Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“We Bought Their Plane Tickets. Should We Ask For the Vouchers They Received to Change Flights?”

We invited my 20-year-old niece to visit us in Florida and she said she would come if she could bring her boyfriend. We bought their tickets, which were expensive, and re-arranged medical stuff because of their short notice. The morning they were expected to arrive they let us know that they had given up their seats in exchange for some high-priced travel vouchers which meant we had even less time with them. Since we had paid for their tickets, we felt they would at least offer to give us one or both vouchers. Nope! While here they would walk far in front of us when going places, leave their belongings everywhere, and spend much of their time talking to and about each other or glued to their phone. No real interest in us or our lives. We paid for all their meals and activities and they never offered to pay. We were disappointed that they seem to have such a sense of entitlement. Do you think we should ask them if they even considered giving us the vouchers since we bought the tickets? — Can’t Vouch for Them

No, I wouldn’t ask your niece and her boyfriend to give you the vouchers they received from the airlines in exchange for taking a later flight to visit you. The tickets you purchased for them were a gift – just as something material you might have given would be. If your niece sold, say, a sweater you bought her for her birthday, you wouldn’t expect her to give you the money she made from the sale, right? That said, your niece sounds like an insufferable ingrate, clearly lacking any discernible social graces, and one would have to imagine her parents — one of whom must be your sibling — are at least partly to blame. If that doesn’t ring true for you, she either has a shitty personality that she may never grow out of, or she might be going through a phase that, hopefully, life experiences and maturity will cure her of.

It’s understandable that you’re disappointed in how the visit went, and you are certainly not without cause in thinking your niece has a sense of entitlement. If this is something you feel you could speak to her parents about – or at least the one who is your sibling — it might be worth mentioning if you’re ever asked how the weekend went (I wouldn’t recommend broaching the topic unsolicited though). You could say something like, “We enjoyed seeing her and meeting/seeing her boyfriend, but we were surprised with how much time 20-year-olds spend on their phones!” This is general enough that you’re making a point while couching it in some reflection and understanding of generational differences. It’s pointed enough that it invites a conversation if your sibling is interested in going there, but it can easily be shrugged off if he/she doesn’t.

At any rate, now you know not to extend an invitation to this family member again, and unless she expresses some interest in YOU, you’re under zero obligation to express any interest in her. Think of the time and money that will save going forward!

My boyfriend and I have been together for eight years, since we were 16. Things were bumpy, of course, as we grew up. These days we work in a school but don’t see each other much. He currently works with five teachers, all of whom are women. I had no problem with that until running into him with one specific teacher and observing their behavior together. Three separate times when I ran into them, they instantly stopped their conversation. When I addressed this with him later, he said it was just a coincidence.

Christmas was around the corner and in the break room the same teacher ruined the surprise my boyfriend had for me. When I spoke to my boyfriend about it, he seemed to defend her instead of being upset that she ruined his gift to me. After we all returned to work from the holiday break, I had to cover that same teacher’s class and was admiring something on her desk when the students mentioned that it was a gift from MY BOYFRIEND!! That broke my heart. It’s not bad to give a gift to a coworker, but isn’t it weird that you have five co-workers and only give one a gift — a sentimental gift — while keeping it a secret from your girlfriend who you know is uncomfortable with that co-worker? How should I respond to this? — Suspicious of Their Friendship

 
This is a fantastic opportunity to practice honing your intuition, listening to your gut, and paying attention to contextual clues. Eight years is a very long time to spend with someone, and when those years are such formative ones like the ones you shared with your boyfriend, it can be difficult to see yourself without that person. It would be understandable if he feels almost like part of your identity at this point – like being his partner is a way of defining yourself. But I hope you realize what a whole and full person you are on your own and that, if this relationship has run its course and now brings you more anxiety than joy, you can actually find much deeper fulfillment and happiness outside of it.

You don’t have to be a slave to the confines of a relationship that may have worked – or not worked! – when you were a teenager. You’re an adult now, and if your gut and intuition and the narrative you can watch unfold in front of your eyes tells you you’re no longer regarded by your significant other in the way a partner deserves to be, give yourself a gift: the gift of freedom, from a relationship that no longer brings you joy.

***************
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.

50 comments… add one
  • avatar

    anonymousse January 17, 2020, 9:58 am

    How did she ruin his gift to you? Did she ruin the surprise, or the actual gift? What was the sentimental gift he gave her?

