I’ve been best friends with this girl for about 7 years, but have lived in a separate state as her for the past 3. I’ve only seen her once a year since I moved, and we don’t talk much except every few months or so, or little text conversations here and there. We’ve always got along well, though she can be quite fiery and intense. Our friendship would be quite trippy sometimes, we’d finish each other’s sentences and read each other’s minds. I was always kinda the calmer and quieter counterpart in our duo. We have very similar senses of humor and interests. She has always had a negative and cynical side that would be kind of stressful, but the rest of our friendship made up for it.
When I talk to her lately, I can tell I have changed a lot because I notice that I’m not interested in most of what she says. All she wants to do is talk about her situations with a new boy/ex/both that I’ve never met, talk about people we used to know or things that already happened, or complain about things, or talk/wonder aloud about herself. All of these are relatively “normal” topics I suppose but I find myself not knowing what to say anymore. It’s not that I don’t care about her, I just don’t care about the things she talks about. Maybe it’s the fact that we barely talk anymore so I’m not seeing the whole picture, or something.
Our last phone conversation she said she notices that a lot of her friends are super nice to her at first but after some time goes by it seems like they grow cold and distant. She asked me if it was “something about her” that drives them away, because it happens a lot. I didn’t have the heart or words to tell her she is extremely dramatic and way too cynical toward herself which is draining to her friends, so I just said “i’m the wrong person to ask since i obviously like being around you, but maybe these friends simply aren’t as compatible with you.”
I’m gonna see her in September, for a few days, and I find myself getting kind of nervous. I don’t know how to deal with this. I don’t want to throw away our friendship and I can’t even imagine telling her she’s a drama queen who constantly needs reassurance and it’s draining! but it’s true. :( I used to always reassure her that she is a good person, that she is pretty, not fat, etc, but now, when faced with her claim that she needs me to reassure her, I could not even do it. I just gave her some general advice not specific to her at all. I know her probably better than anyone else does, so I almost feel a vague responsibility(?) to tell her she tends to be this way. What would you guys do?
@tangledupinplaid21, that’s a tough one. I mean, obviously your friend is in a bad way, you said it yourself. Constantly needing reassurance is no good, I would know that firsthand. But this I don’t get:
“We have very similar senses of humor and interests.”
“When I talk to her lately, I can tell I have changed a lot because I notice that I’m not interested in most of what she says. All she wants to do is talk about her situations with a new boy/ex/both that I’ve never met, talk about people we used to know or things that already happened, or complain about things, or talk/wonder aloud about herself.”
Do you or don’t you have similar interests? I see what you mean though….the topics she talks about seems like how most people are, that a lot of us here on HE want to avoid.
What would I do? I’d hang out with her once more, I’d give her one more chance. Maybe some of your changes can rub off on her, the old “lead by example”, you know? But if she stays hung up on those tired topics….idk. MAYBE she’ll change, eventually, but how long do you want to wait to find out?
@tangledupinplaid21, Haha, sorry but telling someone who is so dependant on reassurance that something is wrong with her is a really bad situation to be in, I do not envy you. But it isn’t healthy for someone to rely on other people to build them up, she has to be told to find the confidence in herself, it is not a nice thing to let her stagnate like that, she needs to grow and you cannot be an enabler.
She needs to read some books or something.
@theskafish, when we lived in the same city, I saw all aspects of her instead of just little tid bits here and there in random phone conversations, so I was able to enjoy our similarities. I know we still do have similar senses of humor, but maybe it’s just because I’m her best friend that I mostly hear from her when something bad is going on? I don’t know. I do notice that she seems happier after we talk on the phone so I think maybe the fact that I kinda don’t indulge in the drama and gossip does have a positive effect.
@trek79, It’s funny you say that because I have considered buying her The Power of Now or something similar that teaches how to disengage from your mind. I haven’t thought of it in the way you said, it is definitely enabling to participate in the constant reassurance thing. Honestly, that’s why I’m glad we live so far apart now. Is there a nice way to tell her these things? Probably not :-\
I had a friend Shelly who was exactly what you describe. She would spend hours (not joking, hours) describing what was wrong with everyone’s world from hers to the postman to the problems of her mechanic. Negative, negative, negative. I used to find myself screaming in my head ‘shut the fuck up, I don’t care!’. Eventually I had no option but to distance myself from her and the friendship died. I empathise as I know the feeling of dread you describe if she called of visited as I knew I was going to be subjected to huge doses of negativity.
