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To reduce contact with a friend

38 replies

ConfusedAndStressed95 · 20/11/2019 00:30

I have a friend who I adore but I'm not sure I can cope with. He's often lovely and supportive but I'm finding communicating with him mentally draining. I feel like he requires me to give/be more than I am and I can't keep up with it.

Everything is about him, he is always right and needs to be the loudest voice in the room and center of attention. Which doesn't really bother me on a day to day basis. If he needs that fair enough I don't care enough about what he's talking about to challenge it. However the requests for me to message him which he'll then not answer for days or maybe a week or more despite being active and messaging others and the messages that I've sent being at his request. Which I hate because often it is something that needs sorting/organising and he'll get back to me on the day before or day of and expect me to be able to magic the plans out of thin air. He often drops me if someone more interesting comes along and I don't want to allow that. I don't want them to be able to treat me as a doormat but I've no idea how to fix this.

I can't ignore him completely because he's friends with mutual friends and we attend a lot of the same groups. The other side to this is that he's often incredibly lovely to me. I feel that he may be love bombing me unintentionally and I don't know how to prevent it and reestablish boundaries.

Please tell me how to fix this without having it become a massive issue and damaging other friendships.

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Inebriati · 20/11/2019 00:55

You can't fix it because its not you that needs to change anything - except your boundaries. The fact that you are worried about how he and everyone else will react when you put basic boundaries in place is concerning, because his behaviour is pretty crappy.
You aren't getting anything out of the one sided 'friendship' so just keep him at arms length.

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ConfusedAndStressed95 · 20/11/2019 01:08

@Inebriati, yeah, I need to establish boundaries but I have no idea what healthy boundaries would be as I don't think any of my relationships have been particularly healthy. I know his behavior is crappy and I need to harden myself to it but I'm still so worried about putting boundaries into place and upsetting him. I know I could always attempt to meet up and talk to him about it and get it all out there or message him and tell him how his behavior is making me feel and the anxiety it is causing but I feel like even that would be my fault, because it's my anxiety and my issue with his behavior as no one else seems to have this issue with him, rather than seeing it as a byproduct of his crappy behavior that is for some reason directed at me. He somehow manages to treat me better and worse than he treats anyone else. I'm also concerned about how the fall out may affect 6 or so mutual friends who are close to both of us and would feel pressured to fix it or pick sides. I don't want our bad relationship to cause them stress.

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earsup · 20/11/2019 01:18

I just dropped a demanding and attention seeking friend...all dramas and nothing to do with me really....I blocked her on phone and email from her goes to junk folder so I know she still sends some but the volume has reduced a lot. ... She was clever and the cries for help switched to concern for me as she wasn't getting replies etc..a tactic to engage with me. I ignore her. Also I am aware some of her other friends keep their distance and maybe the mutual friends you share feel same as you do..??..I can't have people in my life who drain me and want attention...she is similar to your friend..always right etc...just don't respond if it's not convenient.

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DPotter · 20/11/2019 01:29

I would be pulling away and finding new friends. Sadly it can be easier to do this rather than 're-negotiate' existing boundaries.

If you wanted to try to re-establish your boundaries - I wouldn't talk to your friend about it, I would simply put things in place, as to try and open discussions would be seen as a challenge to his perceived alpha status and would not go down well. So for example if he has asked you to arrange a meet up, you can agree however also say you need to confirmation 48 hours ahead to finalise arrangements. And if he doesn't make contact until after the deadline, say 'Oh I thought you didn't want to go and I've arranged something else now'. If he drops you for someone else - call him out on it. It's rude and nasty and frankly not the sign of a good friend. If these character traits of your friend are long standing I think you may find your mutual friends have similar problems with him and in effect he is playing you all off against each other.

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ConfusedAndStressed95 · 20/11/2019 01:30

@earsup, he is more my friend than theirs but they do like him and wouldn't uninvite him from our gaming group (held at my house because its central for everyone) or more importantly bible study because that is not ok and I can't avoid it or not go as it is held at my house as I live with three of our friends who attend. I can't find somewhere else or something else to do as I like our group and my housemates know what my timetable/routine is. I'm also good friends with his sister, but they don't really interact that much so that's less of an issue. I've muted him on facebook so I don't have to deal with seeing that and I'm not quizzed about why I deleted or blocked him.

Our mutual friends don't see how he is with me really. They see him being his normal self or lovely to me but they don't see how cutting he can be. He often irritates them but he's never cruel or cutting, but they would believe me if I told them but I don't think it's right that I do that. I don't see why his behavior with me should alter his relationship with them.

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ConfusedAndStressed95 · 20/11/2019 01:35

@DPotter, hes not skilled enough to do that and tbh he likes our mutual friends but generally considers them beneath him in some ways. I'm more likely to butt heads with him and he has said and mutual friends have said that he sees me as being on his level in many ways.

I think the 48 hour rule is good and being more blunt with what I'm doing and our communication. I need to reestablish how I expect to be communicated with and treated. That if he want's to keep me as a friend then he needs to treat me well because he is an expendable piece of my life.