    The conversation stopping short is not that weird, but hiding the gift he gave her from you, only giving her a gift…that IS weird.
    Maybe you’ve outgrown this relationship.

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    • avatar

      Fyodor January 17, 2020, 11:01 am

      I would like to know what the gift is. Given the level of over the top drama from the LW, I wonder if it’s some kind of cheap, mundane gift that she has chosen to be suspicious of.

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  • Miel

    Miel January 17, 2020, 10:22 am

    For LW2: Can I just say none of this drama should happen at your workplace? I have worked with people who were dating, or even married!, and many of us colleagues didn’t even know they were a couple. They would act professional around each other, there was no talk of surprises, or gifts, or anything like that. I’m just wondering “how would a child know that your boyfriend gave a gift to a teacher?” This just sounds inappropriate.

    Yes to everything Wendy said, but also in the future, be very careful about mixing relationships and work. It requires you to be able to separate your work-life from your personal life, and it doesn’t sound like you’ve been able to do that with your current boyfriend.

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  • avatar

    LisforLeslie January 17, 2020, 10:47 am

    Don’t ask your niece for the vouchers. She should have offered but she’s young and likely broke as hell. It’s a little irksome but it could be worse: a relatives’ MIL came for a visit. They bought her the train ticket. She then got on the phone and somehow finagled a refund. She didn’t offer them a dime back and crowed about how she was going to spend that money. During her trip she paid for nothing, not a dinner out, not a gift, nothing.

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    • avatar

      Buttery January 17, 2020, 11:12 am

      How did she go on the trip if she got a refund for the ticket?

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      • avatar

        LisforLeslie January 17, 2020, 1:55 pm

        She already used half the ticket then called complained, whined, manipulated whatever until she got either a full or partial refund, plus return ticket. She’s an awful person who does not work, fakes SS disability and steals from her relatives. My relative is happily divorced and is glad she no longer has to deal with her former MIL.

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  • avatar

    Fyodor January 17, 2020, 10:55 am

    For LW1, don’t think that there’s anything wrong with talking to the niece e politely and explaining that your feelings were hurt. You can say that you bought those tickets for them to visit and you were disappointed that they basically monetized the gift. You can also say that you wish that they had made more of an effort to interact with you. I wouldn’t couch it in accusatory manner but a lot of young people are clueless and there is nothing wrong with an older relative making them conscious of the appearance and effects of their actions.

    I wouldn’t talk to her parents about it. She’s an adult at this point, responsible for her own actions

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  • avatar

    brise January 17, 2020, 11:05 am

    LW1: No, I wouldn’t ask anything nor say anything. They were somehow smart to make money with the plane tickets. Perhaps I would have done the same, frankly. As you invited her and her boyfriend, I think this is normal that they expected you to pay, especially if she doesn’t earn a real income. They weren’t particularly polite with you but look, you seem much more invested in them than they are in you. You could have said something about their phone on the spot, but it would be bad mannered of yourself to make complains about her attitude afterwards. This will spoil your relationship for good. So don’t invite her anymore, but don’t hold a grunge for so petty little things. Life will teach her soon enough, so let go.
    LW2: Frankly, you seem overthinking all this. He can have a good contact with a co-worker and offer her something without betraying you. Do work somewhere else, that will be much healthier for your relationship.

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  • bagge72

    bagge72 January 17, 2020, 11:25 am

    LW1: Did you really expect to get the vouchers? They didn’t move their flights to get you a gift, they did it for themselves, or they wouldn’t have done it at all.

    LW2: You didn’t know your husband got this women a gift how do you know he didn’t get the rest of them one too? Is this really something somebody has to run by their significant other anyways? Little gifts for their coworkers? Seems like a typical Christmas time ritual between coworkers

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom January 17, 2020, 11:33 am

    Can you even give a voucher to someone else? Doesn’t everything associated with airline tickets have to remain in the name purchased and that name must exactly match the name on the federal ID.

    I don’t see the problem with them volunteering to go on a later flight in return for a voucher. As long as the changed time didn’t seriously inconvenience you it shouldn’t have been a big deal.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom January 17, 2020, 11:40 am

    LW1 When your niece wouldn’t come to visit you without her boyfriend that was the message to you that she preferred her boyfriend over you. That’s exactly what you experienced. This is a learning experience for you. When someone isn’t happy to visit you without conditions, like bringing the boyfriend, don’t expect them to be there to see you. If you are ever in a similar situation just pass on the extra conditions and mention maybe you can see them some other time.

