Dear Annie: I am in a predicament. My best friend is also my neighbor, and I don't know how to tell him I would prefer a call or text before he shows up in our house. It's a daily occurrence. Sometimes I don't even get into my house after work before he is here to hang out, chat, find out what we are having for dinner and just be here with us. I love him like a brother, and we are close, but it's becoming such an issue that I cringe when I get home from work and find him already waiting for me in my home. After a day of work, sometimes I like to just relax for a while and be with my wife and children. My wife is tired of this, too.
I know he is lonely because his wife works early and stays late, but there aren't any boundaries. And I know that if I were to tell him I need space, he would be hurt and stop coming over altogether. How do I handle this? — Need Space in the Desert
Dear Need Space in the Desert: You are going to tell your friend how you feel; that's inevitable. It's just a matter of whether you do it now — in a calm, reasonable manner — or later, when you can't take it anymore and finally snap. The best thing you can do for your friendship, your family and your sanity is to get ahead of the resentment and be honest with him.
The next time he's at your house (which I'm guessing will be today), sit down with him toward the end of his visit, when it's just you two, and give it to him straight. Tell him that you love living near your best friend but you want to have more time for just the family. Say that because of this, it would be best if he called or texted before coming over. He may be slightly surprised or embarrassed, and yes, he may avoid your house for a little while. But you can always call him up and invite him over when you'd like to see him. I have a feeling he'll come around. Good fences make good neighbors, and good boundaries make for better friendships.
Dear Annie: I am unemployed, am in my 40s and have seizures. I have had two disability counselors recommend that I enroll in Social Security Disability Insurance. My stubborn parents are obsessed with my finding a job and afraid that my enrolling in Social Security would give me the money needed to move out and be the end of active employment searches. They also have the only key to the safe-deposit box with my passport and Social Security card, which are required for enrollment. Any suggestions for my mess? — Trapped by Parents
Dear Trapped by Parents: I hope your parents will do the right thing and hand over the documents that are rightfully yours. If not, you have other options. You would most likely have to pay for a new passport out of pocket, but you shouldn't need your passport to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance. Go to your local Social Security Administration office (find one at https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp) to request a replacement Social Security card, and ask for someone to walk you through the disability application process. That person may be able to contact your state's office of vital statistics to verify your information. At the very least, the expert can determine your next steps.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]