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To continue the friendship or not(18 Posts)
I've a long standing friend who I see at the weekends, we are both single. She has other friends, I don't but I have family nearby.
As the years pass she is growing ever more discontented with every aspect of her life....work, home, health, the fact she has no partner or children. I try and support her, encourage her, give her my time and company and try and do nice things as she is in an office all week.
Nothing I suggest goes down well, she likes to call the shots, and I'm usually flexible. She is tired and ill usually, and usually because she has done things with others and maybe done too much.
After seeing others she is often very down as she has spent the time since comparing her life to theirs [everyone has a better life than her, and fewer problems]....and being resentful. I listen, suggest strategies, reframe situations, offer to help practically [sort out work that needs doing on her flat etc]. All is brushed away, ignored and she continues to dwell on her awful life.
I'm losing patience, the whole time is about her [constant doom and gloom]....but no effort is made to get help, work through solutions/attitudes. I've tried for years, [she has helped me for years and I am very appreciative] but it's just not working now.
Other people have all of her effort, the illnesses follow one after the other [excuses so we can't do walks etc usually], seem to be a bit psychosomatic in nature as when a new one comes along the last one is forgotten. I feel like I'm just around to pick up the pieces. I feel for her but it's making me v unhappy. Is she pushing me away? What shall I do? [I feel like walking...].
Friends can be either "radiators" or "drains" - you need friendships that sustain/benefit you both - you want to come away feeling positive not drained.
Do you do all the running and work in setting up the meet ups? If so take a break for a while - get some air and headspace from it - try to fill the gap with other activities and like minded people - join a walkers/ramblers group?
Well, if you feel like walking off from the friendship (I don't blame you) then there isn't much to lose.
You have four choices:
1) continue as it is;
2) go without explanation/false excuses;
3) tell her you are planning to go unless she changes;
4) go and tell her why you've gone.
Obviously, 1) isn't really sustainable as you will just get more resentful, and you can use your own time better. 2) is the option if you don't want confrontation or if you feel there is nothing to be gained from making her aware of your feelings.
3) is probably the one I'd try if I was feeling strong. I'd draft an email saying how I felt, what I felt she could do to help herself (sounds like CBT, but maybe not) and that I wanted to save the friendship but that she needed to look hard at her attitude. I'd only do this after having read it every couple of days for a fortnight, I'd get someone else to read it, and I'd only send it when I was strong. People like your friend aren't very good at self-analysis (clearly! ) so I'd expect to get an email back listing all my faults - which I'd largely ignore but I'd need to be feeling strong.
4) is if you are really sick of it. No shame in that, she sounds a pain from this, but again be strong and ready for a come back.
I am ok, I'm independent and always have something to do, somewhere to go, ideas etc and get on with it. We are very different. My life is difficult in different ways and I've learned to manage it which is why I try to help her.
I feel she needs professional help, but she refuses to get any. She feels she is clever enough to sort things out....but she doesn't, just goes round in circles.
I need a break, it's getting to me and yes I do most of the running...it used to be mutual. But she will take offense and I feel a bitch to leave her struggling. I've had a break before [she was furious] and it sort of worked but she will be enraged if I do it again. But I feel we are at the end of the road, maybe I've outlived my usefulness.
At the moment you seem stuck in a groove, she moans, you try to help her, nothing happens. I think you have to move away from seeing yourself as a helper, I don't conceive of myself helping my friends apart from being a good listener. I would try to broaden your social circle so that her rather negative influence isn't your only social opportunity (outside family) of the week.
I don't think you will change her though, she is who she is. If you want to carry on being friends, do activities like the cinema where there isn't too much time for in-depth moaning, and when she starts on and on, listen for a short amount of time and then say 'yes, you were saying that last time, what did you think about changing XYZ'. Ultimately though she won't change, and so I think it's up to you whether you feel this is a good way to spend your weekends.
It sounds as if she's depressed and needs to sort herself out in whatever ways are best for her under her own steam.
All you can do is look after yourself.
I don't think you need to do anything as drastic as ending the friendship - or even giving her the lowdown on why you're thinking about doing so.
Why not just allow yourself the privilege of acknowledging and following your own feelings a bit more? If you don't feel like seeing her, don't arrange to meet up. Either she'll pick up on that and draw her own conclusions (and maybe behave a bit better...), or she can ask you, or you can explain to her if you feel like doing so.
For the time being, you might as well start off by being a little less obliging towards her and firmer about your own boundaries, and see what happens from there....
I actually feel like I don't have much to lose any more. It's sad as we used to have a lot of good times and yet now the doom isn't far away and a good day doesn't give her much respite from her problems....and it's all such an effort to get her to a) get out of the house and b) have a break from all the gloom and resentments she feels. I come away exhausted.
There is always something wrong.
I have something distressing in my own life going on [as we all have problems to a greater or lesser extent and important to us all] but as always, she is suffering like no one else in the world has ever suffered. It's getting ridiculous.