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DPotter · 20/11/2019 02:46

Sad to say the more you describe this friend - the worse he sounds; considers friends beneath him, always wanting to be the centre of attention, dropping you if a' better' offer comes along. What positive things does this friend bring to your life?

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Beautiful3 · 20/11/2019 03:54

Just be civil when you have to see him but stop messaging him, and ignore his messages.

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Mummyoflittledragon · 20/11/2019 04:03

Do you realise by his actions he probably considers you beneath him too?

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YellowBup · 20/11/2019 04:32

He’s a bully. He sounds like he’s damaging to your MH and self esteem in the long run.

If your mutual friends don’t get that then you need to find new friends who have your best interests at heart.

Or even if you feel lonely for a while (as it is hard making friends as an adult I know) it’s FAR better for you in the long run than having given time to someone like this.

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ConfusedAndStressed95 · 20/11/2019 15:32

@DPotter, he is always there if I need him. If I'm upset or anxious or struggling he'll drop what he's doing and comforts me instead. Hes amazing in a crisis/ He is incredibly supportive of things I want to do and encourages me to do what makes me happy.

@Beautiful3, I am. I've moved his messages to filtered/hidden/mute on all communication devices.

@Mummyoflittledragon, I realise that and I know that his good points are not enough to outweigh that but I don't think he's all bad if that makes sense. I think I just need to take a massive massive step back from him and his friendship and surround myself with people who are actually lovely and enjoy my company. We're supposed to be signing onto a houseshare in a month or two though so that'll be an interesting conversation.

@YellowBup, our mutual friends will understand, but they will also likely berate him for it and want to fix it and I'm not sure I want that. Part of me thinks that he is an adult and if he is willing to fix it it needs to come from him and not the pressures of others. Part of me also thinks that I don't really want to sit with him and have the conversation to fix it because I'm tired of it. And I also think its none of our friends business and if we sort it or not we will be civil and it shouldn't affect the wider friendships as I think picking sides is petty and childish. He clearly has his own issues he needs to deal with and I don't think alienating him is going to be helpful in the long term.

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Inebriati · 20/11/2019 15:50

A lot of your boundaries could do with a re-evaluation. I think you need to be extremely careful, because his attitude that you are all beneath him suggest he could be an abuser who is playing you rather than genuine friend.

Church groups are extremely vulnerable to users and abusers, because the group wants to be nice, trusting, welcoming and open.
But he isn't a good fit. Its not that he's socially awkward, far from it. He's socially adept.

I'm going to suggest you take The Freedom Program, and look into assertiveness training. You are walking on eggshells and that suggest this isnt a healthy relationship of equals.
A Woman in Your Own Right - by Anne Dickson

freedomprogramme.co.uk/online.php

freedomprogramme.co.uk/graphic.php

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messolini9 · 20/11/2019 15:58

yeah, I need to establish boundaries but I have no idea what healthy boundaries would be
Initially, stop responding to his demands for messages that he does not even bother to respond to. Stop sorting/organising things from him. When he texts you the day before an event, expecting you to "magic plans out of thin air" just refuse - tell him it's high time HE did the legwork, & to get back to you when he has a firm plan.

I could always attempt to meet up and talk to him about it and get it all out there or message him and tell him how his behavior is making me feel and the anxiety it is causing
Pointless. He won't accept it, he will likely put you in the wrong (he seems to have form for putting you on the back foot), & what do you think it would achieve?

Just be generally less available. Stop facilitating him, stop appreasing him, & see how much time he wants to spend with you - & being GOOD to you - when you decide not to do any more of the running.

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Motoko · 20/11/2019 15:59

Bloody hell, don't share a house with him!

Even criminals can have some good points, it doesn't mean you should be friends with them. It sounds like his bad points outweigh his good points, so I'd phase him out. Stop arranging things with him. Let the others know what you're doing, and ask them not to get involved. Tell them why you're doing this, or they will be confused and try to fix things.

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ConfusedAndStressed95 · 20/11/2019 16:33

@Inebriati, thanks I'll look into it. I've heard a lot about it here but didn't know if it would be applicable because we're not dating or particularly close, though I would say with some confidence that I'm closer to him than anyone else. He tends to get everyone elses back up for obvious reasons.

@messolini9, I need to do that. I'm taking the steps to disengage but we're on a uni/church weekend away this weekend and I won't be able to avoid him at all there so I'm treading carefully until after that.

@Motoko, I get that. I haven't said anything to anyone because I don't want to make a fuss. Or give it more thought than I have already or justify it all to them. Because it wont be a short conversation and I'm not sure I want to go into everything with them.

