Virginia Ironside's Dilemmas

 

I have a friend I get on well with, but she never seems to appreciate what I do for her. I visited her in hospital every day and even took her nightdresses home to launder, I had her to stay – and I get no response at all except occasionally a grudging "thank you". I've tried to show her what manners are, so whenever I go to her flat or she does something for me, I email or ring to say how kind she is, and the other day I said I'd like a sign of appreciation occasionally, but she didn't seem to take it in. I feel so resentful all the time. I feel I'm just taken for granted. Yours sincerely, Lisa

Virginia says... Sometimes I think that to "live in hope" is one of the most agonising and painful ways to exist known to man. Partners of terminal cancer patients "live in hope" that there'll be a cure. Girlfriends "live in hope" that their errant boyfriends will return to them and vice versa. I've spent half my life living in hope that people will behave in ways completely different to how they do behave. Surely my best friend will remember my birthday this year? Surely, having had another friend to supper about 10 times, the next time we go out for a pizza he'll offer to pay? Surely, having told them 20 times I don't drink, and what I really want for Christmas is flowers, my old friends won't give me a bottle of champagne for Christmas, again?

I could go on and on. Sometimes I read the letters I get and I can almost hear the sound of the whole world combining in a great wailing whine of hopeless hope.

Indeed, whenever I read of anyone advising, "never give up hope", I feel like punching them on the nose. Because in most cases giving up hope is probably the most sensible, realistic and honest thing you can do. Why do we hope? It's because we feel it's better to "live in hope" than accept the reality of a situation. And the reality, in this case, is that your friend is never going to show any signs of appreciation. She is just not like that. Good heavens, you've even told her that you'd like more than a mumbled "thank you" and she hasn't come up with the goods. What more to do if you want to hammer the point home?

You have to come to terms with the reality. Now it could be that she's a selfish creep. But it could be more complicated. Perhaps when she was small she was always bullied, by a cruel father, to bow and scrape and say thank you for everything and she associates showing appreciation with being forced to behave in ways that didn't come naturally. Perhaps she had a favoured sister who was always being praised for her politeness and, angry and jealous, she resolved never to be like that. Or perhaps she feels that saying "thank you" diminishes her in some catastrophic way you can't understand. Perhaps she feels grateful, but just can't express it.

Whatever, either accept this strange and unmannered creature as your friend, or drop her. The leopard will never change its spots and nor will your friend change her selfish or, more likely, eccentric, behaviour.

 

Readers say...

Why do you do it?

I find myself wondering for whom you are doing this helping. Is it for the benefit of your friend, or is it to meet your own needs? And on what basis do you judge "the occasional thank you" to be "grudging"? I suspect that the problem is that her ability to be grateful falls far short of your need. In other words, the problem lies with you, not her, and so does the solution: you should seek to address the roots of this need.

Ian Hurdley By email

 

Don't expect thanks

As a wife and mum of four youngsters I often feel completely taken for granted and for a time resented that none of the family showed appreciation or even seemed to notice, let alone acknowledge what I did for them. But I still did the chores and had to ask myself, was it better to do them with a light heart or with an inner voice moaning about being an unpaid cook and cleaner? Kind acts should be done out of kindness. If acknowledgement really means so much to you, you must stop helping your friend.

Angela Elliot By email

 

Next week's dilemma

Dear Virginia, Two months ago, I broke up with my wife after ten years, and have nearly had a breakdown I've been so upset. It was all her decision. It's all I can do to go into work. But a couple of weeks ago, I met an amazing woman. I've told her I'm not in a position to say whether this relationship will go anywhere because I'm in a turmoil, but she says she understands and just wants to help me. My friends say I'm mad, and should wait at least a year before getting into anything new, but this woman is making me feel happy again. I'm not being stupid, am I? Yours sincerely, Christopher

What would you advise Christopher to do? Email your dilemmas and comments to dilemmas @independent. co.uk, or go to independent.co.uk/dilemmas. Anyone whose advice is quoted will receive a £25 voucher from the wine website Fine Wine Sellers (finewinesellers.co.uk)

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Sport
premier league
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
people'I hated him during those times'
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleMemoir extracts show iconic designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Life and Style
fashionAlexander Fury's Spring/Summer 2015 London Fashion Week roundup
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late on stage in Brixton show
News
i100
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
News
people''Women's rights is too often synonymous with man-hating'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

    £70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

    Nursery Nurse

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

    Nursery Nurse

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

    SEN Teaching Assistant

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam