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The more I try to better myself the nastier my friend becomes.

Tagged as: Big Questions, Friends, Health, Troubled relationships<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (27 May 2020) 10 Answers - (Newest, 31 May 2020)
A female Canada age 51-59, anonymous writes:

Thanks in advance for answers to my guestion. This is a great site.

I have been friends with this paticular friend for about ten years. I cannot say that this is the only friendship I have been evaluating lately. I have a great job and have started a post graduate degree and my confidence is really growing. More and more I am noting shreds of disrespect from long term friends and even family and obviously I must have not pulled the reins in over the years when it happened. It is just not acceptable now and while not abandoning the relationships I seem to be attracting people with goals and with positive mindsets...I am really liking it.

The friend in question has had mental health issues for as long as I can recall and I have been happy to help where I can but increasingly I am wondering why. I know this sounds harsh but I have asked over to have dinner with my family or go for coffee but she seems to prefer to call and needs support. I have created some of the problem here in that she gets drunk at times and she is quite mean. I asked her last week if she was getting counselling and she said she was. I also told her that I am not really equipped to help her with her problems at this time. Her problems are large...husband has left her...concerns with her caring for her child with her drinking....things that are beyond my control. She attacked me tonight verbally as she was drinking and for my own preservation I hung up. I know she depressed but she complained that I had too many hopes and dreams for her taste...

I do not think her patterns in life wwill change and this friendship is pulling me down.

Is it callous to draw a line under this friendship? Are there times in life when we outgrow friends as we start to move ahead in positive ways in our lives?

View related questions: confidence, depressed, drunk

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A female reader, Ciar Canada +, writes (31 May 2020):

Ciar agony auntIt's not callous at all. It's a necessity and perhaps even a kindness to the friend. You can't fix her problems, but your continued association won't enable them.

Keep moving forward, and plant your seeds in fertile ground, not a barren wasteland.

I wish you all the best.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (28 May 2020):

Sometimes we have to get there, in spite of them, not because of them.

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A female reader, Youcannotbeserious United Kingdom + , writes (27 May 2020):

Youcannotbeserious agony auntI'm of a similar age to you and, in the last decade or so, I have come to expect a lot more from friends than I did when I was younger. I now work on the premise that, for someone to qualify as my friend, they need to ADD to my life and make it better in some way, not weigh me down, use me or abuse me. I have cut ties with a number of people who did not add anything positive to my life and soon felt a lot better for it. My circle of friends is now much smaller and much more intimate. I am very close to the people I now class as friends. I would always be there for them and know they would do likewise for me.

Sometimes we have to be ruthless. If your friend doesn't add anything to your life and contact with her just puts you on edge or upsets you, then you should not feel guilty about cutting ties with her (or limiting contact) so as to protect yourself.

If you are reluctant to cut contact completely, perhaps it might be worth setting strict boundaries for your friendship to see if things can improve? For instance, if she phones you when drunk, tell her very firmly "I don't wish to speak to you when you are drunk as you upset me" and put the phone down.

It is possible your friend acts the way she does towards you because she feels you are distancing yourself from her. She may feel her life is spiraling out of control while your life is on the up. There is never an excuse to speak to friends in a way which makes them feel bad about their life choices but it might be the reason she is doing it.

You need to assess how important your friendship is and whether you wish to continue it. If you decide that there is nothing positive to be gained from this friendship, you should not feel guilty about walking away.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (27 May 2020):

There will be times when you must let-go of certain ties, affiliations, and friendships.

People we consider our friends are not always ready to support you when you want to make changes and improvements in your life. Even if they care a lot about you; there are often people in our lives who want us to remain complacent and idle. They become threatened and dissuading when we seek faith in God, pursue higher-education, or further our career goals. When they note the changes in us brought-on by our pursuits in self-improvement; they become discouraging, critical, and jealous. Trust me...been there, and got that!

Time, maturity, ambitions, success, and a growing faith in God; will pull us away from whom we used to be. We move-on to a higher-level; and sometimes our friends don't grow with us. If they attempt to encumber our efforts or sabotage our growth; that is a sign that you must cut ties.

