Am i a bad friend?(45 Posts)
Sorry in advance if this is long.
I have a friend and she's exhausting me. I feel bad writing that but i just need to vent.
Im 30, have a DP, no kids.
Shes 40, 3 kids, messy separation, divorce still pending.
Ive known her for around a year.
Shes been through a lot lately and I've tried to be there as much as I can but its just too much for me.
Naturally her conversations right now are all very intense, about entering a new period of life, personal development, etc. This makes total sense but im at a different time in my life, im overworked and dont have much headspace. What i need from my friendships now are an opportunity to be lighthearted and have fun - does that makes sense? I know this makes me sound cold but im just ranting here as i said.
She takes me up on literally every offer - now this i know AIBU about and i have learnt my lesson. But for example she was having a dinner and i suggested i could make something like 2 or 3 quiches or something. I actually forgot about it until the day before when she texted me to remind me about the "3 quiches". After the dinner I said "maybe you and the kids can come over for dinner next week, tuesday or wednesday or something" (you'll have guessed by now im annoyingly vague, i know).
Monday night she texts me "are we still invited for dinner?"
Dont get me wrong I do know AIBU to suggest stuff if im not fully happy tondo it, i have learnt that now. Im just used to people being a bit less "on it" (myself included).
Her boys have taken a shining to DP (hes a great guy).
Me and DP live together and he works until around 9pm.
Anyway, last week i had her and the kids over for dinner and let the kids go on Dp's PS. When DP got in (shattered), my friend was basically pushing him to play with the kids on the PS, which he did although i could see he was tired.
Now I have a text from her saying she wants to invite me and DP to hers for a FIFA night (????) on the PS and asking me to confirm what dates we are free. DP works 6 nights a week and as sweet as her kids are (theyre lovely) this isnt his ideal night off.
When we hang out just me and her it all gets very intense and about "life changes" etc very quickly, and whilst I do really like her I just cant deal with that much intensity.
I feel awful because shes so sweet and caring and very vulnerable right now, trying to build herself back up, but its gotten to the stage where i dread opening messagea from her because it will be trying to tie me down to something.
Its a personality thing i guess - i dont actually look to my friends to support me as much as she does (she told me she needs to feel surrounded and not alone), i look to my friends to help me forget the grind of life for the moments im with them.
Does that make sense?
Sorry this is fucking long! I needed to get that out.
Im thinking maybe i should take back some control? Get back into suggesting more "frivolous" activities, stuff i want to do, rather than "fielding" her?
Ok, so I think you're pretty clear on what you want. You can't change your friend's behaviour, so you need to work out what you can and can't manage/handle.
So, when you message her to invite her anywhere, be clear, concise, and name an exact date and time! No more maybes, no more lack of clarity as to exactly what the invitation is for.
Maybe invite her a bit less too? And to do things you actually want to do.
Also think about the boundaries you want in place with respect to invitations from her. You don't have to accept any of them. You can accept part of them and not other bits. You can be honest, and say that a FIFA night doesn't really float your boat, so no thank you.
I am curious as to why you feel you can't just reply to say no? Are you worried about upsetting her if you say no? You'll upset her far more in the long run if you keep saying yes and in the end lose your rag and cut her off!
You need to stop offering things that you have no intention of delivering.
It sounds like you want the kudos from offering things but not the hassle of actually delivering.
Before you offer, force yourself to think for 10 seconds about 'Do I really want to do this?'
Agree with others offer specific dates and times, spread them out and if she asks why you cant do thinga sooner just say how busy you are. Ask your DP if he would mind giving one of his nights up in a few weeks, in August or something. If she tried to arrange after that offer a night in November. He only has one night off a week so thats totally reasonable. If he doesnt want to do that just say he hasn't got any free night for a while, sorry. I can see why she wants your kids to see him if they have taken a real shining to him but it's perfectly reasonable to say no.
...and yes suggest the things you want to do as well. Friendships are give and take.
Its not so much i have no intention of doing these things, its more her approach just isnt mine.
