How to be a better friend to a very insecure person.
So, I've been friends with this person, call him B, for ages. B is accomplished, popular, kind, personable, smart, and has CRIPPLINGLY low self-esteem. I understand the circumstances that have led to this and I empathise with him. But I find it hard to take him in large doses because of the constant validation and reassurance that he seeks.
Even a situation which has no link to him, he finds a way of twisting into being his fault. Does that make sense? For example, say we're on the phone, and I, like, yawn or something, he'll go, "I'm so sorry to call you when you're so tired, I feel so guilty"; if he's got a problem, he cannot talk about it without prefacing it with, "I'm so sorry to burden you with all this,", etc. He will not say this sort of thing just once. Hell no. He'll keep saying it until he is absolutely satisfied that he is worrying about nothing. I find it exhausting to have to constantly reassure him. "No, no, it's fine, I'm not too tired to talk." "No, no, I'm interested, please go ahead." Once he sent me a text while I was asleep, so I didn't reply immediately; I woke up to a barrage of texts asking why I was angry with him because I hadn't replied immediately.
Not only is he terribly sensitive to imagined slights, he thinks that others will be similarly sensitive. He is overly solicitous of me and his other friends. This also bugs me, but I know it is not his fault; he doesn't realise that not EVERYONE wants to be treated the way he would like to be.
He also allows mutual acquaintances to bully him into doing things he doesn't want to do, which makes me crazy to see, and I often jump in to defend him from the bullies.
At the moment I do the whole 'ding-training
' thing for whenever he apologises unnecessarily but it doesn't seem to work. I think he finds it funny, but it doesn't stop him.
Whenever he finds a way of blaming himself for something which is not his fault I try to point that out to him in a kind but unsentimental manner. I try to be straightforward and honest with him.
I know that this is entirely my problem because I can't hope to change this guy. How can I allow it to bug me less? He's staying with me for a few weeks next month, which I am mostly looking forward to but I am worried that I won't be able to hide my irritation if he acts too demanding or insecure. I want to be a good friend to him and make him feel good about himself, but not at the expense of my own patience or sanity.
FWIW, I am a female but there is no possibility of a romantic attachment between us as he is gay. Using my sockpuppet account so that I can keep this separate from my main Metafilter account. Sorry for the length.