A best friend, at one point

Dear Annie: My father was diagnosed with cancer a year ago. I told a close childhood friend. She responded, “I don’t know if I can deal with that.” Then she didn’t speak to me for six months. This was hurtful — as I had recently spent many weekends traveling (I live out of town) and hundreds of dollars as her maid of honor, supported her emotionally through the stress of wedding prep, and helped her move — but I didn’t have the emotional capacity at the time to try to rebuild the friendship.

Now that a year has passed, we have been occasionally spending time together again, though we avoid serious conversation. She introduces me as her “best friend.” Recently, I accidentally referred to someone else as my best friend, and she took offense. I don’t want to lose an old friendship, but I can’t imagine being more than casual friends. How can I tactfully tell her that she is far from my best friend and that I’m uncomfortable with her possessiveness? Or is it kinder to leave her to her own perception of our relationship? — Less Invested

Dear Less Invested: Don’t put any stock in this woman. You told her your father had cancer, and her response was, “I don’t know if I can deal with that.” That is not a best friend; that is not even a mediocre friend. I applaud your desire to be upfront; however, in this case, such a conversation would only give her a chance to offer excuses. Her behavior last year told you all you need to know. Keep your distance, and spend your time with people who truly value it.

Dear Annie: One of my biggest pet peeves is when you are in a parking lot and you kindly stop and let people go in front of you and they don’t think to thank you by waving. Most people seem to just expect it! I always thank with a wave and feel others should, too. What say you? — Jan

Dear Jan: I think they should wave. But if they don’t, just pretend they did — give yourself a little wave of acknowledgment, if that helps — and then move on with your day.

Dear Annie: This is in response to the letter from “News Junkie,” who found himself constantly watching or reading the news and was feeling exhausted. As a therapist, I wonder what’s driving this person to constantly know what’s happening on the political scene. One reason that people go overboard on the news is that they’re unconsciously hoping to decrease their anxiety by knowing more. However, paradoxically, this behavior usually backfires and increases anxiety. Another reason is that they feel pressure to be up-to-date when there are discussions of politics, which happens more often than it used to. This group of people may be afraid of not appearing politically savvy or fear being left out of conversations. — LCSW

Dear LCSW: I’m always grateful for a clinician’s take on a letter. You raise some great additional considerations. Perhaps “News Junkie” and others binging on news would benefit from looking inward to consider what’s driving their overconsumption.

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Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com. To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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