Dear Amy: Some time ago I gave my good friend “Cheryl” some very expensive designer clothes I thought she would like, but they were too big for her.
With my permission she showed them to a couple of other people I know, one of whom took the clothing, apparently with delight.
My friend told her that 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 one word of thanks has been given.
I have started giving her the cold shoulder, but I don’t think she notices.
It shouldn’t bother me, but it does, so I was thinking of telling her the reason I’m ignoring her.
By the way, I don’t like her 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 notice, is the shoulder still cold?
I know you understand that when you willingly surrendered these items, they ceased being yours.
Because these clothes came through an intermediary, there is a remote possibility that this recipient does not realize that the clothes actually originated with you.
There is also a possibility that she sold the clothing she received, made a mint, and is now sashaying through town, feeling pretty good about her choices.
You don’t seem to have a positive relationship with her, and so the stakes are different than if you had a longstanding friendship to worry about.
The next time you see this person, approach her and say, “Cheryl told me she passed along some of my clothes to you. I’m wondering how they’re working out?”
Depending on how she answers, you can add: “It was hard to say goodbye to things I love. I was glad they landed in a good home, but honestly, I’m disappointed that you never acknowledged it or thanked me.”
Dear Amy: I am a 30-year-old wife, happily married to my husband “Randy.”
We are decorating our new home in preparation to start a family.
However, I’ve been very busy at work. My mother-in-law, “Kathleen,” offered to help with 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 close to 20 photos of my husband’s life, especially from his childhood.
This includes multiple (six) photos of his wedding to his ex-wife, “Sharon” and from their life together.
I acted out and called her immediately.
Am I wrong for yelling at her over the phone?
Kathleen and Sharon are still very close, and I understand why she included her on the wall, but it still makes me very uncomfortable.
What do you think?
Dear Furious: The only thing you did wrong here was to “act out” and yell at your mother-in-law on the phone. I understand your reaction, but you invited her into this task, and when dealing with a new mother-in-law, you should think first and act later, when you are calm and more in control.
In short, in the future, try not to lose it.
Unlike you, I don’t actually understand why your mother-in-law chose to include your husband’s first wedding pictures or photos with his ex on the wall of your bedroom. That is a strange choice. The bedroom is the most intimate room of your house. Exes have no place in the bedroom.
At the least, her choice was in questionable taste. At the most, it was an aggressive maneuver.
It’s your house! Rather than yell at your mother-in-law about this choice, you could have just taken down these photos and placed them in a closet — to be dealt with later.
If you’d have been more in control, you could have stated: “‘Kathleen,’ thank you for your help with the house. I appreciate it. But the only wedding photos I’m going to display in our bedroom are my own.”
If your mother-in-law chooses to maintain a close friendship with her former daughter-in-law, there is not much you can do about it.
Dear Amy: I hate to see all of the letters you run from readers who don’t like you or what you do. Why don’t you run more praising responses?
I love what you do!
Dear Fan: I receive plenty of compliments, and appreciate them all.
This one’s for you.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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