What do I do about a friend?
August 25, 2014 3:47 AM   Subscribe

I'm not sure how to proceed in a friendship. Thrilling details within.

I have a friend who I'm struggling with internally. I love her a lot and really wish the best for her. But she is very troubled and dysfunctional and I believe needs a great deal of therapeutic help.

We have been friends for a bit over 10 years but never super close. She has usually had other friends who were closer to her, as have I. I have never wanted to be closer to her because I find her too dysfunctional.

She's very smart and a high achiever in so many ways but doesn't seem to have a lot of insight about her issues. She often seems to me to be quite deluded about things socially and I just don't think she has a solid sense of what's going on in terms of social relations.

We are in our early 40s and she's single though would like to not be. (I'm married with 3 kids.) She has always had a lot of trouble finding and sustaining good relationships. Also she has ended a number of close friendships in the last few years because of people letting her down in one way or another. She doesn't communicate well with people. She is somewhat socially alienated, now, I would say. She is living with her parents.

She holds me in high regard. I have always been good to her but never gotten too close as I mentioned. Also I now live in another town so I don't see her much. We email a bit and see each other occasionally when I am visiting. I know she would love to see me more. The thing is, while I love her and wish her well, I just feel exhausted by the friendship. I don't get anything out of it. I feel like I've changed quite a bit since we first became friends and I feel like we don't have a lot in common. Also the friendship feels very much like me supporting her and there's just not a lot in it for me. We have spent so many hours together where she tells me about her troubles and yet she has never managed to do what she needs to do to move past the fundamental issues she has. I have always told her that I think therapy would be good for her.

I know she can't help how she is. I really want things to be good for her. Our friendship is not toxic and she is always good to me (inasmuch as she can be). Where I am in my life (geographically, emotionally, socially, intellectually, etc etc) just feels so far from where she is, that... I just feel I've outgrown her I guess. But this feels mean, given that she has always been "good" to me (while also implicitly demanding a lot of me). I just don't feel enriched by this friendship.

What's the deal with feeling you've outgrown a friendship and you want to end it but the person has never treated you badly?? I know there's no code of ethics for this! I feel like she "needs" me but this is partly because she hasn't resolved her issues that would help her become more adjusted. I guess I'm just curious to hear what people think about this. I need some advise or words of wisdom. Is feeling like you've "outgrown" someone a "legitimate" reason to fade them out?
posted by saturn~jupiter to Human Relations (25 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Moving on in life is a real thing that happens.
It does not sound like you are her 'friend' at all. Maybe ending it is best for both.
posted by Flood at 4:26 AM on August 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

You don't need our permission to move on with your life. Growing apart happens. People move in different directions. A friendship that was once rich and giving can turn stale. It happens.

However, I would urge you to sit down and think about the people in your life and why they are there. You don't sound like you are this person's friend - some of your statements about her are very harsh - and I remember a recent question of yours where you were fed up about people pursuing friendships with you.

I wonder if this is really about other people pushing unwanted friendships on you or if your feelings about these friendships actually reflect upon something else in your life?
posted by kariebookish at 4:37 AM on August 25, 2014 [9 favorites]

I'm curious about why you feel the need to actively "end" the friendship, because it's not clear about how much demand it puts on you. If you don't live in the same city I can't imagine that she's asking you to hang out, and next time you're there you can be "too busy" to meet up with her. Ultimately, the fade out.

To me it doesn't seem like emails and an occasional catch up when you're visiting are a lot, but maybe I'm missing something and she calls every day. All this to say, I don't think you need to make an announcement or anything.
posted by aclevername at 5:10 AM on August 25, 2014 [4 favorites]

You do seem contemptful of her. Why do you want to end it rather than just back off for the time being and see how things go? Or if she's dumping on you inordinately, you could tell her you'd rather talk about other things sometimes.

Priorities and lifestyles change and people naturally drift all the time, true. Sometimes they drift away from each other for good, sometimes they find their way back again. I think it's something else to definitively say, "this is a burden I no longer want to carry". Which also happens, of course. Is feeling you've outgrown someone a reason to quit a friendship? Sure, people can and do do this, for that reason. I think it sort of cheapens the meaning and value of friendship, though. What if your good luck didn't hold out? Who would you turn to?
posted by cotton dress sock at 5:13 AM on August 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

People come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.
Accept this as a natural thing, flowing like a river.
posted by John Kennedy Toole Box at 5:28 AM on August 25, 2014 [8 favorites]

You're in the perfect position to do a slow fade. No drama, just fade away.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:39 AM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Perhaps because I can relate (I have a previous thread about this somewhere on askmefi), I don't feel you are showing contempt.