    I’m not saying your niece wasn’t rude. She was rude. The thing I’m saying is that you can often get a feel for situations like this ahead of time and skip them.

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    • avatar

      ktfran January 17, 2020, 12:18 pm

      I agree with this assessment. The niece and her boyfriend were definitely rude while there and didn’t sound like great house guests. Her not willing to visit without him was a good indicator of how the trip would go down. However, that should be addressed separately than the vouchers.

      I’d let the vouchers go. That wasn’t a pre-planned thing. You don’t get really good vouchers for a different flight unless you are at the airport and the airline is desperate. This time of year, with bad weather and delays and trying to get people to their destinations, the stakes are higher for the vouchers. If I were young, didn’t have a lot of money and it was a few hours difference, I would for sure consider taking a voucher. Although, I’d probably be polite enough to ask my host first if that was ok.

      To summarize, I’d let it go and don’t invite your niece to visit again.

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  • avatar

    SpaceySteph January 17, 2020, 11:44 am

    When I was 13 I was flying alone to meet my grandparents on summer vacation, and being young and inexperienced I didn’t understand that I had been given a security document and not an actual boarding pass for my connecting flight in Dallas (a city I did not live in, was not going to, and didn’t I know anyone in).
    When I got to the gate I was happily chilling waiting to board until they called my name, and when I showed up at the desk they informed me that the flight was full and because I wasn’t checked in I was going to be bumped unless someone else took the bump. Naturally, I panicked about what I was going to do stuck in Dallas as a young teen with about $40 in my wallet. Luckily, some people took the bump for the voucher and so I got on the flight and made it to my grandparents on time.
    Anyways, all of that to say, I was maybe a little scarred for life by this and I remember to this day the relief I felt when I made that flight. I wish I were more frequently flying at flexible times so I could take the bump and maybe someone who needs it more than me will get to go. Not saying the niece did it for altruistic reasons (nor, I’m sure, did the people in Dallas,) but a happy side-effect might be that someone who really needed to get there (a scared kid, someone visiting an ill relative or attending a funeral, a mom with a cranky baby, etc) got to go. So maybe just content yourself with that?

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  • Lucidity

    Lucidity January 17, 2020, 11:47 am

    LW1 your niece and her bf sound like entitled, inconsiderate guests, but the vouchers are theirs. If they received the vouchers for changing their flights, then it sounds like their flight was overbooked and someone needed to be bumped. They may have agreed to be bumped in exchange for the vouchers, but they were in all likelihood already at the airport when this happened. The vouchers were compensation for their inconvenience.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom January 17, 2020, 11:48 am

    LW2 I’d be concerned because he is secretly giving gifts. I work with a number of people and many of us give small gifts to every person in our department before Christmas. We give the same thing to each person. We show no special favoritism. I don’t keep my gift giving a secret from my husband. Sometimes he’s with me when I decide what to get for everyone. I tell him about people’s reactions to my gifts. I’m open about it all. My husband takes part in a white elephant gift exchange where he works. I always know what gift he is taking and see the gift he received. There is no secretiveness. I would expect you to know if you boyfriend is giving gifts to his coworkers and I would expect him to give them to each coworker. I would also expect you to know what they gave him, if anything.

    Have you asked your boyfriend if he is happy with your relationship? Ask if he sees the two of you spending your lives together. Ask what it is he wants for your relationship. Ask if he is interested in an open relationship. That last question might tell you everything you need to know. If he is interested in opening it up and you aren’t I think it is time to move on.

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  • avatar

    ArtsyGirl January 17, 2020, 11:59 am

    LW 1: Agree with Wendy. Your niece is immature and entitled but it is not worth asking for the vouchers. Since she proved to be an ungrateful house guest, you are under no obligation to invite her back to your home. If she pushes for an invite, inform her that you are unable and unwilling to pay for her (and her BF’s) travel and entertainment. She can visit you, but will have to fund her own lodging, plane tickets, and meals.

