Long friendship turns sour when they become neighbors

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been friends with another couple for many years. We would get together occasionally, and we mostly enjoyed their company. When the house across the street from ours became available, they bought it.

Not long after they moved in, the wife began copying our interior and exterior design elements and one night stood in our kitchen and said, "Well you know, everything's a competition." To say we were dismayed would be an understatement. My husband and I spent many years collecting vintage furniture and other items to create a distinctive home. It has been a labor of love.

Six months ago, we installed a unique garage door, unlike anything in the neighborhood. Abby, within three months she installed the exact same one! Are we wrong to find it crass and disrespectful?

We no longer want to spend time with them but don't want to completely sever the connection because they are neighbors, and we also have some mutual friends. Moving is not an option; this is our home. What should we do? -- FED UP IN OHIO

DEAR FED UP: I understand why you are frosted and need to distance yourself. Who wants to be close to someone who considers "everything" to be a competition? Perhaps it will lessen your frustration to remember that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, while you learn to accept things you cannot change. Of course it is in your best interest to keep things cordial, but it might be better if you no longer invite this woman INTO your home.

DEAR ABBY: I lost my beautiful mother six years ago. While, of course, I miss her terribly, something else has been bothering me that I'm having trouble getting over. I allowed my cousin on my dad's side of the family to come to the hospital to see me and pay her respects, which didn't bother me. It's what occurred next that I have the big issue with.

When my cousin left the hospital, she jumped straight on Facebook and posted for everyone to see "RIP, Aunt Sally." Everyone who was friends with Mom saw the post, which meant she announced my mom's passing before I had even had time to process it all. I was extremely hurt, angry, sad and shocked that she would do that.

It still bothers me as it's not something that can be undone. I was still lying beside my mom crying and trying to say goodbye to her when my phone started blowing up with messages and notifications. How can I get past the betrayal I feel? I have had very little contact with that cousin since. -- HURT IN FLORIDA

DEAR HURT: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your mother. In this internet age, it's not unusual for people to post their feelings online. Your cousin may have been venting rather than intending to make a formal announcement of your mother's passing. The problem with posting is that once it's on there, it is out there for everyone to see and react to.

I do think this is something you should discuss with your cousin, who may not have realized how her online sentiments affected you on that sad and stressful day. You deserve an apology for her insensitivity.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $16 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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