Trying to negotiate or appease them proves futile; because they won't be happy unless you regress or go backwards. They become your hidden-enemy. Addicts don't want to see other addicts get rehabilitated and clean, some men don't want their wives or girlfriends to achieve their own financial-success, some jealous and insecure-women will disrupt and subvert all the good friendships of the man in their lives, some family-members mock and scoff at your higher-achievements, some church-people will question the sincerity of your faith; and someone considered your best-friend. suddenly seems cold or distant. These are the signs and side-effects of growth and elevation that we have to come to terms with in life.

Sometimes there is no compromise, and no going back. Moving-forward sometimes means leaving some people behind. If they don't celebrate your wins and accomplishments, demean you for trying to improve yourself, or question your loyalties; because you want to do better for yourself. It is time to clean house, and let some of these people go.

It is different for family-members. Jealousies and misgivings do occur; and sometimes you just have to take it with a grain of salt.

Even when you succeed in all your pursuits toward self-improvement, remain humble. Don't become haughty and high-minded; because success is unfaithful. It takes a longtime and a lot of work, but it can disappear or abandon you in a flash! Don't snub friends in conceit, or become cliquish; because they aren't where you are. Your new high and mighty friends could be phony-backbiters! Smiling in your face, while stabbing you in the back!!! Those left behind are the same people you face when things shift downward, or you hit a wall! You don't burn bridges; you just cross them and proceed to your future success. People who are toxic and nay-sayers; should be avoided, and are never to be trusted. You still don't go out of your way to make enemies of them; you just cut ties, and put distance between you. Sometimes you can't help that they want to be your enemy! Be that the case; then you have to burn bridges, and take no prisoners! They want to destroy you, or see you fail! You can't help that, you just stay out of reach!

You distance yourself even farther, if they make efforts to deter your efforts to improve yourself! Let them know, in no uncertain terms, you will not allow them to stop you from achieving your dreams; or whatever it is you need to do, to improve your life. Haters also motivate you to work even harder! Don't expect everyone to be happy for you. Sometimes people only wanted you to share their miseries and failures; and they become offended when you turn your own life around. Such is life and human-nature.

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (27 May 2020):

Honeypie agony auntI think it sucks when we "out grow" friendships but it is inevitable with SOME friendships. because people stagnate. Some wallow in their own misery, and some people forget HOW to be a good friend. We grow, we change and so does our responsibilities and priorities.

You are working on you and making YOU and YOUR life better, which is awesome. People really shouldn't stop doing that. She is still stuck in the past and with what happened to her. Until she can work through that and move forward, she isn't going to change.

Keeping people who are mostly negative in your life is draining and rarely beneficial. I would pull back, and I would do is slowly. Just be less and less available, because I can't see her understanding a it or accepting it either if you just pull the band aid off.

But yes, I would end this friendship. It's doing nothing for you and little for her.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (27 May 2020):


I had a 'best friend' for 22 years who ground me down with her unreasonable expectations of me, using guilt as her MO until at the age of 34 I'd had enough.

At the age of fifteen I told her I wanted nothing more to do with her after she screamed in the street and sat in the middle of the road trying to get myself and another friend to go back for her.

She talked me round and I wish I hadn't listened. She expected to see me all the time even when I was dog tired and called and called if I didn't pick up. This is in the 'old days' of land line phones only. She could make people feel so guilty that it was easier to comply with her wishes than feel so terrible for not doing what she wanted. I rarely had an evening away from her even though I worked six/seven day weeks. I used to fantasise what it would be like to be able to stay in for months if I wanted to. I wish I had drawn a line under that 'friendship' a long, long time before I did. I seriously believe my life could have gone a different way if I had had some time to myself.

You are not responsible for your friend's mental health issues, as I wasn't responsible for mine. My friend was in therapy most of her life, but it didn't seem to help her. She even said she wanted me to be her therapist! She didn't care about me, she didn't care that I was exhausted, she only cared about herself. One day when I was 34 and she was throwing a tantrum outside a get together of friends that I was enjoying because she wanted me to drive her home, I snapped inside. Had had enough. When I dropped her off I knew I was not going to ever see her again. When she called the next day to apologise, as she always did, I told her I was done and she couldn't believe it, although I bumped into her once, years later and she told me she understood why I had done it.

