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How to tell friend to stop moaning

(102 Posts)
cauliflowersqueeze Wed 23-Oct-19 15:19:18

Ok a little bit of advice.

I have been friends with a woman for about 20 years. As the years have gone on she has become more and more negative, constantly complaining about work (we don’t work at the same place) and it’s really getting me down every time I see her.

I do like her, and I do feel very sorry for her, but after I’ve seen her I feel completely drained and sad. I can’t get a word in edgeways, if I try to say something she will look off into the middle distance, wait till I’ve finished and then turn everything back to her.

Everything in me tells me to just keep out her way, but it’s been a long friendship and I do feel sorry for her. I want to tell her to be a bit more positive but I think she would be overly sarcastic at that or just “fake jolly”. All of her complaints are about work - I have tried to find her lots of other jobs but she pretends to be interested but never actually does anything about it.

Is there anything I can say to improve things or AIBU to just let things die off?

cauliflowersqueeze Wed 23-Oct-19 15:23:35

The last time we met she texted after to say “thanks for the therapy” and I felt quite used!

tttigress Wed 23-Oct-19 15:24:25

No suggestions, but I have a similar friend/work colleague.

When you see someone being negative on s daily basis (even if it can sometimes be justified), it is very unattractive.

Seeing this close up, it reminds me to try to be positive.

It might be better to suggest she is more positive, assuming she is a genuine friend. But that is easier said than done.

NaviSprite Wed 23-Oct-19 15:47:47

I'm probably not being helpful here but I go with the direct approach in these circumstances, I'm not rude about it, but I have one particular friend who is a lovely person but prone to looking at life very negatively.

When he gets into a spiral of constant negativity I will actually ask him to stop going on about the same things on repeat with no consideration for the people he uses as a sounding board. It's quite difficult when their only outlet seems to be you as they don't see how it can impact the MH of the person who is taking on all of their negativity.

I had this conversation with him roughly a year ago, I made sure he knew that I'm always here to help or listen, but if every time I see him, all I get is the same issues on repeat, it's draining emotionally and physically.

Be kind to yourself OP - figure out what boundaries you want with this friend and express those clearly with her. If she takes offence then maybe it is time to let the friendship go.

Alicia9999 Wed 23-Oct-19 15:51:58

It's ok to have a few 'therapy' type chats with friends (that's what friends are for), but that shouldn't make up the bulk of interaction.

I think you should just be honest and try and shift the conversation....
"What do you want to do about your job, are you looking for a new one?"
"so... do you have any good news, or is it all bad???"
"well i suddenly feel down... let's turn this back to a positive chat shall we? last week I ...."
"Ok - get this off your chest then lets stop the work chat!!"

mumofbun Wed 23-Oct-19 15:52:34

I was friends with someone a bit like this - not for 20 years though just a short time. I could handle the negativity and didn't mind giving her advice etc. The bit that bothered me was that when i spoke about myself, even an anecdote i thought would be helpful to her situation, she just glazed over and then continued where she left off. It wasn't worth my energy.

As you have been friends for so long, if you want to stay friends with her then maybe try to talk to her about how worried you are about her negative attitude and particularly how much she seems to dislike her work. Mention that you are finding it quite draining so you have no idea how she is managing?

cauliflowersqueeze Wed 23-Oct-19 16:01:16

Yes mum I had exactly that the last time. I drew breath to tell her an anecdote and she glazed over till I’d finished then carried on about herself.

Alicia I think I might try a couple of those phrases.

Navi yes it’s a lack of consideration for the other person I think. Conversations are 95% about what’s annoying her about work.

Although I’ve worked somewhere different for 6 years she continually forgets the name of it - and it’s really near her so she knows. And that feels a bit hurtful as if she cares so little she doesn’t remember the name (not that I’ve ever said that).

Beautiful3 Wed 23-Oct-19 16:05:17

I have a school mum like this. She enjoys being miserable, poorly and full of bad news. I've learned to never say how are you or ask any questions that lead to her offloading to me. For example I say hi, and ask very specific questions. When she goes off one one, i say have a nice day and walk away. She cant ever say I'm rude but equally she cannot offload on me.

Karwomannghia Wed 23-Oct-19 16:14:38

My sister is like this. I think it’s often a sign of mental illness.

AutumnRose1 Wed 23-Oct-19 16:18:46

I think it's lack of interest in the other person

I had a friend like this. Told her how I felt, she apologised, tried to change but fell back into old ways very quickly. I ended the friendship.

Chottie Wed 23-Oct-19 16:18:51

OP - this sounds so draining.....

If some of the suggestions above do not work, for your own sanity and mental well being, I would suggest gradually distancing yourself.

Just wondering, is she like this with everyone, or is it just you?

userxx Wed 23-Oct-19 16:24:35

Its hard work, i end up feeling like a motovational speaker after a convo with my friend!!! She can find something in anything to moan about. I have snapped before and said for fuck sake if you have nothing good to say, then keep it zipped...... it worked for a week or so.

Nextphonewontbesamsung Wed 23-Oct-19 16:25:06

Yanbu to let things die off. My own dear Mother is something of a drain (and often says she feels much better for talking with at me). So I know how it feels. There is no notion or acknowledgement that the other person might be looking for something in a friendship from drains. Could you text back along the lines of "But I'm not your therapist and I'm starting to feel a bit worn down by the endless negativity when we meet up. Maybe some actual therapy might be in order for you? Said with much love xx".

Batqueen Wed 23-Oct-19 16:27:50

Advice from books on dealing with difficult people says with these types you should never try and solve it for them or help but go along the lines of ‘that must be hard, how are you intending to solve it?’ ‘What are you planning to do about it?’