    LW2: Your gut is probably right. Even if he is not cheating on you, it is possible that he is having an emotional affair with his co-worker. No matter what, you are uncomfortable with his friendship and rather than address your concerns, he has dismissed them and actively hid his actions. I imagine a lot of this stems from fear. You and your BF have been together almost a third of your life. I am going to hazard a guess and say you went to the same college, majored in the same subject, and intentionally were hired at the same school. You are WAY too enmeshed in each other’s lives. Neither of you have been able to develop identities and interests outside the other. Do you still want to be with you BF? Don’t just give a knee jerk reaction – actually think about it without nostalgia and fear of the unknown influencing you. My guess is that you do not trust your BF and should end it.

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  • Pheebers

    Phoebe January 17, 2020, 12:14 pm

    I’d probably have said something at the time, like “Hey, put the phones/junk/whatever away, I brought you down here so we could spend time together!” I don’t, however, think it’s rude that they didn’t offer to pay. Maybe it’s a regional thing, but in my experience older generations automatically pay for younger. As a GUEST it would have been good manners, but as a relative, and a younger one at that, I think it just went over her head.

    As the aunt, I’d have been really annoyed, too.

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    • CurlyQue

      CurlyQue January 17, 2020, 1:15 pm

      My experience has been similar to yours. When visiting older relatives, whenever i have offered to pay (which i always do) i am usually turned down. I also agree that aunt/uncle should’ve brought up the phones/attention issue in the moment. “Hey guys walk with us” etc. However, i also don’t know how this trip was framed to the niece. If it was framed as come hang out in Florida, sure bring your bf! It may not have come across as a hang out with the aunt(s)/uncle(s). She’s also young and obviously viewed this as her vacation. I wouldn’t invite her down for a few more years and i would not pay the plane tickets since you’ll probably be paying for all the other incidentals.

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    • avatar

      Allornone January 17, 2020, 1:22 pm

      When we flew out to Colorado to visit my grandparents, they pretty much paid for everything (we did pay for our flights, though, we’re adults with jobs). HOWEVER, we did take them to breakfast the last morning as a show of appreciation. They almost didn’t let us, but we insisted. It just seemed like the right thing to do. While the niece wasn’t wrong for not paying for anything, per se, one gesture like that could’ve went a long way.

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  • Dear Wendy

    Dear Wendy January 17, 2020, 8:28 pm

    From LW1:

    “I don’t know if you consider this an update but a few people mentioned me talking to my brother but he took his life last year. In the 5 years before his death my niece’s mom would not let my brother or any of our family see the kids because she got married, had more kids and pretends she and my brother never had kids. While my niece visited she kept telling me stories about “her dad” only to discover she was talking about her step-dad which I thought was disrespectful and insensitive. Was hoping the visit wouldve helped us get close but feel like we just got used for a free trip. “

    And:

    “ Just read over what I sent and just wanted to tell you that losing my brother has been devastating and I feel such guilt not knowing he was spiraling. I wish that I couldve got him the help he needed. Grief is tough…and I will always mourn losing him…and pray for him daily. Part of me wonders why once my niece turned 18 she didnt reach out to my brother. It hurt him being cut off from them. And then it just added insult to injury that she used us for a trip. And its not about the money. I dont know if its her being a millenial or the crap her mom has fed her about my brother but the self-absorption we experienced was mind-blowing. ”

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    • CurlyQue

      CurlyQue January 17, 2020, 8:54 pm

      Seeing this update makes it clear that LW1 had very lofty expectations for this visit with their niece. LW1, it was way too much to put on the shoulders of a 20 yr old who you’ve apparently been estranged from for years. You don’t say when the mother remarried but it’s not out of bounds that she would refer to her step dad as her dad.

      Mostly, i want to say i’m so sorry you lost your brother. I’m sorry that you’re experiencing some guilt over not knowing what he was going through at the time and i think some personal therapy could help you let go of that guilt.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy January 17, 2020, 9:09 pm

      Oh gosh, these details change everything and make me so sad for your niece (and you). Grief is such beast, even for us grown-ups. Grief over a parent whom your other parent kept you estranged from for years who kills himself is something else altogether when you’re talking about someone who isn’t even old enough to buy beer legally. If anything were to excuse her behavior on her visit to see you — beyond her youth — THIS would be it. When I said that a parent would be partly to blame for her behavior, I meant that it’s a parent’s job to teach social graces and maybe hers failed to do that, NOT that maybe one parents kept the other from her for years and then he killed himself.