I felt terrible for four days, could think of nothing else and on the fifth day, I forgot about her and never thought of her again. And I've seen her again, since that first meeting, in a pub with all our old friends that I had to jettison, to be able to stay away from her. She was doing just fine without me.

My advice to you is to not waste your life on someone who brings you pain and stress. Your friend has to help herself. You've tried to be a friend for her, but she isn't treating you well. This is all about her. You have to make this about YOU. I would say to most definitely draw a line under this situation. Walk away. Don't throw away a large portion of your life on someone who is not your responsibility to fix. Good luck!

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (27 May 2020):

I am the writer of this question. I am female and my friend is too. I am married and it is a friendship....thought I should clarify due to an answer here:)

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A female reader, hilary United Kingdom +, writes (27 May 2020):

hilary agony auntYou were never equipped to help her, you are not a qualified medical professional. You tried to get her to be interested in you, as someone to visit and date, she did not want to. Why would you want to get involved with a person with mental health issues or a married woman ?Her idea of a friendship with you was to ring you for support so that when she moans and shrieks and cries you listen. Your idea of a friendship was to get her to come over for a nice evening. Yet you knew this woman was married and had mental health issues! The last thing you do when a true friend is struggling is muddy the waters and make them more confused or put some sort of pressure on them to do as you wish. If you really want to help someone you do it their way, you give and give and give until there is no more to give. Not watch carefully when it is going to end because you are not getting what you are after. Unfortunately a lot of people just want to moan and groan when things are not right for them and you could have ended up listening to these gripes and problems for the rest of your lives, with her not doing a thing about improving her life, just complaining to anyone who will listen.

If she prefers to complain about stuff on the phone that is up to her. She should not have to meet up with you and be in the same room with you before you want to spend time with her. What is that all about? Sex?

Despite her being the one with the mental health issues she knew it was best not to get too close and she knew she had to be cautious about giving too much and not being fussy about who she dates. GOOD FOR HER.Some men would have tried to take advantage of her and some women would be naive enough to let them.

Even if she were single and had no health issues at all you are not her type. Pointless. Where can it lead? Nowhere. Heartache, problems and more, no less. This was never a friendship. You both wanted different things. You now want to say that because you cannot help you the friendship needs to end.

If you meet anyone who has problems where it is going to be one sided your first reaction should be to walk away, not to jump in and then try to twist it into what suits you instead and then decide to end it when that does not work.

I hope your ex "friend" finds some real friends soon. It will not be easy for her, because she is so needy.

But she needs friends who understand all that and do not try to take advantage of her.

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A female reader, mystiquek United States + , writes (27 May 2020):

mystiquek agony auntOh yes sometimes friendships just don't last the test of time. People change and suddenly what was once so appealing about a friend no longer seems important as we grow and change in life. A few years ago a friendship of mine ended that had endured for over 30 years. We had just drifted apart and no longer had anything in common. I tried really hard to make things keep going but it just got harder and harder and I realized that she no longer cared to be in touch. My son and his best friend recently parted ways after having known each other for over 25 years.

Its ok to step back and withdraw from a friendship especially if that friend is toxic. Sometimes you have to look out for yourself. You've tried to be nice and be there for her but your friend isn't being a friend. Its sad but sometimes we just have to let go of people.

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A female reader, Aunty BimBim Australia +, writes (27 May 2020):

Aunty BimBim agony auntYou are already doing the right thing by letting her know you are not equipped to help her at this time, if you let her know that, and follow up with "are you still getting counselling" and see where the conversations go from there. Probably nowhere, in which case you can say okay bye.

You can also let her know where she is sober that you will not be talking to her when she is drunk, and then next time she does it just hang up.

The reasons she prefers to get you on the phone rather than share time over dinner or coffee is that this way she is in control, she controls when she calls you and she controls what she says. You need to take back some of the control as above.

And to answer your question yes, sometimes the time comes when we outgrow our friendships, and no, it is not callous to draw a line in the sand.

good luck moving forward.

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