- 5 years ago
Hi bees. I want to get some opinions on something that’s bothered me for a while. I have two immediate family members that I am close with. They each have prbly more than their fair share of emotional/relationship problems/issues. Most often with each other and their romantic partners, sometimes also with friends, coworkers, or even acquantainces. The two ppl themselves aren’t so far as having severe mental health issues, but I believe they could both use a professional therapist and that they do have some issues in that territory. At the very least they need better communication, judgement, coping, etc skills.
Though it’s not my profession now, I did go to school for counseling and did that for a little while. In being one of or maybe the closest person to these two, they often go straight to me with their problems. This has gone on for years and years. Naturally I want to help them and be supportive. I have given them hours upon hours of advice, listening, etc.
Over the past year or so I am thinking that this isn’t a good dynamic. I don’t want to be their therapist. I want to have relationships with them that are less one-sided and are about more fun things. It’s also awkward bc I can find myself in the middle when they don’t get along. About 6 or so months ago a few things came to a head and it’s come out that it’s not that cool for me to be treated like a therapist. Since then, ppl were in their separate locations for winter but now ppl are coming back and living closer together. I instantly feel like this pattern is starting up again.
Now, when they come to me with this and that problem/emotion, etc I’m really burnt out on hearing it. One of the two is going to start seeing a real therapist in a cpl weeks which is great news IMO. The other has on and off said she either should or won’t go to a therapist. The 1st one is more aware of the me-as-therapist problem, while the 2nd one would easily take on the whole world to help her with her problems. She’s the type that would tell the waitress about her boyfriend troubles.
So, now that I’ve been the supportive one in the past, I feel like it’s cold/awkward/shitty to be pulling away when they hint around or start saying their problems. (I do realize by spending hours+ on the phone/in person with them while they’ve cried etc trying to give them advice, coaching, whatever I can may actually have been bad now.)
I guess my questions are:
1) How can I still be a supportive person to them without it crossing a line to unhealthy, or exhausting for me?
2) In general, where is that line? Supportive reliable friend/family member vs being someone’s psuedo therapist? At what point it is actually harmful for either person and/or the relationship?