I once tried to help a single mother who had broken down and was living with her three children on a mud flat in a combi. It was a pitiful situation. A friend and I went and fetched tools, worked on the engine, sourced parts but it was going to take a few days. We offered for the family to come back to our place, take showers, have a meal, kick back and watch TV. But the woman refused. I realised (in horror) that this poor woman thrived on living in poverty and misery. She was addicted to being miserable. The saddest part was she was inflicting the same misery on her three children, making them live on a mud flat when there was plenty of help available. That was 15 years ago but I remember it clearly – how someone was addicted to drama and misery and actually sought it out.
My sister and brother in law have amazing positivity and I have learned from them – don’t feed the fire. When your friend starts on a negative tirade, don’t empathise and feed her fire. Don’t send *any* ‘tell-me-more signals’. Even stony silence is better! Be the fish that doesn’t bite the baited hook, just swim by. Yes it will drive your friend nuts that you won’t bite her hook, but eventually she will give up fishing. If you do respond change the subject, talk about what you love in your life, pour happy on her sad fire, or as I said stony silence.
But yes, there are people that live for drama, and if they don’t have any they will find take someone else’s on board, or worse still, make some quickly! Good luck!
@tangledupinplaid21, I know it’s a really tough pill to swallow, but you need to think about it more objectively
The words youre saying sound more like you’re trying to convince yourself rather than us that you want to stay friends with her. It sounds like you care but stay in this high maintenance position because you feel obligated you.
It could be that you have just outgrown her and her ways faster than she’s been able to mature.
The absolute most important thing is that you don’t let it drag you down. These type of people don’t have friendships just because they want them, but because they NEED them.
At age 18 (about 5 yrs ago) I was in your exact position, except I was her. Trust me. She might not even really care about you that much anymore, she might only care what you can give her (reassurance, temporary ego boosts, companionship). Of course I don’t know that, I’m just saying you might want to analyze her on another level.
Does she talk badly about other friends to you? Is she quickly judgmental of others? Is so, she might do the same thing about you behind your back and then you know for sure she is just a superficial person.
Just remember, a friendship shouldn’t be a chore. You “being nice” to her literally only harms her and shields her from a hurtful truth that will only become more hurtful the more closed off from seeing it as it really is she becomes. You are doing zero people a favor except yourself by skirting away from a situation that is uncomfortable and takes effort.
You should really just focus on thinning your connection to her. If you don’t want to sever, then you need to completely reject all of the things she does that drain you. If she starts musing about herself and putting herself down, just kinda brush it aside and talk about something else or someone else.
Keep it more 2-dimensional as a conversation so that you give her less chance to complain about things. And if she’s persistently being negative, then for fuck’s sake say something. Maybe she doesn’t realize what a stupid negative nancy she’s being and needs a wake up.
Just doing what you’re doing is clearly not helping, so something needs to change
@tangledupinplaid21, People are changing constantly. The friendship you have in mind right now is a friendship of the past, but so many things have changed since then. You think she is the same person as she has been back then, and probably vice versa. It is difficult to acknowledge and accept, especially when you have been best friends for a long period of time. But life keeps going on constantly. It is easy and safe to hold and be attached to old, certain and secure things, but nothing in life is certain in the end. Sometimes our greatest enemies become our greatest friends and vice versa.
There is no simple answer on your questions though, but I think the best thing to do is just to be honest. See what that meeting will bring, do not try to anticipate. Maybe things will be totally different from what you expect right now. If you put some kind of pressure on yourself because you think you should say this, or act that, or what ever, then it cannot be pure and real because your actions will be driven with the wrong intentions and motivation. Just go with the flow, address it if you feel like, or leave it if you are not up for it. Just know that in the end honesty and open communication brings best results.
@tangledupinplaid21, have you ever thought of being the change you want to see in your friend? Maybe by gradually changing conversation topics away from stuff like guys or complainy stuff to more HE style things, you can sort of get her to see how much better you are doing than her at present, and hopefully that will get her to subconsciously want to be like you after seeing that it works. Like, still definitely be there for her when she needs support, but don’t allow her dwell on it. When she asks you for validation, keep it short, sweet, and to the point. Then introduce a cool topic to change the direction of things to something better and worthwhile. I know, cause I used to have this problem myself.
@theskafish, I’ve thought about doing that, definitely. I have these kinds of thoughts about human interactions in general, but they are so much easier to remember when you’re not in the actual situation. I will try my best to stay conscious in our conversations, and hopefully by the time I see her in a couple months, I will be unshakable in my resolve to stay above cynicism!
@tangledupinplaid21, Pack yourself with psychological knowledge about Toxic People™ and you may give your friend valuable information about it. The key is not to talk about her, or them, or you, but how it is. As for cynicism, that’s only an attitude that doesn’t last. Real cynics actually understand how strong a person must be to love what seems impossible to love, that’s why it’s so triumphal in the end.
People never change. It may seem that way, but once you know their temperament they only start hating the definitiveness in the truth.