Dear Amy: I am in my mid-20s and have a great relationship with my parents. I live nearby and see them multiple times a week.
They have a large social network of other married couples as friends, many of whom I’ve known since childhood, as they were the parents of my own friends, classmates, neighborhood kids, etc.
In the past couple of years, I’ve started to feel uncomfortable around one of their male friends, “Biff.”
He has never done or said anything specific, but I can’t help but just feel this … icky vibe when I’m around him.
It’s little things, like just leaning in too close when he talks to me, holding eye contact too long, and “teasing” in a way that if it was coming from a man my age I would perceive as definite flirting.
My parents are planning a weekend vacation at the end of the summer at an Airbnb. They plan to invite several of their friend-couples, including this man and his wife.
I really want to go, but I can’t shake this nagging feeling that I will be spending the weekend avoiding him and not wanting to wear a swimsuit in front of him.
I have absolutely no idea how to bring this up to my parents.
I don’t have any quantifiable examples to give them or incidents to cite as to why he makes me feel this way, and they’ve been friends with this family so long that I’m honestly scared to bring it up and cause a rift or any kind of tension.
What do you think I should do?
Dear Conflicted: You understand that your folks have the right to invite their friends to join them on their vacation.
You also understand that if any of these people make you extremely uncomfortable, then you could either confront him or avoid contact by staying away.
It is vital that you listen to your own instincts, even if you lack specific evidence to point to.
You should tell your folks that you’ve decided not to join them. If they ask you why, you should tell them, truthfully, that you are uncomfortable around “Biff,” and so you’ve decided to avoid him.
Your parents might dismiss your concerns in some expected ways: “Oh, he’s harmless; he does that to all the lovely ladies,” etc.
You can then tell them that you think he’s a skeeve, and that you don’t feel like smiling while he close-talks, flirts, and stares down your bikini top.
Emphasize that you don’t wish to control who they maintain friendships and choose to spend time with. Don’t ask them to disinvite this couple. Tell them you understand this is a long-standing friendship, but that this is your personal choice, based on your experiences and instincts.
Dear Amy: I have a friend who has recently decided to take it upon himself to invite himself to certain social occasions.
For example, he recently contacted me in the following situation: “I understand you are having dinner with the Browns tomorrow. Do you mind if we join you?”
In another instance, I invited him to join a group for lunch and he asked me to change the date. When I did not change the date, he asked me to change the time.
This type of situation has come up several times with him.
I find this behavior to be presumptuous and rude. Am I being too thin skinned? How should I handle it?
— Thin Skinned
Dear Thin Skinned: When someone approaches you with an unreasonable request, it helps to keep in mind that anyone can ask anything, as long as they are prepared for an honest answer.
Your friend sounds higher-maintenance than most. Just as he can ask anything of you, so can you ask: “Do you realize that you have a habit of tinkering with my well-laid plans?”
Dear Amy: I would like to offer a response to the recent retiree (“Life Is Good”) who wondered how to answer when people ask him what he does all day.
Many years ago, I was given this wonderful reply, and would like to share it with him and anyone else who may find this helpful, (and funny):
“I do nothing, but I do it in the morning so my afternoons are free.”
It tends to leave the questioner either speechless or amused.
Either one works for me.
Dear M: Readers have supplied many genius responses to this question. This one’s a winner.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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