Boundaries when a relationship is all give, no take

Dear Annie: I have a cousin who I grew up with (literally in the same building) for eight years of my life. After our families moved, we stayed close, often kept in touch on social media or through phone calls and text messages. We’ve often said we were sisters, not cousins.

In recent years I’ve begun to realize how selfish, self-centered and manipulative my cousin is. She will only call if something has happened in her life that she wants to brag about or if she has something to complain about. If I call her, she doesn’t answer.

During our calls, she never allows me to tell her about my life now, and any time I interject something, I’m shot down and told she has to go or she just continues her complaining without skipping a beat.

Annie, I’m tired. I’m tired of feeling like I’m being used. My husband, kids and I made an eight-hour car trip to visit her and some extended family last year. No extended family member has ever asked to come visit us in our new home, not even to come meet my kids. Including her. Now I get a text every so often about how much she misses me and how we need to plan for her to come visit, but every time I respond with dates when we are available, it’s at least a few months before I hear back from her, if I hear back at all. This last time she only texted me because she saw my father at a family function.

My question is, do I keep entertaining these texts and calls from her even if they are so draining? She has no clue what has been happening in my life for at least five to 10 years (I quit social media after high school) because all she does is talk about herself. I feel like I’m ready to just cut my losses and limit this relationship to a Christmas card every year.

What do you think? — Ready to Move On

Dear Ready to Move On: Your cousin/”sister'” does seem incapable of being a true friend or being supportive for you right now. The important part in the sentence is “right now.” Next time you see her face-to-face, tell her how you feel. Ask her why she has not committed to a visit or to listening to you. Maybe she wants a family and doesn’t have one and it’s too painful for her to visit yours? Maybe she didn’t know how much it means to you?

Whatever the reason, communication is key. Once you say how you feel, if she still doesn’t respond, then yes, distance yourself from her, but not before you tell her why you’re upset.

Dear Annie: Is saying “thank you” out of style now? If so, I need to change my ways. Polite people are seen as pushovers, I suppose. When leaving a grocery checkout, I usually thank the cashier, but shouldn’t they be thanking the customer? Rarely if ever does that happen! Do they not understand the customer is helping pay their wages so they can buy groceries? — Saying Thank You

Dear Thank You: Showing appreciation or gratitude is always a good idea. It makes you feel good, and it usually helps the person on the receiving end feel good, too. But expecting a cashier at the grocery store to say thank you might be a little much. If they do thank you for your business, great. But if not, cut them some slack, and just say thank you with a smile, not expecting anything in return.

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“How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?” is out now! Annie Lane’s second anthology — featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.


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