Thank you all for your input. I agree I do have to be firm about my boundaries, that's always been a bit of a problem for me.
I don't for one minute think I can solve her problems, but the constant negativity, and resistance to finding help is frustrating.
We had a flare up yesterday, I came home [well, went for a nice walk first to get something out of the day]. It's stalemate at the moment and I don't know whether to e mail and open the subject or let it lie [we are both angry]...in which case thinking as always, she is in the right, she will not approach me in any way, I'm pretty sure. I think she's as fed up with me as I am with her.
You really have to put a stop to this. All you are doing is allowing her to perpetuate the situation. She is comfortable in her unhappiness, iyswim.
Tell her that she needs help from an objective party, and that it's got nothing to do with intelligence - there are things she is not aware of, and she needs someone who is outside to help her see them and deal with them. You cannot do that, and it's hurting you.
Yes, I was beginning to think I am indulging her [maybe even enabling her?]. I am sure she would not wallow in the same way with any other friend.
And others would be astonished at the amount of resentment, rage, jealousy and the level of her comparisons with them. I will advise her again, to get serious help, that's all I can do. Thank you.
You actually sound like a very good friend, however, once it starts affecting your life, you do need to draw the line. As you say, your listening and participating in the drama of her life isn't even helping, and personally I would not want to be in a friendship where there's arguments- that's a relationship to me, and not even a good one!
I think advising her you think she needs to seek help as she may be depressed/needs to see GP/go to counselling would be a good idea, although she will not take it well.
I would also not want to listen to her slagging everyone else off.
I think your instinct to step away from everything but minimal friendly contact is a good idea, she is using you as an emotional partner who has to take any old shit and that's not the case.
It sounds like she's a professional victim and that you have taken on the role of rescuing her. It's easy to think a person like this wants help but often they just want to moan about their minor problems. Any suggestions to solving the problem are met with various excuses as to why that's not possible.
I would step away from this now. It's likely she talks about you in the same way she talks about others.
I agree re: professional victim. But I feel obliged to support her as she has done for me in the past [yet now finding it pretty intolerable]. But it feels like she is milking it now, demanding 100% attention. I listen, I suggest...and am met with a blank dismissal usually.
Although I've been through an immense amount, and learnt a lot in my long lifetime.
She doesn't slag people off as such. But is envious of anything and everything others have discarding the fact that they have their own problems and struggles and difficulties in life. Envious of their jobs/salaries/cars/houses/gardens/husbands/partners/children/holidays/health...she is seething yet I know that, they would be shocked.
A weekend with friends has led to her coming home dissatisfied, furious and bitter that they are happy and in successful jobs. it really isn't pleasant to witness.
I'm of the thought that we are all so very different, different personalities, backgrounds, luck, attitudes, choices, chances etc. I don't we can compare but should accept our failings, limitations and celebrate our abilities and good points...to do the opposite is the way to unhappiness.
She struggles to impress people with 'things', wants everyone to like her. The dark side is kept for me.
Do you want to continue the friendship? Ask yourself what you get out of it, as from what you've described on here it doesn't like much.
She doesn't want your support Op. She wants to use you for a sounding board for her bitterness and petty dramas. When your involved in something like this it's hard to see what is a real problem that warrants support and what is daft drama. Does she actually have a serious problem that she WANTS help resolving ?
Why is it ok she saves her dark side for you ? Why are you less deserving of respect than her other friends ? She sounds deeply unpleasant .
I have noticed over the years that she starts friendships having deep admiration for someone...which turns to envy, then resentment, and as she learns more about that person, their insecurities etc...a lack of respect.
She was like this with me, I've seen it with others. I know I don't have her respect as she has seen me floundering and struggling and that I am not who she [mistakenly] thought I was and that I cannot 'fix' her. I am merely human, yet more 'driven' to sort out problems than she is which of course she hates.
However she insists this isn't true and sometimes she regains respect. But I can tell by her actions that I am also someone to resent. Her other friends as they appear become 'flavour of the month' but fall from grace in time.
So she treats all the same. I think it would be healthier for me, if not lonelier, to back right off.
She sounds very much like my mum.
I have recently cut contact with her and they've been the calmest, most peaceful days of my life.
I seem to be drawn to relationships like this too OP. I don't know what the answer is, but I can really relate to the last post you wrote, I always feel like I become second fiddle to everyone else's flavour of the month friends, and I am merely the one that it is ok to speak disrespectfully about others to. It makes me feel so sad that I am never the friend that everyone else wants, I am the person that everyone moans about their friends to, takes out their insecurities on, and chats to when there is no one else around. When I step back I think it is more about how I view relationships than about any one 'friend' I have, I think that I must create this role for myself and that I am attracting people who have literally no respect for me. So to change this feels massive and scary and lonely but ultimately necessary for my own survival. You deserve more OP and badbalding is talking some real sound advice there.
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