(sorry I’ve just realized how long this post is)
She’s a friend I’ve known all of my life. Our fathers were best friends. She has always been extremely needy and I’ve dealt with it and not always in a good way (meaning that I would often say yes to requests and wanting to say no). She’s like a sister that’s always in some sort of a problem.We’re both over 40 now and she’s always been single. Over the years she would ask if she could join my family for a holiday or for Christmas, because she was alone. This is how things would go: she would either stay in our apartment with us or if we rent a place somewhere she would join us. We never asked her to pay her share of the rent (if we were renting) and she never offered. The same goes for gas when we would go sightseeing or money for groceries. Even if she would offer, there would always be something. For example, if she follows a certain diet, she would point out that she didn’t eat most of the stuff we bought (and when I cook, she would eat them anyway) or that her share would be extremely small because there are 4/5 of us… which is true.My main concern is my inability to deal with a pattern that has been set between us. Whenever we are alone, even for a couple of minutes she talks incessantly about her problems and 99,99% of the time it’s about her being single. She repeats the same old stories on a loop and doesn’t really want your opinion. When I was younger, I believed that I was helping her just by listening, but after 20 years that we’ve been adults, I see that it makes no difference. She just needs someone she can tell her stories to. She never asks about me and my problems because (and she says so out loud) assumes that I have none – my life is “solved” I have a great husband and a family and I’m not alone. (and therefore I need to be there for her).Truth be told, even if saying this makes me a horrible person, I’m fed up with it. I really can’t stand the thought of having to listen to her over and over again. I feel bad for not being able to find a way to talk to her about this. I tried once. It was the 10th time she was telling me the same story in one day and I politely pointed that out and told her that it only makes her more miserable when she repeats over and over again how her bf dumped her after 3 months of dating, 15 years ago. She started yelling at me then stormed out of the room slamming the doors. When she came down she said that she feels better when she vents and I told her that I’m not her shrink. (just for the record, repeating the same thing 10 times in the course of one day is nothing for her… she’s constantly in the loop…)This time we’re renting a house for Christmas and even my husband’s parents will be there. I just want to have fun, spend a nice moment with my family make it great for everyone, but I’m a bit worried about her coming over. When she bought the plane tickets I realized that she would stay for almost 3 weeks! We’ll be together in our apartment and then in the house. I thought about making a good plan of chores so that everybody participates (she too) and… bringing my work with me 🙁 I know… but this is the only way I know I can control her. If she sees that I’m alone in a room just reading a book or knitting, she’ll come and start by “You know, I’ve been thinking about…” and that’s that. We’re off… again. Btw, I’m not the only friend who’s had the same experience with her. But I’m the only one that she does this to that she has left. And frankly, hadn’t I known her all of my life, I don’t think I would stay either. And as I said just by saying this I feel horrible. She doesn’t want to see a shrink. She keeps insisting that she’s “fine”. But her moods go from euphoria (when she gets what she wants) to depression (e.g. when she feels people ignore her) pretty quickly. When there’s a guy involved she starts acting pretty impulsively and is capable of letting you down in a sec (she once left me waiting for her for TWO hours – before the mobile phones 😉 – because she was waiting for someone to show up and I was worried thinking something had happened to her).The house we rented is in the middle of nowhere in the mountains and she can’t drive. Meaning that she’s stuck with us… and there’s no internet or phone signal. Our kids love it, but my friend spends hours on social networks… so… yet another thing to make her miserable. My husband’s parents are good people but they’re also no-nonsense people. They say what they mean… which is something she hates if that’s something she doesn’t want to her. They will never pry or ask her why she has no husband but they’ll tell her to take her plate and put it in the dishwasher 🙂 My husband and kids are nice to her, but they are not her “target”… I am.So what do I do? How do I keep her busy ? How do I make this work?
View related questions: best friend, christmas, money
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A male reader, Code Warrior + ♥, writes (29 November 2018):
The solution is simple, but it’s not easy, at least not for you. The solution is to terminate your relationship with her.It doesn’t matter that you’re all she’s got. She obviously doesn’t respect that fact. I mean, after all, she sure doesn’t seem to have an issue making your life miserable and getting upset with you. She does that because she knows you don’t have the backbone for tough love when it comes to her.There’s compassion and then there’s foolishness. When it comes to her, you’re foolish. Stop being foolish.That being said, you’ve already made your bed this time around. IMO, you made the problem, so it’s up to you to solve it without inflicting it on everyone else. They shouldn’t have to pay for your weakness. So, you need to suck it up and listen to her bullshit with a smile on your face. You owe your family a fun and peaceful Christmas. So if that means that your Christmas sucks, oh well, you allowed the monster to tag along…As to your plan, I’ve no idea how well it will work, but if working is less stressful than listening to her stories then by all means work. However, I expect that if she gets pent up, she will lash out at some point and make everyone miserable. So, it will be up to you to make sure that doesn’t happen.As for the next holiday, you need to find the backbone to terminate your relationship before then. You owe her nothing and aren’t responsible for her actions or future choices. She will certainly blame you for them, but they’re her choices and not yours.Good luck. Hope it all works out.