      Your instincts to reach out to your niece were right, and I can appreciate that you hoped the weekend would be a chance to connect with her. The mistake, I think, was in having unrealistic expectations – including that you two would connect, and then feeling resentful when she didn’t even try to meet your expectations. It honestly may have been all she could do to just be in your company – with the help of various filters, like her boyfriend and her phone — as she is still processing what must be very difficult and complicated feelings around the death of her dad. Your presence must surely bring those feelings right to the forefront, as I’m sure her presence must also stir something for you.

      I hope you will continue reaching out to your niece. And I hope you will considering maybe talking to a therapist about the death of your bother – even just a few sessions could help you work through some of the emotions that come from losing a loved one to suicide. Your brother’s death was not in any way your fault. Just as it was not in any way your niece’s fault. At 18, when you wondered why she didn’t reach out to her dad, she didn’t have the self-agency someone 10, 20, 30 years older would have. And who knows what her understanding of her dad’s absence was at that point. She cannot be held responsible for her father’s emotional state. And, really, I don’t think it’s fair to say she added “insult to injury” for not being what you needed her to be on her visit to you. It wasn’t self-absorption that you witnessed in her; it was her filtering her reality in whatever way would make it livable in that moment. The intimacy of being face-to-face with her dead father’s sibling, engaging her (you), looking her in the eye, being totally present might have felt too much, like looking directly at the sun.

      I hope, if your niece is open to you, and you can do so with love and compassion in your heart, that you try to remain in her life in whatever capacity feels ok to you.

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    • avatar

      anonymousse January 17, 2020, 9:12 pm

      Wow. I’m sorry for your loss but you need to take a step back.

      You invited her to come see you! I’m not sure what you expect from a literal child of twenty, but clearly she didn’t meet your expectations. If you wanted to spend quality time, you should have asked if you could spend a day or evening or whatever with just her while she was visiting.

      You’re seething with bitterness. You lost a brother, but she lost her father. You should not be so quick to blame her for not seeing him before he took his own life, because realistically-he was the adult parent in that situation. He should have been trying to be in her life. Stop blaming her for your brother’s death. It’s not her fault. It’s not her moms fault. Your brother made his own choices, as tragic as they were. No one is to blame for his death but himself. You admit you had no idea about the depth of his depression.

      You should go see a grief therapist. Clearly you need help processing his death. If you continue to hold blame and bitterness towards hem, you will push one of your only living connections (your niece) to him away if you keep up with this attitude.

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    • avatar

      Natalie B January 20, 2020, 10:31 am

      Delurking to say…

      I never knew my dad’s side of the family growing up. They lived on the east coast and there was an estrangement with my parents when I was a baby. Growing up, all I was told is that they were horrible people that did not care about me.

      I finally met them all after I was an adult and my mom could not prevent me. I was kind of hoping for some big, emotional TV worthy reunion with lots of hugs, etc. But you know what? Those first meetings were awkward as hell. Not just the first few, but for the first 15 years.

      I got together with them once every year or every two years for weddings and funerals, and we wrote polite letters back and forth, but everyone was still pretty distant, both literally and figuratively. We just did not have the shared experiences of a family.

      5 years ago, my employer relocated me to within an hour of most of the family, and we started interacting more regularly. Now my husband and I spend most holidays with them, and after 5 years of regular get togethers, I finally feel like part of the family (3 aunts, 3 uncles, 11 cousins).

      All that is to say, you can’t make up for that lost time instantly, despite what you see on TV. It takes time to build relationships, especially when there is so much emotional baggage due to the family dynamic.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy January 20, 2020, 11:37 am

        Thank you for sharing this perspective, and I’m glad you have a good relationship with your extended family now!

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  • avatar

    BonV January 17, 2020, 9:16 pm

    LW1: I know that it was probably difficult but thank you for sharing that coda with us. I’m sorry that your niece’s behavior didn’t live up to your expectations (and I think that in these cases the basic expectations are that the guests will keep the house clean and treat their hosts to at least one meal; plus, follow up with a thank you note and small gift – she’s old enough to at least do these things). I’m a very generous person and if I kept track of all of the times that I wasn’t thanked or treated in kind I would be very misanthropic. You sound like a generous person as well, and we have to remember that the pleasure is in the giving. That being said, there is a limit: If she were my niece, that would have been her one chance with me. For her upcoming milestones (and I’m sure that she send you invites solely to receive gifts) I wouldn’t be lavish nor would I make any accommodations to my schedule for her. Finally, if you have no children and you want to leave your brother’s children bequests when you die, I’d would totally bypass her and any future children of hers (speak to a certified estate planning attorney on how to do this).

