Ask Amy: Backing out of deal with volatile real estate agent who’s also a friend presents a ‘no-win’ situation

Dear Amy: “Sophie” is a very close friend. I love her dearly. We have had a couple of difficult conflicts over the years but have always recovered.

I vowed that I would never hire Sophie as my realtor because of how it would affect our friendship, but I didn’t discuss this with her.

Recently, I put my home on the market, and against my better judgment, I asked Sophie to be my agent. Within 10 days, I realized that working with her was a bad decision. She did give me some advice about staging my home, and also sent me listings for places to rent.

We had not yet signed the contract when I told her that I loved her dearly and that she might even be the best realtor for me, but that the stress would not be healthy for our friendship.

She told me I was disloyal, abusive, that she had never had anyone in her career do something so cruel to her. She said I was not being truthful.

I asked her how I could make it up to her and she told me the only thing that would “fix this” would be for her to be my realtor.

I told her that wouldn’t be healthy for me. She said, “Goodbye.”

I am left wondering when, if, and how to reach out to her?

I am feeling horrible about this and would welcome your advice.

– Feeling Horrible

Dear Horrible: Realtors’ income depends entirely on their success in selling houses, often through selling the properties of people in their personal circle, which then can lead to referrals for future business.

So yes, “Sophie” assumes that her closest friends will use her as their agent.

Her volatility, however, presents a “no-win”: hiring her and not hiring her resulting in extreme stress for you.

Even though you had huge misgivings, you asked Sophie to be your agent. Then, in order to get out, you essentially had to “fire” her. Oops.

Her response was outrageous. It is not the behavior of someone who wants to win – and keep – your business.

You could apologize one more time and see if she cools down and responds positively, but no, you should NOT give in to her demand and use her as your agent.

You should also ponder why you want to try to continue a friendship with her. She’s a bully.

Dear Amy: I have always been a quiet gal and a good listener. Because of that, people seem to gravitate toward me as a sounding board if they have a problem or want some advice or a shoulder to cry on.

I’ve never minded this. I try to be helpful.

There are times in my own life, though, when I might have a problem and would like to talk to someone, but these same people won’t give me the time of day. I might get a sentence or two out, but it is like I’ve never been heard – they just go on talking about themselves.

Why are some people like that?

– Quiet

Dear Quiet: Some people are like that because … people are like that.

What you describe is so common, in fact, you – the quiet and thoughtful listener – are the true “outlier,” at least in my opinion.

And what you have to offer the world overall is a large helping of grace.

I’m going to guess that a lot of the people who use you as a “sounding board” aren’t actually listening all that closely to the very advice and comfort they have solicited. During those times when they should be listening attentively, they might be distractedly looking at their phones, or are busy thinking about their next venting spree.

You can try to educate your friends about how their behavior makes you feel: “You often ask me to listen to you, and I’m happy to do that but sometimes I need someone to take that same kind of time for me. I value your point of view. Can you pay closer attention during those times when I need to talk?”

Dear Amy: My heart broke reading the letter from “Surviving,” who went through extreme cancer surgery and treatment during the pandemic.

My own experience with cancer treatment left me with a sort of exhausted survivor’s guilt. I was so depressed.

Fortunately, my local cancer support group helped me through.

Thank you for suggesting this to Surviving. It’s a long road.

– Better Now

Dear Better: The outpouring of support for “Surviving” has been beautiful. Thank you.

You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.

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