WomensRightsAreContraversial Wed 23-Oct-19 16:30:55

I've come to the conclusion that some people actually enjoy being miserable and wallowing. The friends I have had like that seem to seek out misery, and I was the only mug who would listen. Most notably I had a friend where I had moved for an amazing new job, been made redundant almost immediately, and been homeless, with an operation booked and elderly parents both ill, and she rang me to complain that somebody had called her cat fat! Never asked even how I was!

My only advice is that these people don't take hints. I think I'd tell her straight, "look I know you joked about me being your therapist but I'm not and whilst sharing difficulties is part of friendship I'm finding our meet ups quite draining recently because they have been very full of negative and you don't seem interested in what's going on in my life. Can we draw a line and aim for positivity next time?

cauliflowersqueeze Wed 23-Oct-19 16:33:28

Chottie I’m not sure if she is like this with others really. I think because I’ve heard so much she feels she can just continue to update me with the next part of the endless negative saga. Whereas with other people she would need to start from scratch. I think it’s quite interesting that she doesn’t know anyone where I work at all whereas I seem to know pretty much everyone (and all their shortcomings) at her workplace.

She also doesn’t recognise that others find her mean / unpleasant and so I have branched off and created other friendships with people (who want nothing to do with her). That has created angst because she doesn’t realise that X felt bullied by her and doesn’t want her to be her friend. And Y and Z she snapped at so much that they aren’t interested in being friends with her. She thinks they all like her and can’t understand why they don’t invite her. It’s quite awkward.

Next yes that’s exactly what I want to say. But I think it would send her into a massive sulk which would end up eating away at me more than her.
I think keeping things short and civil along the lines of Beautiful3 suggestion might be easier for me.

I am very grateful for the suggestions.

I do actually think she needs counselling, just not from me.

MrsGrindah Wed 23-Oct-19 16:35:11

God I’m in exactly same position except my friend is angry and bitter over something. Deservedly so in my opinion but the time has come to accept it. Every week we meet up it’s the same thing and I am losing sympathy although I will always feel sorry for her.

Drum2018 Wed 23-Oct-19 16:36:01

If you can ban all talk of work then it might work to remain friends. Other than that I'd distance myself. Had a similar experience with someone who was a constant negative Nora and I had to step back for my own sanity. The cheek of her thanking you for the therapy - it's a pity you didn't respond that you needed therapy after listening to her wittering on!

Charles11 Wed 23-Oct-19 16:42:05

You could say something along the lines of -
I feel really bad for you putting up with this for so long. It’s time you did something about it instead of dwelling on it. What do you think?

And if she carries on
You’ve made the choice to not do anything about it so it might be better if you just accepted it for now and focus on other stuff in your life.
Let’s not dwell on it any more.

Areyoufree Wed 23-Oct-19 16:45:39

Tell her. I have a family member who was like this. One day, she told me that her boyfriend had accused her of always moaning. She seemed confused by it, and asked me if I thought she was always moaning, obviously expecting me to say no. When I paused and then gave a cagey, carefully worded answer, she was shocked. She honestly had no idea how she came across, and has been working on it ever since. As crazy as it seems to you, she may have absolutely no idea.

cauliflowersqueeze Wed 23-Oct-19 16:53:05

Yes she pretends to be keen to find a new job but then blocked absolutely every offer I sent her. Too far. Too near. Not enough money. Too much responsibility. Not the right place. Not the right time. Not the right ethos. Or there’s one that she can’t deny is perfect... but she didn’t have time to put together the application. Or someone “made” her do something extra at work and she didn’t have time to finish it before sending. It took me a while to understand that she simply was not interested in finding a different job. Her preference was to continually moan about her own.

I think I will try to say about being positive and let’s talk about positives. But I think she will just make a huge sigh and have nothing to say. But at the moment I just dread when she asks if I’d like to go out for a meal or drink or whatever because I know I’m going to come home afterwards feeling like a washed out dishcloth.

1wokeuplikethis Wed 23-Oct-19 17:04:31

I know people like this and I find them unbearable. One friend I’ve known a long time exactly the same as you describe and would only call me when she wanted a whinge. Any useful suggestion I made was met with a “been there, done that, already tried it, won’t work” response, and I came to realise she absolutely did NOT want my advice, she wanted to use me as a sounding board or wanted my pity. What’s worse is we live far away so these calls would be FaceTimes and she would literally walk around the house not even looking at her phone, so she would have my undivided attention but I never had hers. This alongside the realisation that I was always the one visiting her, but she declined my invitations to come to mine, and her sly digs about my life made me think, we go back a long way but I don’t even like you any more. I didn’t do anything drastic, but I distanced myself: was a bit less available, came up with excuses not to visit, was frustratingly positive and/or flippant to her woes, and we haven’t really talked for almost a year. I don’t miss her, but I do miss the friendship we had before she got so self-important.

That’s my experience, don’t know if it’s a help.

MrsGrindah Wed 23-Oct-19 17:08:31

Sorry just popped back on to say the problem with people like this is they respond with “ you can’t possibly understand” which is true..no one is totally in someone else’s shoes..so they shit down any reasonable argument. I’ve been tempted at times to say “ Congratulations! You Win at Pity Party!Do you want a crown, a sash or both?” but I don’t think that’s helpful ....

MrsGrindah Wed 23-Oct-19 17:08:52

Shut down not shit down !

Loopytiles Wed 23-Oct-19 17:13:18

You could tell her directly that she is spending a lot of your meet up time moaning about her work issues, and that you’d like more reciprocal, lighter conversation. If she then continues to moan or gets angry and you or she back away from the friendship you’ve given her some potentially useful feedback!

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