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    • avatar

      anonymousse January 17, 2020, 9:32 pm

      She’s 20. She’s most likely a broke college student and still learning, FFS.

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      • avatar

        BonV January 17, 2020, 10:50 pm

        FFS back at you. When I was that age – a broke college student – my cousins in NYC invited me to stay at their townhouse. Guess what? I was invited back each year. You know why? Because I managed to get to their place from the airport, i.e. I wasn’t an imposition, I didn’t leave my crap around, I gave them their space, I bought them a meal out, and I always sent a thank you card. FFS back at you again, how hard is it for a 20 year old to get her ass to the store and buy a bag of bagels and some cream cheese, and offer to make her hosts coffee one morning?

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      • avatar

        anonymousse January 17, 2020, 11:09 pm

        Maybe her parents haven’t taught her how to be a good guest. Is it hard to try and have a more generous view of very recent teenager? It’s not really that out of the ordinary for a 20 year old not to have all Mrs. Manner’s social etiquette down pat. She’s a kid. Oh, and I’ll add another FFS.

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      • avatar

        anonymousse January 17, 2020, 11:11 pm

        Your cousins invited you, not your older financially independent aunt. Not really the same dynamic at all.

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      • avatar

        BonV January 17, 2020, 11:40 pm

        FFS! Did you miss the part of my reply where I said that my cousins had a TOWNHOUSE IN NYC? FFS! They owned it outright. And I gather that you are assuming that my cousins are the same age as I am? FFS! I didn’t really feel the need to say in my initial reply that they are my mother’s first cousins. FFS! How is the dynamic not the same at all? And even if it weren’t there is no excuse for being a bad guest and taking advantage of people.

        Oh, and have the last word because I suspect that you are just making bad assumptions (like the dynamic not really being the same at all) just to be argumentative so I’m going to let you at it! Take it away, Maestro!

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      • avatar

        ktfran January 18, 2020, 6:10 am

        Because going nuclear and cutting a not quite adult completely out of your life for one bad visit (who may not know or been taught better) is always the best option.
        People deserve zero chances in life. Screw them all.

        Frankly, the person who lacks social graces is far kinder than someone who is so cold, strict and unforgiving.

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      • avatar

        Ange January 18, 2020, 4:15 pm

        This morning I watched a video of a three year old kid expertly make fried rice from scratch over an open fire then give the first bite to his younger brother. Then I’ll wonder why we’re expecting so little of an actual adult that she is apparently incapable of knowing manners are.

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      • avatar

        anonymousse January 19, 2020, 1:50 pm

        In that example, Ange, I don’t think we should be expecting so much from a three year old.

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      • avatar

        Ange January 19, 2020, 3:19 pm

        The point is though the kid can do it purely because nobody is limiting him and look what he achieved. I think expecting the bare minimum of social graces from someone who can vote and join the army isn’t some monumental request. A 20 year old is nowhere near a child and it’s ludicrous to excuse them from social niceties because of their age.

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      • avatar

        anonymousse January 19, 2020, 3:32 pm

        Not all kids that grow up have parents that are involved and teach them manners. That’s my point.

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    • avatar

      Allornone January 18, 2020, 2:26 am

      FFS! (What? Everyone else seems to be saying it)

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      • avatar

        Kate January 18, 2020, 8:30 am

        FFS! When I was 20, I was a dumb little bitch. I distinctly remember after my HS graduation (18 but whatever), just taking off after to go out with my friends and blowing off my aunt and grandma. When I was 21, I got dangerously drunk on my birthday and couldn’t get out of bed the next day to participate in Mother’s Day with my mother, grandma, and aunt.

        Now I’m in my 40s, my aunt lost her mobility and is confined in a nursing home. I visit every Sunday, buy her clothes, flowers, do her nails, tell her stories, etc. Because I grew up and am not a dumb little bitch anymore.

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      BonV January 19, 2020, 1:01 pm

      @ktfran: Indeed, I’m glad that you would prefer the person who lacks social graces! I’m Sicilian and a Scorpio and people get one chance with me – I don’t suffer fools gladly. But the good news is, that I don’t have crappy relationships with people (simply, because I don’t stay in them), and I don’t waste my time with folk who don’t want a reciprocal relationship with me nor do I try to find the “right dance step” that will please such people.

