‘On the couch’ with Jasminda


DEAR Jasminda,

A friend always gives me her hand-me-downs, saying, ‘This was too good to throw out, but I don’t want it anymore.’ Now I am storing clothes, old furniture, linen and half sets of dinnerware that I don’t want either.

Mrs Rachael H.

Dear Rachael,

Okay, let’s break this down.

What your friend is really saying is, ‘This item takes too much effort to get rid of, and you have “kind and naive friend” written on your forehead, so I’m making it your problem.’

She’s probably already tried Buy, Swap and Sell and, after haggling with locals who want to barter over a pair of once-used soccer boots, she’s emotionally exhausted.

You’ve become a very handy ‘Open All Hours’ Op Shop while at the same time allowing your friend to feel she’s scoring points to be used at a later date.

She gets all the virtue and you get seven splades, three chipped plates, a quilt cover with a dubious stain and a wonky coffee table that you’ll end up putting out in your next council cleanup.

I guess the problem here is that you’ve accepted these unwanted goods on the first occasion and you’ve set a precedent.

It is a bit like being the unwilling recipient of emotional garbage that then builds up in your subconscious while the offender has had the equivalent of a brain detox and feels refreshed.

I would suggest that next time your friend turns up with a car full of seconds, stop her before she starts unloading and say, ‘Look, it is very kind of you, but I really have no room to put a one-eyed rocking horse, a rusted wind chime and a Ken Done print covered in mould. I’m actually decluttering as well. If you have time for a cup of tea, I could show you what’s on offer.’

Then, simply present her with all her rejected items from the last few years.

Carpe diem, Jasminda.

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