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Relationship with friend a one-way street

DEAR ABBY: I have a friend who talks nonstop. Honestly, I can put the phone down and go make a cup of tea, and she’ll still be talking when I get back. I don’t think she even takes a breath. I want to tell her she sometimes needs to ask questions or seek the opinions of others. How can I do this without hurting her feelings?

She has many good qualities. She’s knowledgeable about many topics, she’s artistic and she’s a good cook. She is just exhausting to be around. I feel bad for her and her husband. Her children are good, productive citizens. But man, oh man, I dread getting a call from her. Advice? – Overwhelmed in Georgia

DEAR OVERWHELMED: There’s a reason why you are drained after those phone calls. Your friend is a compulsive talker and a “sapper.” (A sapper is someone who gains energy by draining it from others.) The next time she calls, have a stopwatch handy and make a note of the length of time she rambles on and on. Then point out that although she may be unaware of it, she talked at you for (insert number) minutes.

Then suggest she dial it back and consider asking an occasional question and including you in the conversation, because what she has been doing is exhausting. She may not like what you are saying, but she really needs to hear it.

P.S. Consider screening your calls so that if you don’t have the energy to talk with the woman, you can avoid listening to her.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are planning a cruise to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary as well as his retirement next year. We invited my brother and his wife, “Rita,” to join us. Because my brother has always wanted to visit our cruise destination, they accepted.

Rita then shared our cruise plans with her brother and his wife, “Jewel.” Jewel expressed interest in the destination and said she wouldn’t mind going. In response, Rita welcomed them to join us! When I was told this, Rita said her brother doesn’t like cruises and probably wouldn’t want to go, so I just let it go. Still, I am annoyed at her presumptuousness.

Am I wrong to feel the way I do about her inviting her family without first asking if it was OK with me and my husband? Rita did say she was sorry for inviting them, but I’m still annoyed. I love my brother and sister-in-law, and I’d hate to cause family drama. I’d welcome your thoughts. – Cruising in Hawaii

DEAR CRUISING: I agree that what Rita did was presumptuous. It was also thoughtless. She did not have the right to invite anyone along on your holiday. If Jewel tells Rita that she and her husband have decided to come, it will then be Rita’s responsibility to straighten the matter out by rescinding the invitation, and you should “sweetly” make that clear to her.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.