Los Angeles Times

Tired of friend’s drama

- Email questions to Amy Dickinson at askamy@ amydickins­on.com.

Dear Amy: I love “Charlene,” but she is the very definition of high-maintenanc­e.

She drinks way too much — every day — and sleeps with strangers she meets in bars. Then she thinks she is in a relationsh­ip with them, and is crushed when things don’t work out. And they never work out.

She is extremely sexual and very vulnerable. She is desperate for an authentic and loving relationsh­ip but men have used, abused and taken advantage of her.

She ignores every piece of advice I give her but then she expects me to be a shoulder to cry on when her life falls apart. It drains me.

I try to be supportive and nonjudgmen­tal. She really is a beautiful person. She has been there for me through some tough times, but this friendship has become draining and I feel terrible.

She wants me to drink with her but I won’t, because she has a problem.

She is in counseling but constantly uses me to vent and cry to. I love her dearly, but I don’t want to be that listening ear anymore.

I feel terrible for feeling this way. Am I a bad friend?

Bad Friend

Dear Bad Friend: The only “bad” thing you’ve done is to possibly delay Charlene’s recovery by offering advice but not giving her the unvarnishe­d truth.

As long as she has you as her soft and nonjudgmen­tal place to fall, she doesn’t need to face the underlying source of her drama.

Try some nonjudgmen­tal honesty: “I’m exhausted by this drama. I’ve tried to help you but I’ve failed. I just hope that when you’re ready to change, you will.”

Dear Amy: My family and I live in my mother-in-law’s house. It works out well for all. I have a concern about my mother-in-law, however.

She writes a check to pretty much any charity that asks. She doesn’t give large amounts, just $10 or $20. But those same charities send a never-ending barrage of mail, and now, seemingly every charity in the country has been sold her address and sends her solicitati­ons.

I believe many of these charities are not using her money wisely, or they have nothing to do with the many causes that might actually affect her life.

We tell her that, in some (not all!) cases, for every $10 she sends, maybe $1 or $2 make it to someone in need.

We suggest she choose one or two causes that are dear to her and give only to them, even in much larger amounts that might equal the total of what she gives to all of these organizati­ons.

I’ve tried to look up some of these places on charity watchdog websites, but most don’t even show up on them (which should maybe tell us something)!

Any advice?


Dear Worried: Some “charities” (and I use that term loosely) seem to exist mainly to hook generous and concerned older people into the cycle you describe.

I use Charitynav­igator .org to check out any nonprofit I’m interested in. It uses many metrics to assess a charity, and its rating system has a good reputation.

I hope you will continue to keep a close eye on your mother-in-law’s giving.

I urge all of you to keep your giving local! Your local animal shelter, cultural institutio­ns, library and afterschoo­l programs would appreciate a boost. Your mother-in-law’s donation would go farther, and she’d have a personal connection to the institutio­n getting it.

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