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Should I break up with a friend?

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This topic contains 20 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  anita 1 week, 4 days ago.

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  • #325603

    Anonymous

    Hi people of Tiny Buddha,

    Im a woman in late 20’s and I have quite a good life. I come from a loving family and I recently started a relationship that is going pretty well so far.For the past years, my life revolves mostly around my studies and my career and I achieved great things in these areas.

    However, I always struggled with maintaining friendships, especially with other women at the same age as me. I always had a group of people I would socialize with (being at school, college, work etc) but I kept in touch with very very few throughout life. I usually tend to let the relationships flow at their own pace, meaning that if people are meant to stay in my life they will, so I’m not necessarily attached to anyone.

    Still, I have one best friend from highschool. In school and early 20’s we got along really well, we used to do everything together and it was really nice. Then I went to college, started my first job and had my first boyfriend. Obviously, I didn’t have much time left for her so she started to resent me and especially my now ex bf, which led him to resent her back and I got caught in the crossfire.

    She then started to hang out with someone that wasn’t a very good influence. They would go out to parties every weekend, use drugs and alcohol, have sex with random people etc. This person’s goal in life was to find a rich husband to finance all his extravagances, which he did, eventually (he’s now a successful sugar babe). But my friend showed to be very impressionable, as she adopted this person’s lifestyle to herself.

    To me, this way of life never sit well with who she is but no matter what I said, she wouldn’t listen. She would argue that I was a puppet of my ex bf, that she was the one being free and I was in a cage. I recognize that I was giving in too much to my ex wishes but at the same time I was less inclined to socialize with her. After a couple of years living like this, she developed depression and anxiety.

    In the meantime, I graduated, got a nice job and rented my first apartment. When she told me about her depression, I did my best to be there for her but I couldn’t stop feeling guilty – thinking that if I didn’t distance myself, she could avoid getting involved so much with this other friend. With college done and being almost neighbors, I had more time for her. It was around the same period that I broke up with my ex so we grew closer again.

    Fast forward some months, she got herself into a relationship with a guy that convinced her to leave her job and take care of the house, while he paid her bills. This gave him a strong grip on her, she lost her self esteem, her independence and became very submissive towards him. But again, no matter what I said, she wouldn’t listen. Eventually, he got tired of her after a couple of years and literally replaced her for another woman, kicking her off his house.

    I helped her to move out, I encouraged her to get a new job and focus on her college. She’s doing it but it’s still very much behind in her career and has a long way to go until her graduation. The whole problem is that now I somehow turned into be her therapist (I have no qualifications on this profession). She calls me and texts me every little crisis she has…from a guy ghosting on her to her boss not replying to her good morning greetings. She demands a lot of attention, she gets angry if I don’t answer her texts or if I fail to meet her for a while. This is definitely not how I operate and she criticizes me a lot about the way I deal with people and friendships.

    I once said that I was kinda upset that very few people showed up to my bday party, she started lashing me out saying I had no right to be upset about it, since I don’t invest in these friendships. She brought up a bday of hers that I arrived late – which only happened because it was the week I got fired. As I didn’t really feel like celebrating anything it took me some time to build up the strength to get out of home and go.

    Her words really made me think if I’m a shitty friend indeed. I’m questioning myself about how I’ve been dealing with people during my social life and if it’s right for me to be so detached. If I should invest more and put in more effort to maintain these people in my life instead of just going with the flow. This adds to the fact that I feel guilty for not being there for her when she needed and if I’m a terrible person for being tired of her.

    I’m sorry for the long post but I wanted to give all the information so you can form your opinions on this. I hope you have the patience and the time to answer it.

    Tks tons! 🙂

    #325613

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Maria:

    “Should I break up with a friend?”- yes, you should end this friendship today. Having read your post it is an easy question to answer.

    Let’s say you are too detached from people and should invest more in friends (“I’m questioning myself about how I’ve been dealing with people during my social life and if it’s right for me to be so detached. If I should invest more..”)- what is clear to me is that you should be detached from this particular woman and no longer invest anything at all in her.

    It is about being selective: attach and invest in people who are good for you to interact with, not  in people who are bad for you.

    It is a good thing that you had your school, work and career as your first priority so far and therefore you invested a lot in these things. The woman this thread is about, your friend from high school, “it was really nice”, and this friendship should remain there, in the past, when it was really nice.

