Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Ask Amy: Feelings are hurt as a sour relative refuses to apologize

Dear Amy: A close relative has a miserable disposition with family but is the life of the party with everyone else.

Dear Amy:

A close relative has a miserable disposition with family but is the life of the party with everyone else.

Everyone in the family has been repeatedly hurt by her behavior after bending over backward to make her happy. Nothing is ever good enough. When confronted with how I feel about her treatment of me, she "apologized" by saying, "I'm sorry you're feeling that way."

She has never actually apologized for the way she has acted. I don't know how to handle this lack of acknowledgment.

I continue building up more resentment toward my family member. As she ages and needs more care, I don't want to do anything for her. Is there any way to make her see she has never apologized for anything, and that I've never forgiven her for anything?

Dear Angry:

People sometimes manage to squeak around an actual apology by only acknowledging the other person's feelings, i.e., "I'm sorry you feel the way you feel."

Unfortunately, this is the Nerf ball of acknowledgments. It is soft and squishy and doesn't travel very far. You need to realize, however, that your feelings and reactions are your own responsibility.

You can ask your family member for an actual apology, but before you do you need to ask yourself what you will do when this apology either doesn't come or is inadequate.

You may then get to the point where you realize that forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself. To forgive is to release resentment and anger - to detach.

When you detach, you understand that she is who she is and you can't change her. You can control only your own reactions. You can declare that you expect to be treated with respect and say what the consequences will be if this doesn't happen. So you say, "You need to treat me decently. If you don't, I won't be able to spend time with you."

Dear Amy:

I am one of five single men all in our mid-20s who have shared a rented house for a few years now. All of us grew up together and have formed what we like to call a family.

The problem is that one of our roommates has been driving us crazy and has become impossible to live with. He is judgmental, cheap, and talks trash about others behind their backs.

This house was supposed to be a happy place where friends could gather. That rarely happens anymore because he has managed to make every guest we have feel extremely uncomfortable with his behavior. Most of us do not want to live with him but also don't want to ruin the long friendship we've had with him.

This is beyond a simple talk explaining to him how we feel. He is incapable of change, and friendships will be destroyed if we ask him to leave, but we cannot go on like this. He has expressed to outsiders that he doesn't like living here, yet he remains.

How can we go about getting back the harmony of our home and still manage to stay friends with him?

Dear Fed Up:

Your friendship with your roommate is already compromised and may not be salvageable. Now you and your de facto family need to decide definitively that you're not going to take it anymore.

You should decide as a group that it is time for your roommate to find another place to live.