Example: if someone offers to make quiche, im either going to just see it as a nice extra and see if they turn up with or, or i might ask if they're still up for doing it, i wouldnt personally text a reminder specifying the number.
I think if someone threw me a vague invitation of dinner in the week i would wait to hear more from them, not ask.
And if i had kids and was at a friends house with them, i would probably be actively discouraging my kids from trying to "nag" my friends partner into playing with them, not actively encouraging it (the kids hadnt even asked!).
I just feel her approach to stuff is too forceful sometimes, i feel strongarmed.
Thank you for your advice, I am taking it on board.
I understand your frustration but I’m interested to know the background before her and her DH split and she found herself all at sea.
Have you been friends for years? Pre her having DC?
I only ask as if you were buddies before DC, DH etc then these changes can put distance in a friendship. Add in a divorce and (in my personal experience) it can sometimes blow the friendship: the person who’s not in the thick of it just has sympathy fatigue and starts either being weird, backtracking or ghosting.
Firstly be firm about dates, times etc. IF you feel there’s a friendship to salvage.
If you’re done, BE HONEST. It’s extremely final but the immediate pain could save her months or years wondering why you’re being a bit funny with her at the same time as she’s trying to process a marital split.
I was in your friends position, read a heap of stuff wrong and was slowly dropped by my BFF over a long and hard 24 months of feeling constantly confused and baffled before I swung the axe as I couldn’t get out of her what I’d done.
She’s also probably having to manage her DC with military precision right now to keep sane hence the random texts about “quiche on a Monday”.
Poor woman’s brain is probably like a burst sofa right now.
OP, in the nicest possible way - this is entirely of your own doing. You offered the quiches so of course she planned it with that in mind, you invited her for dinner and she took you up on it....she hasn't done anything wrong.
She has already said she doesn't want to be alone so has made her intentions clear. Having children and no support network can be incredibly isolating so of course she's taking you up on invitations.
Being a friend is taking the bad with the good and if you can't do that then I would gradually phase her out of your life. She sounds like she needs friends in her life and you aren't up for it.
I can’t help wondering what you’re actually getting out of this friendship. Agree with PP, definitely be more specific in your plans and agreements and start putting some serious distance there. It’s not good that her kids are starting to cling to your DP, and it sounds like he doesn’t enjoy it.
Agree with PP entirely bar this:
I would gradually phase her out of your life
Don’t. It’s so so painful.
I think it would be nice for you to not drop her completely in such a difficult time, but learn to say no more and offer less stuff
I'm definitely not going to drop her!
I hadnt thought about it from the "military precision because of the kids" angle but that makes sense.
Im just going to have to be firmer and make a clear decision about what i do/dont want to do and when going forward. In all fairness she could probably start a thread about her "flaky friend"!
My DP does like the kids, he's good with the kids, I just dont think he really wants to spend his night off playing PS with them!
Stop offering things you have no intention of delivering
Put some boundaries in place
Offer her a level of friendship that you can cope with. Which means saying no sometimes.
I understand that you want to be supportive, but what do you get out of this friendship? Maybe focus on that too.
I think you need to stop offering things and giving invitations for stuff you don't really want to do, and then resenting her for taking you up on them.
Stop being so casual with the promises and invites.
She's taking it literally because she can.
You are going to have to be on red alert because it sounds as if she's waiting for a way in.
It's not OK for your DP to be playing with her kids all the time, if he's human it'll soon piss him off and he will start to hate them coming over
Don't phase her out, try to help her fit in.
Well, you seem to view friendships on an economic model based on what you get out of them.
I view friendships differently, on a long term relationship model. That means sometimes you do have to put yourself out and inconvenience yourself when a friend is going through a hard time. Even when that hard time doesn't coincide with a free weekend in your own life and quickly dissipate. Because you value them as people worthy of regard, support and love. Not just economic units of leisure value to you.
She is probably really happy that her boys like your DP because she wants them to have a positive male role model.
Maybe one day you will have a hard time, find yourself alone with dependants and emotionally distraught. Maybe then you will find our what it is like when the people you thought were in your life were only in it for the laughs.
