I want my coworker to stop giving me “psychic messages” from my dead family members

A reader writes:

I’ve worked at my current company for six years. In that time, I befriended a coworker (Rebecca) who, to be honest, seemed very lonely but was sweet. We had some things in common and she sat with me at lunch sometimes. We’re completely remote now, but the two of us would still occasionally get together to go on shopping trips, ren faires, etc.

Eventually she became kind of pushy about wanting to be included in every outing I ever mentioned. I managed to always let her down gently, but it started to feel like I was the only person who ever wanted to hang out with her.

On our last outing, it was a decently long drive. Rebecca took up a large portion of the drive telling me about how she had gotten really into this one “psychic” on Tiktok who offers paid classes to “train your psychic abilities.” She went on and on about this, and asked if I would want messages from my mom, who died over a decade ago. I told her it was a sweet thought, but no thank you, because that’s really not my sort of thing. During this conversation, she also told me about how she was taking a ton of unpaid time off of work and became behind on many of her bills, some of which were possibly going to collections. But she was still taking Tiktok psychic classes. Being trapped in a car with her, it was way too awkward for me to really speak my mind about it. Plus, I felt like it wasn’t really my place.

This year has been very difficult for me in regards to loss. My grandmother, who I lived with, passed suddenly. Very recently I got a new puppy, who tragically passed in a horrible accident not even a week after I brought him home. It was extremely traumatic for me, but most people around me have been very caring and thoughtful in normal ways.

But … Rebecca. After my grandmother passed, she almost immediately sent me an unsolicited “message” from her, telling me how she was at peace, etc. I was freshly grieving, so I just told her thank you. A few months later, she sent me another “message” she’d received, telling me my grandmother is proud of me and other vague things. It was a random message out of nowhere after having not spoken in a while, so I just thanked her again and moved on with my day.

But then I went through losing my puppy. I received three separate messages from Rebecca, telling me, “He’s with your mom and grandma, they’re all happy and they love you.” This was less than 24 hours after losing him. Then, last night, she sent me another message giving details about how my dead family members are playing with my dead dog, and very specific behaviors my dog is doing, like spinning around and barking, and how my grandmother found it funny. I finally lost my patience. I thanked her for thinking of me and caring, but said I did not ask for messages from the great beyond and do not want to hear any more. She apologized but also sort of excused her behavior, saying she “doesn’t mean to upset me more” and that “sometimes I keep getting the messages over and over until I pass them on.” For the record, she met my grandmother maybe twice, briefly, and (obviously) never met my mom, or my puppy. And, shockingly, she never mentions any of my other passed family members or pets.

Is there a way I can shut her down more assertively if she tries this again, without saying something like, “Please stop pushing your Tiktok psychic scam crap on people who don’t ask for it”? I don’t want to completely cut off my relationship with her, though we’re not in the same department anymore. I also feel bad because she had come to my grandmother’s service to support me, which I appreciated it, but I also feel at this point she has way overstepped some boundaries. I tend to have a lot of trouble enforcing my boundaries without people taking it really poorly, so I’d love some kind of script for this!

What in the double-fried fuck.

This is so wildly out of line and inappropriate. If it had only been once, I could see writing it off as one of the sadly common missteps people make around death and grieving. So many people are a chaotic mess about what to say when someone dies, and some weird stuff comes out.

But the way Rebecca escalated to multiple messages, culminating in the one describing specific behaviors … it’s way over the line when you had never indicated you shared her beliefs or wanted those sorts of reports from her.

However! For someone who says you have trouble enforcing your boundaries, you handled it perfectly. And there’s a good chance that by telling her clearly that you don’t want to hear any more “messages from the beyond,” you’ve now put a stop to it.

If she does continue after you’ve clearly told her to stop, she would be crossing a whole new line, and at that point you’d be on very solid ground in saying, in as pissed-off a tone as you want, “I told you very clearly to stop saying things like this to me. Do not under any circumstances bring something like this to me again.”

If you can’t see yourself saying that and want a slightly softer version: “I thought I’d said this clearly before but in case I didn’t: I find this deeply upsetting and I don’t want to hear anything else like this.” Or: “I know you mean well, but I do not want to hear this. Please don’t say anything like that to me again.”

You’re feeling bad because Rebecca has supported you in the past, like with your grandmother’s funeral. But if she genuinely wants to support you, then she should welcome information about how to do that. If she runs roughshod over your clear statements to stop passing “messages” to you, then she’s not really interested in supporting you — she’s just pursuing an agenda of her own at the expense of your emotional well-being, and you don’t need to accommodate that out of guilt or politeness or anything else.

I’m sorry about your grandma and your puppy and your year.

Read an update to this letter

{ 429 comments… read them below }

    1. Random Dice*

      When Alison Green – who gets stories of humans behaving terribly badly – uses the f-word about your situation, you can be sure it’s not remotely ok.


      1. Donkey Hotey*

        My thoughts exactly.

        I mean, I’m a navy sailor; I’ve had professional training in these matters. ;-)

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Her first line summed up the collective reaction perfectly and she didn’t have to be psychic to do it.

    2. HugeTractsofLand*

      And to add some actual substance: OP is being very reasonable here! Like Alison said, you have very kindly handled someone’s repeated intrusions during an incredibly difficult time. Rebecca doesn’t deserve any more allowances; she’s already used up the goodwill she earned by coming to the service. Please shut her down as firmly as you need the next time she tries anything, and take care of yourself. Maybe dialing back the friendship wouldn’t be a bad thing. I’m very sorry for your losses.

    3. dackquiri*

      My eyes somehow skipped over the headline and went straight to the start of the letter. I read the first paragraph and thought “aw, this seems sweet; wonder where this is going” and then I redirected my focus onto the title and my soul left my body.

          1. Not Telling For This One*

            GMTA, Donkey!

            I got the message, but only 80% of it.

            Because it was 20% off.

            *gets her coat*

            1. Shrimp Emplaced*

              Lol, thanks Not Telling, my Covid-y self needed this one today.

              Go, OP! You have definitely stated your boundaries, and now you’ll have even more scripts to use.

    4. Tucker*

      My first thought was that it read:
      ‘I want my coworker to stop giving me “psychic massages” from my dead family members’

      On a second read … only slightly more reasonable.

      1. Tiny clay insects*

        Same! I was like “if the massages are psychical least they won’t be occupying the pumping room?”

    5. Office Gumby*

      With Alison’s first line, my brain auto-corrected it to double-fried flock.

      I got the image of deep-fried sheep drenched in butter.

  1. Falling Diphthong*

    I am agog that the afterlife is like some sort of pyramid scheme, and the Tik-Tok-trained psychics amongst us need to badger the lower levels to take their messages already.

    1. Nancy*

      It’s insane, and people throw much money at it- not exactly the same, but my good friend is a tiktok famous tarot reader, with genuinely good intentions and vibes, and they get hundreds of scam accounts created in their name who just solicit random people saying that they have a message for them and to send money…and people fall for this crap all the time. It’s just wild to me how eager people are to throw their money at supernatural scammers

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        And this is nothing new! The history of supernatural scams is a long and varied one.

        Look up “spirit photography” sometime. It took almost no time for people to start that scam once photography was invented.

        1. Selina Luna*

          Fun story: the first guy credited with a “spirit photo” stated that HE thought he just was a bad photographer, and it was a complete accident. His (wife? I think?) was the one who suddenly saw dollar signs.

          1. Princess Sparklepony*

            There was a series of spirit photos that I saw once and it looked like someone was performing a sex act on himself….

        2. Nea*

          Ask a Mortician did a really fascinating video on that, complete with recreating the technique with her as both photography subject and ghost.

        3. JB*

          Séances were popular in Victorian times, the scam using cold readings (groups meant a better hit rate and getting good will from more credulous attendees to build up belief) and rigging concealed devices around the room to simulate activity of the departed.

          1. Mongrel*

            There’s also warm reading, where the ‘psychic’ has rummaged around on social media and local news to dig up some information on the person they’re pitching to

            1. STAT!*

              Oooh, this reminds me of something I heard on Squaring the Strange. Apparently Harry Houdini had a number of assistants who would help him in uncovering psychic frauds. One woman was Rose Mackenberg. She would go to cities ahead of Houdini’s tours and gather information incognito from local mediums, & generally take the pulse of the place through reading newspapers, talking to people etc. Houdini would use this info to show how mediums worked their scams. So he & his team were kind of using the warm reading technique against their targets.

              1. Mongrel*

                James Randi also did a lot of good work in uncovering the fraudsters but their marks are the right mix of gullible & desperate they just popped up again a few years later.

              2. Don't Be Longsuffering*

                I’m replying to Stat!’s comment below, but that comment is at the end of nesting fatigue.
                Very interesting that communication was considered one way until the 19th. Or was it just monetized then? I wasn’t sure what you meant.
                I could take up a whole column with the weird and wonderful stuff that’s happened to people I know. Unbidden. And people often find it scary because their clergy say only demons communicate. Or they believe spirits can harm them. Thanks, Hollywood.
                I’m just saying, if I can’t find my sock, then find it on the patio, and I haven’t been out there in days, and I live alone, I’m going to sit quietly and ask who’s looking for me. IME the answer comes immediately. Last time it was an in-law who barely spoke to me in life. “Why me?” “Because you’re the only one listening.” “Well, you always were an effing attention hog.”

      2. lilsheba*

        This is a HUGE problem on tiktok and instagram. So many fakers stealing the identities of genuine tarot readers and psychics. I’m pretty sure this person is dealing with a scam, but who knows for sure. And it’s wrong to push that on people who don’t want it.

          1. The Username Lost to Time*

            A real psychic acknowledges that paid readings are for entertainment purposes. A scammer says they will remove a curse for $700 or whatever.

            1. lilsheba*

              They say it’s for entertainment to cover their ass but there are real psychics who can do readings, but it takes a lot of time and research to weed out the fakes from the ones that are serious. And prices will be reasonable. Anyone who is offering to remove curses for 700 bucks is definitely a scammer.

              1. The Username Lost to Time*

                We are in agreement that the real psychics (versus scammers) follow CYA legal advice and are upfront about readings being for entertainment purposes only. Individual clients can decide which real psychics they vibe with.

          2. Timothy (TRiG)*

            The thing is, tarot readings and other “psychic” stuff is also a religious belief. (And the boundary between religious belief and superstition is mostly about social respectability.) I don’t know why we should generally respect religions except these ones. (I solve this problem for myself by saying that it’s perfectly possible to respect religious people without having any respect at all for religious beliefs.)

            1. Dr Sarah*

              I think for something to be a religious belief it has to involve some kind of deity or deities.

              But I’m quite happy to give people who believe in psychics a similar level of respect to people who believe various religious claims: I support your right to believe whatever you want and I am utterly opposed to making fun of anyone’s beliefs. I also think that people need to avoid using their beliefs as an excuse for unwelcome hassling of people who don’t share them and that it is entirely appropriate to enforce this boundary.

              1. Ace in the Hole*

                Religious belief is not exclusively the domain of theistic religions. To say otherwise is discriminatory against the wide range of religions that do not include dieties. Just for a few examples: various animistic beliefs from around the world, non-theistic branches of Buddhism and Hinduism, Daoism, and many Unitarian Universalists.

                From a legal perspective, the US Customs and Border Protection website provides this description for religious beliefs covered by title VII:

                “Religious beliefs include theistic beliefs (i.e. those that include a belief in God) as well as non-theistic “moral or ethical beliefs as to what is right and wrong which are sincerely held with the strength of traditional religious views.” Although courts generally resolve doubts about particular beliefs in favor of finding that they are religious, beliefs are not protected merely because they are strongly held. Rather, religion typically concerns “ultimate ideas” about “life, purpose, and death.””

                If someone genuinely believes that the spirits of the dead can communicate with the living via specific rituals or practices, how is that not a religious belief? If not religious, what is it?

                1. STAT!*

                  Tangentially to your final paragraph: one recent Squaring the Strange podcast did a fast look at communication with the dead. I was surprised to learn that this has been a one-way street throughout most of Western history: that is, it has only been the living trying to communicate with the dead. Getting messages back from the other side only really became a mainstream belief during the 19th century with the rise of Spiritualism, which is definitely a religion. So to answer your questions: it is a religious belief in at least some cases. Not sure whether it should be so classified in all of them though.

            2. Philosophia*

              +10 to the third, on both counts. People who state they’re “spiritual but not religious” are mistaken: a belief in the existence of such entities as spirits IS a religous belief.

        1. cosmicgorilla*

          Lizzie B, my pychic abilities are sensing sarcasm in your replies. When I read the cards, I turned over the Ace of Base, which means “real pyschics” is an oxymoron.

          I am obviously here for the sarcasm.

        2. NYCWeasel*

          I 100% am amused by the snark, so I’m not taking exception to your response, and there’s no explanation I can think of that makes any of what Rebecca is doing acceptable.

          But…as someone who both swears by the scientific method AND has had experiences that don’t neatly fit into a skeptical view of how our senses work, I do think there’s room for exploration and experimentation without exploitation!!!

        3. Nancy*

          I mean, I get that this was meant to be a funny/snarky comment, but I am a 100% skeptic, and I can still appreciate the difference between only taking money for readings when people specifically reach out through established channels (and having a point blank ban on unethical readings, aka dead relatives, legal advise, medical advice, etc) vs preying on people by impersonating an established reader and spamming people’s inboxes to get their money by giving whatever manipulative message you think will get you that money

          1. I Have RBF*


            I only do readings by request. I don’t give medical or legal advice beyond “Perhaps you should see a (doctor/lawyer) about this matter.”

            IMO, a good reader only reads when asked (otherwise it violates the other person’s privacy), and stays out of the licensed professions other than maybe suggesting a first or second opinion. EG: “I see that you have some possible legal issues in your future. Make sure you have access to an X or Y type of lawyer.” Not saying “Hire a contract lawyer now!”, but “Make sure you know one to call on.”

            Readings are for the emotional and decision making benefit of those who seek them. The idea is not to make decisions for people, that’s outside of the scope. The idea is to help them see what they might have been missing, or provide additional context to make their choice in.

            Unsolicited readings “for” a coworker? That would upset me, and I practice that type of thing. If I want to hear from my deceased relatives, I’ll ask them myself or seek out a qualifier reader.

