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Whenever I'm a good friend to someone they start to walk all over me

(32 Posts)
cithkadston Mon 10-Feb-14 21:17:43

As per the title really...

Everyone in my life that I consider to be a good friend, apart from one friend I went to nursery and primary school with, ends up walking all over me. So if I behave like a good friend to someone, take an interest in them, and genuinely care about them, I feel as though they take me for granted and don't treat me with the respect that they treat others.

Most recent is a friend/neighbour that I've known for several years, see quite a lot of and consider a good friend. I've been supportive to her during her marriage break up, helped her with childcare when she's been stuck during the holidays and needed to go to work, and IMO been a good friend to her. She just seems to walk all over me and totally takes me for granted. She is hot and cold with her moods, seems to think nothing of cancelling plans (that she's initially instigated) with me, and just generally seems to treat others with more respect.

Like I said, I consider myself to be a good friend to people I care about. Yet they are all happy and quick to say that others are their 'best friend'. Its like I'm not good enough for anyone to consider me their best friend or to think highly of me, I'm just 'there'.

Another example, which is a bit of a silly one really but has bothered me, is a friend who has had lots of support from me, yet yesterday she was on facebook and putting a 'you are a wonderful friend' type round robin thing on mutual friends' walls, but put nothing on mine. They all kept coming up on my newsfeed and it really made me feel upset that she didn't consider me a good enough friend to do it for me.

Also I've had a really difficult time lately and very few friends ask how I actually am or anything about it.

Do I need to grow a thicker skin?

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 10-Feb-14 21:28:30

I don't know about a thicker skin but I think your definition of 'good friend' seems rather full-on and self-sacrificial. You support through break-ups, take on childcare, etc. and, whilst I'm sure you're acting with the best intentions, maybe you're a little too quick to rush to the rescue for people that never really deserved it in the first place? Maybe you need to be a little more selective about who is a friend good enough to put yourself out for and who is simply an acquaintance deserving of a 'there there'...? FWIW people who never ask how you are go in the latter category.

CailinDana Mon 10-Feb-14 21:51:59

I agree with Cogito. You don't seem choosy enough. Plus you seem to think doing good deeds "buys" you friendship. That's not how it works. Friendship is a slow-burning process of give and take. Generally it's typical to have one or two good friends that you put yourself out for, the rest will be people to chat to and have fun with.

cithkadston Tue 11-Feb-14 09:01:17

Thanks both of you. Looks like a serious re think and re classification about my 'friends' is needed

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 11-Feb-14 09:05:10

Some people are just users unfortunately. I had a friend for years - from age 11 in fact - and I thought we were really tight until something happened that showed her up for being very selfish indeed. That was it. That was the end of the friendship.

Same as any other relationship experience I think you have to go through a few bad ones in order to be a little more cynical and a little less heart-on-sleeve. I see it as 'personal growth' smile

OberonTheHopeful Tue 11-Feb-14 16:15:08

Being kind and supportive are excellent qualities. Unfortunately, as previous posters have said, some people can take but not give. They have all manner of excuses, but ultimately it's because they're selfish; it is just their personality.

It is such a natural tendency in these circumstances to keep giving, in the hope it will all come right. The problem is with some people it just won't. The more understanding you are, the more they will just use that against you. Some people see kindness as weakness.

Everyone faces tough times and may need a prolonged period of understanding, yet there comes a point where it has to even out because a friendship that isn't roughly reciprocal over time isn't a friendship at all; it is just one person using another. This is so basic that few people ever feel a need to make it explicit.

It is an incredibly hard lesson, and being initially more boundaried with new friends can help. It is easy to fall into certain subconscious roles early on and be seen as just someone who 'provides'. It's then difficult to get someone to value your time and attention if they don't (perhaps subconsciously) feel they have ever earned it. Thankfully, most people are OK smile

Jan45 Tue 11-Feb-14 16:29:03

Don't change, you sound lovely and would make an excellent best friend. Some people are just rubbish, they don't treat you with the same respect etc, it all really depends how much you like them and how much you are prepared to ignore.....iykwim.

That wasn't nice what your friend did, really insensitive. Honestly if you feel like someone is not appreciating and or taking you for granted, tell them, or get rid.

DCRbye Tue 11-Feb-14 20:09:50

I think the problem is that people who give a lot tend to attract people who take a lot and generally this serves the needs of both parties. I am a bit like you Op but then I get a sick security from being needed and being nice. I think normal people, less needy than me, have better boundaries. Maybe think if the same applies for you.

