AIBU to think my friend is using me?(11 Posts)
I have a friend who is constantly texting me and phoning me up to ten times a day and wanting me to meet up or do things for her. She suffers with depression and anxiety and doesn't work so she has more time than me ( I work full time). She sends long rambling messages which often make no sense and asks me to do things for her (take her shopping, go to the doctor with her etc). I want to be supportive but it's becoming overwhelming. I've tried to set some boundaries (such as saying it's difficult for me to reply to your messages when I'm at work) but it doesn't seem to help. I don't mean this to sound unkind but she seems incapable of functioning as an adult (she's in her 40s) and I don't know what to do. I'm happy to do things like go to the doctor with her if she needs support and I'm happy to take her shopping as she's too anxious to drive, but I can't do everything. Every time I speak to her she just talks about herself. I don't want to abandon her but I don't know what to do for the best. I've been really ill myself recently (currently recovering from cancer) and whilst I want to do what I can to help her, it's just becoming too much. I know she's suffering and needs support but I feel totally overwhelmed. To be fair, I don't think she's deliberately using me. I think she's just so wrapped up in her own life that she can't see beyond it.
I want to be there for her without it taking over my life, but don't know how to.
Sorry for the long post. I just don't know how to handle it
I know she's not depression and anxiety type probs which you don't want to make worse, but it would be helpful to tell her straight that you are feeling she wants you to be her carer and that especially with how ill you've been yourself, that you just cannot cope with this level of interaction and you need more personal space and time.
It sounds like she has a few mental health issues. Does she have family nearby ? What support is she receiving, if any ?
It does sound like she needs support but she has become over reliant on you I'd say.
It's a very tough situation for u I'm sure. You need to be a little less available. Just baby steps as a big withdrawal may really overwhelm her. Just don't be available every time and ignore the texts at work also.
Also, suggest she she speaks to her GP or local public health about getting support. Could she apply for work, part time even , as distraction is what she needs .
Try to encourage her to join local groups e.g. craft groups, walking groups, book clubs etc to expand her circle of friends and interests.
It sounds like you've been a great support to her but you need to mind yourself also. A friendship like this can be very draining .
Thanks. I might try to talk to her. I don't just want to cut her off, but I need a bit of space. Maybe I could arrange a meet once a week and when she messages me multiple times a day, just say I can't talk at the moment, but it'll be good to catch up with you on Saturday ,(or whenever). I know she'll get upset and take it as a rejection, but I'm not coping with things the way they are at the moment.
Thanks Designerenvy. She lives with her partner and is close to her parents. She talked to the GP and he arranged some counseling for her. She cancelled it because she didn't know how to get there. It is very close to where she lives and really easy to get to. She does craft type activities at a local centre and is doing a part time cookery course at college. I do a couple of activities at my local leisure centre and she wants to come to those with me. I'd much rather go on my own. It's just a couple of times a week where I can totally relax and recharge.
You want to know how? OK. Boundaries. You didn't set boundaries before: you suggested to her that messages at work were annoying and waited for her to police your boundary for you.
Set yourself some rules. I will not look at her messages during the day. I will not do favours more than once a week. I will have some days each week where I do not read her messages or speak to her. When I speak to her, I will talk about is going on with me for 50% of the time. I will ask her for a favour soon after any time I do her a favour.
Those last two are important. If she is your friend they will come easily. If she's a user or just a deeply selfish person, not a friend, then she will strongly resist.
You have to enforce your boundaries yourself. You have cancer FFS, she should be falling over herself to be your shoulder to cry on.
You might need to tell her that your course are your own time away from everything and everyone. It's not healthy , what she's doing.
Why can't her partner help her out a bit more with appointments and shopping ?
I'd say once a week to meet her would be good. Let her know you are tied up the rest of the week , set a date , time and place to meet and stick to it.
Pity the councelling didn't work out.
I find this interesting I know she'll get upset and take it as a rejection, but I'm not coping with things the way they are at the moment
You ARE rejecting her, on reasonable grounds because she is being selfish, overbearing and has not been a good friend to you in your time of need.
Why is it terrible for her to be upset but OK for you to be at your wits end? It is OK for her to be upset at the rejection. Maybe it will push her to get actual treatment and care instead of using you as a crutch to avoid it, e.g. fixing her driving worries.
I recently distanced myself a bit from a friend. I don't think she had mental issues but I could have been wrong. Either way, I felt smothered by her and she was nowhere near asking the amount of my time that your friend is. At first I didn't immediately respond to her texts. Then I would have excuses ready for not meeting up. She still didn't get the message and clung on harder. I didn't want to cut her off completely but I did not have the capacity in my life at the time to be the best friend I feel she wanted me to be. In the end I had to straight up tell her that I felt smothered by her. She took it well and hopefully we can still be friendly but just not at the same intensity as before.
You have to be honest with her. If she's a decent person, like my friend was/is, she'll take it on the chin and respect your boundaries. If not, she might get nasty which tells you all you need to know. You are not responsible for this person's happiness and especially not at the expense of your own well being.
where are your boundaries OP?
Just because she suffers from depression and anxiety does not mean she has the right to make constant demands of you and monopolise your energy and time.
She's also very selfish - you are recovering from cancer and you need downtime too.
Where's her support for you?
She has a partner so why isn't she expecting him to accompany her to places and drive her around?
Let me guess - his work and time are more important than yours in her eyes?
You need to set some very firm and clear boundaries with her.
She's already ignoring your hint to stop texting and demanding a response when you're at work, so i'd just ignore her messages.
Send her one text back at the end of the day if you like but ignore the emotional blackmail.
You're enabling her by allowing her to carry on as she is and giving in to her demands.
Being ill is not a competition and there is no excuse for her ignoring your feelings, needs and requests.
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