Late Twenties Failure To Launch
January 11, 2011 7:55 AM Subscribe
I have a friend who needs to get out there and do something with herself, but seems to stall just before taking the plunge. How do I get her over her failure to launch?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (14 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
My girlfriend, who we will call Erin, who has been dead in the water for years, it seems like. I'd like to help her go out and experience life and achieve her dreams, or at least take her licks and be a stronger person for it. Without laying down any ultimatums, this really has to happen or I don't think I can be her friend anymore.
First, I'm sorry for how long this has grown. It's an anonymous post, and I want to get in pertinent background information and analysis while I can. First, snowflake-y history, probably skippable for the more meta stuff later:
I've been her friend for about four years now, and within the first year of knowing her, she left her job. She tried her hand at being a semi-professional artist. She set up an Etsy site, got her stuff into local community spaces, and all the stuff that a good starting local artist should do. But nothing really sold for a while and it sort of fizzled out. Meanwhile, she didn't engage in any sort of job search.
While this was happening, Erin and I became a couple and I moved in with her. In retrospect, we were romantically entangled in an extremely unhealthy codependent fashion. As the lease came to an end, she made it clear that she wanted to go on an adventure to find herself.
I moved into another housing situation and instead going on an adventure... Erin moved in with me. I squared this with new roommates and dealt with the fallout of another person in the household. A season passed, and the same sort of thing: She wanted to move to the desert southwest, where she had someone who could set her up with a cool job. And that never panned out because she didn't really pursue it.
Another lease, and another place to live. That was last fall. I had a tough conversation which basically said that our relationship is poisonous and codependent and needs to change. The numerous Metafilter threads on that topic were extremely helpful (thanks hivemind!). We managed to stay together with the understanding that she couldn't live with me anymore, beyond visiting for a night or two, among other things.
That was a very good thing for our relationship, but has left Erin homeless in theory. She's been couch surfing for nearly four months, and I get the sense that she's going to wear out her welcome at many places simultaneously and be stuck in an impossible situation. Meanwhile, she's been looking for jobs in warmer climates. She secured an assistant job on the other side of the country--travel costs included--with what seemed like a friendly and professional person. I think she didn't push it hard enough, and the job seems to have evaporated. When pressed, she admits to no Plan B.
I learned this last yesterday, and I don't have the social tools to begin work out my feelings or actions, which is where the hivemind comes in.
So three questions:
First, how do I convince Erin to re-begin her life? I'm of the opinion that doing something that kinda sucks is better than doing nothing at all, and right now she's doing nothing. To be clear: nothing appears to be browsing the net, reading, and spending time with friends. Noble pursuits to be sure, but not as a full-time occupation. I get the sense that she's not seriously pursuing any particular avenue of opportunity. She's in her late twenties and doesn't seem engaged with the mechanics of self-sufficiency.
Second, how do I handle the situation where she doesn't do anything? How do I bring that up in conversation? "Hey, so, I can't be your friend until you have a place to live and a job to pay for it?" -- That seems really callous, but that's basically how I feel right now.
Third, how do I bring up my concern that she's wearing out her welcome at her various connections? And how do I make it clear that my place isn't an acceptable landing pad of last resort?
throwaway email: email@example.com (can't believe that's not taken!)