DEAR AMY: A while ago I gave my good friend “Cheryl” some very expensive designer clothes that I thought she would like but they were too big for her.
With my permission, she showed them to a few other people I know, one of whom seemed delighted to accept the clothes.
My friend told her I didn’t want any money for the clothes but she suggested a bottle of wine would be a nice thank you.
I have seen this woman in passing many times and not a single word of thanks has been said.
I’ve started giving her the cold shoulder, but I don’t think she’ll notice.
It shouldn’t bother me, but it does, so I thought about telling her why I’m ignoring her.
By the way, I don’t like them anyway!
Should I just let it go?
– Dressed down
DEAR DOWN: Your story reminds me of the well-known thought experiment: if you deliver a cold shoulder but the recipient doesn’t realize it, is the shoulder still cold?
I know you understand that these items are no longer yours once you willingly surrendered them.
Because this clothing was delivered through an intermediary, there is a remote possibility that this recipient will not realize that the clothing is actually yours.
There’s also a chance she sold the clothes she received, made a coin, and is now zipping around town feeling pretty good about it.
You don’t seem to have a positive relationship with her, so the stakes are different than if you had to worry about a long-term friendship.
The next time you see that person, walk up to them and say, “Cheryl told me she gave you some of my clothes. I wonder how you are?”
Depending on how she responds, you can add, “It’s been hard saying goodbye to things I love. I was glad they ended up in a good home but honestly I’m disappointed they never acknowledged it or thanked me.”
DEAR AMY: I am a 30 year old wife, happily married to my husband “Randy”.
We decorate our new home in preparation for raising a family.
However, I was very busy at work. My mother-in-law “Kathleen” offered to help around the house.
I’m very grateful.
However, when I got home from work last week, I discovered that Kathleen had decorated an entire wall of our bedroom with nearly 20 photos of my husband’s life, particularly his childhood.
This includes several (six) photos from his marriage to his ex-wife “Sharon” and their life together.
I negotiated and called her immediately.
Am I wrong if I yell at her on the phone?
Kathleen and Sharon are still very close and I understand why she included her on the wall, but I’m still very uncomfortable.
What do you think?
LOVE FURIOUS: The only thing you did wrong here was to “play off” and yell at your mother-in-law on the phone. I understand your reaction but you invited her to this task and when dealing with a new mother-in-law you should think first and act later when you are calm and in more control.
In short, try not to lose it in the future.
Unlike you, I don’t really understand why your mother-in-law decided to put your husband’s first wedding photos or photos with his ex on your bedroom wall. That’s a strange choice. The bedroom is the most intimate room in your home. Ex-boyfriends have no place in the bedroom.
At least their choice was questionable in terms of taste. It was at most an aggressive maneuver.
It’s your house! Instead of yelling at your mother-in-law about that decision, you could have just taken those photos down and put them in a closet — to deal with later.
If you had more control, you could have said, “‘Kathleen,’ thank you for helping around the house. I appreciate it. But the only wedding photos I will be displaying in our bedroom are my own.”
If your mother-in-law chooses to maintain a close friendship with her ex-daughter-in-law, there’s not much you can do about it.
DEAR AMY: I hate seeing all the letters you get from readers who don’t like you or what you do. Why don’t you give more positive answers?
I love what you do!
DEAR FAN: I get a lot of compliments and appreciate them all.
This is for you.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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