The way I see it, there are two issues: you feeling like you are not getting much out of the friendship and you struggling to understand how your friends organizes her life.

As a way to deal with feeling like you're not getting much out of the friendship, the best would probably be to be more outspoken about your own life. Also, set limits on the amount of energy you give your friend. Be more present as yourself in the friendship but do not give more than you are willing to give. What I mean is: expect her to engage you on your own turf, with your own intersest. Next time she wants to see you, include her in an activity like hanging out at home with your kids. (My friend is responding well to this. Granted, because I am no longer as available to rescue her, we haven't seen each other since July. This suits me just fine. The slow fade is happening - but in an honest way that lets her decide whether or not we are compatible friends.) This is the part you control.

As to her life choices, you seem to feel empathy for where they led her. But this does not justify you falling into a rescuer role. She's adult and she probably thinks of herself as someone capable and autonomous. And, like every adult, she's allowed to make mistakes and learn from them. If you try to solve her problems for her, you might be getting in the way of real change on her part.
posted by Milau at 5:43 AM on August 25, 2014 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks Milau.

I don't think I am contemptuous. At least not consciously.

The reason I wrote this now was that she called me this eve, I didn't answer because I was busy but she texted and called again later and she's desperate to talk because of a crisis with the man she was seeing. I felt exhausted at the thought of talking to her because I'd be hearing what is essentially the same sad story (she got dumped) for the 20th time, and I just don't know what to say anymore because there's only so much you can commiserate or tell someone they should go to therapy to address the recurring negative patterns in their life.

Also yes, I don't feel like I can express who I am with her, because I feel like I am more accommodating who she is... If I was more truly myself I don't feel like we'd connect at all... But maybe we're actually not connecting- as someone said, because I guess I don't feel that we are. Or not in anyway that's enjoyable for me.
posted by saturn~jupiter at 6:20 AM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have a former friend like this, and I ended our friendship for essentially the same reasons (although in my case, the friend was so focused on her own woes, she was blind to some very real trauma in my own life, including a death in my family). I felt bad about ending our friendship, but I needed to do so for my own sake. It wasn't a friendship any more.

Because my friend is socially a bit clueless, I had to actively break up with her -- a fade out wasn't possible and would have been more cruel to her than a break up. I treated it like breaking up with a romantic partner. It was hard and it sucked and I felt like a jerk. After it was over, I grieved for the good parts of our friendship. I miss her sometimes, but overall, this was the right choice for me.

You're the only one who can decide if this is the right choice for you, but if you think it's time, it's time, and there's no point in delaying.
posted by OrangeDisk at 6:32 AM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

You feel like you're changing yourself for her.
You believe that if you acted more yourself she wouldn't relate to you so much.
You don't feel that you get emotional payback from your interactions, and are considering ending those interactions.

It seems like a clear solution is to be yourself. Act as you feel, tell her what you think. If she decides "the true you" is not who she wants to hang out with, then that's a mutual decision, and you both move on without guilt. If it turns out that this honesty can deepen your connection into a real friendship, so much the better. What's to lose?
posted by aimedwander at 6:34 AM on August 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I have a friend like this, someone who has been in my life for more than twenty years. I was always exhausted by just seeing her name on the caller ID. At a certain point I finally realized she was treating me like a therapist, not a friend, and that she knew next to nothing about my life because every single conversation we ever had was about her dysfunctional family and her mental health issues. I subsequently tried with all my might to pretend she was a regular person and talk to her the way I would talk with my other friends, and the utter failure of those attempts made me realize it was a lost cause.

I did a slow fade and it worked for the most part, and the relief was absolutely enormous. I'm sure on some level she is hurt and sort of bewildered, and I feel ready to be completely honest with her if she ever brings it up. You will feel better extracting yourself from this situation. The thing to keep in mind is that you can't control her reaction, and you'll probably feel bad if (or when) she's upset. It's the right thing to do, though, for her as well as for you. She needs to be telling this stuff to a professional who can actually help her get better.
posted by something something at 6:35 AM on August 25, 2014 [17 favorites]

I've been your friend. It's hard for people who are happy and have things go well for them to understand what it's like for someone with chronic problems. Causality is complicated and it's hard to know what is her "fault" versus a long chain of events and experiences (or lack of experiences) that brought her to where she is now.