          2. Hexiva*

            Yeah, even if you don’t believe in God, you can tell there’s a difference between a local pastor who preaches what he believes and then sends round the collection plate vs. a televangelist with a megachurch promising that he’ll cure your cancer if you donate 5000 dollars to him.

          3. The answer is (probably) 42*

            Also, there are people who have genuinely held spiritual practices that from the outside could be mistaken for “scam psychic nonsense”. I have a close friend who practices Wicca, and she does Tarot readings and other rituals- I’m not familiar with the details, but it’s clearly something she’s sincere about, and has put a lot of thought and research into. I’ve seen how much this has enriched her life. She wrote an entire album’s worth of music inspired by the Tarot deck (I don’t share her beliefs but the album is genuinely gorgeous).

            I bring this up to say that I am a little disappointed in this comment’s section lumping all ‘witchy’ kinds of spiritual beliefs into some scammy nonsense. To me that reads like presuming all Christians are Q-anon conspiracists who believe that Trump is Jesus.

            Yeah, probably plenty of that stuff on TikTok is scammy bullshit. Same as any other scammer who subverts a religion for their own profit motives (prosperity gospel anyone?). But nuance exists.

            1. Fiona Orange*

              “To me that reads like presuming all Christians are Q-anon conspiracists who believe that Trump is Jesus.”

              Sadly, there are people who believe just that, as anyone who has ever spent time on Reddit knows.

        4. Dahlia*

          If I’m a Twitch streamer, my viewers can choose to send me money to support me. You may not think that’s a great use of their money, but it’s a choice they are allowed to make and it’s not inherently unethical.

          If I’m Joe Schmoe from Idaho, and I DM people saying, “Hey, I’m SusieTheTwitchStreamer, give me money”, that’s a scam.

          Bit of a difference.

    2. Observer*

      I am agog that the afterlife is like some sort of pyramid scheme, and the Tik-Tok-trained psychics amongst us need to badger the lower levels to take their messages already.

      ANYTHING can be made into a pyramid scheme.Even breathing. (And I’m unfortunately not kidding.)

    3. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      I mean… wasn’t that part of how the pharaohs billed it when they had servants entombed with them? “Serve well in this life, and you’ll get to enjoy my afterlife which will be better than yours…”

      The Afterlife as a pyramid scheme has pretty deep historical roots.

      1. Emily knows too much about Egypt*

        It didn’t last long in pharaonic Egypt, either. Only the royal tombs and associated funerary enclosures of the First Dynasty rulers (not pyramids, but rectangular, mudbrick monuments with [now lost] superstructures and substructures for the burial apartments) were accompanied by subsidiary burials. The male and female individuals interred in these subsidiary (or retainer) burials were buried with funerary goods of their own and likely had served as members of the royal court in life. Whether or not these individuals were ritually sacrificed and buried en masse with the funeral of the king or simply buried in these graves naturally as they died is still a matter of debate.

        Pedantically, the word “pharaoh” is derived from an Egyptian term for the ruler that didn’t come into use until more than a thousand years later, during the New Kingdom.

        1. President Porpoise*

          I come for the interesting workplace scenarios and Alison’s advice and stay because of the random but fascinating detail on niche subjects that members of the commentariat happen to be passionate about.

          Thanks Emily!

          1. Princess Sparklepony*

            Same! I’ve learned a lot of odd facts in the time I’ve been reading AAM. And peeped into some communities I never knew about.

    4. JB*

      It’s pretty much a cold reading, using generalisations and the reactions to them as well as what she already knows to deliver “messages” she believes the OP will be receptive to. A puppy running and spinning about, that’s typical puppy behaviour. The omission of other family members and pets clinches that Rebecca has no psychic ability to speak of, she only thinks she is.

      1. Princess Sparklepony*

        Exactly. It’s why Rebecca can only contact the relatives that she knows about. (The mean part of me would make up a relative for Rebecca to contact… but I am pretty mean.)

        Hearing from dead relatives is comforting for some people, but many people peg it for the scam it is.

        1. Jasmine Tea*

          “The mean part of me would make up a relative for Rebecca to contact… but I am pretty mean.”

          LOVE THIS IDEA!!!!

      2. Deejay*

        I would pay good money to see her run into a sceptic

        Harry Houdini’s widow: Okay, what’s the password Harry and I agreed on?

        Richard Dawkins in response to a psychic telling him he had a close relative in the military and his father wanted to tell him something:
        Yes, you would expect me to have a close relative in the military given my age and family background. But I don’t. And if my father wants to talk to me, why doesn’t he just phone?
        Psychic: Your…father’s…still…alive? That’s why the message felt funny.

  2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    I wondered if Alison would soften the message. Then I read her first line (a new classic).

    I would like LW to consider why she wants to maintain this relationship, because it sounds like sunk costs fallacy to me.

    1. Tinkerbell*

      Very much this. OP, is there actually a benefit to keeping this “friendship” going, or is it just awkward to cut it off now? Because it sounds to me you’re far past the point where having this woman in your life is offering you any benefit, and if you don’t work together directly you’re probably better off minimizing how often you have to think about her!

      1. sparkle emoji*

        Yes, if OP and Rebecca are no longer working closely together, that lessens the ongoing awkwardness. OP you did a kind thing by trying to befriend Rebecca but if she is making you uncomfortable and centering your grief on her, you can end the connection. You did your best to be kind; sending unsolicited messages from the beyond does not reciprocate that kindness.

    2. Antilles*

      Yeah, OP says this and I don’t get it: I don’t want to completely cut off my relationship with her, though we’re not in the same department anymore.
      Why not? I get that you can’t entirely forget she exists since you’re still co-workers, but I’d absolutely be stopping the friendship, never going on outings again, and firmly transition back to work politeness.

      1. LimeRoos*

        THIS. I wrote a longer comment that’s in moderation, but yes, LW please give yourself permission to not care about her. She’s not caring at all about how much she’s hurting you, so just disengage and move on. Cordial coworkers is the ideal.

        1. Rex Libris*

          This. At the very least, she is prioritizing her own ego gratification over your mental and emotional wellbeing.

          If she was actually psychic, she’d know how much you didn’t want to hear about it, so either she knows and doesn’t care, or she doesn’t know.

      2. Aerin*

        I imagine it’s probably guilt because she doesn’t seem to have anyone else. But… there’s clearly a reason she doesn’t have anyone else. It’s not on you to fix her.

        1. Zweisatz*

          Also OP, if it’s just guilt, see it from this perspective: How fun would it be to have a friend who’s only sticking around out of pity?

          If your genuine interest in being her friend is gone (understandably so), don’t feel bad about becoming a polite colleague.

          1. kiki*

            Yes! Finding out you have a friend who doesn’t really like you very much and mostly there because they feel sorry for you is actually a really bad feeling. Even though LW is likely doing this out of kindness, people want friends who genuinely like them! Nobody wants to find out that they were somebody’s friend out of pity.

              1. Philosophia*

                But it’s not a relation of friendship when the only emotional connection is obligatory pity that a person’s behavior has driven away all possibilities of genuine friendship.

        2. President Porpoise*

          Let go of guilt in general, OP. Life is better when you realize that guilt and shame are unwarranted in 99% of cases.

          1. Random Dice*

            I wouldn’t go with 99%. I can think of a lot of people who SHOULD feel shame and guilt, who don’t. They’re very useful emotions that teach children to grow up into functional adults. But they can be overdone, and that’s also not good. A middle path.

            1. Aerin*

              My therapist’s take was that shame says “I suck” and guilt says “Should I try to fix this?” Sometimes the answer to that question is no, but it’s frequently useful to ask, and gives you something to work with unlike shame.

              1. The Reconciler*

                Yes, in psychology there’s a difference between shame and guilt. Shame is directed at the self (I am a terrible person), whereas guilt is directed at one’s actions (I did a terrible thing) and is more likely to lead to reparative action. If you only feel shame and think you’re terrible and irredeemable as a human being, you are not motivated to make positive changes. Shame-free guilt, however, can be motivating.

    3. Liz the Snackbrarian*

      I’m getting the sense that OP may be a people pleaser. (OP, my apologies if this is wrong). I’m thinking she would feel a touch guilty cutting Rebecca off.

      1. Observer*

        I’m thinking she would feel a touch guilty cutting Rebecca off.

        That was my read, as well. OP, it we are correct, please don’t feel guilty.

      2. Mockingjay*

        Most people do feel awkward or bad about cutting someone off, even when warranted. Rebecca is exhibiting increasing red flags that certainly affect a healthy work relationship or friendship: from not paying bills, to foisting unwanted beliefs, to begging for outings. OP, I hope you are reading the comments today; this is a situation in which you are completely justified in pulling back to solely a work relationship with Rebecca.

        Try a weaning process. Unfollow Rebecca on social media, then block a week or two later. Don’t mention personal plans in the office. If asked, “no fixed plans, just a quiet evening/weekend.” Keep team chats and emails to work subjects; ignore frivolous subjects. If she texts you on your personal phone, respond only to work items; ignore the rest. And so on. Use Alison’s suggestions to shut down direct questions/confrontations with Rebecca; you’ll probably have to repeat several times.

        Some friendships don’t work out. It’s okay to return to a cordial but distant work relationship.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Mentioning the unpaid bills going into collections was a red flag for me–nine times out of ten it’s a preamble to soliciting funds. I would bet the “specific” messages, in Rebecca’s mind, were to wow the LW and soften her up to start paying for more.

          1. Princess Sparklepony*

            I hadn’t even thought of that. Good catch! That sounds very plausible. Also, she’s trying to set herself up as a money charging psychic and not just a dabbler, which is why she is targeting her “messages” to LW. Rebecca thinks she has a fish on the line…

      3. dackquiri*

        A revelation I had about my people-pleasing tendencies recently is what I thought was worry about “hurting” people by asserting boundaries that are likely to be received poorly, was actually fear this person was about to reveal they don’t respect me enough to honor a basic request.

        1. Wendy Darling*

          Yeah mine is transparently just a version of this — I’m worried they won’t respect my boundaries AND be pissed off at me for asserting them so the only change I’ll have made to the situation is that the person is mad.

          It doesn’t help that a lot of people DO get upset when you assert a boundary so a lot of times I’m not even wrong!

        2. Arts Akimbo*

          That is very well put. Honestly, I feel like that is where a lot of people-pleasing comes from. For me it went a step further into a subconscious fear that if I stood up for myself, the person would turn abusive, a holdover from a bad childhood. I wasn’t afraid of hurting them so much as deeply afraid of them hurting me. Once I realized that was where it was coming from, it helped me to get over it.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            Geneen Roth writes about this in some of her later books–how she’d learned to “be a good listener” from sitting rock-still in her bedroom when she sensed her mother was in a bad mood.

        3. goddessoftransitory*

          Ugh, that hit right in the feels. (Not trying to make you feel bad! It was just really eye opening.)

      4. Wintermute*

        as a (mostly) recovered people pleaser thanks to a traumatic childhood I second this entirely. One of the hardest lessons for me to learn was that breaking a friendship is not like breaking a contract, you’re allowed to move on just because you’re not feeling it or if you mesh in bad ways because of the phases of life you’re in. I was always conditioned to think you needed a “good enough” reason and always had to give them a chance to fix the situation.

        So OP if you’re listening this might be a sign to investigate whether you need to spend some time getting more comfortable exerting boundaries for your own wellbeing and health’s sake.

        This is an objectively outrageous situation; you’re allowed to decide you don’t want a friend because their actions and words left you with no conclusion other than either they’re deeply manipulative or a complete moonbat with no ability to “read the air” and put a cork in it even if what they’re saying should be widely understood to be offensive.

      5. Ellis Bell*

        Actually, OP said what needed to be said pretty clearly! Also, she didn’t say she had trouble enforcing boundaries, she said she had trouble “enforcing my boundaries without people taking it really poorly”, which is just par for the course sometimes. Sometimes people hate loathe and despise a boundary and you can’t control other people’s reactions.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, this. That said, becoming comfortable with people taking it poorly when you’re enforcing your boundaries is a necessary step to learn. Enforcing a boundary is only necessary when someone doesn’t accept the boundary when you simply state it. Reasonable people don’t push back on your stated boundaries, so there’s no need to enforce them. (Sometimes you don’t even have to state a boundary out loud, if you’ve ever changed the subject when your conversation partner looked uncomfortable with whatever you just said, you’ve responded to a non-verbally stated boundary.)

          1. Philosophia*

            “You’ve responded to a non-verbally stated boundary” = you have exercised a social skill that all of us with the necessary physical capacities can learn. And I agree with you, such discomfort is something we also need to learn to take in our stride, especially since often it’s momentary: reasonable people can recognize when our immediate reactions are unreasonable and adjust them accordingly. It’s not hypocrisy, it’s reason asserting itself and governing us henceforth. We do well to allow others and ourselves time to process.

    4. kiki*

      Yeah, I also wanted to chime in and remind LW that they don’t have to be friends with somebody just because that other person is lonely and don’t have other friends. It was really kind of LW to give Rebecca a chance, but it doesn’t sound like LW likes Rebecca very much or particularly enjoys her company. It’s okay to dial things back to just a friendly coworker situation!

      This is something I’ve struggled with in the past, so I want to share it with LW in case it is helpful– sometimes it is kinder to not be somebody’s friend than to continue a sort-of friendship when you really don’t like that person. Sorta kinda being friends with somebody you don’t really want to hang out with can be confusing to them– they’ll feel like they’re asking for normal friend things but you’ll feel like they’re overstepping. They’ll feel comfortable telling you about their financial situation and TikTok psychic classes, but you actually really don’t want to know. You’ll constantly be needing to establish boundaries because the other person thinks your relationship is something it isn’t.

    5. Beth*

      Agreed. OP, I have a few friendships in my past where I
      – befriended someone
      – found them to need/want WAY more from me than I was able or willing to give
      – ALSO found them to be pretty inconsiderate of me and dismissive of my needs and boundaries (never in a mean or even necessarily intentional way! my impression was consistently that they were not very good at being thoughtful or considerate but were trying their best! but like…I was not getting much out of the relationship)
      – and then let that go on for way way WAY too long, because I felt like they had no other friends and it would be cruel to drop them and also I just didn’t know how to advocate for myself.

      Of course you know Rebecca better than any of us, but given those experiences, she’s checking all sorts of boxes on my “friendship red flags” list. I’m not saying you never enjoy time with her, but it sounds like you’re a lot more considerate and thoughtful and supportive towards her than she is towards you.

