Dear RV Shrink:
We have met a lot of wonderful people in our travels. We seem to keep track of each other on social media and meet up over the years whenever our paths cross. It’s been great up until now.
Recently, one couple decided they wanted to travel with us exclusively. They never asked if we would mind; they just started stalking us in an RV way. At first they would ask where we were headed and just show up; now they are wanting our itinerary and suggesting we share meals together.
My husband doesn’t want to confront the situation. He finds it awkward. I am insisting we break it off with them, and get back to our own life on the road.
How should we handle this? —Uncomfortable in Atlanta
Traveling together has many dimensions. Many people find it compatible, but it has to be mutual. It sounds like your dilemma is not.
Your situation was born out of a desire by just one of the parties wanting to hook up, without so much as a discussion about the ground rules. You need to confront them with your feelings about the arrangements they have developed without your consent. You may lose them as friends, but eventually that is going to happen anyway if you struggle through this until you can’t take it anymore. It would be better to be up front with your feelings and hope they understand.
One of the funniest parts of Bill Bryson’s book, “A Walk in the Woods,” was about this very situation, only on foot. An obnoxious woman who talked with confidence to hide her insecurities hooked up with Bryson and his hiking partner, Katz, uninvited. They tried everything to ditch her without hurting her feelings. Finally, they decided to walk really fast, get a few miles ahead of her, then jump off the trail at the next town and hope she would pass them. Then they felt bad and guilty, and worried about her. They find out later from other hikers she has been bad mouthing them as fat, lazy old guys. Then they felt bad they felt guilty.
So don’t try to ditch these people by telling them you’re going one way, and go the opposite. You will feel guilty and they will bad mouth you.
Have an adult conversation, and explain you are not comfortable traveling with them all the time. Tell them you need more alone time to do your own thing.
If they take it badly that is their hangup, not yours. —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink