What are reasonable expectations of looking after an unwell friend?
August 27, 2014 9:56 AM Subscribe
I’m having troubles working out if I’m being unreasonable in the below scenario.
posted by pennywise_1 to Human Relations (49 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I have a friend, let’s call her Friend A, who I have known for years and would consider a close friend – we lived together in the past for 2 years and no longer do but keep in touch regularly (messaging every other day or so, and see each other every week or so).
I recently went with Friend A, to another Friend B’s wedding, which happens to be abroad and is a very small group only (15 guests who were all close friends of the bride/groom). Note, Friend A was my plus 1 but knew the couple who were getting married through me.
The wedding took place over a weekend, and we stayed a few nights only in a guest house. Day 1 was the wedding, and on Day 2, the bride and groom had arranged a day trip with us, they hired two boats to take us all for lunch on a nearby island, to return in the evening.
The night after the wedding Friend A was sick – similar symptoms to food poisoning. She was up at 4am, in and out of the bathroom. I felt bad for her and stayed up with her on and off from 4am to 9am while she was in the bathroom, getting her water etc.
I went to the pharmacy to get her medication that she requested, and asked her if she wanted me to stay with her that day. She said yes, she needed my help and wanted me to stay. I was quite surprised (I generally like to be left alone when ill and she didn’t seem THAT bad – but obviously she was sick, there’s no denying that) but I agreed, and I let friend B know that I would not be able to attend her day trip (which was due to leave in ten minutes) as I had to look after Friend A.
Friend B called me immediately and after describing Friend A’s symptoms, Friend B said she thought friend A was overreacting, and being selfish expecting me to sacrifice half of my weekend away, and a special day out that was organised as part of Friend B’s wedding to sit with her in the guest house, as it was not a case of life or death and Friend A could look after herself. Friend B said she wanted me to be with her on the day trip as I was a close friend and it was her gift to me for helping with wedding organisation (she didn't have any bridesmaids but I arranged her hen night and helped her wedding dress shopping etc so was quite involved and was probably her closest friend in the group).
I agreed with her rationale, so I told Friend A I was going on the trip as Friend B wanted me to be there, and to call me if things got really bad. I felt awful for leaving her but text her after a couple of hours asking how she was. I got a one word reply “Bad”. I didn’t reply. I figured either she was dying (unlikely) or just wanted me to worry about her.
I then received a message in the evening saying I needed to come back asap as she had locked herself out of the guest house and the owner wasn’t around. I couldn’t come back asap as I was in a town half an hour away so I told her that and did try to hurry everyone along to get back (we all had to get taxis together and were about to leave anyway).
By the time I got back the owner had returned anyway, and she was in the apartment and asleep. The next morning she was fine, and was giving me the silent treatment.
In the end she called me up on it and said she was upset that I left her that morning without even making sure that she was ok, that she ’needed’ me, that she would always stay and look after a sick friend etc.As a side note, Friend A is generally an emotionally dependent person and has a long term illness (c. 3 years ongoing) that appears to be psychosomatic (daily headaches, no cause found so far) so is always unwell to an extent. Therefore this incident is part of a wider issue I’m having with Friend A related to how much I can really be there for her with her ongoing illness (and these one off incidents) as she needs and expects a lot of emotional support on an ongoing basis and to be honest, I’m not really that kind of person – I tend to look out for myself and don’t expect much from others and never have done. She knows I’m not a ‘helper’ by nature but I do try to be there for her.
I feel bad that I’ve fallen out with Friend A over this but don’t feel it’s fair of her to guilt trip me about wanting to spend time with Friend B on her wedding weekend. Am I being unreasonable? How do I manage her ongoing dependency issues and expectations that, as a good friend, I should always be there for her? I already feel a bit like we message/see each other too often and I need a bit more space as when we see each other it’s usually her staying over at my place and I find it quite intense for various reasons that I won’t go into now as this post is already too long! She’s very sensitive/fragile so talking to her about it is a possibility but I really don’t think it will go well at all.