Dear Prudence

Help! An Old Friend Came for a Chaotic Visit That’s Left Our Friendship in Ruins.

Dear Prudence answers more of your questions—only for Slate Plus members.

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Every week, Dear Prudence answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members. R. Eric Thomas is filling in as Prudie for Jenée Desmond-Harris while she’s on parental leave. Submit questions here. (It’s anonymous!)

Q. Not a Hotel: I recently had a situation with a long-time friend that has taken a turn, and I’m wondering if I acted in the wrong. Five years ago I moved halfway across the country but have kept in touch with friends back home including “Amy.” In that time she went through a nasty divorce and got custody of her four kids, and I had a baby.

She recently messaged me saying they were looking to travel across the country and wanted to stop by and visit us for a few nights to which I said “Absolutely!” I even said if she wanted to spend an extra night on their way home, they could, and she said she’d think about it and let me know her plan. Well, she never did. The week before they left, I had to reach out and ask if they were coming. She said yes and gave vague details. I expected them to arrive around 2 PM on Tuesday, but they changed their plans day-of without telling me and showed up at 10 PM with a text in the afternoon as notice. They stayed, and I had things planned to do and food bought for meals (with dietary restrictions), and it was met with pouting and rudeness by the kids and indifference by Amy, who spent a lot of time complaining about the kids, her divorce, etc. I could tell she was overwhelmed.

We got through the visit, and I asked her again what her plans were for their trip home and if they wanted to stay for a night, and she said “We’ll see.” They left at 5 AM and woke up my toddler in the process, didn’t clean up, and generally left my house in chaos.

Then, we got an invite to go out of town overnight when I would have expected them on their way back. I asked Amy yet again and got an “I’m not sure,” so I told her we had a change of plans and couldn’t accommodate them so hoped they had a great trip. After this she responded the next day saying they wanted to stay with us again, and I had to awkwardly tell her it wasn’t an option anymore, which didn’t go well. I feel like the whole experience has me feeling like she was super selfish and treated us more like a free hotel than a friend’s visit. I know she’s going through a tough time, but now she’s mad at me, and I’m mad at her. Was I wrong to accept other plans and rescind my initial offer? All in all, I gave her at least six times to confirm if they wanted to stay, and each time she always said “We’ll see.”

A. You weren’t in the wrong. When people travel, especially parents, there’s a lot of logistics that they have to juggle. And simple communication can sometimes fall to the wayside. But it sounds like Amy was almost going out of her way to be uncommunicative, and you’re totally right to set a boundary. “We’ll see” just doesn’t cut it. What does that even mean? If she’s not going to respect your space or your time, then she shouldn’t get free rein over it.