A Tired FriendSeptember 17, 2021 at 12:00 pm | 2 years ago
I have this friend who I’ve known for 15 years and after all these years I’ve grown tired of our friendship being centered around what’s going on in her life. I’ve tried to create boundaries, but she gets offended or says that I don’t care enough if I don’t give her advice (which she never takes). I’m not sure what to do at this point! We’ve been friends for so long and I do care about her, but I’m stuck. So, I’m just looking for some advice and guidance.
A tired friend
Dear Tired Friend,
I’m sorry you two are at an impasse. True friends are hard to come by, but friendships only last as long as both people are putting in the work. There’s nothing magical about it. Good relationships require constant work, honest communication, and reciprocity.
Sometimes “work” means listening with empathy rather than advising, especially if your friend is prone to backlash or denial. It also means self-care. You have to know when your friend’s drama will weigh too heavily on you or leave you stuck. At those times “work” might mean choosing to preserve yourself over being the strong shoulder your friend wants to lean on. Of course your friend might resent you being absent in her time of need, at which point I suggest you express (in a very delicate and vulnerable manner) how heartbreaking or fatiguing it is having the weight of her concerns repeatedly put on your shoulders even though she continues the behavior that distresses her.
Observe the quality of her response to your concern (in other words her work) going forward and communicate how you feel about it. If you two are true friends, you should be able to communicate openly with respect for one another’s concerns, and it’ll feel worth the work. But if you don’t feel equally cared for, it may be time to reevaluate the amount of energy you put in that relationship. I wish you the best! Fifteen years is a long investment. Hopefully you both can reap the benefits.