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  1. #1
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Default Friends who are emotionally draining

    They may be lovely people. There may be some very good reasons for you to keep them in your life. But they're emotionally draining because they have constant drama on, they get offended by every little thing, you always end up talking mainly about their problems, etc.

    I've got a couple of people like that around. I care about them, I certainly don't want to cut them out entirely and it's not really even practical to do so. But I need to keep it to small doses, certainly for now when I'm feeling pretty depleted after a difficult year. I'm feeling more like spending time on my own, or with the non-dramatic friends who actually do more to build me up (fortunately I have a decent number of those.)

    Here's the thing I'm wondering about.

    Do you just keep distance and not explain why, tell them "it's not you, I'm just tired right now" (when I may be tired, but it kind of is them as well...), make excuses? They're the kind of paranoid people who are like "ARE YOU AVOIDING ME?? WHY??"

    Or do you actually come out and tell them "look, I find your problems pretty exhausting as I can barely even deal with my own right now?" It would be honest, but seems like it could provoke something even more difficult...

    I'm sure some of you are going to tell me to just remove these people from my life. Take my word for it that it's not particularly practical and genuinely I would like to keep them around. But it poses some challenges.
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  2. #2
    pathwise dependent FDG's Avatar
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    I'd ignore them for a while, they'll get offended definitively and I'll find new better friends.
    ENTj 7-3-8 sx/sp

  3. #3
    Senior Member King sns's Avatar
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    My friend, (good energy ) and I were talking about emotionally volatile people last night. Often times they do respond well to gentle honesty and boundaries. If not, they are not your true friends!
    06/13 10:51:03 five sounds: you!!!
    06/13 10:51:08 shortnsweet: no you!!
    06/13 10:51:12 shortnsweet: go do your things and my things too!
    06/13 10:51:23 five sounds: oh hell naw
    06/13 10:51:55 shortnsweet: !!!!
    06/13 10:51:57 shortnsweet: (cries)
    06/13 10:52:19 RiftsWRX: You two are like furbies stuck in a shoe box

    My Nohari
    My Johari
    by sns.

  4. #4
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    I do tend to attract lame ducks. I know that's not a nice term but it's kind of accurate. I'm getting better at establishing boundaries and I do have a better nose for people who just want to use me. I kind of did the above - actually coming out and saying it - to someone last year, and it was more or less the end of the friendship. But he'd been pretty consistently using me for free therapy and disrespecting me in other ways. I finally got hard core and said "I can't discuss this stuff with you any more - I'd still like to be friends, but when you vent to me it just upsets me and it doesn't seem to be helping you make any decisions." I was as gentle as I could be but I'm pretty sure he could tell I'd lost all respect for him. And the friendship was for him obviously exclusively, or almost exclusively, about what he could get out of it. We have quite a lot of mutual friends and from what I observed it is a general trend in how he interacts with others and approaches "friendship". I actually tried to keep the door open but he's been largely out of my life since. And it's a good thing.

    One of the friends I'm talking about here is an old friend and a close friend (I think she's an ENFP who has withdrawn somewhat, or possibly INFP) and she's been supportive in the past and even more recently. I think what's frustrating is that she has so much non-stop self-inflicted drama and in recent years especially it seems like everything is about that. And it's not that she's dismissive if I want to chat about my problems and issues, but she just doesn't get it mostly. The suggestions she makes have no bearing on my reality, or not much. We come from very different backgrounds - hers very unstable, mine pretty stable - and in the past she's sometimes basically said "people from your kind of background just can't understand people from mine." But what gets me is she doesn't seem to see that it cuts both ways and she can't put everyone like me in a box and claim to understand us all while we don't understand her and people like her. And she just doesn't seem able to take an interest in my interests. We always talk about the Middle East because it's her crowning obsession and she's recently married a guy from there (drama drama, very hasty marriage, immigration issues etc.) But if I try and talk about something I'm interested in like, say, Western literature...it's not that she's rude, but she just cannot sustain even a pretence of interest for longer than a few minutes.

    She does genuinely try to be supportive and show concern if I'm going through something. It's just that she always has so much more going on and it usually ends up being about that. And from my recent experiences with her giving me advice or whatever it's either just been unhelpful, or has actually made me feel worse because I feel she just doesn't understand. So I don't feel like talking about my stuff - plus I'm pretty sure it sounds trivial compared to her stuff (ie. I feel sad and rejected because a guy I really liked decided to date someone else, and the friendship ended too; she's trying to get her husband's visa sorted out, had a miscarriage, went into the new marriage while still grieving the death of an ex in a motorcycle crash...etc...you see what I mean).

    I have history and loyalty with her, though, and I think that's really what it's about. I was going to add "I feel somewhat responsible because of the support I've given her", too, but I am trying to cut down on feeling like that about other adult human beings - as everyone is really responsible for themselves.
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  5. #5
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    Silk Road, I had a friend like that, wonderful, big-hearted person, TONS of drama. I guess I just had to set boundaries and I think she was starting to realize it at the same time too.

    UGH if it happens again, with someone else I’d probably say something neutral like “I need more space” “I’m tired” or whatever – not say that it’s just me, because it’s not, and not say that it’s the other person’s fault, because… well I probably wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that, to be honest. Also it’s not really only the other person’s fault (at least in my case). Listening to or being open to the drama also seemed to encourage it. So when I realized I couldn’t handle it, I’d try to change the subject to something else in conversation if she started to go into that kind of stuff.
    Your kisses, sweeter than honey. But guess what, so is my money.

