To tell friend I can't help anymore(32 Posts)
Can I be a good friend to someone but keep my distance? Is that a good friend?
I have a close friend of 25 years that I care about very much. She's a good kind hearted woman but has made terrible decisions throughout her life. These include terrible partners, quitting jobs impulsively, running up huge debts and other crazy impulsive choices. We both had dysfunctional childhoods and I know why she is this way and accept her as she is and love her very much.
She emailed me yesterday asking for advice which is a regular occurrence. She sees me as the one who got their shit together and I have always been happy to help and encourage her. But she never listens or acts on my advice instead she tells me the reasons it won't work for her. That's fine, but I do find it annoying when I spend time researching options and she then dismisses them as impossible without consideration.
Can be a good friend whilst not giving advice even when she directly asks? If so how do I deflect her request for advice without being offensive?
stop doing the research.
start batting it back.
sounds tough what would you like to happen?
sounds tricky. maybe you should research x, y or z.
and you know it actually isnt offensive to say look i care about you but i cant keep going to such lengths to find information for you that you then disregard. i am happy to be a listening ear but i cant solve this for you.
if i were in your shoes i would say “everytime i give you suggestions/go out my way to help you dismiss it, so why do you keep asking? im obviously rubbish at helping”
doesnt have to be serious, you can keep it lighthearted and make a joke that you’re rubbish at that sort of stuff, or that you do so much research you’re going to start charging her for it
Thanks trojan - that's a great line look i care about you but i cant keep going to such lengths to find information for you that you then disregard. i am happy to be a listening ear but i cant solve this for you.
She has a tough life but much of it is self inflicted, although there are reasons for this and I understand that. An example is she lived in a council flat in a highly desirable area, and had the right to buy. She saved and had an offer of a loan from a relative to cover a deposit. Just before it was all going thru, she met a new man who didn't like the fact she lived in a council flat. She left the flat within 2 months of meeting him and they moved into an expensive rental, paying much more than she could afford so now she has no savings. The rental is up for sale and her OH is now saying renting is dead money and he is moving back in with his parents to save to buy, but not with her. Her credit rating is terrible and she has no savings so now she is terrified that she will be made homeless. She has DS12 and whilst she is a very good mum in the most important respects - very loving, prioritises his education/health/emotional well being, she can't seem to hold it all together for herself. I really feel for her. She escaped an abusive marriage and needs support but I am not sure how I can help, if at all. I am a 'fixer' by nature and realise she may just need to sound off.
I'm back, sorry. She called this morning and is very anxious as she is spending too much money on food. Approx £120 a week for 2 of them. Asked me how to save money on food. I said don't eat out, don't eat takeaway, eat cheap protein sources e.g. Eggs and pulses, make vats of soup and stew etc - basically what we do. Her response 'oh god I can't do that, It's easy for you because you enjoy that sort of food but I hate it. It's not fair on ds if he can't have a takeaway and he only likes meat' etc etc so I just said 'well, we would like to eat whatever we fancy too but it is hard because food is very expensive now, I understand why it's hard' And she just replied 'oh I can't do that, I'll have to get a loan' ffs why ask me! I tried to deflect but she specifically asked for advice. Grrr
Say "What do you think you should do?"
Sounds like she's not actually after advice to make real changes.
I have a friend very much like this.....she sees me as her bestest friend ever ( her words), we've know. Each other 30 odd years, and she has NEVER changed. Yet she will say to me, " oh I can't possibly do that, it works for you because xyz" so I know what you're going through but can't offer help, as I'm currently trying to reduce contact. Yet the more I back off the more urgent and emotionally demanding the messages get.
She thinks I have everything great, but it's all on a superficial level with her, scratch the surface on me and there's some right shit but she wouldn't know, all she sees with me is happily married, 2 kids, and that's it. Her partner is an abusive arse, and she's currently waiting for her next knight in shining armour to whisk her off, who will make her "100% happy 100% of the time"
Who has that?!!
Good luck op, I feel for you.
Reflex - I could get it her for xmas - she has a good salary as a top tier primary teacher but very poor finances due to a lot of buying on credit
Wolfe - thanks - I'll try that
Mairy - oh god you too? So it's a thing. I didn't know that. She sees me as 'having it all' and always has but I've been working 5/6 days a week since I was 14 without a break and have often had 2/3 jobs. She says I'm lucky to 'enjoy working' and 'have found a great job'. I really feel for her but it is the same as you, the more I back off the more she clings on. Hmmm
She's probably just looking for somewhere to vent [as we do on mn] rather than wanting any specific solutions.
Perhaps your role [if you still want it] is just to actively listen to her so that she feels heard and then she has the space in her head to make the decision she chooses.
The saddest thing is that I can see that her current partner was going to commit and they were going to buy a property and now he's backed out. He is anxious about her financial irresponsibility and I can see why, but would never tell her that.