DarlingGrace Tue 11-Feb-14 20:18:15

I block any one who circulates crap post cards/cartoons - they are just so passive-aggressive OR politically incorrect..

eddielizzard Tue 11-Feb-14 20:21:20

i agree. i think you need to set better boundaries. sounds like you are giving too much. just wait before you jump in with loads of support. sounds weird / horrible but don't give support so freely. be more discerning. make your friends earn your support. you get respect and a better friendship that way.

eddielizzard Tue 11-Feb-14 20:22:19

oh yes, and next time that friend wants you to listen to all her problems, you're busy. she can call one of her other 'wonderful friends'.

vitaminC Tue 11-Feb-14 20:31:33

Oh, I could have written your post OP!

I've been doing a lot of thinking about this recently, too. I try to be the type of friend I would love to have myself. Unfortunately there is no-one in my life who would give anywhere near as much as I seem to give to others.

I've finally realised that this is the same phenomenon as my tendency to be extremely (too) maternal towards others, to compensate for my own (narcissist) mother's lack of any kind of maternal instinct. I dream of someone coming in and taking care of me and fussing over me, but it's never happened in 41 years, so it probably won't now sad

The conclusion I eventually came to a couple of months ago, is that instead of taking care of others and waiting around desperately hoping for someone to come along one day and do the same for me, I need to channel that energy I spend on others into caring for myself and my own family!

This is has been a huge realisation for me and I've been trying hard to make changes over the past few weeks. It's very new for me to be able to do things for myself without feeling guilty, but it's also very freeing!

Maybe you need to do a bit of introspection to figure out where this need to care for others is coming from and work on the cause?

cithkadston Thu 13-Feb-14 09:23:45

Thanks everyone for the great replies.

Can I ask you all, how long do you take to suss out someone regarding whether you like them or not? Do you instantly decide not to be friends with someone who, for example, bitches about others when you first meet them? In other words, how can I get better at sussing people out and working out whether I want to become friends with them or not?

I think I'm going to have to re-think my friendship with my friend/neighbour that blows hot and cold with me, too.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 13-Feb-14 09:34:45

There are any number of people I meet that I get along with. I can chat happily, be friendly and overlook small stuff that I might disagree with. People who bitch about others I make a mental note not to tell them anything personal. People who are very nosey right from the off, ditto. But someone who seems interested in me without being intrusive and who I feel a connection to, I'll make an effort to get to know better. Still takes me a long time before I'd call them a friend in the sense of being there in a crisis.

NaffOrf Thu 13-Feb-14 09:44:21

Do you instantly decide not to be friends with someone who, for example, bitches about others when you first meet them?

I can only speak for myself, but the question of whether I want to be friends with new people I meet doesn't really arise, so it's not a 'decision' I consciously make. Either we hit it off or we don't - I'm not bothered either way. I certainly wouldn't go out of my way to do favours for other people in the hope that they would be my friend - that's not the way friendship works.

I don't think comparing numbers of friends is a healthy mindset for an independent adult.

springykyrie Thu 13-Feb-14 10:00:12

I can relate to this. I went to CoDA and met a lot like me! All generous, kind sorts - who users and takers are attracted to like a magnet. re giving and giving in a relationship, then there being a complete blank when something goes wrong for you, ie no-one steps up, is apparently a clear indication that the relationship may be codependent.

I am much more circumspect now. I hold back to see what the relationship is made of - and I do not overlook small (seemingly) transgressions, which often indicate where the person is actually coming from. It takes a bit of practise because your/my default is to be kind and giving - but bear in mind that it's not everyone's default by a long chalk.

Biscuitsneeded Thu 13-Feb-14 14:13:48

I think you may be overthinking a bit. Just because nobody's claimed you as their 'best' friend doesn't mean you're not loved and valued. And sometimes things aren't equal, so you can't really weigh up what you do for others against what they do for you and decide they are using you unless you have asked for help and support and been denied it. I have a very dear friend who has had a lot to deal with in the past ten years. Objectively, I have done more for her than she's done for me - because that's what she needed. I also have another friend whom I probably do consider my 'best' friend. She's the person I'm most honest with, who does actually nurture and care for me, remember things, ask how I am etc, the only one who I have allowed to see me cry when things were really shit. I doubt she considers me her 'best' friend. She has a sister she is very close to, and a few other very close friends. I don't really mind that; she's fab and I can see why people love her. Putting a label of 'best' on a relationship doesn't really change anything - if you have friends who would help if you needed it, and you have people to socialise with and have fun with, and share happy and sad news with, isn't that enough?

springykyrie Thu 13-Feb-14 14:20:04

Biscuit makes a good point re 'best' friends. Perhaps you're looking for 'best friends', not just 'friends'? I was brought up with a sibling very close in age and we were very thick when we were young - as a consequence I can expect more closeness from a friendship than is being offered. Or indeed the other person can give - some people have no idea how to be close, giving etc.

