My friend is leaning on me too hard to solve her problems. Being a supportive friend is a great characteristic, but what do you do when the friendship is one sided in the “help” department?
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Brenda from Redford: I have a friend who has a meltdown about two or three times a week. I’ve become her go-to person because we both have kids: a boy and two girls, but mine are a few years older. She asks me for advice, I’ve suggested different things that worked with my kids, but all she does is tell me why my suggestions won't work. When I was going through some of these "trials of motherhood" myself, I would have liked to have had a friend to turn to outside of family. I try to be the friend that I'd like to have.
But what has been happening in the past two years is bonkers. She calls or texts me at all hours, even 3 a.m. The other night her baby was crying and she called me at 3am! When I didn’t pick up, she left a message saying I wasn't a supportive friend.
I’ve already had conversations with her. I also get why she is stressed out and don’t want to be an additional source of stress for my friend. But I want/need the unreasonable behavior to stop. Help!
DONI'S ANSWER: I feel it is your duty to stop helping your friend.
Does your friend ask you about your problems or offer you assistance with anything in your life?
I'm concerned that she asks you for advice, then dismisses it without trying. It seems to me that your friend is showing herself to be dependent on you. You're doing all the "work." She needs to try. Either listen to the advice she asked you for or find her own answers.
It's great that you are such a good friend: being supportive, but how good a friend is she being to you? You HAVE to set boundaries. Calling you at 3am because her baby is crying is absolutely unacceptable, in my opinion. You need to have a direct conversation and let your friend know how YOU are feeling about this.
Here are some alternative answers that I researched on the Internet:
If you want to help your friend, I would suggest that you stop rewarding her with your attention and friendship each time she decides to wallow instead of getting tough or resourceful. Since the hard part usually isn’t whether to extract yourself, but instead how to do it, here are a couple of suggestions:
1. Tell her it’s clear to you that you’re not helping her; if she doesn’t agree with you… tough. This is about changing what you do, not about changing what she thinks.
2. Offer two possibilities. The first is that the solution is within her, and has been all along, and your involvement has only interfered with her coping process, which includes identifying, cultivating and drawing on her own resources.
The second is that the stress is merely a symptom of an underlying, diagnosable problem, for which you are also not the answer — and possibly, again, a well-meaning obstacle in the path to one. Suggest a full physical and mental-health screening, just in case.