She might be helping you with life changes of some kind, one day. What goes around, comes around.
if someone threw me a vague invitation of dinner in the week I would wait to hear more from them, not ask
Yes so would I - however, you should not make a vague invitation/promise unless you are prepared to follow it up with a specific one, especially as your friend is currently very needy and likely to jump on any chance she gets to be with you. Only make the offers you genuinely want to go ahead with, frivolous or otherwise
Waiting for a way in?!
I think you need to be careful what you offer (offering to make 2-3 quiches was far too generous) you should've offered to make (or buy) one.
And offering to have her and her kids over mid-week for dinner was also too generous.
You also need to be honest 'DP is under a lot of pressure at work right now, and working 6 day weeks, he's asked me not to book any social evenings out for the next few weeks, he's really exhausted'
It IS a personality thing, OP. You're both lovely people with good intentions. But perhaps because she's vulnerable, you've become her stability in a way which will eventually calm down (maybe not though... but probably). I get you OP. I'm a 'flake'. My heart is in the right place but sometimes the big day to do the planned activity comes and I think, "Oh God, I really don't fancy my friend coming around with her 3 kids."
So, you're her surrogate family here. That's what's going on. You've just got to dial it back a bit. Your role here is to structure your offers of dinner or hanging out around your own realistic expectations. So you can still give her love, support, friendship but think about the offers before you extend them and think about specific dates. Offer her 'dinner on Wednesday the 20th', as opposed to 'dinner next week'. I find, for flakes like us , I get much less stressed if I've set myself a date that I have to stick to from the get-go. If I don't set myself boundaries in the form of a committed date, I get super flaky. It's just how I am. I suspect you're the same.
Offer less. So if she texts you and suggests doing something, don't be afraid to say, "Ah that sound awesome. I'd love to but sadly, DP and I have a thing on that evening and we're back really late. So I have to decline this time." Make sure you make your 'no' really clear- in a nice way.
You're a lovely friend. Flakes Unite and Be Proud! You're a good person. You're
a little flaky an easy-going friend but you're loving and your heart's in the right place. I suspect your poor friend has glued herself to you a bit because of your loveliness more than the fact that she is vulnerable. She loves hanging with you and being around you. And her kids obviously love you guys. You and your DP sound incredibly kind and giving.
But dial it back a bit so that you don't get strung out by the demands and she doesn't get disappointed.
You're not from California too, by any chance, are you?
onepoundsfifty your post needs a Venn diagram.
You’re being a bit flaky OP, with the quiche and dinner invite. That’s fine with a fellow flaky friend but as you’ve found out is completely incompatible with someone who takes you at your word!
But on the whole it sounds like you don’t hugely like aspects of her, she might be fine as a person but her model of how she wants your friendship to look may be just way too much for you and what you want.
I had a friend like this, well technically still do as we haven’t officially fallen out but I phased our contact out by drastically reducing it. Sadly he didn’t much get the hint and clamours and pushes for more (he has invited me out to do something, passively in a ‘hmm we should check out this cafe’ seven or eight times in the past few months when I haven’t accepted any of them, he just keeps asking!). It feels suffocating and like I can’t message him because it’ll never be allowed to be a quick chat, it has to end with him trying to get me to meet up, and I just don’t want to (because he suffocates me!). And it’s always just so... much. Not enough to go to a gig together, we have to meet up for the whole day too. Not enough to meet up for a day, it has to be the weekend. Any gig together leads to him trying to get me to stay over so we can travel together. A few hours hanging out at a mutual interest event gets a ‘shame we didn’t get chance for a proper chat when are you free?’ message.
He even started messaging saying he would be in my area, miles from him, at some point in the next few weeks so let him know when I’m free to meet if even for ten minutes. Needless to say he didn’t visit the area as I didn’t want to meet, it was just a ruse.
We ended up like this from a beginning of very similar feelings to what you have for this friend right now.
I feel like friendship is such a precious thing and we have such busy lives, if so soon into a friendship it’s already riddled with issues it’s almost definitely always just gonna get worse, and with a limited amount of energy surely you want to spend your time with genuine friends who bring you what you want from a friendship?
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