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Dear Annie: Dinner guest with no conscience

Dear Annie: My wife and I have a close friend whom, in non-pandemic times, we invited over for dinner or cocktails at least once or twice a week. We’ve spent many holidays together over the last 10 or so years. We love her like a sister.

The only problem is she never brings anything to our house, and I mean never. She also has never invited us over to her house for drinks, dinner or anything, except to take care of her animals when she is gone on shopping trips. Once in a while, like on holidays, we’ve tried asking her to bring a dessert or something like that, and she’s acted like it’s a real pain. The one time that she agreed to bring a dessert, she asked us to pick up the ingredients and said she’d make it at our place. How do we bring up our frustrations with this? We don’t want to hurt her feelings. But come on, enough is enough. — Hosed Host

Dear Hosed: With friends like you, who needs restaurants? Seriously, though, you shouldn’t be shy about expressing your feelings; she’s certainly had no problem expressing hers. It doesn’t have to be a dramatic confrontation. Just let her know that you love spending time with her but it’s a lot of work for you two to always host, and that it would be a big help if she could bring over food and/or drinks whenever you get together. No good friend would react badly to that.

Dear Annie: Last weekend, I had to complete an eight-hour project with a man I’d never met before. It was an incredibly long day — because this man talked constantly! It was continuous, nonstop talk about anything and everything, from his divorce, to his children, to his health, to his house, etc.

If I had something to say or comment on, he would briefly listen, but then he would get right back into constant chatter. I now know everything about this man that I don’t care to know.

What causes someone to talk nonstop? Don’t they realize that it’s annoying? — Carrying Earplugs From Now On

Dear Earplugs: There are many possible causes for excessive, nonstop talking, including mental illnesses, brain injury, hearing loss, fear of silence and just plain old self-absorption. Some overtalkers may recognize that it’s irritating but find it difficult to stop. Some might lack self-awareness. In some cases, it can help to confirm that you’ve heard them by repeating a brief summary of it back to them. In others, directness is the only option — e.g., a simple statement such as “I’d like some time to focus on the work, please,” said with a smile. It might feel awkward for a moment, but it’s better than seething for eight hours.

Dear Annie: Just to add to your advice to “Not a Fan,” who was tired of her husband’s off-key singing around the house. She should join him every chance she gets: Either they will make beautiful music together or he will realize how bad it is. — Susan D.

Dear Susan: You get points for creativity. Thanks for the laugh.

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