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Ask Ellie: Stark differences in values strain longtime friendship

Advice: Your loyalty to an old friend is a fine trait, but not if it’s at the expense of your well-being.

Dear Ellie: I have a friend whom I met at work 30-plus years ago. We’re now both in our 50s. We get together two to four times a year.

During COVID, we realized that our politics are quite opposite. She’s a COVID denier and a Trump supporter. I’m further left politically; I got vaccinated, and the NDP would be my political party. She wouldn’t even discuss COVID and all of its mandates; she was against it all. She practically spit the word “socialist” when I revealed my stance.

For about six years, I’ve been more open about my mental illness after receiving a late diagnosis and beginning my healing journey. Though I’ve tried to explain the complexities of mental illness, my friend maintains that I just need to get outside. She’s mocked me behind my back, and says, “It’s all in your head.”

Whereas I’m fascinated by all cultures, she’s openly prejudiced although she knows this bothers me a lot.

I’m having a serious dilemma about whether or not to continue this casual long-term friendship.

Talking about it won’t work. We’re both aware of our fundamental differences. Due to my mental illness, our lives look extremely different. I’ve explained it, but the seriousness of my suffering is dismissed.

I’m failing to see the value in this casual friendship but there’s some loyalty there and we’ve shared our life experiences.

Do I continue to keep things casual as they are and just keep quiet? Outward prejudice really offends me. I find deliberate ignorance irresponsible.

Too different?

You’re total opposites regarding politics, the pandemic, racism … including her unkind and uninformed views regarding your personal health.

Yet somehow, you’ve both maintained a casual but consistent link over some 20 years to the days of working together.

Since it’s always a polarized discussion at each encounter, there are options: You could suggest very occasionally seeing a movie or theatre production together as a distraction (only if it’s not too controversial).

Or get together less often, down to an annual or semi-annual meet-up.

Most important, protect yourself and prioritize your mental health. You may also tell her this, and close down further discussion of it.

This workplace friendship was in a different time, during different parts of your lives. Your loyalty is a fine trait, but not if it’s at the expense of your well-being.

Dear Ellie: My husband and I are having a disagreement. We were invited onto a friends’ yacht for a week, and were very excited about it.

Several days after departure it was strongly suggested that we tip the staff several thousand dollars at the end of the excursion.

I was shocked because we’re not in the same money bracket as our friends. Even though they often use their boat for business, it was something I felt they should’ve disclosed before we booked our trip. Now, my husband and I are upset with the couple, and with each other in how we want to respond.

Out to Sea

One or both of you should have asked some questions ahead.

I get it that you didn’t want to look like “newbies” at sea. But the minute you saw staff workers, you should’ve checked on the tip situation. If there were cooks, waiters, cabin cleaners, etc., it’s fairly likely that tipping would be required for extra guests.

But given the “several thousand dollars” request at the excursion’s end, your hosts were also wrong not to speak up beforehand.

Give what you can afford and some more, since you were focused on the luxury aspect. Hopefully, the friendship will survive.

Reader’s Commentary regarding the Single Sibling (April 18):

“It’s time for all the siblings and their mom to discuss either hiring help for her or moving her into a retirement residence closer to where her adult children live.

“Her routines can be scheduled so she has more visits. Plus, she’ll be with other people and there are always activities.

“My mother was in such a facility, always involved in activities. I’d visit her on Sunday afternoons and my brother would visit on Sunday evenings.

“But, do some serious research to locate a preferred facility for her.

“Today, the kids are complaining over lack of opportunity to visit her. But events can turn very quickly. One serious fall or mishap can change the situation in an instant. That’s what happened to my mother. Unfortunately, two weeks later we were making funeral arrangements. Everyone’s priorities suddenly changed.

“Don’t take your mom’s life for granted.”

Ellie’s tip of the day

Mental health issues require professional help (psychologists/psychiatrists/clinical social workers, etc.) not lay peoples’ uneducated opinions.

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