      If you’re seeing yourself in this, I want you to know that it’s OK to fade out. Even if she doesn’t have other friends (there might be a reason for that). Even if she’s counting on you (you aren’t her emotional support human, it’s not your job to maintain a connection that isn’t serving you). Even if you like her and want to maintain a more casual connection (you can be work-and-occasional-lunch buddies without offering BFF-hood).

      1. Heinous Eli*

        I am currently working on my codependent tendencies, and this pattern is far too familiar to me. I call it the Last Friend Standing.

      2. Dezzi*

        Captain Awkward also just covered this! For anyone in a similar situation who needs step-by-step instructions for getting out of it, head over to her archives and check out post #1407: “How to stop being friends with a perfectly nice person who is best friends with me?”

  3. The Original K.*

    If Rebecca pulled this with me about my dad, I really might not be that much nicer than the reply OP put in her letter.

    1. Paulina*

      If anyone pulled something like that about mine, I don’t think I’d be any nicer than Allison’s initial line. I’ve been very reticent about letting people where I work know, specifically because I don’t want to experience any of the many ways in which some people make one’s own loss somehow about themselves.

    2. LimeRoos*

      Same. My default reaction is probably the white guy blinking gif, because I am not good at reacting in the moment. But if it happened again, I know I would be prepped with a script that was practiced with my husband in between me ranting about how angry she made me and how hurt I was and how I’m tired of crying and my eyes are tired and she sucks. And hopefully I’d stick to it, worst case would be me saying ‘fuck you’ and walking away.
      So LW, practice whatever script you need, and go to polite coworkers and nothing more.

      1. NotBatman*

        I still remember when a friend of my grandmother’s pulled similar crap: “Your mother came to me in a dream last night and said…”

        My grandmother snapped “My mother was a classy lady who would never lower herself to visit with the likes of you!” And that was the end of that.

        1. Zoe Karvounopsina*

          See also the time Arthur Conan Doyle excitedly told Harry Houdini that he had spoken! With Houdini’s dead mother! He had a message!*

          Houdini: My mother didn’t speak English.

          *ACD had a genuine and deep belief in spiritualism and psychics, he thought it was all real, it was nonetheless hurtful to Houdini, though was a source of comfort to ACD after his son died in WW1.

    3. Dinwar*

      I’d say “Tell them to contact me directly; they know I hate the telephone game” and continue on that theme until the person went away. It’s perfectly honest (I’ve handed many family members the phone after the third iteration of “Tell them X!”), perfectly respectful (I’m not calling anything into question), and at least intended to absolutely shut things down.

    4. Wendy Darling*

      I unfortunately have multiple deceased family members and people have SAID SOME SHIT to me. I also get more and more blunt the more stressed I am, so I have responded to some of that shit with “Dude what the fuck?”

      Ideally you also cut them off when they start flailing to try to explain why the horrible thing they just said wasn’t actually horrible. (Which is how I had a conversation with my mother in law that went “I just–” “Nope.” “I wanted t–” “NOPE” “I was–” “I’M GOING TO BED.”)

    5. Laura*

      I would be very tempted to say in a “I am very worried about your spiritual safety”- tone of voice, “Rebecca, this does not sound like any member of my familiy at all. Do you know who you are *really* talking to?”

      And then refuse to hear anything more, because I do not want to hear from any spirit that lies about being family. They are probably scammers or worse.

    1. Juicebox Hero (she/her)*

      Same here. When I read the headline I skipped right to the reply because I knew Alison would give us an instant classic.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I think she should sell tees with a list of her greatest hits and we can Sharpie check mark our favorites.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      I got halfway through this and then got distracted because I was so eager to see what kind of one-liner Allison used as her opener.

      I was not disappointed.

  4. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    I think Alison nailed it near the end.

    She isn’t doing this because she thinks she’s helping you. She’s doing it because it makes her feel important, special, useful, something — and your emotions and mental health are just collateral damage. It’s extremely selfish behavior.

    1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      And while you can feel sympathy for someone who is so lonely and clueless that this is how she thinks she has to get attention, you do not need to let her inflict continued harm on YOU at a time when you are grieving.

      If the opportunity arose to gently suggest she get some therapy, that might be a kind thing to do, but it’s 100% optional.

        1. Observer*

          It sounds like there maybe a reason that she doesn’t have friends if she’s that tone-deaf.

          It sounds like there maybe a reason that she doesn’t have friends if she’s that tone-deaf.

          1. Observer*

            Oy! I pasted instead of typing what I wanted to say, which it that I agree 100%. And this is something that the OP should keep in mind.

        2. Michelle Smith*

          True, but I don’t see anything wrong with LW keeping the relationship if Rebecca is otherwise a good friend and is willing to immediately stop inadvertently hurting LW. LW originally told Rebecca “thank you,” not “this is unwelcome,” so I think it’s a bit unfair to assume Rebecca is operating in bad faith. It’s highly likely Rebecca thought she was being supportive and helpful and that LW pushing back was the first time she realized it wasn’t. I also think it’s a pretty normal human response to be defensive (although that doesn’t excuse her doing it). Good, well-meaning people can still overstep or say hurtful things. I think LW is handling it appropriately and I think their relationship with Rebecca can still potentially be salvaged, if that’s what LW wants.

          1. Fikly*

            The original reply is not relevant here.

            As soon as she told Rebecca no, and Rebecca didn’t honor that, Rebecca revealed that what the LW wanted didn’t matter to Rebecca. End of story.

            Your reasoning in this comment is exactly Rebecca’s reasoning, which is that your own intentions and desires matter more than what the people you are inflicting those intentions and desires on. Consider that before you act next time.

          2. Jane Gloriana Villanueva*

            If the initial reply was the only reply, maaaayyybe, because at the time Rebecca needed it spelled out more clearly. But then we have:
            I finally lost my patience. I thanked her for thinking of me and caring, but said I did not ask for messages from the great beyond and do not want to hear any more. She apologized but also sort of excused her behavior, saying she “doesn’t mean to upset me more” and that “sometimes I keep getting the messages over and over until I pass them on.”

            That is clear and direct on the part of LW, and was heard by Rebecca, who apologized and then basically told her she planned to continue, sorry but not sorry. There is no salvaging necessary for LW.

            1. Hannah Lee*

              Yeah, no salvaging after that response.

              Though that was the possible opening for LW to point her to seek out health care to help Rebecca with excessive ruminating thoughts that compel her to do whatever (in this particular case, the obsessive thoughts just happen to lead her seek out grieving people and repeatedly vision-dump on them)

              There was a very old OG Miss Manners interview / call in show on NPR years ago, where she basically said that people who repeatedly violate your boundaries, insist on doing stuff at you that you’ve asked them not to (the example was showing up without calling first) are demonstrating that they value, prioritize something in THEIR life higher than respecting you, respecting your boundaries or allowing you to be comfortable, unstressed.

              Once I heard that framing it was like a ‘lightbulb’ moment – someone who repeatedly blasts by reasonable boundaries is broadcasting that they just don’t care about your needs, wants or boundaries … because they care more about something else, something they value more.

              That made it much easier to set, communicate and hold to boundaries with those people. They are misunderstanding, they didn’t forget, it’s not that you didn’t state the boundaries clearly enough or they just couldn’t help themselves. It’s just that they don’t care enough about you to stop doing the thing.

              (After that, though I could never quite pull off shutting the door in an unexpected visitor’s face, but I got very good at, when I saw them heading towards my door, quickly grabbing my keys and ALWAYS being “oh, sorry, I’m just on my way out, wish I’d known you were coming. Take care” as I walked past them, got in my car and drove away . )

              1. Random Dice*

                “someone who repeatedly blasts by reasonable boundaries is broadcasting that they just don’t care about your needs, wants or boundaries … because they care more about something else, something they value more.”

                Dang, YES.

                I’m appreciating the hard-won pearls of wisdom in this thread!

                1. Jane Gloriana Villanueva*

                  Yes, this letter has prompted some excellent comments that are really hitting me just when I need them!

          3. Paulina*

            LW originally, back when Rebecca first offered to pass on messages, said “No thank you, because that’s really not my sort of thing.” Everything after that was Rebecca stomping on OP’s already-set boundary. Rebecca asked, OP said No, Rebecca did it anyway.

        3. Wintermute*

          Exactly! The behavior really gives us only two options here: either she’s a total moonbat who can’t put a cork in it even if a reasonable person would realize they’re being deeply offensive and hurtful, or she’s very manipulative and makes everything about her.

          Neither is a dynamic many people would willingly sign up for.

          1. Zennish*

            The two are not mutually exclusive. I’ve met some remarkably manipulative moonbats. Once you find something (Like… I’m psychic!) that really stokes your ego, a lot of people become addicted to it, and it has to be fed.

            1. Wintermute*

              That’s a good point, some people tie up a lot of their self worth in their delusions of special access/powers.

          2. Random Dice*

            I was initially reading it as Rebecca not being great with social cues, and the OP not actually giving any cues to read (“Thank you” but I was really thinking the opposite). Which is hard for those of us neurospicy folks who struggle with social cues.

            But then OP said something and Rebecca basically said she was going to keep on doing it. Which puts her closer to or in the jerk category.

            (Though OP, you might try explaining it one more time, even more directly – this is cruel, it makes me think you’re not my friend. It wouldn’t surprise me if she were completely shocked to hear it that way.)

    2. Dust Bunny*


      I literally gasped out loud. Losing a pet, especially a young pet, is so awful that I cannot imagine bringing it up at all, never mind as part of a cutesy-poo scenario like this. This is horrible.

    3. datamuse*

      Yes, I think this is correct. In a former life I knew a lot of people like this; alternative-spirituality communities are rife with them. They are, at best, intensely annoying. When you’re dealing with such personal losses as the OP is, I think they actually do harm.

      1. Wintermute*

        I too, have met people like this in a former life (though sadly not a past life) and I agree. I’m not willing to paint her as malicious automatically because of that, but even under the best conditions people like this are A Lot with a capital A and a capital L Even if you are a fellow believer and not actively offended, there’s a lot of drama potential

    4. Rainey*

      As a practicing psychic and tarot card reader of over 14 years, THIS. EXACTLY THIS!

      It’s actually something legit practicing people talk about, we have a code of conduct and ethics we are all told about when we practice seriously.

      First rule: CONSENT! You don’t go poking in peoples lives without permission. They don’t ask for a message you don’t go looking for one to give! I get message for different humans regularly. But guess what. You ignore them!

      As someone who takes this seriously, I’m so mad on behalf of the LW. I’m so sorry someone who doesn’t understand consent keeps pushing this on you. You deserve to have your feelings and grief respected at this time. On behalf of all the humans who practice spiritual crazy, I am sorry.

    5. Ellis Bell*

      A lot of annoyances are not about someone purposely taking aim at us, and the person is not doing it at us deliberately….. This is one of those occasions where, yeah, she is actually doing it AT you.

    6. birdsofafeather*

      I’m in a parallel situation with my mom, and your words (this whole thread really) have struck a huge chord with me. they divorced 15+ years ago and he wants nothing to do with her. unfortunately he’s got a terminal illness; she keeps calling me asking for updates and crying about premonition dreams she’s having. it’s so so so painful at such an already difficult time in my life. yall summed up her selfishness and propensity to blast past boundaries here so succinctly, you’re going to help me put better boundaries in place. I’ve learned she’ll never change, and I need to take care of myself right now.

  5. Laura Charles*

    I cannot believe the audacious assholery of some people. What Rebecca is doing is so beyond not OK that this might be worth ending the friendship over. I totally understand not wanting to end something with someone who so clearly needs a friend, but friendship is a two-way street—if your friend is *actively* hurting you after being told to stop, they’re not a friend.

    Don’t set yourself on fire to keep her psychic delusions warm.

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Oh wow. This hit home! I had a friend with psychic delusions and it got increasingly strange till I was afraid for my safety. I was so relieved when I cut her off and she moved across the country.

  6. FruityTooty*

    I’d think the category tag for this one would be “wait, what?”

    Rebecca seems a bit gullible and young but that’s not your job OP to guide her professionally or socially. I think some boundary setting would actually benefit her in the long run.

  7. H.Regalis*

    Oh no, LW. That’s awful. I’m so sorry for your losses.

    “I tend to have a lot of trouble enforcing my boundaries without people taking it really poorly.”

    To be honest, it sounds like you’re enforcing your boundaries just fine. You can’t control how other people will take things, and there isn’t a magic way to both enforce your boundaries and have other people be chill about. A lot of times, the reactions you’re going to get to enforcing your boundaries are going to be things like, “GOD I was just trying to HELP. What’s your problem?! You’re so ungrateful! *flounce*”

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Exactly right.

      And when they flounce, you just let them. It will feel weird because you’ll feel the pull of their expectations (and society’s expectations) for you to say ‘wait no, I know you were just trying to help, it’s ok’. But allow yourself to sit with that weirdness and discomfort. It won’t hurt you. And then you’ll feel relief, and the relief will take up more space and make it even easier to watch them flounce farther and farther away.

      1. Aerin*

        Thiiiiiiis. If the other person is making it weird, that’s on them. And if they throw a fit because you enforce a boundary, that’s just significant evidence that you were right to do so. Setting a boundary is a way of saying “This is how you can be kind to me.” If the person ignores that or freaks out, they don’t actually want to be kind to you, and you can and should adjust your approach to them accordingly.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      Sometimes people are gonna take it badly because they are unreasonable people. It’s entirely reasonable for you to be OK with that. Let them get their shorts in a wad; it’s not your fault they’re out of line and entitled.

    3. Engineer*

      If it helps, OP, a boundary isn’t really about controlling others’ behavior but instead controlling *yours.* If they do X, *you* will do Y – hang up the phone, leave a conversation, etc. People are still going to get upset, but that’s because they aren’t getting to control *you.*

      Rebecca wants to feel special, and you are merely a prop to her. If she truly cared, she’d listen and understand that what she’s doing is unwelcome – but instead she turned it back to *her* feelings, *her* wants and needs, not yours. There is no perfect phrase or explanation that will make her see sense. All you can do is limit how much interaction you have.