  6. #6
    likes this gromit's Avatar
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    And comparing situations and saying one person's is worse will get you nowhere. We all have the life we have, sometimes by things beyond our control, sometimes by our own choices, but that's just how it is.
    Your kisses, sweeter than honey. But guess what, so is my money.

  7. #7
    Senior Member jimrckhnd's Avatar
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    I'm not a big fan of "drama" and those who seem to revel in it. When there is a genuine crisis... you can't have a better friend. But if its petty stuff, inflated beyond all reason - I just can't handle that. I think there are those who thrive on crisis and the attention it gets them. FWIW when those people have been in my life I just distance myself and save my bullets for when they really need me. Nine times in ten they move on - I'm simply not giving them what they want. Fair enough. I don't count a great loss as their need for constant attention and emotional hi jinks conflict with my need for emotional calm.
    Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups

  8. #8
    Senior Member redcheerio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    They may be lovely people. There may be some very good reasons for you to keep them in your life. But they're emotionally draining because they have constant drama on, they get offended by every little thing, you always end up talking mainly about their problems, etc.

    I've got a couple of people like that around. I care about them, I certainly don't want to cut them out entirely and it's not really even practical to do so. But I need to keep it to small doses, certainly for now when I'm feeling pretty depleted after a difficult year. I'm feeling more like spending time on my own, or with the non-dramatic friends who actually do more to build me up (fortunately I have a decent number of those.)

    Here's the thing I'm wondering about.

    Do you just keep distance and not explain why, tell them "it's not you, I'm just tired right now" (when I may be tired, but it kind of is them as well...), make excuses? They're the kind of paranoid people who are like "ARE YOU AVOIDING ME?? WHY??"

    Or do you actually come out and tell them "look, I find your problems pretty exhausting as I can barely even deal with my own right now?" It would be honest, but seems like it could provoke something even more difficult...

    I'm sure some of you are going to tell me to just remove these people from my life. Take my word for it that it's not particularly practical and genuinely I would like to keep them around. But it poses some challenges.
    I have an ENFP friend like that. I talk to her more than anyone else in my life, other than my husband, and she doesn't even live in the same city. She just calls me all the time, so I fit it into my schedule. Lately she's been having trouble with her phone bills, and got upset that I hadn't been calling her. Like you wrote, she thought I was avoiding her.

    So when I called and she was upset, I waited for her to vent about all the things she wondered about me from the past but had "let go" because she thought I was an awesome person, then I patiently explained that:

    1) I'm going through a relative hermiting phase right now
    2) I talk to her more than anyone else in my life (I then gave examples of when was the last time I'd talked to my various family members and my 2 best friends from high school, uni, etc, but only because it was true, not because I needed an excuse)
    3) "Since you wanted me to be blunt and honest, here goes: sometimes I find it frustrating that you take things so personally sometimes when really it isn't...."

    After that convo, she let up. She still gets prickly if I don't call her at least once or twice a week, but I think it finally sunk in a bit after that convo.

    Also, in the past, she used to call me almost every day and want to talk for 3 hrs, so I finally set a boundary by explaining that I needed some time to myself and didn't like spending the entire evening on the phone. I set more boundaries after I got married, so that I could enjoy evenings with my husband by calling her on my way home from work a few times a week, since my commute was 45 min to an hour anyway.

    So while she says she appreciates bluntness and honesty, I still have to be careful because it doesn't always go over well (depending on the topic), but it's true that boundaries work well if you explain it gently.

    I keep her as a friend because she's a lot of fun to talk to, and I give her a lot of leeway because she's been through a lot of trauma in her life. The bulk of it is not her fault, but a lot of it is self-inflicted because she can't control her reactions which then stirs up more drama with others. I also feel like the only person she listens to, and the only person who provides an objective viewpoint for her to consider, that she actually allows to sink in a bit.

  9. #9
    insert random title here Randomnity's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    Do you just keep distance and not explain why, tell them "it's not you, I'm just tired right now" (when I may be tired, but it kind of is them as well...), make excuses? They're the kind of paranoid people who are like "ARE YOU AVOIDING ME?? WHY??"
    Hypothetically speaking (I don't tend to attract people who want to dump emotions on me, at ALL, lol), I'd go with this option ^

    Or do you actually come out and tell them "look, I find your problems pretty exhausting as I can barely even deal with my own right now?" It would be honest, but seems like it could provoke something even more difficult...
    .
    I'd consider this option in very particular circumstances, if I thought that it would go over well and if we were very close and I thought the truth would be helpful to the relationship (the person will probably still be offended though). Nine times out of ten, I think this would be a bad idea... I'd really only think about it if the first option wasn't working out for whatever reason.
    -end of thread-

  10. #10
    No moss growing on me Giggly's Avatar
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    ^Yeah what Randomnity said. It's a difficult situation though. Explain to them that you want them to continue to be in your life but that you need some time and space to be alone and get your thoughts together. Tell them that the way you regain your bearings and your emotional health is to be alone to reflect. Be sure to send them an occasional unprompted text or email to tell them that you are doing okay and hope that they are also doing okay, and that you will be in contact with them once you feel better.

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