Dear Rachel,

Recently a newly married couple moved to our neighborhood and I wanted to make them feel welcome, so I brought them a cake and invited them over for dinner. They are extremely nice and friendly. The problem is that the woman now won't leave me alone. She calls me every day, always wants to come over and hang out, and isn't making any effort to meet other people. While I want her to feel comfortable and I know she doesn't have other friends here, I simply cannot give her the time she needs. Any suggestions?


Dear J.R.,

It is always hard when we extend ourselves and get more than we bargained for. It was extremely kind and hospitable of you to bake them a cake when they moved in and have them over. And more than that, the time you are spending with her I am sure has gone to great lengths to make her feel comfortable. But now it is time to cut the umbilical cord—for her sake as much as for yours.

Since you are so kind and available in her mind, she probably sees no reason to make the effort of meeting new people and making new friends. But she is new Now it is time to cut the umbilical cord to the community and it is important that she does so. I also imagine that there are other people who would be more than happy to have her over but probably feel she is "taken care of" because of your involvement.

My suggestion would be to call other women in your community, explain that she recently moved in, and ask them if they would be able to invite her and her husband over and make them feel welcome. I would also find out about other community events happening and encourage her to go so that she can meet people there as well. If you are willing, you could even host an event or bring her out with a group of other friends of yours so that you can be there to make the introductions and so that she would feel comfortable.

If you are concerned that if you pull back she will take offense or feel you are ignoring her, explain to her that it is just the opposite. Tell her how you feel badly that you are the only ones who have been given the mitzvah of being able to host them. Other people would also like to participate in such a mitzvah and want to meet them as well. Rather than giving any indication that you are looking for a break, focus on the fact that other people really are asking to be able to spend time with them as well.

Use the time to do something productive You can also let her know ahead of time that you will be busy so that you do not seem so available. Start dropping comments like, "I can't believe how busy my week is next week. I don't think I'll have a second to breathe!" So then if she asks to spend time the following week you can remind her of how packed your schedule is.

And if she does keep dropping by uninvited or spending time hanging out at your house, use the time to do something productive with her. You do not need to entertain her, and you do not need to let her interfere with what is going on in your life. Ask her to help out, to participate in what you are trying to do. I am sure she would be more than happy to sit and help you fold laundry or cook for Shabbat if it meant spending time with you. And then, not only are you doing the mitzvah of helping her out, but you are giving her the opportunity to do a mitzvah by helping you out in return.

May everyone be blessed with a friend as good as you are. And may you be blessed with many more opportunities to help others!