Knight in shining armour sums it up really - she wants someone else to make it all okay but only she can. I did a lot with her ds over the last few summers when he's stayed with us and he is a fantastic boy, I'm definitely not going to dump her, just want to learn to manage her, and my, expectations.
If you don't want to lose her as a friend, you could just listen, let her witter on,and if she asks for your advice just acknowledge that it's a difficult situation without really giving advice. If she pushes you, say you don't really know what to suggest, what does she think she should do, what does she think are the pros & cons of each alternative solution. Make her think it through, do the work herself & then she owns the solution & the consequences of it. It is very frustrating putting time & effort into trying to help people if they don't take suggestions on board......so don't, just be a sounding board, if you can cope with that.
I had a friend like this but I just gradually cut contact. I realised that I wasn't actually a good friend because I was so frustrated at her inability to fix any of the issues in her life or take on board any of the advice she asked for. I think a friend should be able to be supportive and I found her constant cycle of crises irritating.
My OH tries to 'problem solve' when I'm really just wanting to vent, so he probably finds me really annoying, as you do your friend. But I just want to say what's on my mind, not have him say 'leave your job/tell them to fuck off/never speak to him again' etc. Especially when I think 'yeah, like I can just do that, it's easy for you, you've got money behind you...'
So maybe she doesn't want you to solve her problems, just listen, nod and sympathise?
Maybe you do need to tell her what her current partner thinks about her financial irresponsibility. She will keep making the same mistakes if she doesn't take a long hard look at what's going on and how her decision making affects her circumstances.
I have a similar friend who NEVER listens to advice despite asking for it. Fortunately we have a mutual friend who says exactly the same things, when asked, as I do, and we commiserate together when she does the opposite. We have considered telling her to do the opposite of what we think in order to see if she then makes the 'more sensible' choice, but I can't bring myself to do that and not sure it would work out very well.
Change the way you are helping her, as it's not working.
Don't find out information for her.
Don't tell her what she should do.
Don't complain that she doesn't follow your advice.
Instead, talk her through her own thinking. Try not to offer one piece of concrete advice, just bounce back to ask her what she thinks she can do about it.
You had a great opportunity to say to her ok, you asked me for my advice and I gave it and you did what you always did which is tell me why it wont work. I can't keep doing this. Please stop asking me for advice, if you want to have a moan, have a moan, I will listen any time you want, I am here for you but you have to stop this.
I have a friend like this. I love her like a sister but her life is one car crash after another.
I don't give her advice anymore. It's a waste of my time and effort. Occasionally she asks for it. I ask her if she wants to hear the advice or if she wants sunshine blowing up her arse. She usually asks for the advice but ignores it.
The latest is her cocklodger, no good boyfriend. I have multiple times told her that he is neither use nor ornament. He takes drugs, sells her possessions to fund his habit, steals cash from her, constantly lies. They have no sex life, never go out, never do anything really. She works 3 jobs. He is off sick for various issues all of them related to his drug problem. No dcs, her house.
Now when she asks what she should do I just ask what she would tell me to do. And leave it at that.
I would be saying the same to your friend if I were you.
Part of the process of taking responsibility for your own life is working out the sensible thing to do and then owning your actions.
As long as you supply her with the answer, she can try it half heartedly and then give up because " badfrodo didn't tell me x, or expected too much" or any other reason she can think of.
Next time she complains about something, rather than coming up with a solution, ask her questions to get her to come to the conclusion herself. So e.g. with the food thing "That sounds a lot, what do you think you're spending on? Is there anything you think is too expensive? Have you thought about what you could do?"
It may not work but it puts the onus on her rather than putting you in a hero / parent mode of telling her what she could be doing that allows her to permanently be in incapable child mode. Otherwise I would detach and just make sympathetic noises.
Trojan great advice. I was just about to say bat it back to her or something like that!
"I am not sure how I can help, if at all." I would say there is a reason she is self sabotaging and she needs to go on a journey of self sabotage. Maybe, almost certainly, she cannot afford to get some therapy/counselling. But she could explore with a few self help books. If she thinks she sabotages herself, she may wish to explore it. I've not read all of this but it is along the lines of what I think happens to a lot of us (myself included!).
"I am a 'fixer' by nature and realise she may just need to sound off." I too am a fixer, and I too get a little upset when my advice is ignored. I think you need to think of this as a two way relationship and you can control your end of things. Not giving so much advice, and not expecting her to do what you suggest!
... she needs to go on a journey of self exploration to see my she sabotages herself ! I mean.
£120 a week is insane! What the hell do they eat?
Whatever takeaway they get surely she could cook herself at home.
I'm struggling to summon up any sympathy at all I'm afraid. They could easily eat for £40 a week pretty well for 2 people.
You must be a very patient friend.
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