Ask friend to stop her snooping

Dear Annie: I have a friend who I think is a snoop, though she’s otherwise a very nice person. She has admitted to looking in her sister-in-law’s closet when said sister-in-law was not home.

I haven’t actually seen her looking through my stuff, but I once found her with her hand on the doorknob of my laundry. I feel sure she was looking while I was in the bathroom.

Just the other day, there was another example. I went to the bathroom, and when I came out, I heard a noise that sounded like a door closing, and she was standing in front of my pantry.

Why do some people behave this way? I find it extremely annoying. If I know she’s coming over, I put everything away because she is the type of person who will comment about anything that is sitting out — be it food, mail, books, magazines, etc. You get the picture. I don’t comment on such things when I’m in someone’s home, except for pictures maybe. That, too, is very annoying.

In the past several years, I’ve only been to her place once, because she says it’s a mess — with boxes everywhere and only a path to get through. She is always “working on it” but seems not to make any progress. She says a lot of the stuff belonged to her late brother, who lived with her for a few years prior to his death, but he passed away six years ago. She may be a hoarder. Is this in any way related to her nosiness?

I like her, but this could be a deal breaker. If I can’t trust someone in my home, I’m not sure I should be friends with her. What do you say? — Privacy, Please

Dear Privacy, Please: I’ve heard of people stuffing their medicine cabinets with M&M’s or marbles before having guests over so if someone snoops, the person will be caught red-faced. Though such a tactic might make for good slapstick, an option that involves less embarrassment (and less cleanup) is simply talking. Ask your friend about the time she snooped through her sister-in-law’s closet. What does she think compels this behavior? And the next time you think you catch her snooping, ask, “Were you snooping?”

If she keeps it up even after you’ve called her out, be more direct. “Some people might not mind when others look through their pantries, but it bothers me, so please don’t do that.” If you want to stop spending time with this woman, that’s perfectly understandable. Friends should respect each other’s privacy.

As for the hoarding, that seems to be a different issue altogether. You can express concern for your friend that the boxes seem to be getting in the way of her living her best home life, but stop short of calling her a hoarder or telling her what to do. Hoarding is a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder, and it’s something she needs to seek help for on her own terms. For more information, visit https://hoarding.iocdf.org.

Dear Annie: These are some thoughts for “Where Is the Love?” — the family with a child with autism out at a restaurant. When the people at the table next to the family complained about his “sounds,” I think his dad was right to start off by saying, “He has autism.”

I would have added, “Our son JT (the name personalizes him) has autism, and this is how he communicates. And he’s telling us he’s having so much fun at this restaurant! So we thank you ahead of time for your compassion. He used to not be able to express himself at all, so it’s wonderful for us to know when he is happy.” — Sue

Dear Sue: Thank you for the helpful suggestions.