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Wife inspires friends to walk on eggshells

Dear Amy: Over the past three years, my husband and I have enjoyed many camping and mountain biking trips with another couple.

The woman of the couple, “Ruth,” works with my husband.

I thought we were having a good time as a foursome. Very few women will “get tough” in the wilderness like the four of us.

A few weeks ago, Ruth approached my husband and told him that they had avoided any more trips last year because they thought I didn’t enjoy them.

I emailed them to reassure them that I was enjoying the trips and our friendship, and asked them to join me for dinner to discuss it while I was home alone for a week (my husband was traveling).

They shut me down from face-to-face interactions, saying that I was projecting my unhappiness onto them, that they were walking on eggshells around me, that I was causing multiple tensions, and that they were deliberately unreachable because of my “influences.”

Amy, I’m completely shocked! I didn’t know they felt this way.

They wore a good mask for years. These people I thought were close friends pushed me aside via email. If they were honest about the tension they felt, maybe I could change my behavior or at least understand what was bothering them.

Instead, I’m confused, suffering from a friendship, and just…really hurting.

They acted like “good people” and it was a shock.

Now I’m questioning whether many of my other “friends” don’t enjoy spending time with me and are walking on eggshells.

I feel social anxiety building up in me.

What can I do to move on and feel better?

– Broken Egg Shells

Dear Kırık: The only person you left out of the narrative is your husband. He is in the best position to measure your behavior and the reactions of others to you on these trips.

You may have a blunt communication style that others interpret as anger or tension. Rather than accepting, accommodating, or rolling with your outspokenness, they try to avoid it (“walking on eggshells”).

Choosing to contact the couple to clear the air and confront the issue personally is a sign of your approach to problems. While this seems honest, straightforward and fearless to me, the other couple seems to find your approach aggressive, negative and even hostile.

This current challenge offers opportunities to gain insight into your own behavior and its impact on others.

I recommend that you adopt the attitude of openly questioning your own behavior by surveying the people who know you best and love you the most.

Your husband and siblings (if you have any) should be able to give you honest feedback about your interactions.

After examining your own behavior with a clear eye (and making changes if necessary), you have the right to judge that this other couple is insincere.

Dear Amy: I am a woman who works as a nurse in a busy hospital.

I have a young colleague who currently has a weekend shift.

Two or three times a month, he asks me to switch shifts with him. Sometimes I say yes, but mostly I say no.

Last weekend, he asked me to switch shifts with him as usual, but I told him I had family obligations on the weekend and couldn’t do it.

He got very angry at me and said he would go to our supervisor.

He did so, and our supervisor sided with me.

He refuses to talk to me anymore. I feel bad about this and wonder if I did the right thing.

– I’m tired in the emergency room

Dear Tired: Your supervisor defended your right (and duty) to work your assigned shifts. This person is probably assigning shifts for specific reasons (other than availability).

Your coworker was arrogant enough to bring this matter to your supervisor. You can be relieved that he won’t be talking to you at this point; However, if this avoidance affects your ability to provide good patient care, you should tell your supervisor again.

Dear Amy: I liked the question from “Tired” who wondered how to get guests to leave at the end of an evening.

My grandfather had a saying to fall back on when he got tired.

“Let’s go to bed now so these beautiful people can go home,” he would say.

–Lisa

Dear Lisa: It’s beautiful.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at askamy@amydickinson.com or write to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or on Facebook.)

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