      1. Goldenrod*

        Agree with Engineer, yes, THIS: “If it helps, OP, a boundary isn’t really about controlling others’ behavior but instead controlling *yours.*”

        This line really stood out to me in OP’s letter:
        “I tend to have a lot of trouble enforcing my boundaries without people taking it really poorly”

        That second part – “without people taking it really poorly” – is the part OP has to drop! People FREQUENTLY take it poorly when someone enforces their boundaries. Why? Because they want to violate your boundaries! Once you realize that their reaction is not your responsibility, that’s when this all gets waaaaay easier.

        But you do have to accept that not everyone is going to like it – or you – when you stand up for yourself. This is difficult for people pleasers, but it’s so important to work on not needing to please everyone all the time.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, this.

          There’s a big difference between stating your boundaries and having to enforce them. A reasonable person who genuinely cares about LW would have stopped with the “spiritual messages” as soon as the LW stated her boundary by saying that they made her uncomfortable and please stop with the messages.

          It’s only necessary to enforce your boundaries when the other person pushes back.

    4. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      OP, you don’t have to enforce boundaries with reasonable people. Because they aren’t stamping over them. It goes poorly when you enforce people because the other people do not want you to enforce your boundaries. It’s a them problem, not a you a problem.

    5. RVA Cat*

      Sometimes your boundaries have to be an electric fence. But it’s their choice to respond to the zap by peeing on it.

    6. Wintermute*

      Yes! thank you!

      Especially if you fall into unhealthy relationship patterns (I’m a mostly recovered people pleasure from a traumatic childhood), you can end up in this position where you’re trained out of even exerting reasonable boundaries because you surround yourself with people who react poorly to them and that just conditions you not to try.

      And then you get some healthier friends and it’s almost a shock when you tentatively set a very reasonable boundary and it’s totally fine! They accept that you don’t want to do that or that you have to go to bed and it’s almost shocking that there’s no guilt trip or anger.

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      That’s the hardest part of boundaries; if other people were good at taking gentle hints, nudges, and so on, we wouldn’t need them so badly.

      LW, Rebecca being upset does NOT equal you doing anything wrong by setting and enforcing this line. She can get as upset as she wants. It’s not your job to soothe or placate her. Be civil, be kind, be done.

  8. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

    What in the double-fried fuck, indeed.

    I’m so sorry you can’t just be left alone to grieve! But instead you have these strange and invasive messages.

    If she tells you that she keeps getting messages till she passes them on, you can tell her that’s a her problem to work out between her and her therapist/tik tok influencer, but it is not a you problem and if her influencer is telling her she must do this, for her to reconsider who she’s taking advice from.

    You don’t owe her anything for coming to your grandmother’s service. That was a kind and normal thing to do, to which you responded normally – with gratitude. It doesn’t obligate you to put up with poor behavior from her indefinitely. It doesn’t obligate you to anything at all. You get to set and maintain your own boundaries even if they weren’t eminently reasonable, as they are in this case.

    1. DJ Abbott*

      I don’t know if you would want to give her anything more, LW, but if so, maybe suggest she look into the works of Sonia Choquette.
      I read two of her books many years ago, The Psychic Pathway and Hearts Desire.
      The Psychic Pathway is a workbook to get in touch and understand your own psychic tendencies, and how to use them for good. It especially emphasizes being respectful and non-intrusive when it comes to other people.
      Hearts Desire is to understand what you really want in life and how to move towards it.
      A quick google indicates she has written several more books and has a good Internet presence. I’m sure she’d be a much better influence than Rebecca‘s current mentor.

    2. Hannah Lee*

      I suddenly had a vision of Rebecca’s intrusive/imagined thoughts about OP’s loved ones being like glitter.

      Maybe fine “Oh look! Cool! Sparkly” in passing, but annoying if there’s a lot of it spilling out and you can’t avoid it.

      But the solution to that is to find some way to clean it up, contain it.
      Not to go find someone else to dump it all over so THEY have to deal with it.
      Especially when they say “I don’t want your glitter, keep it to yourself”

  9. Catwhisperer*

    OP, it’s common for people who overstep boundaries to take it badly when you assert them no matter how kind you are about it. Don’t let Rebecca’s discomfort with being told no stop you from protecting your best interests, because she’s clearly not prioritising your feelings the way you’re prioritising hers.

    1. darsynia*

      This is what I came here to say! It’s even more common when the person pushing and breaking through boundaries is breaking/violating norms to do so. They are telling themselves that their choices are worth the backlash because they’re such a good person or whatever, and they tell themselves that so they can ease the societal weight of breaking the norm.

      When you reinforce the norm, they lash out at you, because you’re removing the barrier to feeling guilt about their actions. They must live with themselves, you see, so you are to blame. Except you are NOT. They’re wildly out of bounds, and the most important thing you can do, OP, is to reassure yourself that you are not in the wrong.

      Alison’s reaction is instinctual but she also chose to break the ‘norm’ of not responding in that way specifically so that you can see, illustrated in her reaction, just how out of place and ridiculous Rebecca is being. We’re also here as commenters to tell you: you’ve done great so far, and the person causing harm is Rebecca, not you. Consequences for bad actions are not malicious, they’re consequences. Your unhappiness and the need to pull back from the friendship after being treated with extreme (depraved) indifference is not malicious.

      1. NotBatman*

        Also, it’s okay if the person doesn’t take it well. Every this-friendship-must-end conversation I’ve ever seen has gone:
        P1: I need to end contact, because you’re sending me invasive messages as I’m grieving.
        P2: WHY?
        P1: Because you’re sending me invasive messages as I’m grieving.
        P2: But why are you cutting me off?
        P1: Because you’re sending me invasive messages as I’m grieving.
        P2: That’s not a real reason. Why are you really doing this?
        P1: Because you’re sending me invasive messages as I’m grieving.

        So on, ad infinitum. If the listener could be counted on to take “I need this boundary” well, then the boundary would be easy to set and might not even be needed.

      2. Random Dice*

        I love that you said this.

        My abusive ex could not stand me putting down a boundary – any boundary. It didn’t matter what it was, he had to stomp all over it, and persuade me that the true fault was in my boundary or in me. But it was always him.

        When I first met my current husband, I was a prickly porcupine – I laid down the carefully rehearsed healthy boundaries and then PREPARED FOR BATTLE TO THE DEAAAAAAAATH… and he just said “oh ok, I won’t do that then. Do you want Thai tonight?” (And he kept his word about the boundary.) And I was left with all this adrenaline zooming around my body, completely thrown by the respect. But over time, I’ve realized that’s normal, and what should be, and I don’t allow people in my life who don’t respect healthy boundaries.

        OP, if you mostly have experienced boundary-stompers, you may be like me: have grown up with messed-up family dynamics that I recreated with the relationships I chose. But the good news is, this doesn’t have to be a forever thing. Putting healthy boundaries in place is hard, but it gets so much easier with practice.

    2. ZSD*

      I came to say the same thing. “I tend to have a lot of trouble enforcing my boundaries without people taking it really poorly.” That’s because people who would take enforcement of boundaries well rarely drive one to the point of having to overtly enforce boundaries!

    3. Sparkles McFadden*

      Yes, Rebecca is probably going to take the setting of boundaries poorly. You need to not care about that. You sound like a kind and caring person and you’re worried about making her uncomfortable, but she created the discomfort. You’re just batting the discomfort back to her, where it belongs.

  10. Kiwi*

    “What in the double-fried fuck” is both extremely appropriate and a new favorite I’m adding to my lexicon.

  11. Jane Bingley*

    This might be a good time to consider being a bit more chilly with her or limiting interactions to work-related topics. She’s crossed your boundaries repeatedly and she’s engaging in wildly inappropriate behaviour, and it’s totally okay if you’re done being friendly with her. It’s important to be professional, of course, but it’s also fine for your relationship to be strictly professional from here on out.

    If you genuinely still want to occasionally spend time with her (because you want to, not out of any sense of guilt!), you could also consider blocking or muting her on social media so that you have more control over what you share with her. She definitely doesn’t need to know about any sad events in your life.

    1. Exhausted Electricity*

      I agree with Alison, you’re doing great for the calm boundary setting and have a couple additional scripts. Even you had consented to ever recieve messages from beyond at one point, you’re still allowed to set the boundary of asking for her to stop now.

      My confrontational self would be getting VERY mean about it after the first warning.

    2. nopetopus*

      This is where I land. Time to back off from the friendship.

      When I get to the point of feeling judgy about their decisions (“late on her bills but still doing TikTok Psychic School” is where I’d also get judgy, so no shade on OP!) and find myself regretting telling them things about my personal life, that is a strong indicator that this friendship is no longer serving me or them. It’s a kindness to spare both of you from a flaming blowout with lots of hurt feelings. Start pulling back, seeing them less frequently, redirecting to work topics, etc.

      Sometimes people without a lot of friends… there’s a reason why people don’t want/aren’t able to be around them. Not always true and not a reason to never be kind to folks that seem to be lonely, but just something to consider when making connections with people.

      1. Observer*

        Sometimes people without a lot of friends… there’s a reason why people don’t want/aren’t able to be around them. Not always true and not a reason to never be kind to folks that seem to be lonely, but just something to consider when making connections with people.

        Yes! I really think that even before the psychic you already saw some of the issues that she could present in a relationship, like wanting to be included in all of your interests and activities. Too much.

        It’s good to give people a chance, because sometime the group you are coming has issues, or there is a history that is no longer relevant. But it’s also good to be cautious.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Sadly, there’s a reason why “be politely wary of the person in a new situation who wants to be your bestie” is often good advice.

      2. Sparkles McFadden*

        I don’t think the LW is being judgy (OK with me if she is!). I think part of the issue is that she is genuinely concerned for Rebecca’s welfare, because Rebecca sounds like she’s gone ‘round the bend.

        That said, you can’t fix other people, so it is time to back away. Many friendships (especially work friendships) are transitory in nature. Many people stay in problematic friendships too long out of a sense of obligation. The crazy psychic version of Rebecca is not the same person from six years ago, so it’s time to be professional and polite and nothing more. The friendship has run its course.

        1. I&I*

          Also, I suspect, it’s a strong indicator that Rebecca isn’t about to drop what is, essentially, religious harassment.

          If Rebecca is investing life resources she can’t spare in this stuff, it means she’s building her whole identity on the role of psychic. And if she’s isolated, then the OP is one of the very few, or possibly even the only person with whom Rebecca can act out the role. How do you feel like a messenger from the beyond if you have no one to give messages to?

          Considering the scary costs Rebecca has sunk, I’d expect her to be very tenacious. It’s sad to see someone mess up like this, but it’s not OP’s job to validate Rebecca’s bad life decisions. I’d loop in a manager or HR, because Rebecca has way too much skin in this game.

      3. I Have RBF*


        I have an acquaintance who would go to pricey concerts and events (Metallica, Burning Man) that even I couldn’t afford, then put out the begging bowl to pay the rent. She would also constantly be eating out and going to bar Karaoke, but then crying poverty when there were bills to pay. There was a time when we were both unemployed – she kept up with her expensive social activities and was begging for money almost constantly, whereas I tightened my belt and lived within my means. I stopped keeping in touch with her.

        Some folks just aren’t worth the effort to keep as friends, especially when they stomp on your boundaries and then keep asking you for more.

    3. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Yeah, I agree on both of these counts. Stop telling her what you’re up to so she doesn’t keep trying to invite herself to these events (although I strongly suspect that OP has already taken this step). If you are going to another Ren faire and she asks if/when you are going so she can come along, tell her, “I don’t know if I’ll be able to go yet” and don’t follow up. If/when she asks again, tell her once again that you still aren’t sure. Repeat ad nauseum until she stops asking.

  12. G*

    The direct approach Alison details is best. Sometimes, folks who get into spiritual practices online will act outta pocket because they haven’t been properly taught. A teacher is needed for growth and discipline, but since one’s not required, those new practicioners don’t know how to act when trying to share their new practice IRL, other than to parrot what they’ve seen online.

    1. I Have RBF*


      I remember how obnoxious I was when I was first starting out, but never to the degree Rebecca is. I also had people who could tell me when things weren’t okay to do, and why, and helped me refine my ethical boundaries.

      What Rebecca needs is a proper teacher, who will cover ethics with her, and apparently that TikTok person doesn’t bother.

  13. Falling Diphthong*

    Sometimes, a person makes a bad decision. And as the effects start to roll in, they are faced with “Do I admit that was a bad decision, and try to course correct, and then spend the next months or years trying to make up all the ground I lost over the last months? Or do I double down?”

    Humans don’t like feeling wrong. I suspect all the financial problems are making her more dedicated to this as the True Way Forward that will eventually Fix All Her Financial Problems.

    OP, if the two of you had a very close friendship, and you normally didn’t weigh in with unasked for advice, there is a small chance that you speaking to her firmly would be the wakeup call she needed to course correct. But this usually only works when there’s that deep pre-existing relationship, where someone you respect and trust is the one telling you you’re wrong.

    I’d firmly tell her she needs to cut it out, and hold that line. I know it’s hard because you did the polite “Let this be a weird one-off” and then she didn’t let it be a weird one-off, and now you have a pattern. The only way to shift that pattern is to be very firm that you are not taking any more messages from the beyond.

    1. higheredadmin*

      I’m feeling that if OP was honest with her friend and told her that she felt this was all a scam, that she was concerned about her spending money that she doesn’t have on it etc – well, that would be the end of the relationship anyway. Rebecca can choose her tiktok tarot and everyone moves on with their lives. (She might also change for the better. I kind of think we are looking at a win/win.)

  14. ConstantlyComic*

    I’m wondering if the grandmother’s funeral was one of the outings that Rebecca was pushy about wanting to be included in.

  15. ENFP in Texas*

    “I thought I’d said this clearly before but in case I didn’t: I find this deeply upsetting and I don’t want to hear anything else like this.”

    I’d leave out the “I find this deeply upsetting” part. You don’t need to justify WHY you want her to stop. She just needs to understand that you want her to stop.

    She’s already trying to justify her behavior because she claims to “keep getting the messages over and over” until she passes them on. That’s not your problem to deal with. If Rebecca has problems with how to handle messages, she needs to talk to her TikTok “guru” – that’s what she’s paying him/her for.

    1. Madeleine Matilda*

      I agree with leaving it out as well. My thinking is Rebecca could misinterpret that to mean OP finds receiving “real” messages from her family deeply upsetting as opposed to finding Rebecca’s behavior upsetting.

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      I mean at that point I probably would just say “yeah, I don’t care.”

