DEAR ABBY: How do I deal with a close female friend who has the need to bestow gifts on me often for no reason?
I am a married woman, 65 years old and retired. About two years ago, I met and became friends with the gift-giver. She is a widow about my age. I don't want to ruin our friendship by seeming ungrateful for her generosity, but when I object to the gifts, she appears hurt and withdrawn. Since I don't want to hurt her, I've made a concerted effort to stop my objections.
However, Abby, I need to know why I am resisting her gifts. Is it because they threaten my independence? Even if I could afford to, I wouldn't try to reciprocate her gift-giving to such an extravagant degree. What is it that I do not understand here? Your advice would be welcome. -- UNCOMFORTABLE IN ARIZONA
DEAR UNCOMFORTABLE: You may be uncomfortable about accepting your friend's gifts because they make you feel obligated, or locked into the friendship. Although your reaction is normal, it's important to be gracious about accepting gifts and favors. Since your friend derives pleasure from giving you gifts, try not to spoil her fun.
DEAR ABBY: My wife and I, both in our 70s, feel patronized when waiters, clerks, medical personnel and others call us "young woman" or "young man."
When we tell them we don't like being addressed that way, they are often puzzled or offended, and reply, "We were paying you a compliment because you look young for your age."
We'd appreciate your advice about how we might handle this problem. It might help if you call this to the attention of your readers. -- RETIRED IN L.A.
DEAR RETIRED: Although "young woman" or "young man" may be well-intentioned, it comes across as presumptuous and patronizing. The next time someone tells you it's intended as a compliment, tell the person you appreciate the thought, but you'd prefer to be addressed as Mr. and Mrs. (if that's your preference).
DEAR ABBY: My wife has a friend who has been going to a therapist for her emotional problems for more than seven years. Some of our friends feel she is being taken for a ride, since no resolution has resulted.
Are there any guidelines on how long a patient should be treated by a therapist? Can a therapist suggest a switch to another professional counselor?
Please do not reveal my name or location. We want to remain friendly with this woman. -- CURIOUS
DEAR CURIOUS: Yes, a therapist can suggest a switch to another professional counselor -- and many of them do. If the patient is not showing progress, a consultation with another therapist would be indicated. If the therapist is legitimate, he or she would welcome the idea.
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