That said, there are people who take the piss so be on the lookout!

CailinDana Thu 13-Feb-14 14:49:12

I get a gut feeling with people and it tends to be right. The few times I've ignored it I've regretted it. Generally even if I get a good gut feeling it still takes time - sometimes months or even years -to build the friendship slowly. I do better one on one than in groups, so I tend to avoid group friendships. Still, I'm happy to be friendly and chatty with everyone I meet. I'm just more discerning when it comes to closer friendship.

One thing though - loaded offers of help aren't actually very "nice." what I mean is, offering help to someone when they haven't asked for it then expecting help in return is actually quite manipulative - in a sense you are spotting a need of theirs then trying to "buy" their friendship by filling that need. Then getting annoyed if they don't do the same.

Any offer - of help money support - should be given unconditionally simply because you care for and respect that person and want to help them. In true friendship there is no tit for tat you just naturally "balance the books" so to speak by mutually caring for one another. If you are not happy to help unconditionally then that's more of a business relationship where you expect "payment" of some kind - be that in the return of money or help. So next time you want to help someone ask yourself "would I be happy with just a 'thank you'?" If yes, go ahead, if no, then leave it.

struggling100 Thu 13-Feb-14 15:45:31

I empathize completely, having stood in your shoes, pouring effort and energy into relationships with people who didn't give a damn back. It reached the point where dysfunctional and one-sided friendships were taking up so much of my time that I wasn't getting to meet new people!

I came to realise that people who ask loudest for help aren't necessarily the ones who need it most, and that having fun with people you hang out with is really, really important.

HelloBoys Thu 13-Feb-14 15:46:02

ok, sometimes in friendships I think I can come across as a bit catty and maybe too interfered in someone else's life. that maybe I could gossip about them etc. I've never asked why and this is mostly work friendships but now I tend to distance myself from this or not get THAT involved.

what Cailin says too about loaded offers of help is interesting but also some people don't like being told what to do, advice given out etc, people who may be judgy (I am guilty of this) so now I tone down this behaviour or stop it. It is amazing when you look at yourself think "I was being nice telling X to end this or advising her to do this" and a lot of the time people need to arrive at this themselves.

My brother is great -he's a listener and gets most praise for that, he listens.

Joysmum Thu 13-Feb-14 15:52:19

I could have written your post. Turns out I'm a rescuer, I like to feel needed and appreciated and important to people. That's part why I come on here I guess! It's also why I'm moving into a caring profession.

I'm the one everybody knows will offer good practical help to and would put myself out for a stranger even. I'm growing more selective as I get older.

Bonsoir Thu 13-Feb-14 15:59:31

Being a caregiver isn't the same thing as being a friend.

There needs to be mutual fun for there to be mutual friendship.

AmazingJumper Thu 13-Feb-14 16:12:48

You seem to equate doing stuff for people with being a really good friend. I don't think it works like that, you might seem a bit martyrish, which is really off putting.

I often make incorrect judgements about who to be friends with, I am aware that my first impressions are often wrong so try to stay open minded.

maggiemight Thu 13-Feb-14 16:22:23

I like friends who make me laugh, really don't care if they run around 'helping' me, in fact would prefer if they didn't, I hate being beholden to people so prefer if people don't do me favours unless it's easy to return with similar.

We are all different, being kind and caring is fine but only be kind and caring if it gives you satisfaction, not if you want or expect something in return.

Thinking of your neighbour friend here. Perhaps you now remind her of a bad time in her life and how is she to return the favours you've done for her? Maybe you make her feel a bit guilty, hence her unfriendly manner now.

I have almost no friends, OK, maybe a couple. It took me years to realise that my manner of always giving advice and 'helping' people (due probably to being the strong one in my dysfunctional childhood family) was very annoying, and only after reading many self help books did it dawn where I was going wrong.

What you have to learn to do is be yourself, with all its flaws, and some people you gel with and some you don't, and stop 'helping'.

See.... it's easy wink

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