      I’m not in charge of your psychic gatekeeping, Rebecca. Deal with that on your own.

    3. PlainJane*

      I think it depends on OP’s read on whether or not Rebecca has the slightest clue that her behavior is upsetting. She might very well have convinced herself that she’s being comforting, and being told flat out that not only is it not comforting but that it’s actively upsetting would help knock the thing into a hat, and not put it in the, “Oh, she’ll be grateful for it next time” box.

      Of course, that’s assuming that she can take a direct statement when she’s not taking a hint.

  16. DramaQ*

    Tell her take off her tin foil hat for awhile and maybe that would stop the messages. She can believe whatever she wants but at this point she’s shoving them down your throat. A real friend would have profusely apologized for crossing the boundary she did and zip her lip. The fact that she is excusing it shows she doesn’t really care about your feelings. It’s all about her and the thrill she’s getting out of supposedly being a psychic. She’s wrapping it up in the disguise of supporting you in your grief. Personally I’d block her at this point especially since it sounds like you no longer work directly together but if you feel guilty about doing that tell her once very firmly that this stops and stops NOW. You do not share her beliefs and do not appreciate her bombarding you with them. You have the right to grieve in your own way and she needs to respect that. If she cannot back off then you are going to have to drop her like a hot potato. If she makes excuses again there is your anwer.

  17. Bluz*

    Holy cow. Talk about stomping on your boundaries. You were polite to tell her to stop but I agree that you’ll have to be more aggressive. If she continues I think you’d have to go low contact if possible. She’s definitely not helping while you’re grieving. Sorry for your loss.

    1. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      This is not the first tactical F-bomb she’s dropped but it does take a very special kind of WTFery to bring one on, lol.

  18. LimeRoos*

    Sooooo…do you really want to maintain a relationship with her? Like, is it because you actually enjoy her company when she isn’t having tea parties with your dead relatives? Or is it just because she seems lonely and you were nice to her so she latched on to you? Because if its the second, you totally don’t have to feel bad about not talking to her anymore. She overstepped some huge boundaries, and honestly is lucky you haven’t told her to fuck off. My Dad passed last Dec and I know if anyone did this to me they would’ve been yeeted out of my life because I don’t have time for that bs and I don’t need extra tears, there’s been plenty of crying without messages from the great beyond. Grief is hard enough without people emotionally manipulating you into a closer relationship than you want.

    1. M2RB*

      x 1000

      A former coworker ended up on my “do not respond to anything other than work queries” because of an insensitive comment she made. I would have lost my sh!t if she had done what Rebecca is doing to the LW.

    2. higheredadmin*

      I was listening to a podcast on the feeling of being left out, and they were saying how there was a difference in being kind and inclusive to people in a large, social situation (e.g. sitting with the person who is alone at a lunch table) and feeling that you need to be close friends with everyone. This is exactly the confusion here.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        The main problem I find is that if you sit with the person once, you can’t not sit with them in future without it being A Whole Thing a lot of the time (often because said person is exhausting to sit next to.)

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      My dad also passed last year, and Rebecca would not get a warm reception of this shit from me.

  19. ADD*

    Going to echo the other sentiments that “What in the double-fried fuck” is an absolutely incredible phrase, and perfect for this situation.

  20. Tired*

    So, uh. I grew up in a deeply problematic environment where as a young child I was taught (not because I asked to be!) how to get something very similar (or maybe the same as/obviously I can’t tell from this letter) to these messages from the beyond and experienced what Rebecca describes here, how the message would just keep repeating until I did something with it. The whole thing was very unhealthy and terrible for my mental health, among other things.

    As someone with that context, I’d like to weigh in and say that Rebecca is still making a choice to burden you with these messages. Telling you the messages after you’ve asked not to hear them is a decision she is making. Even the weirdest and wildest circles on this type of stuff tend to emphasize getting consent for sharing messages. LW, your reaction of not wanting to hear it is common, especially as a person who didn’t sign up to be in a spiritualistic message-focused group. I would even be surprised if her weird TikTok class didn’t cover that some people aren’t going to “accept your gifts” or whatever and that the practitioner should move on.

    1. Observer*

      As someone with that context, I’d like to weigh in and say that Rebecca is still making a choice to burden you with these messages.

      OP, I think that if you take one thing away from all of the comments, this is the ONE thing you need to remember. She is *making a choice*. If she continues to bring you these messages, she is *continues* to make that choice – and it is a choice to disregard your boundaries and well being. Given that reality, if she continues to do this, you need to assert your boundaries more firmly without worrying about how she will take it, even if it means ending the relationship.

      You cannot control other people’s choices, or how unreasonable they are (or are not). But you CAN recognize how unreasonable *they* are being and act to protect yourself.

    2. Fake Psychics Hurt People*

      I don’t think discussing messages that keep repeating in your head is appropriate in response to this letter, since that is completely and utterly a scam.

      1. Tired*

        My perspective is that LW stated that Rebecca gave this experience as an excuse, suggesting that Rebecca thinks her behavior is fine because of the unpleasant experience she is/was having.

        I do think it could be helpful to the LW to hear me- someone who has had the experience Rebecca is using as an excuse – verify that Rebecca is still making a choice.

        I used language pretty similar to that in LW’s writing and didn’t harp on the details of the experience.

        While you’re correct that Rebecca is certainly engaging in a scam, the experience of messages repeating in a person’s head does actually occur. In case you weren’t aware, there are numerous real medical conditions that can cause that experience.

      2. Clare*

        For some people it’s not a scam. It presents in a way somewhat akin to OCD or anxiety, as intrusive thoughts that appear uninvited and are difficult to suppress. But just because a person isn’t lying about the thoughts being in their head doesn’t mean they need to let them out of their mouth. If she can hold in the rest of her thoughts she can hold in these ones too. The ethical thing would be to find a different way to deal with them, such as write them down in a journal ‘to give to OP one day when she enquires about them’ (almost certainly never – but Rebecca can say to herself ‘you never know’). Or she could seek help from either a senior in her psychic community or a psychologist on how to contain and or make peace with the thoughts.

        But scam or not, OP never needed to know about this any more than she needed an announcement from Rebecca that she was going for a bowel movement. People who conflate honesty with tactlessness make good boundary stompers. OP has every right to just tell her to shove off. If that seems too mean, think of it as a kindness in teaching her how to keep friends.

  21. Clara*

    Just because someone is lonely doesn’t mean you owe them your company and emotional vulnerability, especially when they’re making you feel bad. You could literally never speak to her again, or make ghost ‘woo’ noises whenever she tries to speak to you, and you would still not be the bad person in this situation.

    1. allathian*

      Normally I’d agree, but they do still work for the same employer, but pulling back to a coolly professional relationship would be totally appropriate. My normal minimum is a friendly professional relationship, but giving Rebecca the cold shoulder and only responding to strictly business messages is a completely valid response given Rebecca’s boundary stomping.

      I don’t think this is quite bad enough to start looking for a new job just to get away from Rebecca, but pulling back from the friendship is definitely the next step I’d recommend.

  22. Zap R.*

    My first thought here was that Rebecca was socially awkward and kind of a dim bulb but holy moly, once I hit the dog stuff, it became clear that this is bananapants territory. Rebecca has bet the farm on becoming a psychic because of something she saw on TikTok and that is not Well-Adjusted Adult behaviour.

    OP, please know that you haven’t done anything wrong here and you are perfectly justified in telling Rebecca to back off.

  23. Epilogue*

    Seems like she’s getting a lot of messages except the one you’re is sending. I think bluntness may be needed here; her receiver is not set to your frequency.

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      “ Seems like you’re getting a lot of messages except the one I’m sending” is what I’d be 100% inclined to say to her!

        1. I Have RBF*


          Messages from the dead are always problematic. There is a difficulty in knowing a) who is really talking, and b) if it’s real or just your imagination. It’s one thing if a person seeks out that kind of thing on their own for themselves, and quite another when they are dropped on someone unsolicited.

  24. Oryx*

    Oh absolutely the fuck not.

    So, here’s the thing with boundaries: the trick isn’t establishing them, it’s maintaining them. Telling her you don’t want to discuss this topic anymore is only step one. Where people falter is they don’t follow through on that, because the unspoken part of that statement is if they keep bringing it up you’ll stop talking to them. Obviously since you work with her you can’t just cut her out. Instead, something I’ve done is when they bring the topic back up after I’ve clearly told them I don’t want to talk about it, I just ask them “What did I say about this topic last time?”

    Either they will back off because they know they are wrong to keep pushing, or they will try and keep going. In which case I just repeat the question, “What did I say about this topic last time?” For some people it really flusters them when they are forced to acknowledge what they are doing, especially when you don’t give them anything else to respond to or argue against. You don’t have to ask in an aggressive way (unless you’re having to repeat yourself multiple times). But I have found if I put the onus on them to acknowledge they are making a conscious decision to ignore my request, it usually makes them stop.

  25. Slow Gin Lizz*

    In addition to all the advice given above and in the comments, I’d also add that *if* it were true that Rebecca was able to psychically converse with OP’s relatives (it’s not), the relatives would probably know that OP wouldn’t believe Rebecca so they wouldn’t keep hounding Rebecca to tell OP all this stuff (nonsense). Not sure that OP would actually want to say this to Rebecca, and I think the original advice is the way to go here, but it could be another arrow in your quiver, OP, if you want to give her a reason to stop that she might understand. (If she were a reasonable person, she would understand already that she should stop but we already know she’s not a reasonable person.)

    I agree with Alton Brown’s Evil Twin’s comment above that she’s doing this in order to feel important and not to actually be supportive of OP’s grief. OP, feel free to block her and to stop associating with her outside of work.

    1. Observer*

      , but it could be another arrow in your quiver, OP, if you want to give her a reason to stop that she might understand. (If she were a reasonable person, she would understand already that she should stop but we already

      I don’t think so. For one thing, a common line here is “reasons are for reasonable people”. And Rebecca is not reasonable. In any case, if she won’t back off because she is told that the OP just doesn’t want to hear it, it’s time for the OP to protect themself, rather thane expending energy on trying to convince someone to change their behavior.

  26. HonorBox*

    LW, I’m really sorry for your losses. And incredibly disheartened that someone has hijacked your grief process. What Rebecca is doing is far beyond normal, supportive behavior. She’s forcing you to hear things about people/pets you’ve lost when you don’t want to. You have been very kind in your interaction with her following these “from the great beyond” statements and now is the time to draw a harder line. I think she’s earned please stop talking to me about my relatives and pet, full stop.

  27. Anon for this*

    This might be an unpopular comment, but I have a medium who I see fairly regularly. There is a whole opening/closing ritual that is part of every session and she would NEVER contact me out of the blue to tell me one of my dead relatives had contacted her. That just isn’t the way it works.

    1. Juicebox Hero (she/her)*

      I personally have no problems with seeing a medium or anything like that. It sounds like yours does things right, in regards to when and how she contacts the other side for you.

    2. Rosie*

      I think it’s useful for the letter writer to know that even when people do find the thought of these messages useful and seek them out, there are established practices for doing so ethically and with consent that are a long way from what Rebecca is doing!

    3. Czhorat*

      It shouldn’t be unpopular, and it’s reasonable.

      If we take Rebecca’s spiritual belief and practice at face-value and a thing in which she sincerely believes that still does not give her license to bulldoze OP’s boundaries.

      I don’t believe in any of the paranormal, but I have the same respect for non-mainstream spiritualist belief systems as I do for more mainstream religions. The issue isn’t what she believes, it’s how she acts.

    4. OP*

      I have no issues with people doing these sorts of things for themselves! I enjoy tarot card readings and even got a psychic reading at a ren faire because the lady offered me a discount. They can be very spiritually helpful, especially in difficult times. But they’re supposed to be pretty personal and private things, right? The fact that I’ve been remotely open to this stuff before is probably what made her think I’d be ok with this giant unreasonable leap in Psychic Shenanigans…

        1. I Have RBF*

          This 1000000x!

          Consent is key, especially in spiritual/psychic practice!

          No, one does not “read” for others without their specific request. To me it would be like installing a camera in their bathroom!

      1. Dinwar*

        As someone who shares similar beliefs (a dead relative contacting me wouldn’t even strike me as weird), I would say that Rebecca responded to your previous statements wrong. What you did was more like someone saying “I’ll pray for you” and you responding “Thank you”. Doesn’t mean that that person has a right to pester you with pamphlets and fliers and demanding that you attend religious services with them.

        If someone responded to me the way you did, I’d keep my mouth shut next time. The rule that I learned was that the other party has to give enthusiastic consent–not merely “Not be hostile”, but be actively seeking it out. Being pushy is simply wrong, full stop.

      2. Anon for this*

        I might actually take a different tactic and say “wow you really need to work on boundaries with the spirit world if my relatives are just contacting you out of the blue. Maybe you should reconsider doing this work?” with a horrified expression on my face. But that’s just me. I have found this type of work very helpful and I absolutely cannot stand scammers.

        1. FrivYeti*

          I would be deeply tempted to simply reply with a link to the plot summary of Insidious 3, a horror movie in which someone *thinks* their dead mother is reaching out to them, and it turns out to be a much more dangerous horror movie ghost instead.

        2. DJ Abbott*

          It occurs to me that if Rebecca‘s TikTok psychic is a scammer, pushing her students to bring more people in is probably part of her scheme. Bring in more, and take their money.

      3. Not a Witch I Promise*

        I have worked with a well respected psychic to work on my own spiritual giftings. I have also gotten messages for friends. Your friend is terribly misguided the way she is going about things and I highly suspect this isn’t the only area she doesn’t respect boundaries.

    5. Sparkles McFadden*

      No worries, Anon, You do you. No one here will have an issue with that. The letter isn’t actually about mediums or psychics. It’s about setting and maintaining boundaries with a coworker who is out of line.

      I had a coworker who was getting a degree in psychotherapy, and he’d walk around analyzing the rest of us even after we told him to shut up. Same thing.

      1. Observer*

        The letter isn’t actually about mediums or psychics. It’s about setting and maintaining boundaries with a coworker who is out of line.

        Exactly. The medium psychic gives the story color, but that’s not the fundamental issue.

      2. I Have RBF*

        I had a coworker who was getting a degree in psychotherapy, and he’d walk around analyzing the rest of us even after we told him to shut up.

        As the child of someone who had my mother getting her degree in Marriage, Family and Child Counseling when I was a teenager I have the utmost sympathy for you. I couldn’t tell my mother to stop analyzing me.