Rejecting her outright is really cruel. I know it draws a line in the sand for you so you don't have to think about it, but it also reinforces what she's had to deal with her whole life: other people dumping her. I'm not exaggerating when I say that this could be the triggering event for something very dark.

It's much kinder to just do the slow fade. Don't answer her calls, be busy, and only invite her (if at all) to things you know you will enjoy.
posted by 3491again at 7:05 AM on August 25, 2014 [16 favorites]

Best answer: It sounds like you haven't really set boundaries with her in ways that you're comfortable with. It's totally fine to tell a friend, "I'm totally exhausted tonight and can't talk." Or "I really only have 15 minutes." (If it helps, many crisis lines limit calls to 15 minutes. Fifteen minutes is a totally valid amount of time to spend on the phone for a non-crisis that feels like a crisis.) Give yourself permission to say no to her.

It can feel like kindness when we ignore our own needs in favor of other people's, but it's not. It's generally either fear ("They won't like me if I have needs!"), pity ("I'm doing so well that I can spare the energy for this pitiful person"), self-loathing ("My needs aren't important, so it's fine"), or some other not-kindness emotion driving the behavior. And then we get exhausted and frustrated that other people aren't respecting the boundaries that we aren't setting, and we end up exactly where you are -- scared to say no but tired of saying yes.

Decide how much energy and time you want to give this friendship, and do that. As others have said, she's an adult who can decide if that's enough for her, and if it's not, then it's on her to get her additional needs met elsewhere.
posted by jaguar at 7:40 AM on August 25, 2014 [11 favorites]

I'm going to suggest a possible middle ground type solution, but we can only see a snapshot of what you are presenting about the situation. Only you can decide what is the best route.

.....doesn't seem to have a lot of insight about her issues.

Don't most people have lack of insight and have cognitive biases about everything? This comment seems to to apply to 99% of the population.

It almost seems like you are hinting that this person might have mental health issues that are not being addressed. The way I look at this is that most people have had, will have, or you will know someone who has had mental health issue in their life (ie, prevalence of 20 to 25% yearly, or 50% of adults at last once in their life time). If it is not this person, it might be yourself, your partner, child, another friend, at some point in your life.

I'm wondering what you used to enjoy about the friendship.

If it is already at the point where you are thinking you might end the friendship because you don't want to be dragged into emotional roller coaster of the week, what about trying to set some limits.I don't know your friend and what script could work but maybe, "I love you, I can't talk about X anymore. I have given you my opinion about it many times." I don't think it is offensive and it gives your limit, and opens up the friendship to other domains. Perhaps the friendship will then continue to include to other rewarding aspects that it did in the past.

Or what happens when you address/talk about those other aspects (again, don't know what was rewarding about your friendship in the past, but you could ask about those things, etc.).

Even though I am suggesting all of this, I also share JK Toole Box's point of view. Friendships are transient, although we might not recognize it at the moment. It is okay to move onward if that is what you desire; in the end, it might open up both of your lives for more enriching new friendships.
posted by Wolfster at 7:43 AM on August 25, 2014 [4 favorites]

This seems like you're asking for permission for what you want to do which is separate yourself from her as she has become a drain on you. Which is fine, but I'm just saying it seems you've already made up your mind. You don't need our permission to move on with your life.
posted by bgal81 at 7:53 AM on August 25, 2014

If you feel like she's treating you like a therapist instead of a friend, and not reciprocating any of the support you're offering her, then I think it's perfectly fine to take a step back from your friendship.

However, I wonder if part of the issue is that you are having difficulty empathizing with someone who has problems in areas where you don't. I would just say that in all areas of life -- health, money, love -- everyone has varying levels of success and fortune that come about as a result of a combinations of choices and chance, and current states are not always permanent. I'm very grateful that when I went through a difficult breakup a couple years ago, my best friend was able to empathize even though she was happily married.
posted by Asparagus at 8:05 AM on August 25, 2014 [7 favorites]

I've had three draining friends like this over my way-past-forty lifetime. Here's how they played out:

--Friend #1: Long time friend from college with endless man problems, lots of drama, phone calls, pop-ins. But because she was exciting, funny, brilliant and the opposite of my sensible self, I maintained the friendship way past when other mutual friends did. Then she showed up late for my wedding in a very public way, and even on that day later dragged me down with her usual tales of woe. During one phone call too many during the next year, I hung up on her after blowing up: "I can't be friends with you anymore, Friend #1, and listen to the same problems over and over every day." We broke up. Guess what? She finally went to therapy, made new friends, straightened out some of her recurrent self-inflicted problems. My lesson? Stop being an enabler.

