How to end a friendship
I have a friend I sort of inherited from her mother (I'm in my 70s, she in her mid-60s, her mother was 85). I adored her mother who passed several years ago and I'm finding myself wanting to end the friendship. I realize we can't take everyone with us forever on our path in life but find severing relationships awkward. I've been "dumped" by a couple of friends in the past with no word as to "why." My feelings have been hurt, I've called my judgement into question (why didn't I see who this person was, was there a problem I wasn't aware of...), etc., etc. I don't wish to do this to her by doing the same thing but I'm in a quandry as to how to handle this.
To shed some light: she is single, never married, one adult daughter, a dog, taught school for decades, loves to travel, reads a lot and is searching for her volunteering niche. What I'm finding increasing difficult to deal with is her lack of interest in what's happening in my life (she never asks how I'm doing or how my adult children are doing) but tells me at painful lengths details about her volunteer jobs, her trips, her daughter (I've met her several times and she's barely cordial), detailed info on her daughter's jobs, travels, friends. She loves to travel and I dogsit a bit for extra money so she leaves her dog with me. I always request she supply her dog's food but she says she'll eat anything so I have to feed her dog the food I feed my dogs. Her dog is 12 y/o and always needs to have her teeth cleaned but when I mention it to her, she complains that it's so expensive (but sees no problems spending thousands on international trips). She allows her dog to roam her neighborhood freely (an accident waiting to happen) and that's her business. I'm very tuned in to dogs' needs as I've fostered dogs for 10+ years (almost 200 dogs) and see the health problems that arise from not attending to dental health and the potential deleterious effects of changing dog foods abruptly. I've been trying to distance myself but she continues to call so I'm certain she has no clue there's a problem.
You have yourself an unwanted guest. I'll spare you the guilt about wanting to push this person out of your life; I get it, you just don't feel you have a very strong friendship with this person and you'd much rather spend your time with people who care about the things you do.
I have to wonder if you've confronted her about never bringing her own dog food. It obviously bothers you - now in addition to taking care of her dogs, you are expected to pay for her dogs' food while you keep them. Does she pay you, at least, for the dog-sitting? I don't know that I would be rude about it, but maybe you could make it known that you've grown tired of this arrangement.
Another matter of confrontation, is breaking it to your former friend that you just don't want to carry on this entire relationship with her anymore. I have no idea how your friend would react to you being blunt with her about things, nor do I know how comfortable you'd be with laying it all on the table. But one thing I do know is that personally, I'd appreciate it more if someone came right out with the truth, rather than keeping the elephant in the room. It will save you and her both a lot of time (and maybe hurt?) if you're straightforward about this. You might not even have to go into a lot of detail. Sometimes, saying something just as simple as, "I want to spend more time with my family these days.", might be enough to help her to get the picture.
If you're looking for a more indirect approach, one thing I noticed is that she really enjoys taking trips. Maybe you could persuade her to go somewhere else, or spend more time with her daughter, or to volunteer in Africa or something? Of course, even then, she will still likely come back afterwards. Unless maybe she really likes the idea of moving to Las Vegas and you can convince her to go for it! ...But she still might call you on the telephone.
One last thing I want to ask you, and I'm not really looking for an answer - it's more or less food for thought: Are you being fair to this friend? Sure, she doesn't seem to care about your family, but do you care enough about hers? To her, the things in her life are important - they are her legacy, her triumphs. So, I'd at least advise you to be gentle and take into account her valid interests and view of the world. Good luck!
Altreal, thanks for you input...I appreciate your viewpoints as it gives me food for thought.
I've asked her several times to provide her dog's food. The first time it happened, she said "oh I forgot to bring it. just feed her anything." Since she was on her way to the airport I had no choice. It's not the expense of the dog food...that's neglible. She is getting older and sometimes when you switch dog foods abruptly, the dog's intestinal system does not adjust immediately and he/she may have a bout of diarrhea. This isn't fair or kind to the dog...or me. I don't wish to clean up diarrhea when the situation could have been avoided. It's thoughtless on her part. I do charge her for dogsitting and request all clients pay me up front.
I'm considering emailing her a brief succinct message rather than calling her. There's no confrontation, she has something she can read (several times if necessary) and I don't intend to do any finger-pointing. I just think it's kinder than pushing her away silently and leaving her hanging so, yes, I think I'm being fair to her. I'm letting her know I cannot, do not wish, to continue with our relationship. I'm think I'm being very fair to her, probably more so than she is to me. It's all about her. Any great friendship is a two-way street.
If she moved, it would only be closer to her daughter and that is her intention when she gets older. She'll go wherever her daughter goes. They vacation together every year at Christmas. She has student loans she's paying for her daughter, just made a down payment on her daughter's condo, and constantly advises her daughter on job choices and how to handle situations at work. I can appreciate that her daughter is her top priority. My adult children are as well.
Sorry - but she really sees you as the "hired help" and is really not interested in your feelings, aspirations, hopes or your family.
Time to break this "contract" - which she violates by not even providing food for her dog.
Tell her you are not able to watch her dog any longer and wish her well in the future. Then DON'T respond to her calls, emails or other methods of contacting you.
I have a feeling you will be replaced very soon, anyway. People like her just move from one source to another to get their own needs met.