    6. Charlotte Lucas*

      I have no issue with people*choosing* to see a medium (provided the medium isn’t a scammer), but it’s the boundaries that Rebecca is ignoring that’s the problem.

      Rebecca might have a deeply held belief, but for the OP, this is unwelcome, and reads as religious proselytizing to me. (On top of just generally not listening to the OP’s clear and reasonable boundaries.)

    7. Champagne Cocktail*

      It sounds like your medium has ethics that this TikTok cult leader isn’t teaching.

      I don’t thnk you comment will be unpopular, you’re pointing out how Rebecca is violating norms of her new practice as well as LW’s boundaries.

    8. I Have RBF*


      A responsible medium has safeguards around themself when doing this sort of thing, and does not make contacts that are not solicited explicitly.

  28. Lilac*

    There’s…a lot to unpack here, but I think the part that appalled me the most was how Rebecca said she “keep[s] getting the messages over and over until [she passes] them on.” If someone complained to me that my dead relatives were bothering them and I was somehow obligated to help make them stop…well, I would not have reacted as kindly and patiently as OP, that’s for sure.

    1. gnomic heresy*

      Yeah, I would tell her to work on her psychic shields then and leave me out of it. If she can’t handle being psychic she should stop doing psychic lessons on TikTok. Sounds like she’s the one with boundary problems.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        In a recent Connie Willis novel the main character gains mind reading abilities, and the first thing she has to learn is how to block the constant babble of other peoples’ minds. If Rebecca is really getting unsolicited infomercials from the Beyond she has to install her version of Back Off Ghost! Adblocker before she does anything else.

      2. I Have RBF*

        Yep. If the restless dead won’t shut up until you bother someone, it’s time to put the restless dead back in their place, not bother someone else with it.

    2. whimbrel*

      Right? Between 2018 and 2021 I lost both my parents and an uncle, because fuck cancer, and if anyone I had a relationship with had given me any kind of ‘message’ like that I would have ended the relationship on the spot and at volume.

      OP’s honestly a hero for not having torn a strip off Rebecca already.

    3. Jojo*

      Yep, this is clear manipulation on Rebecca’s part. She’s so invested in what she’s doing that she needs to force the LW to accept the messages to validate herself. Its gross before you even get into how she’s hijacking LW’s grief.

      LW, I’m sorry for your losses and I’m sorry that you have this vulture circling over you trying to pick up scraps of attention that you do not owe her. She is an adult, she needs to learn healthy ways to form relationships. You do no owe her anything.

      1. Observer*

        Yep, this is clear manipulation on Rebecca’s part.

        Not necessarily. Not that it matters! Even if she’s getting those messages, that is *HER* problem to deal with, *NOT* the OP’s.

        I think that that is the really key issue here. Rebecca has her issues, but they are hers to deal with and she has no business roping the OP in. And the OP is on perfectly solid ground of refusing to go along. The OP doesn’t need to think about whether Rebecca is “bad”, “manipulative” or anything else. All that matters here is that Rebecca’s behavior is a problem and if it continues, the best course of action is 100% going to be to set a boundary and cut her off. Period. Regardless of intent or motivation on Rebecca’s part.

  29. Specialist*

    Run away. Run away now. You aren’t a close enough friend to tell her that she is making a big mistake here. I don’t see any way to keep this friendship.

  30. Observer*

    OP, if she continues to do this, and then tells you that she “has to” because she keeps getting these messages till she passes them on, feel free to tell her that this is not your problem. At. All.

    I also think that you may have to cut her off, if she doesn’t quit it. She may be sweet, but she’s also boundary crossing and creepy. She may not mean to be that way, but it still is true. And if she won’t stop, then you may not have any other option.

  31. Octavia*

    I agree with all that everyone else has said. Dial it back with that one.

    BTW, “DFF” is my new favorite thing to say! Thanks, Allison!

  32. Juicebox Hero (she/her)*

    I’m so sorry for your losses.

    As a Rebecca who’s not a boundary-stomping nincompoop, I want to slap her on your behalf.

  33. I should really pick a name*

    If Rebecca comes back with this, try to limit your response to the piece that affects you.
    You want here to stop bringing you these “messages”.

    Critiquing her belief in her psychic abilities, or her choices about where she spends her funds is just going be a distraction.
    Remember, the goal is to get her to stop bothering you, not to convince her that you’re right.

      1. Expelliarmus*

        Depends on if the squares just accommodate the letter’s content and Alison’s response, or if they also accommodate the comments, where people might reference other notable letters or something.

  34. Michelle Smith*

    I appreciate the language choice in the response to this letter! I am stealing that for my personal use in the future.

    LW, I am so sorry for everything you’re dealing with. I can’t imagine how hard this has been for you. If I were your friend and I was doing or saying things that were causing you so much hurt, I would greatly, GREATLY appreciate you telling me so I could immediately stop doing and saying those things. I care about my friends and I don’t want to cause them harm or make their problems worse. I have lost friendships by telling people I needed them to stop pushing X or Y on me, so I know not everyone feels the same way. But I honestly do think if the person is a true friend, they’ll want to know how this is making you feel AND they’ll stop doing it when you ask them to stop. It is a kindness actually that you’re doing to the other person to assert your boundaries, rather than letting it fester until you no longer feel comfortable being around them. Maybe framing it that way to yourself will make it easier to have the conversation?

    1. Clare*

      Same! This is how true friends and genuinely nice awkward people react to learning they’ve accidentally stepped on a boundary.

  35. animaniactoo*

    Tell her that she will have to figure out another way to handle continuing to receive the messages because passing them on to you is not acceptable as you have said you don’t want to get them.

    She can feel free to tell that to the senders… with thanks for thinking of you.

  36. He left home the day....*

    And apart from the whole horror of what she’s doing. She’s also really really shit at it. There are two techniques to fleece the rubes, whoops sorry, comfort people with messages from beyond. Not enough space here but Google “Cold Reading” which was what she did initially, then on the car journey look up “Hot Reading”.
    It’s all flim flam and tosh used by con artists since whenever.
    Either block her completely from your life as much as you can OR go to HR and explain how she is using these KNOWN schemes to upset.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I was thinking that Rebecca might want to ask for her money back. Besides the boundary-stomping, it seems like she’s not even very good at getting a reading.

      I have known plenty of people who do believe in visions and messages from beyond the grave. This isn’t how it works. But this is how scammy psychics work. (Just a matter of time before money becomes part of the message.)

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        It already has, when Rebecca brought up her difficulty in bill paying and going to collections. Classic “soften the mark” sob story. It may well be true if she’s paying for these “lessons,” but still a prelude to “so, if you could spot me a few hundred bucks…”

      2. I Have RBF*


        My religion allows for asking for messages from the dead. They are not this kind of sappy, generic fell good BS. There is often ritual involved, and questions are specifically asked, not just unsolicited BS flung at random people who have suffered a loss.

        This is very unhealthy for Rebecca to do, both to the LW, and for herself.

        The idea is to be selectively open to hearing answers to questions asked at deliberate times, not to be so “open minded” that her brain falls out and something else moves in.

    2. JB*

      Wizard of Oz has a great example of a cold reading, but it’s one done wanting to benefit the subject, Dorothy, rather than scam her. Professor Marvel uses her words and what’s in her basket to deduce she’s running away but not because of ill feeling to her family, performing his act so she’ll return home.

  37. OP*

    Hi everyone, OP here. Thank you all for your kind words and support. I was pretty sure I was in the right, but needed some reassurance/advice for any possible future… situations. The one commenter who called me out as a people pleaser, you’re definitely not off-base! It can come with a lifetime of being treated like a horrible rude monster for being like, “hey can we not discuss my severe phobia that will make me lose consciousness within seconds right now? please?”, lol. I’ve done a lot of “sacrificing my own wishes/well-being for the sake of helping out/being nice to other people” and it’s something I’m definitely working on.

    Feeling “mean” toward people (enforcing boundaries I’ve clearly set or stepping back from friendships with people I don’t even particularly enjoy being around) still feels like my worst nightmare. But I’m getting better at realizing it’s not my job or responsibility to be friends with everyone just because they’ve enjoyed my existence in the past, or we have like 2 things in common.

    1. HonorBox*

      OP, please reassure yourself that you’re not being mean by enforcing a boundary with Rebecca (and others). You owe yourself kindness and she’s the one whose actions are mean to you.

      1. HonorBox*

        Adding: Even someone who is being “kind” to you by bringing you homemade cookies every Monday doesn’t have the right to continue bringing them if you’ve asked them to stop.

    2. ina*

      I want you to know one thing: You are not mean for having your own feelings despite Rebecca’s intentions or what-have-you. Her intentions don’t devalue the impact of her actions. And any good friend or person will immediately — whether they think you’re over reacting or not — will respect your feelings, apologize, and stop.

      You are not mean for wanting your needs to be at least considered. Big hugs and I’d volunteer to tell this person off for you if I was near it IRL.

    3. DramaQ*

      I also have a bad habit of not asserting boundaries in the name of being a “good girl” until it gets to where even a blind man can see I REALLY need to do something. What my therapist suggested is ask myself what would I say to a friend in this situation? Would I tell my friend to keep being polite and smile or would she be having to hold me back? If it is latter then why am not granting myself the same courtesy? Would you tell another friend to keep associating with Rebecca outside of work related topics? If not why do you continue to do so?

    4. LimeRoos*

      Keep practicing!! I am also a people pleaser, and one thing I’ve learned is that you also gotta please yourself (lulz). But legit, if you would be kind to a person, give yourself the same kindness in the same situation. And, hypothetically, if your friend didn’t enjoy a persons company, you wouldn’t advise them to keep hanging out with that person. So don’t advise yourself that either.

    5. Michelle Smith*

      Again, if it helps, I am a person who benefits from people just being straight with me. I don’t do well with vague clues or people just fading. I don’t want to continue socializing with people who find my company grating or otherwise unpleasant. And I don’t want to actively hurt people with the things I say or do. It is a kindness to me when people tell me “hey, this thing you do is not working for me. Stop that.” or “I don’t want talk about this thing because it distresses me” or “I don’t to hang out anymore, sorry.” It lets me know where I stand, it lets me know what the boundaries of the relationship are so I don’t inadvertently cause harm, and it lets me know you’re a safe person to do the same thing with because you will respect my boundaries like I respect yours. It’s not mean, it’s actually kind.

      1. M2RB*

        x 100000

        I don’t ever want to make people (especially friends) uncomfortable so I welcome boundaries. “Hey, I don’t want to talk about (topic).” “Hey, I go to bed around 9:30, can you please not text after 9ish.” I don’t even need a reason! I simply make a mental note not to talk about whatever topic / not to text after 9 PM and let that guide the relationship going forward.

        Rebecca is not a friend to the OP by any definition of the word friend.

      2. higheredadmin*

        SAME. I’m always telling people – you just need to TELL ME the problem because it is a 90% chance that I’m not seeing it myself. I’m not good at reading people.

    6. Dust Bunny*

      Unfortunately, some people enjoy your friendship in part because they can roll over you. If you realize there is a pattern of someone repeatedly not respecting your boundaries, making fun or you or complaining about you setting boundaries, usually getting their way at your expense, etc. . . . it’s time to reevaluate the friendship.

      I suspect that people sometimes feel like they have to earn their way out by waiting until the other person does something really horrendous, but you don’t. You don’t have to be angry at someone or get to the point of disliking them to end, or at least limit, a friendship. You just have to decide it’s not working for you any more. I have good friends, but I also have friends whom I know will try to squeeze time, energy, money, ego trips, etc., out of me if I agree to more than, say, meeting up at the art festival this weekend, so I don’t waste my investment energy on them.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        And in fact, it’s kinder to let people know about the thing that bothers you BEFORE you get mad at them! Most reasonable people don’t want to unconsciously poke a bear until it swipes at their face with a snarl. If someone is my friend or even acquaintance, I want to know right off if there’s something they need, like “no texting after nine” or whatever.

        (And on another level, people pleasers can often exasperate the very people they’re trying to please–like someone who can’t bring themselves to say “fish makes my breathing stop” until after they’ve come to your salmon bake dinner party.)

    7. Penny*

      I’m sorry for all your losses, OP. I do think you have to step back from the “friendship” for your own peace of mind. Also, I wouldn’t soften my stance by using the phrase “I know you mean well”. When people use that, it sounds like you are saying they have your best interests at heart. The reality is, they have only their own interests to think of. Good luck to you.

    8. Tin Cormorant*

      I personally thought “Please stop pushing your Tiktok psychic scam crap on people who don’t ask for it” was a perfectly appropriate thing to say to someone like this, and wasn’t sure why you’re trying to avoid saying it. If someone tried doing this to me when my mom died, my response would have been white-hot anger and there would definitely be profanity.

    9. Sara without an H*

      Hi, OP —

      Thanks for checking in with us. I lost both my parents within the last few years. Fortunately, I never had a Rebecca in my life — I don’t think I would have been nearly as gentle as you are.

      You might enjoy Captain Awkward’s online advice blog. (Just type it into any search engine.) She doesn’t post as much as she used to (she’s apparently working on a book), but her archives include a lot of stuff on boundaries, healthy vs unhealthy friendships, etc. Just a couple of weeks ago, she answered a letter from a woman who’d been giving rides for TEN YEARS to a woman she really didn’t like, but didn’t know how to say no to. (If you read nothing else there, please read that.)

      You are not a horrible, rude monster. Use Alison’s script and repeat as necessary. (Rebecca will probably escalate in the short term. I believe it’s technically called an “extinction burst.”) Disengage slowly, but steadily, and don’t be sucked in because you feel sorry for her.

      I’m sorry for your losses. Jedi hugs, and here’s to a happier future.

    10. Beth*

      When I know I need to enforce a boundary that makes me feel guilty to set, it helps me to remember that having clear, consistent boundaries is actually a gift to the person you’re interacting with. If someone is acting like you’re their go-to person for XYZ, and you’re only able and willing to be available to them long-term for X, then it’s a kindness to let them know that they should find other people for Y and Z. That way, when they have a crisis about Y, they 1) aren’t surprised that you’re not getting involved, and 2) hopefully have found someone who’s actually able and willing to be there for them with it.