--Friend #2 was a friend and colleague going through a divorce. This was back in the day when we all had private offices. She came into my office every morning with new, genuine "fresh hells." I listened a lot, but from my desk I began to notice that our wonderful, tolerant boss was giving me "a look." Finally, I said: "We are going to get fired if we keep having these talks, Friend #1. We have to stop now." It seemed harsh at the time, and she was shattered. However, many years later she told me how grateful she was that I put an end to these draining conversations because losing her job would've added one more nightmare to her situation. We are still friends.

--Friend #3 but more of an acquaintance: She was an in-the-process of divorcing neighbor with a child exactly the age of one of our children who were close friends from toddlerhood on. So we spent a lot of time together. Again, the friendship was completely imbalanced. We had nothing in common but our proximity and our children Her side of the conversation/problems = 95%. Mine 5%. I added Caller ID to our phone line specifically to screen her constant phone calls. She was a classic "rain falls harder on me," which it did, but it rained on me too sometimes. I couldn't stand the endless "woe is me "conversations, which were all the same.

I veered from the slow fade, which I didn't even know was a strategy, to what I call the "pre-emptive charm offensive," which actually worked better. I screened all her calls, but every now and then I picked up the phone or invited her out. That seemed to work better than anything else, though I still dreaded our face time. Mutual acquaintances had the same problems with Friend #3. Fast forward. I moved away and felt tremendously relieved to be done with the relationship. Turns out I was the buffer friend for two other people none of whom is speaking with Friend #3. She was a black hole friend who drained everybody dry in the end. I'm sad to say she literally has no friends left. She used them up.

The pattern here was me--I was too enabling while trying to be compassionate. The compassionate thing to do is a combination of "preemptive charm offensive," i.e. give her limited time on your terms and what Wolfstar suggests: "I love you, but I can't really talk about this anymore." And suggest therapy for that. If that doesn't work, then slow fade away.
posted by Elsie at 8:21 AM on August 25, 2014 [6 favorites]

I think I've been you. It sounds like you wish she was less exhausting, more enjoyable to interact with, because you do care about her problems and love her. And if she were, you'd be glad to be active, productive friends. But she's not-- and that's where the guilty "I'll do another round of this friendship, because putting up with it is less crappy-feeling than allowing myself to drop her" stuff comes in. You're kind of left mourning the friendship you cannot have, because you're not realizing that you're not obligated to pretend it's viable.

What I've had to do in these cases is put into perspective for myself something you said in the OP:

she has ended a number of close friendships in the last few years because of people letting her down in one way or another.

Those other friends, one way or another, figured out how to accept the painful costs of letting her down and being dropped. You're maybe not more exceptional in your closeness as a friend-- just more exceptional in your willingness to keep beating a dead horse. She survived losing n friends because they let her down; if you can handle being n+1, you'll be fine.

Corny exercise that might help: look into a mirror and chew yourself out on her behalf. "You insensitive so-and-so! You're DUMPING CARLA when she clearly needs you! She wants a one-way friendship where you weather all her problems and take on her serious mental health issues only a professional can address!" Listen to how unreasonable your accusations sound, and monitor your emotional reaction to them. The degree to which you're OK with taking the blame for those unreasonable things is the baseline from which you can start the process of moving on.

Tactically, FWIW, I do think the fadeout is the better way to go. Good luck.
posted by Rykey at 8:29 AM on August 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

"I have never wanted to be closer to her because I find her too dysfunctional."

Then why are you close with her now? No, really. What were the series of choices you made with regard to this friend that have led up to your dilemma today? Give this some thought, because it sounds like you have some rather fluid boundaries. @jaguar's thoughts on your own boundaries are spot on.

