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To tell a friend what her problem is?

(58 Posts)
Sherashed Tue 18-Apr-17 08:31:03

I've been friends with her for 7 years. Our sons started kinder together. We do spend time together without the kids, but mostly see each other because of the kids. I also look after her son a bit on the school holidays, as I work from home. She also has a lot of relationship issues (DH, family and friends), so I listen to her and try to give advice and support where I can.

My friend has a prickly personality. She's very sensitive and has a very strong opinion on what's right and what's not. Sadly, her mother died when she was 8 and she lost her dad in her 20s. She married and had kids later in life (youngest at 40). These kids are her whole existence, and now they're well into primary school, she's the mum that's first to complain to the teacher, contriving friendships for her kids, getting annoyed at other parents when her kids don't get their way. I know she's trying to be the best mum she can because she didn't have her own for long.

My friend thinks she's excluded and badly treated by other school parents (for both her kids' school years), she thinks the teachers don't respect her and take it out on her kids. She thinks her DD is being bullied by kids of parents that don't like her. She hates her in-laws and says they exclude her. She's constantly fighting with her DH. She talks about fractured relationships with work colleagues, and the list goes on.

I invited her family over for dinner on the Easter break. She did several things that really pissed me off, but I didn't let her know. But after a while, she starts on again about how she was excluded from in-law's Easter celebrations because they don't like her, then in the same breath goes on about how she had a huge argument with her neighbours because she didn't like their kids being rude to hers. Then she starts talking about being excluded from a Facebook group. Then she starts to cry.

I feel so sorry for her. She is deeply sensitive but can be difficult to like and I know why she's having all these relationship problems. For example, her DD wanted a girl to come over for a play date. Friend texts other mum, not once or twice to ask, but 18 times over 2 weeks. My friend just can't seem to join the dots.

So, because I seem to understand her, and she has confided some deeply private things with me in the past, do I tell her she's the common denominator in all her relationship problems and why I think that is?

Chillyegg Tue 18-Apr-17 08:36:17

Erm id be a friend and say maybe she needs some sort of counselling as she seems to be having lots of fall outs and she needs ro be reflective of actually why that is. And maybe she needs to take responsibility for that. I wouldnt wade in and say shes a massive dick tiger mum whos kids are spoilt. Because then she will just see it like your attacking her and do ehat she does to everyone else and push them away by being aggressive

PeaFaceMcgee Tue 18-Apr-17 08:36:31

Well, you could, but be prepared for it to blow up in your face. You're not her therapist so manage your expectations over how she may take your input!

AnotherEmma Tue 18-Apr-17 08:45:16

Telling her that she's the problem is a TERRIBLE idea. If she hasn't already worked out that the issues in all her relationships are at least partly down to her behaviour, she's not going to suddenly accept it just because you say so. It seems likely that she has some kind of personality disorder (BPD maybe) or at the very least mental health problems that are probably a result of unresolved issues in her past. I think the only thing you can do is gently encourage her to get therapy. It's also important that you protect yourself and only see her as much as you can cope with. Try not to take on her problems and stress. Unfortunately you need to be a bit emotionally detached with people like her or you get sucked in. And you need to be careful because if you challenge her, she might just put you in the category of all the "bad guys" she's already fallen out with.

Allthewaves Tue 18-Apr-17 08:51:59

I would steer towards counselling

WizzardHat Tue 18-Apr-17 09:00:41

It would probably be the kind thing to do, but your friend will probably blow up at you instead. She probably will anyway, sooner or later <voice of experience> .Has she ever asked, or shown the slightest doubt that the problems might not be the entire rest of the world?

AliciaMayEmory Tue 18-Apr-17 09:10:55

I had a friend like this and many people have tried to gently help her see what is happening, but only to become the brunt of her latest woes. She is the perpetual victim, as are her kids. Everyone else is the problem, kids are all so mean to hers, people leave her out of stuff and so on. I got sucked in by it all and attempted to help, but it blew up and in the end I just took a huge step back. It's exhausting dealing with that behaviour. Unfortunately, most people who come into contact with her 'come to the same conclusion, so I'm not sure what the answer is.

MummyGemx Tue 18-Apr-17 09:13:46

I think that the best thing is to try and be there for her as her friend. I would tread carefully but she will never change and create positive relationships if she doesn't see the problem. I would be inclined to gently drip feed and question her behaviour in a friendly, non judgemental way. It is difficult to know exactly without knowing her but I think she will actually want to know without knocking her self esteem and also she needs to know you are being a friend and don't want that part to change. I would also maybe just quietly question her on occasions about why she feels that way and alternative points of view to get her thinking. If she realises she has been a bit much herself it will still hurt but she can make small changes herself. It's such a difficult one isn't it? X

DAMNgina Tue 18-Apr-17 09:14:54

Just wondering how your 'friend' enriches your life?

ILostItInTheEarlyNineties Tue 18-Apr-17 09:19:43

You would have to word it so carefully and tactfully, otherwise you will become the next friend who "doesn't like her".
If you think there's a chance she will change her behaviour after listening to you, then go for it. Just be prepared for her to adopt her usual defence and probably sulk.

As Alicia points out she is the perpetual victim. She seems incapable of taking any responsibility for her actions.