    The problem with her is that she is aggressive: you mentioned being caught in the crossfire between her and your ex boyfriend, you mentioned her arguing with you (“She would argue that I was a puppet of my ex…”She demands a lot of attention.. she gets angry if I don’t answer her texts… she criticizes me a lot… lashing me out saying I had no right to be upset”-

    -after all of her aggression, you question yourself and  feel that you are “a sh*** friend indeed… guilty.. a terrible person”. This is what aggression does, it defeats us and deflates us, weakens us, harms us.

    Her choices in life, such as hooking up with random people, having sex with them, and later continuing to make bad choices- make her an unqualified authority figure in your life, that is, her input to you about what an inadequate friend you are, that input is invalid considering who is giving it.

    But even if her own choices in life were great, still, her aggressive treatment of you is enough to indeed “break up with (this) friend”!

    anita

    #325619

    Anonymous

    Hello Anita!

    I never stopped to think about her being angry but I definitely questioned myself if I was the only one she treated this way.

    I don’t see her aggression towards her toxic ex, don’t notice her judgements on other friends and never saw her questioning the other sugar baby person if he was a good friend.

    Im in a long distance relationship and when my bf came to visit, she allegedly had a panic attack and I had to rush to rescue her. This got me thinking if she wasnt doing this because he was around, because she never did this before or after he left.

    I also dont feel like there’s a way for me to explain these behaviors of her without she being offended. Pretty much I don’t know how to stop this without looking like the bad guy

    #325625

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Maria:

    She did an excellent job making you “looking like the bad guy” in your own mind. Very impressive. It is a shame that you are in danger of losing all  your work toward living a good life because of this woman being  in your life. I mean, what is the use of a good education and a successful career if you feel that the person you are is “the bad guy”?

    I wonder if psychotherapy is a good idea for you, to un-bad yourself, so to speak. What do you think?

    anita

    #325627

    Anonymous

    I’ve been going to therapy for about two years now and I feel a good evolution in my self-knowledge process. I dont feel like Im the bad guy in general, but I do feel like she would never understand how I feel and would classify me as such. Maybe she’s been doing this for a while anyway…idk.

    Sometimes I wonder if she has this behavior with me out of jealousy. She compares herself with a lot of people, including Instagram, where we know people only portray their best moments.

    As I write this, I start to realize some things I missed, like when she asked me if my bf was mad that I had to rush to calm her from her attack. Was she trying to sow the seeds of discord, maybe hoping this would cause fight between us? What does she have to gain from any of this? I don’t understand

     

     

    #325653

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Maria:

    This is my current understanding: you stated that you “have quiet a good life”- in that you successfully got yourself educated, got a good job, moving toward  successful career, having rented your first apartment, yes, a good life in these regards. But socially, you are not living a good life. You are quite lonely and you have been deeply involved for years with an abusive female “friend”.

    “I come from a loving family”- not so much, because if you did, you wouldn’t be tolerating an unloving and abusive “friend” for as long as you have, feeling like you are “the bad guy”. If you came from a loving family, you would have been able to distinguish between love and abuse.

    I think that you are aware of your social struggle in the context of friends and romantic relationships, and your “friend” knows that and uses this knowledge to point the finger of blame at  you any chance she gets: your fault! your fault!

    She is encouraging your self blame that way.

    She reads like a troubled woman. Thing is your bond is based on the fact that you are both troubled,  unfortunately. You are troubled too, this is why you have been maintaining this abusive relationship for so long and why you  have been attending therapy for two years so far, isn’t it?

    This “friendship” is bad for you but you are holding on to  it because you feel guilty, as if you are responsible for her troubles, as if you are.. her mother and neglected her.

    I am sure you discussed this “friendship” in therapy. I wonder what was your therapist input, if you’d like to  share, of course.

    anita

     

    #325667

    Anonymous

    I have some resistance to label her as abusive, in parts because I want to believe she is a good person. Not a manipulative, machiavelic woman. However, Im open to see things from other perspective so I’m considering it now that you brought it up.

    I once brought up the fact that was too criticizing of me and she apologized, saying she does this to herself so she tends to be quick to do it to others. But now I’m wondering if she does this out of spite because I still struggle to remember a time when she did this to other friends.

