DEAR ABBY: My wife and I live in a beachfront condo complex with a population of mostly retired people who are friendly and active. Last year a divorced woman moved in and was welcomed into the community. Although she has been invited to social gatherings and outings, she rarely attends. My wife and I went out of our way to try to make her feel comfortable. We had her to dinner in our home and asked her to join us for several outings. I also volunteered to do chores in her home, always accompanied by my wife.
Recently she confided to us that she has never really had any friends. She complains that she's not included and has criticized most of the residents at various times. Some of the things she says are cruel and unwarranted, including about people she doesn't know. She seems to enjoy trying to turn people against each other.
At a recent event, when a couple we know well entered the room, the wife came up to me and kissed me on the cheek. She later did the same to my wife, who was standing across the room. That's how she greets most people she knows. Later our "friend" told my wife I had been flirting with the other woman and she had seen me kiss her. A week later I learned she had told the woman's husband I flirted with his wife, which was untrue.
How do we react to this new neighbor? Should we confront her, distance ourselves from her, and/or warn others about her critical behavior and lying?
- Miffed in Mississippi
DEAR MIFFED: The answer to all three of your questions is yes. And when you and your wife talk to your friends about this toxic woman, be sure to caution them that if they ever hear anything negative about anyone else from her, to always check with the person she is talking about to determine if what she said is true.