I say tighten your own boundaries, tell her exactly what you need her to stop and start doing (and by that I mean keep it very very real here), but I'd caution against choosing the nuclear option. You're in your 40s and you are also busy raising 3 kids - my answer might be different if you were 19 and had all sorts of free time. But honestly? You may want to think twice about permanently friend-dumping a close-ish female friend who has known you for the last 10+ years. Your own life could suddenly take a turn for the worst, and if the shit hits the fan, you'll definitely want female friends in your corner. Even ones who don't get the therapy they need. Can't that be said of a lot of people though?
posted by hush at 8:50 AM on August 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

The reason I wrote this now was that she called me this eve, I didn't answer because I was busy but she texted and called again later and she's desperate to talk because of a crisis with the man she was seeing. I felt exhausted at the thought of talking to her because I'd be hearing what is essentially the same sad story (she got dumped) for the 20th time, and I just don't know what to say anymore because there's only so much you can commiserate or tell someone they should go to therapy to address the recurring negative patterns in their life.

Now that you've clarified I can definitely see how she's a drain. That's a lot of calling and texting in one night.

I've had that friend. A really close friend who moved away for work It became endless with drunken phone calls in the middle of the night (because she was 3 hours behind in timezones) constantly going on about how much she hated her job and where she lived and eventually all I could say was, "Well quit your job then. That is the option." Then she became angry and abusive to me when I didn't "appreciate what [I] have." Eventually we just stopped talking because I wouldn't answer her calls when she wanted me to.

After a year or so of not speaking she called me and we talked about what had happened and I was very blunt. She texted and called a few times after that but it never picked back up to what it was and she stopped calling/texting. Maybe thinking that I would notice and participate. But it was just too late.

As everyone else has said, you caan do the fade out if you want. There's nothing wrong with that.
posted by aclevername at 8:52 AM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The reason I wrote this now was that she called me this eve, I didn't answer because I was busy but she texted and called again later and she's desperate to talk because of a crisis with the man she was seeing. I felt exhausted at the thought of talking to her because I'd be hearing what is essentially the same sad story (she got dumped) for the 20th time, and I just don't know what to say anymore because there's only so much you can commiserate or tell someone they should go to therapy to address the recurring negative patterns in their life.

You can text/message/whatever back and briefly say "Hey, yeah, Friend, I am sorry you are in this mess. But, you know, this is kind of a long-standing pattern and I am not qualified to help you with this. If I could fix it, it would have already been fixed. We have done this dance before. You might consider seeking therapy." or something along those lines.

If it were me, I would try very hard to not lecture and not take the position of "YOU NEED TO GO TO THERAPY LIKE I ALREADY TOLD YOU." But just try to take the position that "Yeah, no. You want something from me I can't do for you and this is too much to ask of me. I have said before I think therapy would help you. I suggest that again as a possible resource but, of course, you are free to seek whatever avenue of remedy or support you prefer. But I am not doing this again." (I am not saying you should say those exact literal things. I am describing a thought process. You will have to come up with language that fits how you communicate, your personal history with her, etc.)

As someone said above, you are basically enabling her dysfunctional behavior. As much as I am a touchy-feely schmuck who likes to help and so on, at some point in my life I concluded that enabling is not a very loving, helpful thing to do. It amounts to actively keeping people stuck and that's not really nice or helpful behavior. I also figured out ways to withdraw my support or deny them my support that didn't involve being personally rejecting, ugly, adding insult to injury and all that and I find that is generally both more comfortable for me and more effective in helping people move on. It more effectively conveys "Yeah, I don't hate you. But this paradigm just doesn't work, you know?" (instead of the usual "YOU BAD PERSON YOU -- you MUST change to stop being bad, damnit!") and, in most cases, that seems to help free up people to wonder what else they might do instead of the usual reaction of defending and justifying their choices and behaviors.
posted by Michele in California at 10:20 AM on August 25, 2014 [5 favorites]

You have received some excellent advice. I really have nothing to add, except to present some of it in a particular way.

The best thing to do is always be kind and honest. It seems you feel as if she is using you as a pissing post. That can be helpful to someone in a crisis, but when it becomes a pattern it becomes enabling and destructive to both of you.

So, let her tell you about the latest distress. Then acknowledge her pain. This is very important. Then suggest questioningly that this has happened before, and how can it be stopped from happening again? She will almost certainly say she doesn't know, or give some nonsense answer.

Tell her you don't know and then tell her how much you care -- and then tell her that she needs someone who can help her sort out how to stop repeating this pattern, and that you wish you could be the person to do that but you just can't because you don't know how.

See how those words work: You care. It's a pattern, not a problem. It needs sorting, not fixing. You wish you could help....

It won't be easy. Make notes before you call, write a script... Do not text, it's too cold -- unless you don't care and just want to blow her off, but the tone of your posts show that you do care, so I believe you will do it the difficult way.

