Ask Amy: Too Much Positivity?
Some people don't want to be constantly showered with sunshine and rainbows
Dear Amy: I’ve known “Sandy” for 20 years. She lives on the West Coast and I now live on the East Coast. My husband and I moved three years ago, but I’ve stayed in touch with my friends.
I supported Sandy through her chemo when she was being treated for cancer.
I’ve sent her cards, letters and flowers when she was depressed about being sick and losing her hair.
I’ve sent her suggestions for good movies and shows to watch.
Whenever I phone her, she won’t answer the phone but will send me an email or text.
Sandy has recovered.
Lately, during the pandemic, I’ve noticed that she ignores any positive, happy, or upbeat information I send her.
There is just no response. Nothing. She doesn’t say if she is interested, she doesn’t ask me to stop sending her photos — nothing.
I’m an artist and I love to share news about paintings I’ve done or home remodeling projects my husband and I have managed to do.
I’m of the opinion that friends should be happy for their friends, and good news is fun to share!
If I send Sandy bad news, she’s all over it. She responded to news that our house was broken into. She responded when I told her my laundry room was flooded.
All she likes to hear is bad news. Why is this? How do I deal with a negative Nancy?
Dear Upbeat: I completely identify with “Sandy.”
She might be less of a Negative Nancy if you were a little less of a Positive Penny.
Have you ever been chronically and seriously ill? Have you ever been depressed? Possibly not.
Your impulse is to always try to raise Sandy’s spirts by being upbeat. But sometimes, when a person’s spirit is low, they don’t want to be jollied out of it. They don’t want someone constantly poking them with positivity.
Sometimes a person who is hurting doesn’t want to be reminded of their relatively messy lot in life.
They want a little understanding. Commiseration. A little, “Grrrrrrr. That sucks!”
So yes, your upbeat messages about the wonderful work you are doing leave her cold, probably because she can’t do these things herself.
But when bad things happen, Sandy is identifying with you. She is saying, “Grrrr. That sucks!”
In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068
© 2021 by Amy Dickinson