Question: Dear Luise: A friend of mine visited me several months ago when we started having a meeting at my place. I told her, and the others, to make themselves at home. She showed an interest in my husband’s energy bars and I told her to go ahead and have one. She ate a half a one. Each month since then, she just helps herself to one. I feel invisible in my own home when she does that. She’s never been impolite or disrespectful before. I don’t understand it. I’ve tried to ignore it but I just can’t. Can you help? Thanks. Amanda
Answer: Dear Amanda: When anyone acts in a way that is out of character, there is probably something that you don’t know. Tell her that you would like to meet with her in private. It won’t work on the phone or by writing because you need to see her body language and hear the tone of her voice, and she needs to do the same with you to create a full exchange. Ask her if she would be willing to listen to you and get what you have to say, without interrupting. Tell her that you will then offer her the same courtesy. Listen attentively and with respect. Neither of you must agree with the other but you both need to understand where the other person is coming from.
If she is acting out of character, there may be something that she has to tell you that will surprise you. Your statements may also surprise her. Be very careful not to get caught up in that. If you need to, stop after you have each heard the other’s experience and set up another date to talk again after you have both digested the situation. How much you want to put into conflict resolution will have a lot to do with how deep your relationship is and how much it means to each of you to continue it. If either of you feels the “adult” slipping away and the “child” taking over…call time out. You both know how that feels and where it leads. Blessings, Luise