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      • avatar

        anonymousse January 19, 2020, 1:45 pm

        FFS, (because apparently you really like that acronym) A person of twenty still has plenty of time to learn social graces. She could learn manners from this aunt. Part of being gracious is being generous, forgiving and understanding. You advised this person to burn the tenuous bridge she has with her niece. To disown her, because in your words, “she couldn’t get off her ass and buy some bagels.”

        You are the person who expects people to make the “right dance step,” if not you cut them out. That’s not being gracious, that’s being a cold bitch.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros January 17, 2020, 9:59 pm

    LW1: I think in the future you should only spend money on someone else’s plane ticket if you can guarantee that they will meet your expectations for the trip.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom January 18, 2020, 10:44 am

    LW1 Your update changes everything. Your niece hadn’t seen anyone in your family for five years. She probably felt like she didn’t know you anymore. Who knows what her mom has told her over the years to explain her dad not seeing her. It may have been that none of you wanted them or if you had any interest in seeing them you would have shown up.

    This is a delicate situation. She has shown she is at least interested in reconnecting with your side of the family. At the same time you should assume that she feels somewhat lost around you and somewhat alienated. She didn’t feel comfortable enough with the situation to come alone. Emotionally she is probably a mess. I’d assume she was doing the best she could do.

    She isn’t trying to be insensitive by calling her stepdad her dad. Her stepdad has become the dad in her life. If he is there for her it may feel hurtful for you but she needs a dad in her life. It’s good for her that she has one.

    Your brother could have seen his kids if he wanted. He should have had visitation and he should have shown up to get his kids when it was his turn for them. If she made sure the kids weren’t there he should have gotten either the sheriff or the police to go with him and document that she was preventing him from seeing his kids. He could have then gone to court and gotten physical custody. You should assume that the only thing his kids know is that he quit seeing them. They probably feel that he abandoned them. Don’t be angry with your niece for not turning up at his door as soon as she turned 18. There is a very good chance that she feels he didn’t want them. It often takes until the late 20s to early 30s before estranged kids reach out to the estranged parent. Don’t assume that your point-of-view and her point-of-view are anywhere near the same. While you experienced this as her mom preventing visitation she probably experienced this as abandonment.

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  • avatar

    Claudia January 19, 2020, 1:25 pm

    Hey!
    Well, it is a sightly annoying situation, don’t you think so?
    IMO, they are ungrateful people who only want to take advantage of you and enjoy the journey without any good purpose.

    For a start, you should probably ask these people why they have behaved on this way. They could have not thought on what they have been doing, or maybe they are really selfish people.

    Additionally, from my point of view, it could be a good idea to speak with your brother or sister (the father/mother of your niece), and explain him the situation. Anyway, good like, and I hope nobody do that again to you.

    Claudia.

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    • avatar

      allathian January 20, 2020, 3:28 am

      I wish people’d read the comments thread before answering. The whole point is that the brother (father of the niece) is unreachable because he killed himself.

      In any case, I think LW1 should cut her niece some slack and try to see things from her POW. Skyblossom put things very nicely in the post above. That said, it looks like the niece had at least some contact with her brother until she was about 15, when her mother remarried. If that’s the case, I have a bit more sympathy for the LW feeling a bit miffed that the niece referred to her stepdad as her dad in the LW’s hearing.

      Still, if losing a brother devastated LW, how does she think the niece feels when she’s lost her father? Not to compare degrees of grief here, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the niece felt guilty about her father’s suicide, too. It’s not as if she was 5 when her mom alienated her from her dad. Maybe at 20 she’s mature enough to feel guilty about passively going along with her mom’s shenanigans.

      Since we don’t know the reason for the original divorce, there may well be a good reason for cutting off contact, such as addiction or abuse. We just don’t know, although it seems unlikely since the niece was willing to visit with her aunt.

      LW should get some grief counseling to come to terms with her loss, and to stop blaming others or herself for it.