    I believe no family is perfect and my parents have made mistakes but I still think they’re loving. When I was a teen my brother started to bring troubles and I felt it was my obligation to bring my parents joy, so I tried to meet all their expectations and compensate for my brother’s flaws. It was a rough time but we all survived, he has been rebuilding his life and my parents always show appreciation for me to be supportive during those days. I also had a tragic event during this time, where I lost my best friend at the time in an accident, and I was the one who had to call the ambulance and go to the hospital but she didn’t make it. It was the first time I got in touch with death, with how life is perishable…first time I questioned if things were fair, if destiny/fate were a thing. I don’t recall how I coped with this, which mean I probably didn’t.

    My therapist thinks that this period of my teenager years, that I was building my character, was critical to develop a sense of “rescuer”. So you’re right about the reasons for me to stay in touch with her, I feel like I would be neglecting her. She doesn’t have a functional family so I would feel guilty if I failed to answer her calls/texts because she wouldn’t have anyone to call.

    I don’t know how other people deal with friendships so I was taking into account the only input I always I had, that it was hers. This is not the first time she says something similar so I had moments in the past where I did try to invest in friendships and I saw myself hanging out with people that didn’t have anything to do with me. That didn’t add anything positive to my days and I felt like I wasn’t being myself. Sometimes I feel like Im a little naive to realize people’s true intentions and other times I think I’m arrogant to think that people are envious of my life.

    I’m not the type of person that considers friends an extension of my family – with the exception of this friend we’re talking about. I don’t necessarily feel lonely because I know I can count on my family and even my boyfriend so I would probably not even think about it if she didnt bring it up. Bottom line is that I started to question myself and wondering if Im on the wrong side. If people really should invest in friendships, in bringing them closer to their personal life and mantaining them for years.

     

    #325675

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Maria:

    “If people really should invest in friendships”- let see what it is that you have been investing regarding this woman:

    “I feel like I would be neglecting her. She doesn’t have a functional family so I would feel guilty if I failed to answer her calls/ texts because she wouldn’t have anyone to call”.

    During the time that your brother brought troubles to your family of origin, it was your family that was not functional, and you took on the Rescuer role, the good-sibling role so “to bring my parents joy.. to meet all their expectations and compensate for my brother’s flaws”.

    Fast forward, your friend is like your brother and you take on the same role with her, trying to bring her joy and meet all her expectations, and compensate for the bad people in her life, the ex boyfriend and the boss who wouldn’t greet her nicely, and so forth.

    “my brother has been rebuilding his life and my parents always show appreciation for me to be supportive during those days”- being encouraged by your parents for a job well done, a role you excelled at, you keep that role going with this troubled woman.

    So there is the rescuer and “good sibling/good daughter/ good-girl role that brought you your parents’ appreciation. Problem is that this role is not working for you in the context of adulthood, with this woman- she is not rebuilding her life very well and she is destroying yours (for as long as you let her).

    Often the roles we took on as children, and which served us well then-and-there, harm us in the context of adulthood in the here-and-now.

    Regarding my suggestion that this woman is abusive- I think she is. It doesn’t mean that she is a bad person similar to how cartoons depict a bad character: all evil in every way, all the time. Humans are more complex than two dimensional fictional characters. Sometimes she is honest, sometimes she is kind. But she is repeatedly selfish and unkind to you, demanding and accusatory, over a period of years- that is abusive, in the complex, human context.

    I will respond to the tragic event you mentioned later, if you want. I will stop here at this point because there is a lot here and I would like to wait for your response.

    anita

     

    #325681

    Anonymous

    About my actions towards her, I agree that this is pretty much what Im doing, replicating the patterns of behavior that I learned, which is what we tend to do as humans, unless we rethink and change.

    For some reason, I also care that she won’t realize the reasons I’ll be distancing myself. Maybe because I invested myself into this friendship and I’m afraid this would mean I failed? Maybe because I want to be seen as a good rescuer and receive approval for my behavior (not the opposite). Anyway, I know that’s unlikely to happen because there’s no way she wouldn’t frame me like the bad guy if I stop talking to her.

    About her definition of abusive, I wish she would fit the abusive profile perfectly because then I could detach myself without guilty. I mean, I would be easier to have a straightforward justification but it feels that this type of abusive relationship is kinda different than the norm. First, it’s not a romantic relationship and secondly it’s based on the fact that she makes me feel responsible for her well being. It’s not like she makes me believe that I need her to survive, she makes me believe that SHE needs me to survive…this is quite confusing.

