The Friendship Doctor

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My Friend is Draining Me!

My BFF and I have been friends since high school (I am now 26). For most of these years we have been as tight and as happy as you could imagine. However, I feel she has been relying on me too heavily for emotional support and empathy while ignoring any issues I may be going through. Read More

Hey Marissa!

Hey Marissa. Your friend sounds fascinating. She has a boyfriend, she doesn't have a boyfriend, she's cheating on the boyfriend, she dumps the boyfriend and has sex with somebody else. Egads! Now she is depressed and wants to commit suicide. Your friend has lots to say, and I bet she's pretty fascinating and entertaining.

Oh wait, 9 years into the friendship you discover you have your own problems and want to talk about them. That's not the dynamic of this relationship. This relationship is, and has always been about your friend talking(entertaining) to you, and you eagerly listening.

Your friend doesn't see the reason to change anything, the set-up works pretty well for her. She doesn't care about you or your issues, never has. I do agree with Irene Levine to create some distance but furthermore you might want to change your actions otherwise you are going to be attracting another super-interesting and entertaining friend who will dazzle you with wonderful crazy issues regarding her drama and sexkipads. You can feel great because your life isn't nearly as crazy. You will eagerly listen to your new friend, until months later when the stories get boring and you want to talk.

I speak from experience on this. I've had the same problem in the past. I've learned to avoid the dramatic.

GOOD COMMENT

Marissa:

The world is full of interesting, NON dramatic, healthy people to have as friends that can be counted on to lend you support.

Might want to examine your own role in all this - you get something out of the drama. If you really don't want this dynamic you are going to have to cut this "friend" loose and find something different.

Your "friend" will simply find another sponge and probably not miss you at all.

Now, what do you need to do to get to living a higher quality of life?

Friendships and Law

Under UK legislation, suicide is the realm of criminal, not civil, law therefore each of us has a legal encumbrance to report (to a suitable authority) anyone who mentions that they have suicidal thoughts. I guess this encumbrance may apply in some US states and other jurisdictions across the globe.

It is wholly unacceptable for a "friend" to share their suicidal thoughts with anyone other than a person qualified and authorized to deal with it. Sharing such thoughts with a "friend" of many years is invariably a cruelly manipulative tactic: some quite reasonably call this a one-sided relationship that has become highly toxic to the "helper".

While we continue to endure draining friendships, rather than terminate them, we are heading towards a nervous breakdown -- our draining friends will turn their back on us rather than help us when we need them most.

Many thanks for your article, Irene.

Best wishes,
Pete

Ditto Here

Hi Marissa,

I also have a friend the same way. A total downer so negative about life and whoa is me. What I get is about constant ailments. Her body falling apart and she says it will never get better. I swear the different things are brought up by her mind. She has no other focus but herself. She does live with a boyfriend and he is in her whirlwind and caters to her. I feel guilty saying this but I am lucky she lives away from me. We met on a penpal site and most communication has been over the phone 1 hour minimum 2.5 hours max. I can never get a word in. It's a constant stream. She may ask what I've been up to but then when I say something she will relate it to herself and they goes my voice. I feel wrung out now just thinking about it. I have tried for 5 years hoping to help her see the sunny side of things but I am just now realizing that my efforts are fruitless. She has like zero friends and I felt bad about that but now I truly see probably why. I have recently begun distancing myself. I do have the guilt but not the dread that I need to phone her. It's just too draining.

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Irene S. Levine, Ph.D., is a psychologist and professor of psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine. Her latest book is Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup With Your Best Friend.

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