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  • Dear Wendy

    Dear Wendy January 20, 2020, 9:12 am

    More from the LW:

    I know it is hard to convey vibes to another person but me and my husband get the feeling from her that she has erased all memories and thoughts of my brother which her mother has long been aiming towards. Once while she was here I brought him up and she quickly interrupted me and brought up something else and it felt like she was saying he was not important. While here her mood was light and giggly and she said she loved this area. Money appears to be no problem from her clothes & electronics. Heck, I dont even spend money on the newest Iphone! During the last year of texts never did she say anything about my brother or reply to posts about him. Nobody else in my family has attempted to have a relationship with her over the last year because of the way her family tried to erase my brother’s existence but I would like to have a relationship with her and keep the door open. When she was young we use to fly back and spend several days with her every year but once her mom got married things changed, she moved the kids, had them use her husbands last name, returned gifts we sent, and didnt respond to our attempts to reach out. I have never blamed my niece for his death nor did I have grandiose expectations. Just hoped for respect which was in short supply. I am surprised that you dont see how insensitive for her to come to my home and start telling me stories about her dad only to discover the story is not about my brother but is about her step-dad. That hurt. I think a good parent never teaches their child to erase another parent simply because theyve started a new life with a new man. My brother is still her Dad.

    Sure, all of us couldve done more but at the same time he was resistant to outside help for his issues. Please anyone reading this if you are facing depression or anxiety (or know someone who is) seek help.

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    • avatar

      anonymousse January 20, 2020, 9:26 am

      I would like to encourage you again to see a grief therapist. You’re being unfair to her. Have you ever thought that maybe thinking about her dad is painful for her? Hat she deflects for that reason? Do you know how involved or not involved he was in her life? Even if her mother was the catalyst, the daughter may blame him for abandoning her. What I’m not seeing from you is that you understand she may be grieving, too. Everyone grieves differently and instead of trying to be open minded about her behavior, or thinking about why she might be deflecting, you’re choosing to think of her in the worst light possible. Yes, losing a brother is really, really hard. But I don’t think it even compares to losing a father. Like I said before, you’d do well to speak to a therapist before you become even more bitter and push her further away from your family. You haven’t seen her in years, right? And you’re meeting her with judgement instead of love. See a therapist. Redirect your anger to something else, not your niece who lost her father.

      Was your brother an alcoholic or an addict? Was he violent or erratic? Was he involved in their lives? Did he fight for custody?

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom January 20, 2020, 3:25 pm

      People often refuse to discuss an issue that they find emotionally difficult , especially if she doesn’t feel like she knows you very well. She may not be able to discuss her dad at this time. She must have very mixed emotions about him.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom January 20, 2020, 3:31 pm

      I doubt she has erased all memories of her dad. Just because she doesn’t want to talk about him with you is no reason to assume she has no memories. Her memories of him may be negative. They may be a mix of good and bad.

      You need to focus on building a relationship with her that doesn’t include trying to talk about your brother. You need to just be there. At some point you may be the only safe place where she can ask questions about her dad. When you kept trying to bring up her dad it probably felt like you didn’t actually want to see her and get to know her again. It would come off as you having an agenda where you were trying to force a conversation and probably a point of view. You need to let her come to you if and when she is ready to discuss her dad.

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  • avatar

    Inma January 20, 2020, 1:09 pm

    In my opinion I think the best thing is that you talk to them about what is happening, since what they are doing is quite bad, because after paying you the tickets they announce that they will spend less time there and you will pay all things, and it gives the sensation from your point of visa and from ours (from outside), that are a little interested (in that sense) in them washing their hands every time you have to pay something, both outings, as dinners .. I think it is best to speak it and thus reach an agreement. I hope it has helped you, greetings.

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  • avatar

    mellanthe January 30, 2020, 7:12 pm

    LW1: a lot of good advice has already been said.

    LW2:
    Secret gifts aren’t polite. Friends give gifts, but if I was married to someone, I’d expect things like that to come up. She doesn’t mention what the gift is, but she states it’s sentimental – it makes her feel that it’s something given intimately. I can’t recall people giving gifts at work that aren’t secret santa things, or giving everyone similar gifts – it’d be weird if he singled one colleague out especially for a gift that feels personal.

    Conversations stopping might just be coincidence but I can see why it’d make her feel suspicious if it keeps happening – it makes it look like they have something to hide. It’s polite to include anyone you care about if they’ve walked into a conversation. It’s only polite to include people in conversation. Whilst close friends might occasionally share stuff that is too personal to share with a friend’s partner , in general most conversations should be something that they’d be happy to have you witness, if you happened to walk in. Colleagues being colleagues, you really wouldn’t expect the conversation to be so personal that she couldn’t be included.

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