    But about the other friends and being surrounded by them, I feel like I should somehow be trying to be this person. Idk if she’s the one making me believe this but I feel inadequate in this respect as well and that’s the reason why I started the thread: whether should I not consider her opinions or should I try harder to build a big social circle.

    Ah and please, you’re very welcome to provide your input about my friend’s accident.

    #325671

    SF
    Participant

    Maybe you only need to just take a break, no need to break up if time might improve it anyway.

    #325695

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Maria:

    “Maybe because I want to be seen as a good rescuer and receive approval for my behavior”- I think so. But notice this: you want to be seen as a good person. You learned as a child that for you to be a good person means that you need to rescue. But if you didn’t learn that, you could have come up with some other definition of being a good person.

    We all want to be valued by others, all social animals do. Social animals pay attention to whether they are valued or  not by others in their social group. It is natural for us, to look for and receive approval by other people.

    “Maybe because I invested myself into this friendship”- when we invest a lot in something, we tend to invest more, so to not lose previous investment, even though all we really do is lose more of our resources.

    “no way she wouldn’t frame me like the bad guy if I stopped talking to her”- she has been holding  you hostage then, hasn’t she, taking advantage of your fear of being framed as the bad guy.

    (it occurred to me just now that there may be a connection between your brother having been the bad-guy in the context of your original family, and you having been the good-girl in that same context; you are afraid perhaps to end up in your brother’s role.. don’t know, you may have a thought about this)

    “she makes me believe that SHE needs me to survive”- there’s a sense of power, of importance, when you believe that she needs you to survive.

    “whether should I not consider her opinions or should I try harder to build a big social circle”- I think that you should not consider her opinions at all, and that you should end your relationship with her altogether (she will survive!). There is a saying though: even a broken clock is right twice a day. So you see, even she is right at times. Everyone is right at times. But don’t think of your social circle or lack of it through her eyes, or consider her words about it. Think about it without her in mind.

    I think you should build a social circle, not necessarily big, but a healthy circle, be it two or three people, at least for now.

    Regarding the accident, your best friend getting killed, that tragic accident- I wonder what kind of “best friend” she was, compared to the current “friend”  in your life, how close were the two of you were. I wonder what you felt, if you felt responsible in some way. I will soon be away from the computer for some time. If you would like, we can continue to communicate following today, since the topics are deep and complex.

    anita

    • This reply was modified 1 week, 5 days ago by  anita.
    #325711

    Anonymous

    Hello @SF, tks for taking the time. I tried to distance myself a couple of times during the years and she would always resent me, start being demanding, blame the other people in my life etc. So I don’t have many options other than break up or maintain it.

    Anita, I really appreciate your dedication to my posts. This is being an exciting exchange for me.

    It’s curious that you mentioned this: even a broken clock is right twice a day.Her ex said to her that she was selfish and that she never tried to view things from others perception. I told my bf that and he used the same sentence: even a broken clock is right twice a day. Meaning that even though her ex wasn’t a very good bf, he might be right about her.

    About the investment, I’m aware that I need to stop putting my energy into this friendship but I’m having a hard time on how to do this. So this brings to me another point you raised, about being held hostage. This is not clear if it was her doing or mine, if I made myself hostage of this friendship because of what she would say/think about me. I guess I need to reflect more on this as well.

    I have some other friends but I don’t communicate with them super often. It works fine for me and for them but it’s not what she thinks I should have – which is somewhat of a family of friends, that are going to communicate daily, be present in all the events of my life…this kind of thing. The friends that I have now don’t form a group so to speak, I met them throughout life and each has a different background, age, gender. The only correlation between them is me, otherwise I think they would never even meet and it’s not like they are friends among themselves. I don’t talk or see them everyday, they’re independent and have their own lives and they respect and understand that about me, it’s very lighthearted and not demanding. I never felt aggression or envy from them.

    Now regarding the friend I lost, we were around 13/14 so the nature of the friendship was a little different, but it was also similar in the sense that we were always together. We studied in the same class and were neighbors so we walked home together after class.