Ohyesiam Tue 18-Apr-17 09:23:35

Yes, it's a kind thing to do, and it's what friendship is about, BUT, I'd get her to counseling ( or preferably therapy). She sounds complex, unhappy and very unaware of herself, quite a full n even for a professional. So yes, gently point out patterns in her behaviour in the context of wanting her to feel happier, and arm yourself with some facts about how to get a good local therapist.

MatildaTheCat Tue 18-Apr-17 09:28:58

I reckon many of us know someone a bit like this. They are sad to know because they truly are their own worst enemy. Mine has dumped me for some fall out she had with a mutual friend which I wasn't even aware of at the time.

You don't mention her dh, what is he like with her? Unless she directly asks you you cannot help and even then you can only suggest some sort of counselling or therapy. Maybe mention they your friend Sally had similar problems and wanted to understand them so went for help. Trouble is that this personality type hardly ever want to accept that they might be the problem.

Her experience is that friendships and relationships are dangerous and she cannot trust anyone to be good enough. She keeps perpetuating this belief by her continuing poor social skills. Unless she asks you for help I would steer clear.

And yes, what does she bring to you?

EssentialHummus Tue 18-Apr-17 09:33:01

It's very likely to blow up in your face, as others have said. Steer her towards counselling, ostensibly to discuss how she feels about other people leaving her/her DC out.

Giddyaunt18 Tue 18-Apr-17 09:33:25

Yes i think you could try to gently next time she is confiding in you about these problems. But you need to be prepared for her not taking it well. However, after she's had time to calm down she might well see that you're trying to help and recognise some truth in what you say. I think you are being a good friend rather than standing by watching her destroy everything around her. Good luck.

Wedrine4me Tue 18-Apr-17 09:33:32

Drop a few hints and see how she reacts. Tread carefully.

HumphreyCobblers Tue 18-Apr-17 09:41:34

I expect that your friend would not receive news like this gracefully and would just see it as a continuation of the way in which she is unfairly victimised.

Vegansnake Tue 18-Apr-17 09:43:41

don't put yourself in the firing mum was the same.alienated everyone relative and many friends..would not of taken kindly to be told it's her..don't go there

Evilstepmum01 Tue 18-Apr-17 09:43:59

I have sisters like this. They like your friend need counselling. I had counselling and it really helped me see how not to behave like this.

Its very sad. What if you were to gently suggest she comes along to a counsellor? Tell her it helped you?

Be very careful tho, some people are so ingrained in this behaviour they lash out at anyone they percieve to be critical or not supportive of their dramas.

Evilstepmum01 Tue 18-Apr-17 09:44:37


spelling police!!

JaneEyre70 Tue 18-Apr-17 09:45:57

One thing I've learned from friendships is that you can't change someone's behaviour. It's ingrained, who they are and they won't ever thank you for pointing it out or steering them towards help for it.
You just have to accept people for who they are - it's her life being made difficult from her behaviour, not yours and unless her behaviour does start making your life difficult too, then stand back and take your friendship for what it is.

Damselindestress Tue 18-Apr-17 09:58:26

I used to have a friend like that who was always causing drama and falling out with people, I felt sorry for him but unsurprisingly he eventually turned on me. I wouldn't directly say anything in your situation and risk her shooting the messenger. Maybe diplomatically suggest she could benefit from counselling because of her previous experiences. That might provide her with some perspective.

Runny Tue 18-Apr-17 09:59:45

I think we've all known someone like this at one time or another. Life is one long drama with endless fall outs and arguments over the most minor things.

You can't win this one, as in my experince they never change, they are incapable of self reflection.

Sugarpiehoneyeye Tue 18-Apr-17 10:06:13

Sherashed, your friend would drain me.
What do you get out of this friendship ?
Unfortunately, in my experience, I hate to say it, it won't be long, until you are her next target. ☹️

Northgate Tue 18-Apr-17 10:07:19

I really don't think she'd take it well. Chances are she'd take it as a personal attack and yet another person being mean to her, rather than an attempt to help.

Sherashed Tue 18-Apr-17 10:08:33

She just rang to ask me to look after her kids Friday morning...

I do enjoy her company - in measured doses. She's the type that overstays her welcome. I'd never go on holiday with her. As long as I have an exit plan, it's okay.

She does complain to me a lot about the problems she's having and asks for advice. So, I've brought up counselling many times. I know she's used the service offered by her employer, but that was because she was claiming workplace bullying. Ironically, she got counselling for her then 8-year-old DS because she thought he was being bullied and excluded at school and was still traumatised by a pet dog's death when he was three.

Reasons I want to enlighten her more is that she always puts herself out there - classroom rep (both kids), footy manager, etc. She tries, but never hits the mark and just ends up pissing people off.

Her DH is not overly supportive. He works and golfs and seems to do anything to get out of the house. He's a good dad though. Not so good at being a husband.

I hate to say this but want to put it out there for an opinion. She's a "motherless daughter". Mum died when she was 8. My father's wife's mother also died at a similar time. My father's wife is a very, very unlikeable person. Very narcissistic in personality, and cannot read a room at all. I loathe my father's wife, for so many other long running reasons, and I'm finding it troubling that some of my friend's behaviours are similar to that of my father's wife. Can a girl losing a mother so young cause these types of personality issues later in life?

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