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A female reader, janniepeg + ♥, writes (29 November 2018):
I bet she talks to herself at home. She has a mental illness, and will not understand what boundaries mean. Since your parents hosted this celebration, they are okay with your friend staying, probably out of compassion and years of relation. Also you don’t want her to do something stupid, alone in the cold. I would take care of her like a mental patient because her mind is gone, only a shell occupying space. It is okay to say, “no I am not listening.” then go on to do whatever you are doing. I would adjust my attitude and my mindset so that I am doing charity for her, instead of tolerating her presence. You could actually try to match her up with a guy with similar mental capacity. She has a mental problem, but that doesn’t take away her need to have a boyfriend.
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A female reader, Honeypie + ♥, writes (29 November 2018):
Yikes!Well, first of all since she already bought the ticket you can’t really un-invite her THIS year. But you CAN after the holidays are over, let her know that you can’t do it next year (if she turns out to make things “horrible” this year.As for “entertaining” her… well that is REALLY not your job. she has invited herself to YOUR family event, she doesn’t contribute but wants attention and a soundboard and… entertainment.What I would do is make SURE she knows before hand to bring some books as there is NO internet or phone signal at the house you will be staying at in the mountains. and that your husband’s parents are hosting. Maybe that will make her think twice about coming after all.Bring some board games. She can ENTERTAIN the kids! You can of course join in too IF you feel like it.DO what you normally would, if SHE wasn’t there. SHE can then CHOOSE to join in OR not. I would not make special provisions for her.Also, if she mentions a special diet… inform her that you can take her to the store so she can buy the kind of food she wants to eat, so she can COOK that. YOU will be cooking the “normal” food you always cook.If you need something done, SURE as her to do that. She can decline but she is not helpless or at a hotel where people wait on her hand and foot! she is in your home.I think OP, YOU need to learn to say no to this woman. I get that she is lonely and all but I don’t see how YOU “owe” her to have your holiday time kind of ruined by her. Yes, it might sound a little mean but there are some people we sometimes enjoy better at a distance.Maybe also suggest that you go visit HER for a dew days next year (not for the holidays but in general?)I think the fact that she has “gotten away” with this for years with you means that she will KEEP doing it, and yes, she will add on all these little “special” things she expect from you… because she KNOWS you won’t say no.There is something about being kind. It shouldn’t feel like a CHORE.
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A male reader, WiseOwlE + ♥, writes (29 November 2018):
All that long post when you already know the answer; and the remedy is so simple. Just say “NO,” and “not this year!”She’s a pain in the ass; and that’s why she has no husband and no other friends! She’s growing older and worse; and you’re an enabler! You’re not raising your kids that way; so why are you putting up with such bad behavior from an adult??? You go down this long list of complaints about what you can’t deal with about her; but you don’t address the issues with her. You don’t set any boundaries, or ask her for help when you need it. You behave as though she has control over your brain and your tongue; and you can’t talk to her like an adult. She returns every year like a generational-curse!If you have no backbone, you’ll quietly suffer through the most insufferable behavior she can burden you with. She has no filter, and no inclination for good manners; or showing others consideration. All because she’s selfish and self-centered. She needs to be told that to her face. She needs a thorough talking-to; and she also needs boundaries. Otherwise, how can you describe the relationship as being like a sister? Even less…a friend? Neither a sister, nor a friend; is justified in being inconsiderate or disrespectful to those who love them. If you don’t want to listen to her problems, tell her so. Interrupt her, and change the subject! Ask her what’s good in her life? That’s all you want to hear, because you wish her well. Tell her you want to share good cheer! No jeers or tears this year!Ask her to bring money to shop for herself. If you need some help with gas money, before you even accept her visit; let her know she might want to bring money for food, and other expenses. Your bad, if you invite more people than you can provide food or shelter for.Admit it, if things are a little lean right now. Stop being proud and allowing her to believe you can handle the extra expense. The pride is pretense. Your whole demeanor is fake. You came here to unload; but you show her an entirely different face!You should write her a letter listing everything you confessed to us. I know the venting is doing your soul a world of good! I can feel your tension and stress. You’re on the verge of tossing her to the curb! You’ve pent-up too much for too long! “Shout, shout, let it all it! These are the things I can do without!” As sung by the group Tears For Fears!Your poor husband. You’re a self-made martyr for no apparent reason. He quietly puts-up with the both of you. I speak for him and your common-sense. Lay-down some rules, or she isn’t welcome in your house.Don’t ask for advice, if you don’t plan to use it. There is no magic solution that doesn’t require you to be honest, and to have a backbone. There is a profound difference between being a fool and being nice. One is being kind, and the other is just being stupid. You’re no fool! She doesn’t appreciate your kindness!
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