    I have mixed feelings about it… parts of me feel guilty and parts of me feel like I was there for her. I explain: That day I was trying to convince her to take a different path (because I wanted to get ice cream or something like this, I don’t recall exactly) but she was adamant that she wanted to go home, so instead of going to the mall, I went with her and that’s when she got hit by a car. I saw it happening but somehow I managed to call the ambulance. She was conscious so I kept reassuring her that everything was fine and I genuinely believed that, deep down in my heart I was certain it wasn’t serious. Once in the hospital, the adults took over and two days later my parents told me she passed away and I couldn’t believe it. It was a big shock of reality, it was in that moment that I questioned everything I knew about certainty, about faith. It made no sense to me.

    I couldn’t understand my feelings at the time but I guess somehow I felt like I had failed her, being by not convincing her to change paths or by not “saving” her. Soon after this her family stopped talking to me, maybe because it was too painful for them but I remember feeling bad about it too. Then we got into summer break, my parents put me in another school and I kept on with my life. There are a lot of things that I don’t remember about this period. During all of this, I started questioning destiny and fate… if it was supposed to happen and there wasn’t anything I could do, then how could this be fair (she was 14)? Or if this was just random, then there WAS something I could have done differently.

    Once in the new school I navigated between the groups, I talked to everybody yet I didn’t exactly belong to any group. A lot of times, when I opened up I would be disappointed by some nasty comment, some discovered gossip etc. Maybe this is common among teenagers but I remember hating it so I would just stop talking to person or the person stopped talking to me. And this has been the norm since then, I’m very social so it’s easy for me to socialize but people never get too intimate, either because I don’t allow or they are simply not interested.

    This dynamic continued as I got older so I assume that’s why I feel detached from friendships. Recently, when I decided to invest in building a social circle, making a group of people as a part of my daily life, I felt like I was almost begging for them to be closer, like I was the one doing all the work. I would be the one initiating the texts, calls, organizing the meetings. This is not who I am, I dont like to force things or to even feel like I was being a pain. This is just to give a bigger context of who I am, I guess.

    Again, tks for engaging in my post and feel free to respond anytime that works best for you

    #325721

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Maria:

    You are welcome. I read just a bit of your recent post and will read it attentively and reply when I am back to the computer in about 13 hours from now. Feel free to post again if you have something to add before I return.

    anita

    #325729

    Marge
    Participant

    Hello Maria,

    I agree with Anita, you should find a way to detach yourself from this friendship. From your post, it’s draining you for years. It’s a friendship that doenst fit with what you believe about human relationships. Abusive or not, doesn’t matter the definition, what matters is how it makes you feel. And from what you wrote, doesn’t make you feel very good. When we feel bad about ourselves, it’s easier to be envious of what others have. You both grew up together but you have a good career, a nice boyfriend, a degree. While she still struggling to find her place. She might not be doing it consciously, but she’s aggressive towards you out of spite like you said, that is clear.

    Your pasta traumas might be tricking you into compensate for what you “think” you failed at: saving your friend’s life from the accident. But these are two different circumstances and you seem clever enough to realize this. Free yourself from these obligations, this is not your burden, not your cross to carry.

    I hope you’re able to forgive yourself and live a life true to yourself.

    Keep us posted!

    Wish you the best!!

    #325785

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Maria:

    “she thinks I should have.. a family of friends, that are going to communicate daily, be present in all the events of my life”- before I investigate (by studying your previous posts, after this) why it is so important to you what she thinks, I want to attend to what she thinks here- that you should have a family of friends present in your daily life, in all the events of your life-

    -having a family of friends is the norm in school, especially in middle school and high school, as well as college. Also in the military. And in communes, such as the hippie communes of the 1960s. In these scenarios, people of the same age, peers, spend a lot of time together in groups, doing mandatory things (studying, military training) and hang out afterwards, talk, sing, dance, party and so forth.

    Teenagers throughout their early twenties need this kind of family-of-friends socializing to get through school, military, communal living. After college/military/etc., as people move on to advanced education, careers and/or families, this kind of family-of-friends dies down; this is the norm in human socialization.

    You are in your late twenties, no longer in college, so looking for a family of friends now is.. well, something that belongs to the past. What you described: “I have some other friends but I don’t communicate with them super often. It works fine for me and for them…(we) don’t form a group, I met them throughout life and each has a different background, age, gender.. I don’t talk or see them everyday, they are independent and have their own lives and they respect and understand that about me”- this reads like a healthy, normal type of friendships for a person in their later twenties and from then on.

    -I don’t want to create a post that is too long, so I will post again next with the next topic.

    anita

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