Post # 1
Sorry if I posted in the wrong place.
I have a friend I’d known for over 25 years. We met at work in our 20’s. Now this friend was adopted as a baby. This adoptive family gave her love and she had 3 siblings, but for one sister resented her and gave her a hard time. Fast forward over time my friend has lost that family over the years to illness until the only person remaining is the hateful sister whom she has nothing to do with. Throughout this we have spent endless hours talking about my friends problems over the years and she has a very supportive boyfriend for many years as well. She has seen psychologists and been on antidepressants. She has since found her real brother and sisters who all got their own issues and told her their mother wasnt a nice person. So none has anything to do with this mother. The thing is over time, I have noticed things, like at work, she often said she didn’t want sympathy but got annoyed if she didnt get it. She walked out one night while we were doing overtime because I didnt ask how she was. If somebody else was upset, she be annoyed they were getting sympathy, but not all the time to be fair. I got to the stage I felt I was going to work to be her psychologist. I eventually left for my own reasons and got another job. One of her doctors actually told her she doesn’t want to be helped. Looking back I realized its true. She is in the role of not wanting to take responsibility and wanting others to make decisions for her. She expects people to be understanding and nice to her whilst being critical of them. Even her real family falls short of her expectations. I have supported her as much as I can but now I feel perhaps I’ve been enabling her even though shes told me I say the same things to her as her doctors. She is in her 50’s now and I am trying to distance myself as I am not sure how to handle it anymore. I feel guilty when I know she is having one of her drama’s which is about most things and I dont ask how she is. I have had a share of traumatic events in my life and she has listened to me as she says it takes her mind off her problems. She does have the best sense of humour and can be good company. I do know she share her problems with other people, so I’m not the only one. Now more often I find myself not wanting to ring her. How should I handle this after so many years?
Post # 2
I personally can’t stand to be around people who say one thing and mean something else. Have you ever talked to her honestly about this behavior? If not I would do so.
It also doubles as a test. If she is a worthwhile friend she will listen to you and adjust her behavior. If she is not, she will get angry with you and cut you off. You don’t need a friend who will be angry with you for expressing your feelings so the problem will take care of itself.
Post # 3
You aren’t a professional and do not have tools to handle this.
I would keep a distance for now. And… if and when she reaches out, and brings up those specific topics… tell her you feel ill-equipped to help her with these issues and advise her to get professional help.
You can be her friend in otherways, but not her therapist ..set boundaries
Post # 4
I have called her out on her behavior towards people in the past and she said she didnt realise she was like that. But as time has passed she is doing it again, so yes you are right I will bring it up.again and see what happens.
Post # 5
The advice I gave was just common sense on some things. I have backed off these days and just told her she should talk to her doctor more. It’s the same stuff she had been talking to doctors for years now, so I don’t think she will ever come to terms with it. It’s more trivial stuff she has been going on about lately. But yes it’ something she needs to work out herself. I need to just not be involved with it .
Post # 6
says is absolutely true. You are not her therapist, and you are not able, nor should you remotely be expected to, endlessly listen to her problems, help her work through them, ask her about them, reassure her etc. etc.
That is placing you not only in the role of therapist, but also in the role of pseudo-intimate partner. It’s a gross violation of your boundaries and the boundaries of your friendship. It’s no wonder you feel resentful and don’t want to phone her.
People who have issues that they have not dealt with and are unwilling to deal with usually have poor boundaries. Their repressed issues and emotions leak out onto the people around them.
You’re her friend. All friends sometimes listen to each other’s problems and provide support, but there is a limit. There should be fun times as well, times of quiet, times for you to talk about yourself, time for it to be about you and about other people too.
You have to set boundaries with people like your friend. Spend less time with her, text her less, phone her less, take longer to reply to her texts. Don’t try to solve her problems, let her sit with them. Make your visits shorter, or else specifically ask for some quiet or to be able to talk about your life as well. Tell her specifically that you cannot listen to her problems in this level of detail and that you are not equipped to help her resolve them. This may sound harsh, but she has to get the message that you are not at her beck and call, otherwise you are enabling her.
Post # 7
Thank you, what you said was interesting, particularly about pseudo intimate partner. It’s hard to put in adequate information without making it drawn out in these forums, I should add that she does listen to me and talks about other things and has a great sense of humour. I have backed off a lot in terms of advice and contact. She does struggle with change and the latest episode was over a fridge, I stayed out of it. The last thing she said to me was her partner may be having trouble with his job and was going to let me know. That was some time ago. I suspect she becomes annoyed if I don’t reach out and probably why at times I dont hear back. I understand boundaries are important but the line has become blurred over the years and what I need to learn is not to feel guilty. The issues most of us deal with, can be over the top with her and I am just fed up.