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DPotter · 20/11/2019 17:12

I am going to take a punt in the dark here, forgive me if I am way off, but is your friend the vicar / pastor or head of your church? If so, there's also some power disparity happening, which again to me, strongly suggests he is bringing very little to your life.
Please let me explain my thinking.
Someone who is there in a crisis is good, however a real friend would be there all the time - fun times, stressful times, leading up to and into a crisis and out the other side. In fact a friend can head off a crisis by being there. A real friend does not, as I have mentioned before, drop you when a better offer comes along. You seem somewhat enthralled by this man and are allowing him to treat you quite shabbily and defending him as well.
Someone who steps in during a crisis maybe being useful but they are not necessarily acting fully out of the goodness of their heart. More because they get a buzz from waltzing in a taking over, taking control, so that you will feel beholden to them. That this someone seems to play such a central role in yours and your mutual friends lives also means that these other friends may step back in crises and let him take control, rather than helping you as well. This acts to isolate you from them to some extent.
I don't mean to undermine your relationship - but you have already started to notice the relationship may not be healthy and I totally agree with you and again strongly suggest you step well back and find new friends.

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ConfusedAndStressed95 · 20/11/2019 17:25

@DPotter, hes no one special at church, just a friend. But a friend I've spent a lot of time with. I've been on holiday with him twice and I stayed with him and his family over last Christmas. My other friends are also great in a crisis but I think I've valued his help because my other friends struggle a lot with mental health and other issues and I don't like feeling like I'm burdening them. Which is silly and they'd be upset with me for thinking that.

I'm defending him and his behavior because I'm clutching at straws trying to defend and understand why I've allowed him to treat me like this and why I've not done something about it sooner. I don't like thinking of myself like a doormat but that seems to be what I've been.

I'm struggling to understand his thought process and why I've been singled out for the crappy behavior and isolation over my other friends when by from what his family/friends have said he likes me more than he likes anyone else. It's making me doubt myself and my sanity and I don't like it.

One of my housemates is a clinical psychologists and she suspects he has some sort of minor personality disorder from her limited interactions with him but obviously cannot make an armchair diagnosis. When I told her what his family is like she said it made sense that he's the way he is but I didn't ask because I don't want to hear half thought out theories when she doesn't know the entire situation or him very well.

The irritating thing is that I do enjoy his company and talking to him. We have similar interests and can talk about things that my other friends are not interested in at all. He'll do something crappy and then be delightful and then I have no idea what to think and my head ends up in a mess and I end up doubting everything because he can't be that bad if he can be that lovely. Do you know what I mean?

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CAG12 · 20/11/2019 17:31

I stopped communication with a friend a few months ago. She was really demanding and constantly had a drama of some sort going on that she'd want to spend hours dissecting. I just didnt have the energy for it and honestly I feel better for stopping contact.

That whole experience taught me that friends give and take - they dont constantly take. Someone said you can classify people as 'radiators' and 'drains' - you only need the radiators in your life.

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DPotter · 20/11/2019 17:38

Yes I do know what you mean Confused.
Please don't blame yourself for anything. You have behaved as you usually would towards a friend - give and take and he is the one who has undermined you.

Step back - don't say anything about t to him. If he asks why your behaviour has changed, you could say 'oh as it - hadn't noticed'. ONly explain your feelings if you really think he will understand AND take it on the chin and accept the negative feedback.

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ToniHargis · 20/11/2019 17:38

You keep saying things like - "I'm still so worried about putting boundaries into place and upsetting him."
You are literally putting his feelings before your own. It's very common in many of us (especially women), but you need to give yourself a little more consideration here.
You don't have to drop him, you don't even have to block his messages; just don't drop everything to reply the second he contacts you. You say that he often leaves days between communicating with you, so just point that out - it's obviously OK for him to do that so you're assuming it's the same the other way round.
He'll get the message.

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ConfusedAndStressed95 · 20/11/2019 17:40

@CAG12, what do you do when someone fits into both categories with equal intensity at different times?

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ConfusedAndStressed95 · 20/11/2019 17:46

@DPotter, I suppose that's all I can do. I think if I were to sit down and talk it out with him chances are he'd be upset and try to justify himself but he also can't deal with me being upset and he's not awful or unreasonable really but he'd go away, think about it for awhile and likely apologize and at least make an attempt to change. If he's in the right mindset when I talk to him. But it is very dependent on his mood.

@ToniHargis, I'm very much respond to messages/emails instantly so I've muted and blocked to prevent me from doing that when he next messages me. It's the only way I can think to put that boundary in place. My family and upbringing was difficult and I'm not used to putting myself first and I struggle to consider my needs over the needs over anyone else because I was taught that, that is inherently selfish and that my needs don't matter as much. Logically I know that isn't the case but it's a mindset that is taking years to shake and he makes me doubt myself like no one else can.

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ToniHargis · 20/11/2019 18:15

Recognising this is the first step! Not many people actually see what's going on when they're in a relationship or friendship like this.
To your point to DPotter - you don't have to say anything in a way that might upset him either. Just state matter of factly that, just as he can't always get to your texts/messages immediately, it's not always easy for you. He can't really object to that, and if you don't say it as if you're asking permission or apologising, it keeps it from getting too emotional.
I'd suggest trying to get hold of some books that talk about how to change the pattern of relationships.

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ConfusedAndStressed95 · 20/11/2019 21:46

@ToniHargis, I just hate that I've allowed him to treat me as a doormat when I'd never stand it from anyone else. I'm unreasonably upset/emotional about it. I'm not sure where I'd find those sorts of books but I'll have a look next time I'm in town.

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messolini9 · 20/11/2019 21:55
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