!

The bad things I tell her about seem to make her happy and the good things are met with resounding silence. What kind of a person isn’t happy for a friend who is having a happy life?

Is this just pure jealousy on her part? Is this even a friend? I’m having my doubts whether Julia is truly a friend, or if I’m just wasting my time. What’s your opinion?

— Frustrated Friend

Frustrated: “Julia” is demonstrating how schadenfreude fuels her relationships. Schadenfreude is defined as taking pleasure from the misfortunes of others.

You might be wasting your time trying to keep this relationship alive, but before you exit, you might describe Julia's behavior and the impact on you. She might not quite realize the loop she is circling.

The opposite of schadenfreude is “freudenfreude” (yes, it’s a thing!), which is taking pleasure from the good things that happen to others. Expressing freudenfreude can actually boost your mood.

You might ask Julia to share a good thing from her recent life. Respond by deliberately expressing your delight. Tell her, “Yes — that felt good!”

Dear Amy: “In Need of a Pet” was looking for advice about whether to adopt a cat or a dog. You should have advised this person to volunteer at the local shelter!

At the very least, In Need should foster before adopting.

— Animal Lover

Animal Lover: “In Need of a Pet” described having extreme social anxiety, so I’m not sure if volunteering would be realistic, but I agree that fostering before adopting is a great way to help animals and to also gain experience.

© 2023 by Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.