Since You Asked…

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Dear Caroline,

I recently reconnected with an old friend from college. She has time on her hands, loves to talk on the phone, thinks nothing of calling me for no reason and then goes on and on about nothing. Once I pick up, it’s almost impossible to end the call.

I feel guilty letting her calls go to voicemail, though she leaves such long messages I don’t even bother to listen to them.

When we get together in person, she’s fun to be around. I like her and don’t want to hurt her feelings.

What should I do?


Dear Tina,

Maintaining friendships is a science that sometimes needs a little engineering. I have several dear but long-winded people in my life, too. I’m no stranger to that sinking feeling and case of the “guilts” over always sending someone’s calls to voicemail.

The pandemic changed my perspective about taking people for granted, so I tried something new. Instead of hoping those friends won’t call me, I now call each of them at a roughly appointed time every weekend and devote about 30 minutes to each call while doing other chores. Of course, I don’t go out of my way to tell them I’m multitasking.

The impromptu calls I used to find tedious are pleasant enough while I’m folding laundry, putting away groceries, chopping up vegetables for soup or doing something else on that level.

It didn’t take long for me to get these friends “trained” to expect my weekend calls, and now these talkers are a lot less likely to call me when I’m busy. Should they call, I don’t have to feel guilty for not picking up because I know I’ll be calling them later in the week. If making these calls every week is too much of a commitment for you, make them every other week, but keep your timing consistent.

Try this out for about a month and see what happens.

Yours in speakerphone solidarity.


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