    11. Ellis Bell*

      Please completely discount my comment below about if you want to give her another chance it’s up to you… you clearly don’t want to! You’re allowed to spam filter who makes the cut as a friend and spend time on people who will follow your lead when you’re grieving instead of making it about them.

    12. Clare*

      Hi OP,
      Feel free to ignore the below if you feel like it doesn’t apply to you, but I think it might resonate.

      For a long time I was a bit of a people pleaser. Then I started to learn about keeping boundaries and hear from people on sites like this about how reasonable people LIKE to know your boundaries because they want you to be happy. But I hardly knew anyone like that, and so I despaired that genuinely nice people were rare and impossible to find, and I would be stuck for life either friendless or seen as pushy by the few people who would put up with me.

      Then I had an interaction with a new colleague who I quickly spotted as a total and blatant narcissisist. He didn’t really get on with anyone else, but he thought I was great because I knew how to flatter him and make him happy. He left pretty quickly, but he was really nice to me the whole time he worked with us. Old me would have thought he was a great friend and a kind person. That made me think: I only have so many hours for friends in a day. Maybe I don’t have nice people around because the boundary stompers see someone who will make them feel good and jump in first, filling up all my socialising time and making it hard to see the chill people through the wall of selfishness?

      I’m not sure, I haven’t made any more friends since to test the theory. But the idea gave me some hope that maybe there’s more reasonable people around than I thought. Hopefully, I won’t be alone once I start setting boundaries, it’s just that the wall of people who don’t like boundaries will drift off. Then I’ll get to meet the other cool people chilling beyond it.

      If this resonates with you, I hope the same for you OP, since you seem to be at a similar ‘but NOBODY reacts well to boundaries’ point as I am.

  38. Cat's Paw for Cats*

    I recently lost my own beloved mother so am possibly hypersensitive, but I would be deeply resentful if someone co-opted my grief for whatever reason of their own. I might not be nice about it.

    1. LimeRoos*

      Not hypersensitive, just hyper aware since this isn’t a situation you find yourself in without having a reason to grieve. It kinda makes it worse since we’re already in pain from the loss, then people like to guilt us in to things and do stuff like this. I wouldn’t be nice about it either.

      I lost my dad last year and this whole situation is reminding me of a lot of things.

    2. Sparkles McFadden*

      Shortly after my mom died, a relative told me she felt my mother’s presence and thought my mom was trying to send her a message, so she wanted to talk to me about this. My grief was still very fresh, so, without thinking, I replied “My mom thought you were an asshat, so unless that message was about you being an asshat, that wasn’t my mom.”

    3. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      THIS. You nailed it. Rebecca is making OP’s grief about her. Instead of being supportive, she is taking over.

  39. ina*

    LW, you are a very kind person and very patient. I spent ages 20-30 being a kind and patient person. It attracts these types that know you won’t push them away and that you won’t shut them out. You’ll try to cut her off, she’ll react manipulatively, but it’s all for the best. Some people are incredibly selfish and the world is just “me, me, me” to them. This is why she has no other friends but you. I’m surprised there isn’t more accounts of Rebecca doing things you didn’t ask for and calling them favors (even though they did not actually help you).

  40. Queen Ruby*

    Ok, so I totally know I’m going to sound like a weirdo, but I’m ok with that lol. I have been receiving “messages” since I was a little kid. When I’d mention them to my mom, she would promptly shut it down. When I was older (late teens) and my best friend’s mom (who was like my 2nd mother) passed away, I got a “message” from her. I told my mom about it, who told me to NEVER EVER EVER tell my BFF about it because that stuff can be deeply upsetting (this applies to everyone). Point taken, understood. Mentioned it to my BFF 20 years later, and it made her happy. But back when it was all still fresh? Yeah, probably not.
    All that to say, if she were truly receiving messages, chances are she’d have learned the emotional intelligence to keep her mouth shut. Does this Tik Tok Psychic not include that in her syllabus?? Talk about negligence… ;)
    Rebecca needs to GTFO with her double-fried nonsense. Ask for a refund from the psychic, pay her freaking bills, and keep her insensitive mouth shut. She is not a friend, she is a selfish attention-seeker who wants to be “special” because, while she IS special, it’s not the good kind of special.

    1. Observer*

      When I was older (late teens) and my best friend’s mom (who was like my 2nd mother) passed away, I got a “message” from her. I told my mom about it, who told me to NEVER EVER EVER tell my BFF about it because that stuff can be deeply upsetting (this applies to everyone). Point taken, understood.

      That could not have been pleasant to hear. But your Mom did you a favor – and you had the sense to take her point!

  41. dackquiri*

    me, sitting down with HR, trying to figure out how to begin to explain this: Are you familiar with the concept of an AU fanfiction?

  42. Selina Luna*

    Hoo boy. My sister died in June of 2022. I had to go to work the next day because as a teacher, I had to explain to my summer school students why I would not be teaching them for the remainder of the summer. I therefore had to explain to my coworkers why I was kind of a broken, sobbing mess for some portion of the day.
    I would not have been able to stop myself from telling this person that this was a TikTok scam and BS. I’m a little angry now, hearing about it happening to someone else. I detest TV psychics who prey on the bereaved, and even though your coworker at least didn’t make money off you, she is barely better than the average TV psychic in my book.

  43. Cthulhu's Librarian*

    Dear Rebeccas of the World,

    Other people are not props for your religious or spiritual practices. Do not involve them without their explicit, informed, and enthusiastic consent.


    Don’t pray for, channel on behalf of, intercede with, curse, bless, or otherwise do anything on behalf of another person, unless they ask you to. Why is this so hard for you all to grasp?

    People who actually care about others.

    1. I Have RBF*

      Cosigned, a pagan priest/ess.

      Doing something like that without the person’s explicit consent is considered a form of attack in my book. It’s a hostile act, because they are doing something to you without your consent – yes, even channeling messages supposedly from your dead relatives. (They are attempting to follow the connection between you and the dead person without your permission.)

    2. whingedrinking*

      I would like to add this list: if a person has experienced or is going through something that is deeply distressing to them, please do not take it upon yourself to explain why this is somehow actually A Good Thing according to your belief system, especially if you know the other person doesn’t share that belief (and really, really, REALLY don’t use it as an opportunity to say why this totally props up your worldview).
      Examples include: “[Deceased loved one] is in a better place”, “God/the Universe/whatever doesn’t give you more than you can handle”, “G/tU/we is testing you/teaching you something”, “everything happens for a reason”, etc. You may find these thoughts comforting; not everyone does.

  44. ecnaseener*

    If she pulls the “the messages don’t stop until I pass them on” crap again, don’t budge! That’s her problem to solve, without putting the onus on you to “relieve” her. You’re the one grieving, your pain trumps her inconvenience.

  45. ariel*

    OP, you asked for a script, but like others here I recommend blocking her on non-work channels. You don’t say how she contacted you, but – you don’t owe her your attention, and her messages are harmful. I applaud that you want to try again to communicate your no and hope she hears you; but her behaviors are harmful so if she can’t hear you: cut communication. Wishing you a year of peace and healing after so much hard loss.

  46. MarkAsSPAM*

    This is something that I would actually not wait for Rebecca to maybe/maybe not bring up again. OP told Rebecca once in the context of her mother that she did not want these messages, and that only lasted until Rebecca wanted to feel Special and Helpful and Important during OP’s grief.

    Having already ignored that message once in the face of her own selfishness, I wouldn’t personally wait for her to ignore it again. It does not sound like Rebecca actually ever agreed to not bringing these “messages” to OP, it sounds like Rebecca made excuses for her behavior to deflect. I would want to hear Rebecca explicitly acknowledge that these messages will never be welcome and will never be brought up again.

    Also, since this does have the potential to affect their working relationship, having it in writing might someday be important for OP.

    OP, maybe consider sending her an email saying something like, “I was thinking more about what happened, and I didn’t feel comfortable with how we’d left it. I want to be really clear that at no point in the future, at any time, or for any reason, do I want to hear any messages. I would appreciate it if you would agree to that, and we can put this behind us and move on.”

    Or something like that, I am not the best at scripting – I bet others would have much better wording.

  47. Ghostbuster*

    Wow, this one’s a doozy.

    Sorry about your losses. I had 4 family members die in less than 1 calendar year. I want to share some empathy as I know it’s tough.

    However, I will also say that I can understand why Rebecca didn’t stop. Saying “Thank you” to those messages at first is a clear green light for her to keep going. Of course, you clarified that you weren’t into these messages and you asked her to stop. Excellent. However, because you made it seem like you welcomed the messages before, it’s going to take a few more talks with her to make it stop.

    It would be great if she got it the first time, but she didn’t. Say it again.

    1. Observer*

      However, because you made it seem like you welcomed the messages before, it’s going to take a few more talks with her to make it stop.

      Hard disagree. For one thing, a simple thank you does not mean “I love this”, “I want this” or anything like that. Sure, without anything else it was not totally unreasonable of her to send the second message. But the last set are already out of line, given how much weightier they were and that the OP had *stopped* responding.

      The *minute* someone tells you “No”, you stop. “But you didn’t tell me no before” is absolutely *not* an acceptable response. And in this case, the OP has essentially explained their lack of prior “no”. At this point Rebecca has no excuses and the OP has not obligation to make any more efforts. They *also* have no real reason to believe that their efforts will change anything.

    2. MarkAsSPAM*

      But OP already told Rebecca no very clearly. When Rebecca tried to pass along “messages” from OP’s mother, OP told her no. “Thank you” was not a clear green light for her to keep going, considering that Rebecca knew without a doubt that OP did not welcome or want these types of messages.

      I would also add that, no matter what OP said before, it should never take a few more talks for someone to respect a ‘no’. That is not understandable, reasonable, nor is it OP’s responsibility to try and educate Rebecca on what ‘no’ means.

    3. Dinwar*

      “Saying “Thank you” to those messages at first is a clear green light for her to keep going.”

      Saying “Thank you” in such a situation is a polite shorthand for “I acknowledge that you’re doing what you think is right and appreciate the gesture.” It is in no way, shape, or form a green light to keep going.

      Further, even if we grant that it is, once the person actively withdraws consent you need to stop. The other person has the absolute right to end this sort of interaction whenever they choose.

    4. Ellis Bell*

      PSA: please follow people’s lead in grief. If it’s not a totally proforma sentiment to indicate support like “I’m sorry for your loss” or some other opener, then it needs to be a reflection and a tactful following of whatever the grieving person is saying/indicating they want or need. If OP had been interested in psychic messages, she knew to ask for it. It’s completely absurd to nominate yourself as someone’s psychic without any kind of indication they want that. Thank yous are not green lights, they are just pretty standard manners.

  48. Blarg*

    You are extra spicy today and I’m loving it. Double fried fuck and running naked through a meadow in one day?? What will the afternoon posts bring?

    Thanks for brightening my day, Alison!

  49. Jade*

    Tell her point blank to stop with the messages. No apologies needed. Stronger boundaries. So sorry for your losses.

    1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      I agree. I would not use the words I know you mean well. That is just justification for shoving right through boundaries. Be explicit and clear — I do not want to hear this again.

      I also agree with everyone, time to pull back from this alleged friendship.

  50. LB33*

    While I don’t believe in psychics or any of that, I’d personally be curious what messages they thought my relatives or dogs had for me. (“You were right not to lock me int he room during the parties!”)

    But if I’d told the friend that I don’t want to hear it, that should be enough.

    1. OP*

      They were all almost comically generic, like “your mom is with you and she loves you”, “your grandmother is so proud of you and she will always love you”, and “your dog loves you”. For the record, my grandmother was an 86 year old German woman. So I knew immediately those words were not coming from her spirit, LOL.

        1. Too Many Tabs Open*

          Or “hey, check my red purse before you give it to charity; I left $500 in the zipper pocket”.

      1. DramaQ*

        Interesting tidbit about mediums you might want to bring up. Harry Houdini went to one after his mother died as a test. When the medium passed on her message she called him “Harry”. His mother NEVER called him by his stage name. NEVER. That was how he knew it was BS and then publicly called out the medium.

        I’d be tempted to pull a Houdini on her.

        1. Laser99*

          Oh, I love this! “My mom meant to tell me where her will was hidden; could you ask her and get back to me pronto? THANNNNKS!!!”

        2. whingedrinking*

          He also pointed out that it was kind of weird for the message to be in English, considering his mother could only speak Hungarian.

  51. Jellyfish Catcher*

    Dear LW:
    You cannot fix this person. She is not a friend. There are Red Flags everywhere : pushy, the “messages,” financial issues, etc.
    But the WORST red flag is your inability or reluctance to create healthy boundaries, even with someone who is pushy and bizarre.

    Take this as a sign that you need to learn boundaries, whether with therapy (best, imho), reading, online information, etc.
    That will be useful all your life. It will feel scary at first, but what it really does is provide protections and boundaries that are healthy.
    Persevere, hang in there, it will be hard work – but you can do this.

  52. House On The Rock*

    I’m so sorry for your losses OP. Many years ago, I lost my dog and my grandmother a day apart, and it was extremely hard. I’m not a spiritual or religious person, but even if I were, I would have been horrified at beyond the grave fanfiction about my relative and pet in the afterlife!

    I’ll echo what others have said: you owe Rebecca zero obligation to continue your friendship. True friends don’t persist in saying things that are upsetting and respect boundaries, especially reasserted. If she does persist in these “message”, you’d be well within your rights to block her!

    Good luck, take care of yourself first and foremost and grieve in your own way!

  53. Colorado*

    Okay, I’ll admit sometimes I read the title then scroll right to the first line of Alison’s answer. This one did not disappoint! Now to go read the entire post.

  54. Snooks*

    If the psychic talk spills over into work settings, the employer may be faced with competing complaints, Some psychics consider their beliefs to be their religions, while many Christians consider it and fortune telling. to be sinful.

    1. Czhorat*

      Nobody has a right to have other people follow their religion; if a Christian considers it “sinful” that’s their problem (just as it is if a Dawkinite dislikes Christianity).

      What the workplace does have to do is treat each religion equitably and make sure that a hostile or uncomfortable environment is not created for anyone. No proselytizing in the workplace is perfectly reasonable, as is minimizing religious (or political) talk.

    2. Observer*

      , the employer may be faced with competing complaints, Some psychics consider their beliefs to be their religions, while many Christians consider it and fortune telling. to be sinful.

