DEAR ABBY: An old friend of mine, "Marla," moved away six years ago. Imagine my surprise when she showed up on my doorstep last Easter. I had just started a new job and was bogged down with work. Marla had always said I was welcome to come and stay at her new home "any time." So, when she mentioned she was going to try to find a hotel, I said, "Of course not! Stay with me!"
Abby, Marla knew I had to put my best foot forward at work and that I had no vacation time coming. But she insisted that I go out with her to bars and stay until they closed. When I reminded her I had to take it easy and get to bed early, she loaded on the guilt. It was clear she was only concerned with her good time and how much her plane fare had cost her. I was relieved to see her go.
Last night, Marla called and announced that she's coming back next month, so I should "mark my calendar." She did not ask if it was convenient for her to visit me. She met a guy while she was here, and I suspect that's the reason for her visit. I'm afraid she's assuming my spare room is hers again. I don't want to offer it to her. She'll drive me nuts. On the other hand, we've been friends a long time. I don't want to hurt her feelings. Please give me some advice -- and hurry! -- NOT MRS. HILTON
DEAR NOT MRS. H.: You have described a person who is centered on her own "needs" to the exclusion of those around her -- and by definition that's a user, not a friend.
Pick up the phone and tell Marla you would love to see her one night while she's in town, but you are unable to have her stay with you. Do not apologize for it or allow her to put you on the defensive. Do it now, so she'll have plenty of time to make hotel reservations, or you will be blamed for inconveniencing her.