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Ask Ellie: Neighbour with a conscience did the right thing

A reader raises a good “there’s-two-sides-to-every-story” point

Dear reader: As I noted in an earlier column, my daughter, Lisi, will be handling the writing duties a few times a week. Enjoy her take on today’s questions. — Ellie

Reader’s Commentary regarding the letter writer who is possibly a very judgmental neighbour (June 1):

“I was startled to read the response. It sounds like the children were playing safely in their backyard with their dogs, and a responsible adult (elderly gardener) nearby.

“I was concerned that the writer took those children from their home without permission from either parent. This person’s obvious distaste for her neighbour raises red flags.

“She refers to the children’s mother as her neighbour’s ‘wife’, though the woman is her neighbour. Her actions seem aggressive. Also, the fact that the mother didn’t “answer her calls” is telling. Perhaps the woman, and mother of three, decided to let her husband deal with the unhinged neighbour.

“Snatching a neighbour’s children from their backyard, under the guise of a playdate, is concerning. Is it possible that the so called, ‘neighbour with a conscience,’ might be the problem?

Lisi: You raise a good “there’s-two-sides-to-every-story” point. The letter I received was longer and more detailed, and it was clear to me that the letter-writer was the neighbour with her head on straight. The gardener is actually a known person to the kids and all the adults, and safe. The problem wasn’t that he was watching the kids, it was that neither he nor the kids knew where the mother had gone. She’d just left without a word. And he needed to leave to get to another job. By bringing the kids to her house, the letter-writer was allowing him to go, and taking care of the kids at the same time.

Dear Lisi: I need your help. I met a guy I really like. We’re both in our early 20s. We first saw each other on Zoom in a group get-together for something we’re both into (details removed for anonymity — Lisi). This is where we first started communicating.

One time, he private messaged me, and we started talking independently of the group. We don’t live in the same city, but we’re not far away.

Our relationship grew online until we were finally both able to meet in person.

We met halfway the first time for a dog walk (we both have pets) and enjoyed each other’s company immensely. He has a friend in my city, so he came to me twice; once we went out on a proper date, the second time he came to my place and we hung out.

I decided it was time to see how he lives. We planned a weekend visit. Disaster! His apartment was filthy. Dirty dishes everywhere, clothes strewn all around, and it smelled funky. I’m so disappointed. I really liked him!

Do I have to break it off? Or, can this boy be taught to live like a man?

Seeking cleanliness

It sounds like you did all the right things in vetting this person, getting to know him slowly and safely before jumping in, and planning a weekend stay.

As for his filthy apartment, did you say anything? If yes, what was his response? If he was able to see — and smell — his place through your eyes and nose, then there’s potential. If you didn’t speak up, why not?

I suggest you say something — softly, kindly and in a helpful tone. If he gets defensive, you’ll have to move on. But you’ll never know unless you say something.

Reader’s Commentary regarding the confused friend (June 7):

“Confused needs to wake up. His ‘friend’ and wife simply do not want him in their lives. Close the door and move on. Get involved in groups that better match his interest.”

Lisi: I love your matter-of-fact response. It reminds me of that episode of Sex and the City, (Season 6, episode 4), in which Miranda Hobbes asks Carrie Bradshaw’s boyfriend, Jack Berger, what he thinks of the way a guy she likes behaved after they went on a date. She had invited him up to her apartment, and he declined due to “an early meeting.” Berger concludes, “He’s just not that into you.” Sounds like the same applies to this guy and his friends.


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