      None of this is relevant. Because there is no requirement to allow people to proselytize, which would be what this would fall under in such a case. And in fact, there could even be an argument that the employer is *required* to stop it, because people may not be subject to religious content without their consent.

      1. Dinwar*


        The initial interaction falls under the “I’ll pray for you” heading–a polite gesture from someone of that faith, and a reasonable person (even one who doesn’t believe that religion) will take it as a kind gesture. Which the LW seems to have done.

        To push beyond that is rather wildly unreasonable. It’d be like someone constantly handing out pamphlets, or trying to get you to join in a prayer–once you say “No”, you have an absolute right in the workplace to not be bothered on that count any further.

      2. I Have RBF*


        It’s religion. It is the same type of thing as invitations to Sunday services or “I’ll pray for your soul.” It doesn’t belong at work, and even outside of work is really, really rude if it’s unsolicited. (Yes, I consider proselytutes to be rude pretty much wherever they are outside of their own services.)

    3. I should really pick a name*

      The problem here is actions, not beliefs.

      Someone who follows an evangelizing religion isn’t allowed to try to convert people at work.

  55. Marcella*

    I have a Rebecca in my life. She has indeed alienated many people with her messages. unfortunately she approaches strangers too and enough of them are receptive that it convinces her she’s doing something wonderful. For instance, she’ll tell a 60ish Uber driver that an older female relative sends her love and he’ll get misty eyed.

    I can attest this is about ego and wanting to be special and powerful. It’s a form of dominance – “I have gifts you don’t and access to your loved ones that you don’t. You must depend on me.”

    My Rebecca continually has visions of fame and handsome husbands for herself; depending on how she feels about you, she’ll have visions of layoffs, illness, a special vacation or windfall, etc. We all thought she would grow out of it when none of her visions came true but it’s been years.

    Rebecca will likely get more insistent no matter how many boundaries you set.

    1. Indolent Libertine*

      “this is about ego and wanting to be special and powerful. It’s a form of dominance – “I have gifts you don’t and access to your loved ones that you don’t. You must depend on me.” ”

      Bingbingbing we have a winner!

  56. Biblioholic*

    A wise person once said, “Cats are exemplary boundary-setters.” Be a cat. A swift scratch* sends a very clear message to anyone crossing that line.

    *…metaphorically. maybe. hissing optional.

    1. MsM*

      In this case, staring at the wall as though you saw a ghost enter the room and then making a run for it also seems appropriate.

  57. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    Holy Hanukkah Balls, OP, big ups to you for handling this so well.
    You have been clear and civil under her onslaught of obliviousness.
    Rock on.

  58. A Tired Queer*

    Alison has a lot of excellent responses to bonkers things, but “ What in the double-fried fuck” absolutely takes the cake!

  59. Katherine*

    I’ve suffered a big loss recently and I think I would have reacted extremely poorly to something like this. LW is very patient.

  60. pally*

    ” I keep getting the messages over and over until I pass them on.”
    Well then, hang up!

    What makes these folks think people automatically want to hear from those who have passed on? I sure don’t. Some of my loved ones weren’t the best people to be around.

    OP, I admire your patience but please, observe strict boundaries with this person. This you owe to yourself.

  61. Rainey*

    As someone who has been working in the field of spirituality and who is a practicing psychic, I really want to chime in again. I’ve worked in this field for 14 years, and this never fails to infuriate me.

    There is a code of conduct that is supposed to be followed and TikTok doesn’t teach that. That makes me doubly angry on behalf of LW. Literally “what in the double fried fuck” makes a perfect response. First rule in this field. CONSENT. You need to know if they are even open to a message. And you had been pretty open you weren’t receptive. Second: time and place. You don’t pass potentially emotional messages knowing that the person is DRIVING. Great way to end up in an accident if the person starts crying.

    Whether someone believes in all the crazy spiritual nonsense, (and believe me do I have stories about that), or they want to be left in comfort with their lack of spirituality most actual legitimate practitioners would never violate someone’s boundaries this way!

    Feel not one drop of remorse for kicking this person right out! Messages DO NOT have to be passed. EVER. Especially mediocre messages that anyone with an imagination could make up! This is an attempt on Rebecca’s part to validate her “gift” and make herself feel better. That’s not how one goes about it. At all.

    Kick her out, because I can tell you from experience this only gets worse! If she doesn’t respect the boundary now, it can escalate to her calling you at 2 am telling you your life is in danger. (I’ve had this actually happen to me, and the flip out was rather large.)

    LW RUN, please. Don’t keep light contact, just get away from this person.

    I am so sorry for your losses this year and I hope your heart finds peace and comfort.

    1. Gigi*

      I am so comforted by how angry you and other practitioners are about Rebecca. A psychic/medium/tarot card reader code of ethics wasn’t something I ever thought about, but I’m glad it exists.

    2. I Have RBF*


      As a person who sometimes does readings, etc, I want people to understand that for the people who are serious about this stuff, there is a code of ethics involved, including solicitation, CONSENT and appropriate time and place.

      Rebecca is in the wrong here.

  62. LB33*

    Can you redirect her psychic energies elsewhere? Maybe she can convince your boss that his late grandmother wants everyone to have raises and more time off

    1. Forrest Rhodes*

      Good suggestion, LB33. I was thinking of telling her that I heard from my mom and grandmother myself, and they want her to stop annoying them.
      (Also, I’m immediately adding “what the DFF?” to my lexicon.)

  63. Ellis Bell*

    Okay, OP if you really, really, really want to, you can give her one more shot…. but I would definitely have my finger hovering over the block function. When someone leans into something this much, it might be more important to them than any boundary you give them; so be prepared for that. You say you “tend to have a lot of trouble enforcing my boundaries without people taking it really poorly”, which might just mean that people are being dedicated jerks and you actually did all you could. The best way to know for sure that you did all you could to keep a relationship, is to speak up 1) early, 2) clearly and 3) cheerfully before you hit bitch eating crackers stage. However in this case, when someone is grieving, “early” and “cheerful” are just not expected or practical, and people should get that; her instant response to your setting a boundary relating to grief should have been instant mortification and apologies. But if you’re game for those three guidelines from this point onwards (and honestly that block button is right there; no one would blame you) you can try them as part of one last shot: “Hey, I’m not up for any type of psychic messages like I said, and I will be the only person to talk about my loved ones in future. I want you to know I seriously mean it, and I will be upset if you continue with psychic messages. I’d like for us to continue our friendship, which is why it’s so important for me to be clear about that. I just need you to say you can do this. Is that something you can do?”

  64. Molly Millions*

    This sounds so upsetting, I’m sorry OP has to deal with this on top of her grief.

    I wonder if it might be worth escalating to management or HR, as these “messages” (aside from being distressing) might cross the line into religious harassment. Different cultures have different conceptions of the afterlife and their own practices for honouring the dead, and many people’s faith traditions forbid them from participating in seances and the like. LW’s coworker shouldn’t be pushing her spiritual beliefs onto other people.

  65. Stephanie*

    Best part of this letter I (repeatedly!!) mid-read it as: I want my coworker to stop giving me “psychic MASSAGES” from my dead family members

  66. Dances with Flax*

    My slightly cynical take on this is to wonder if Rebecca is somehow involved in a “psychic training” pyramid scheme and is hoping to rope you into it too.

    Whether or not she is, however, is moot; you’ve been trying to discourage her from passing on any more so-called messages from beyond and she is. not. getting. it. Time for a sit-down discussion with Rebecca in which you tell her that you do not want to hear one more word about psychic messages from your family members or pets and that any more of them will result in YOU sending an in-person “message” to your manager to find out how to shut down the psychic phone line and shut up Rebecca. Then follow through on that if she continues her hare-brained behavior.

  67. Pizza Rat*

    What the double-fried f*ck is right.

    LW, you have my condolences on your losses and having to deal with this cultish malarkey.

  68. I Have RBF*

    What in the double-fried fuck.


    My religion involves things like tarot reading, scrying, and yes, messages from beyond our reality. HOWEVER, these things are only given/relayed to people in the religion, and only at the person’s request.

    What this means is that I do not ever give an unsolicited reading or message to anyone, especially a coworker or other person not of my religion.

    Rebecca is so far out of line she’s in the next state over.

  69. GreenDoor*

    Please be clear, this is not about Rebecca wanting to help you through your grief. There’s a certain kind of person who is enamored with all things extra-sensory…having ESP, being able to see the dead, predict the future, being an empath….and being enamored with the idea of being a true psychic is one of them. She’s obsessed with the idea and has herself convinced that she’s got the gift. This is about her wanting to feel good about herself.

    1. Dinwar*

      This seems to be conflating two issues.

      It’s one thing to believe you have such abilities. That’s a question of belief, both secular and religious. By itself this is no better or worse than, say, belief in transubstantiation or that certain texts are divinely inspired or the like–which is to say, it’s personal.

      It’s another thing entirely to use someone else’s grief as a means of self-aggrandizement. It wouldn’t matter what the specific belief is, Rebecca using the LW’s grief to make herself feel important is wrong, full stop. Whether or not Rebecca is right, she has no right to violate the LW’s boundaries in such an egregious and painful manner.

      Unfortunately for the rest of us (which, in my experience, is MOST of us), people like Rebecca give us a bad name. Most of us practice our beliefs quietly and with appropriate solemnity. But it’s the Rebeccas that get the press and who create the public image. Sucks, but such is life.

      1. I Have RBF*

        Exactly. It doesn’t matter whether Rebecca is the real McCoy or so full of shit that the whites of her eyes have turned brown. It is being done without invitation and consent. It needs to be shut down.

        1. allathian*

          “So full of shit that the whites of her eyes have turned brown.”

          Awesome! As good as Alison’s deep-fried fucks.

          I’m going to start using both.

  70. Two Pop Tarts*

    This is a religious matter.

    This is in the same league as someone continually asking you at work “Have you given your life to Jesus?”

    There are plenty of religions that believe you can talk to the dead. There are also plenty of religions that believe you can’t (Christianity, for one).

    Just tell her to stop.

  71. Caz*

    A very close friend once invited me to a psychic night that she was attending, mentioning my late mother whole doing so. Because she is a very close friend, I was polite when firmly telling her that I wanted nothing to do with anything of the kind, ever. If a *work acquaintance* sprung up with this kind of whatever this mess is, I would be much quicker to say something I may have to insincerely apologise for later.

  72. RagingADHD*

    Don’t soften it. Don’t say you know she means well. She won’t hear anything after that point and will use it as an excuse. Be extremely firm up to outright harsh, or she will ignore it. She may ignore it anyway, in which case escalate to management with no further warnings.

    If she really thinks she gets “messages” that “won’t go away until she passes them on,” those are called intrusive thoughts. There are people whose job it is to help folks deal with and manage intrusive thoughts, and it isn’t you.

  73. CSRoadWarrior*

    OP is dealing with grief, and Rebecca is just rubbing salt on the wound. If it were me, I would either snap or breakdown in tears. Either way, not pleasant. And I am fresh out of something similar so I take it very seriously. The last thing anyone who is dealing with grief needs is someone like Rebecca doing something like this. Is is not only inconsiderate, but extremely triggering and downright rude and disrespectful.

    In other words, show your support and then stop, or say nothing if you really can’t think of anything nice/supportive to say. Do NOT do what Rebecca is doing. Sheesh.

  74. MamaSarah*

    Our 14 month old cat was hit by a car the day after my child’s 8th grade graduation. I literally cried my eyes dry. The loss still stings. I’m not sure I could tolerate “messages” from someone in the workplace…I think the RP sounds remarkably composed given the situation. ❤️

  75. Some Dude*

    I think I’d personally go with “Rebecca, if you don’t shut the hell up, someone’s going to need to pass on your messages from beyond the grave soon.”

  76. Elizabeth West*

    “What in the double-fried fuck” sounds like Alison is channeling Effin Birds. And frankly, it’s an appropriate reaction to this cow-irker’s behavior.

  77. An Honest Nudibranch*

    First off, OP: I am so sorry this happened to you. Grief is hard, and that type of behavior from Rebecca would be infuriating and traumatizing for anyone.

    *sometimes I keep getting the messages over and over until I pass them on.*

    I will say. . . this line moved my instinctual response slightly out of “Rebecca is just pushing her spiritual beliefs onto OP” to “is Rebecca okay?”. I obviously have no idea what’s going on in Rebecca’s brain, but I have struggled with intrusive thoughts before, they suck, and this is a *weird* enough statement it raises red flags. I’ve known a lot of “Listen I can Fix You Life through my psychic-ness” type people, and “if I don’t I will hear the messages over and over again” is, uh, not exactly a common narrative.

    And like, that absolutely wouldn’t make what Rebecca’s doing okay, and you’re not responsible for her mental health. But if she starts ignoring your “this is distressing to me” statements and focusing on the “but I *have to* pass on the message” aspect, it might be worth making a clear “you need to find a way to deal with that that doesn’t involve telling me about my dead relatives, if you need to talk to the EAP or something go there, not to me” statement. It might be softer than warranted, but if the goal is maintaining the relationship, it might help?

  78. Heinous Eli*

    Oof, OP. I have been in similar situations all too often in the past. Current Me now cuts these things off at the pass, politely yet in a matter-of-fact and firm tone, as opposed to deflecting until I can’t stand the other person’s behavior anymore. So the first time this person said something about contacting the dead to me, I now say “Oh, I am so sorry but I do not share your beliefs.” It feels mean and people don’t always react well, but then again, they react just as bad if not worse when I let it go on for a bit before I stop them.

  79. day late, dollar short*

    1) I’m so sorry for your losses. FWIW, I think you are setting good, firm boundaries. Keep pushing back if she continues to be an insensitive jerk.

    2) psychics/mediums are 10000% not real and she is being scammed.

  80. Anonymous for This*

    At least one other person mentioned Houdini.

    As I understand it, he wanted to believe the people could receive messages from their deceased relatives because he had been very close with his mother. However, he realized that it was fake when the medium would supposedly be giving him messages from his mother, but they were in English, a language his mother did not speak. I guess it was after that that he began to study the tricks that the mediums would use like the moving table, lights flickering/going out, etc.

    He and his wife came up with a code word to use so that after one of them was gone the other would know if the deceased was really trying to contact them or if it was fake. To my knowledge, Houdini never contacted his wife after his death.

  81. totaleclipse26*

    If this hadn’t gone so far I would be tempted to feed her a fake relative or pet and see if she then starts getting messages from them.

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