Take a moment before calling, close your eyes, calm yourself, think about why you are making this call, think about the person you are calling, think about how you care about her well being, about how much you hope she can break her chain of misery and blossom into the person she can be. You have a magnificent task before you. You can point her towards the path to happiness.
posted by old_man_in_the_cave at 11:31 AM on August 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

I've been in the same sort of position myself, with one of my sisters. She'd always talk about her problems, conflicts, and emotions. It seemed the same kinds of issues kept coming up; she wasn't making any changes. For a long time I thought I was doing the right thing when I listened, but then realized that my listening wasn't helping at all except that it allowed her to vent. I couldn't stand to keep hearing about her bad decisions and her pain. I loved my sister more than anyone in the world, but it was getting to the point that I dreaded talking with her.

You have one role now, almost like a job description -- you're supposed to listen and be supportive when your friend wants to unload about her experiences. You don't want that to be your role. There's nothing wrong with that.

Many years ago I told my sister: "I'm so sorry that (specific things) are difficult for you. I want to be supportive, but hearing about it all is hard for me because I feel so bad for you, and my listening isn't really helping you. I just can't be your listener anymore." This conversation was hard for both of us, but things did change between us after that. It was a great relief to me.

Later on, she'd talk to me about work and relationship problems. When I felt like she was venting and I couldn't help, I learned to say, "I can see that you're frustrated (or other emotion). I'm sorry, I can't help you with this." This has worked for several years; she's able to talk with me about other things.

I know you don't necessarily want to continue your relationship with this woman. But you can tell her that you're willing to talk with her about other things, and not willing to just be a sounding board when she has problems. I do know that it take courage to do that, but if you say it with compassion, you'll probably feel okay about it afterward even if she's hurt or angry.
posted by wryly at 11:45 AM on August 25, 2014

Best answer: We all need to vent to friends sometimes, but when it is so one-sided, I agree it is not a true friendship and can really feel like a drain. It's also problematic that she's not able to "take the hint" with one phone call or text message, and is instead repeatedly bugging you in one evening.

I think it is totally legitimate to do the "slow fade" thing, but if there is anything you see as valuable about the friendship that you do wish to salvage, I think clear boundaries are the best bet. I would wait until this particular crisis has passed (no one is going to be able to have a reasonable discussion about boundaries RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE of a painful breakup). Then, have a conversation to the effect of: "We have a long history, and I love you dearly, but I can't be your relationship sounding board anymore. I feel like I've given you the same advice many times, I do not have anything new to offer, and while I want you to feel better, this process is negatively impacting me. I think this would be a great thing to bring up with a therapist and see if you can work through your issues with men with someone who is better qualified than I am to do so. But either way, I need us to keep our conversations from now on to America's Next Top Model/gossiping about our other friends in a lighthearted way/that new cooking class you're taking/whatever it is you are hoping to salvage from this relationship."
posted by rainbowbrite at 1:46 PM on August 25, 2014

Response by poster: So much good advice here! Huge thanks to everyone for their words. I especially appreciate hearing from people who've had similar circumstances.

To those who've suggested I lack empathy for her - I don't think this is true, I feel deeply for her, I would be so happy if she sorted her shit out and "came good", if I had no empathy for her I'd have let her go years ago. I know her problems are caused by things she had no control over (upbringing, dispositional emotional sensitivity etc), and I also am very grateful that I don't experience those problems, which is part of the reason I've always wanted to be generous with her.

I do realise it's a boundary issue, and I haven't been good at asserting myself in this friendship. Even in as much as asserting who I am. I feel like I know her so deeply but she kind of only knows me on a superficial level, because I never spend much time talking when I'm with her and she needs me to listen to her more than to know me.

I've always found this friendship challenging, as do all of the people in the social circle that we were a part of. A lot of these friends, as I mentioned in the OP, have been "kicked off the bus" (her words) for letting her down in various ways, and I guess I have this feeling, because she has complained to me so much about those who have let her down, that I want to be the good friend who doesn't let her down! Which in a way, is manipulative, even unconsciously, I think.

It's so silly though, really, that I dread "letting her down" when all I want to do is let her down...

Yes, I need to find a way of saying something to her that lets her know I'm not up for this role but that I love her and care for her a lot.

Thanks again kind mefites.
posted by saturn~jupiter at 5:56 PM on August 25, 2014 [4 favorites]

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