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Psychiatry & Psychology--General/Trouble with a Friendship/How to Break it off

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Hi Andrew,
    So I have an ongoing problem for over a year now where I barely have any interest in maintaining a friendship with my friend who I have known and been close to for a little over 6 years now. I am a 22 year old gay guy and my friend is the same age but a girl. We were very close at one point, but up until last year I have just been at the point of our friendship that I have realized I don't like how I am when I'm with her and do not really like hanging out with her. It seems simple to just lose contact with her but we also have the same best friends. Specifically my other best friend, who is female and the same age, is her roommate. I'll give you the run down on why this friendship has crumbled to where it is now:

1) I'm not able to get through a conversation without her somehow turning the conversation to about her. If I am talking about a relationship with a guy I like, she will somehow say well it could be worse...and compare it to her for example. We can also not just sit and enjoy something without her complaining about something from her day all the way to how she's concerned about a tiny red dot on her elbow. It is rather annoying and no matter how much I try to change the subject or make it clear to her that I'm ignoring what she's complaining about, she just doesn't get the hint.

2) It seems like she relies on everyone for something. She used to live in my hometown, but her family moved a little while ago to a place two hours away. When her school closes, she asks me if I can drive her home. Two hours there and two hours back just is not appealing to me and is a waste of a day. Not only that, but she'll offer gas money, usually about only $10! If I say I can't, she asks if I can meet her parents half way which I still shouldn't feel obligated or want to do, but she makes it seem like I have to. Furthermore, me and my other friends have hinted to her to get a car. She usually says she couldn't afford it, but with her getting a car she can drive herself to places like a better job so she can pay for the insurance and repairs for the car. She's almost 22 and at this point it's sad that she does not have a car in this more advanced world.

3) She can't just accept the word no for an answer. It took me a while to gather up the confidence to finally say no to people because I care and am sometimes to nice for my own good. If I say no to something, she will pry for a reason and feels that I am required to give one. For example, during a school break she asked to stay at my house. I was going to be busy working and I like my alone time and not having that for a week just wasn't going to work. When I said no, instantly she asked why. I told her I'd be working and that we wouldn't hang out much. She replied that she did not care and would find people to hang out with until I was out of work and also said that my family said that she was welcome anytime (my family had said that a long time ago when I wasn't struggling to keep this friendship). Her reply made me upset because I don't care what my family said, this is me saying no.

    I do not want to sound like I'm pathetic but those are the 3 big reasons why I do not want to keep up with this friendship along with a few other little reasons. My parents and my friends at one point did compare my friendship to that of a guy being "whipped" and to her as a clingy girlfriend. This conflict is just eating away at me and I feel that once I get rid of it there will be a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. The only question is how. I have tried distancing myself from her, but she still tries to text me constantly and if I don't answer she will send more and ultimately come to the conclusion I'm mad at her but in most cases I am just busy. She has slowly stopped asking me for rides and staying at my house, but still once in a while she still will. She was recently in a relationship which helped with the distancing a little bit. but that relationship did not even last 4 months and now that's all she will try to talk about is the breakup and then she will try giving relationship advice to people who have been dating for over 2 years.
    I realize that this is a lot to absorb, but I am at a point that I need to do something, but do not know how to go about doing it. I tried the distancing thing and it has not worked. It is also hard for me to find a way to do it because I am not a confrontational person and am usually too nice and sometimes easy to take advantage of. Also, I still want to maintain a friendship with my other best friend who is in the same circle as the friend I am trying to end things with.
    The best friend I still want a friendship with is easy to get along with and when she does have a problem I actually CARE and offer up advice and support. I have also known her for over 6 years now. I am afraid by ending things with the other friend, that it may affect things with the friend who I still want a friendship with. Also, the friend I want a friendship with does feel similar to a lot of the feelings I am having with the other friend.
    So is there anything I can do and if so what can I do? Even more important when should I do it? Like I said, my two friends are roommates, but fortunately they are both graduating come May so should I wait until then so I do not cause any problems there? I have thought about the consequences but honestly the cons outweigh the pros in this situation.

Any advice or help will be much appreciated!
Thank you,
John

Answer
John

I am sorry to hear about your troubles with this, one-sided friendship.

It is my mission in life to strengthen the good people and your thoughtful letter contains many perfectly clear explanations for how we good people are too easily taken advantage of.

"That, I cannot do," is an expression I learned from the fifteen times I have admired the opening scene of The Godfather.  It took me many years to muster the courage to say that to friends of mine who were also too used to me always saying yes.

When you say "distancing" does not work, that is just because, as you so observantly point out, she tries to force you to explain yourself when you are saying so,  which can be more uncomfortable than doing the thing you do not want to do.

Please understand that it is very important in your development as a good person becoming stronger that you never ever let anyone make you feel compelled to explain or justify yourself.  No one has the right do do that, especially not the people we consider our friends.

You simply start saying, "Sorry I cannot do that," or "sorry I cannot do that right now" more often.    And if she demands you tell her why you simply say that you do not have to explain yourself, and don't do it!

Your friends in common obviously have the same difficulty with this person that you do, so you have two great opportunities here.  (1) Set an example for your similarly exploited friends and (2) Form a "coalition" of good people unwilling to indulge any more of her manipulations.  When you orchestrate a campaign of good people you learn a basic truth that is a familiar "Elmorism" to my friends and patients, which is:

Goodness is stronger than Evil but only when the good people come together.

It is never good for good people to be used by people who themselves are selfish and demanding.  That relates to an old expression"  "Do not throw they pearls before swine."

Be strong, and you and your friends will enjoy life better, and be relieved of this burdensome person at the same time.  She will either rise up and become a better friend (unlikely but not inconceivable) or she will go find another group of unsuspecting nice people to exploit.

Best of luck,

Dr. Andrew Elmore

Psychiatry & Psychology--General

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Andrew M. Elmore, Ph.D.

Expertise

I can answer questions about: Stress. Headaches. Stress-related Disorders. Anxiety/Panic Disorder. Depression. Psychopathology. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Personal Problem Solving. Life in General. Relationships: Love, Friendship, Business Partner, Coworker, Family,Child/Parent. What makes us tick. The use of psycho-pharmacological agents in combination with psychological treatment. How to deal with evil people in your life. How to improve your outlook under duress. How to control stress. How to control mood. How to control headaches. I cannot answer: Questions about Eating Disorders. Questions about computers.

Experience

30 years in private practice as a psychologist in Manhattan. Dealing with people from almost every conceivable ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, and as many character types as exist in this country. Dealing with patients from 8 years old to 90 years old. Pioneer in biofeedback and the treatment of stress-related disorders. Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine since 1982. Treatment of stress-related, anxiety and depressive disorders with biofeedback and cognitive behavioral therapy. Developed personal problem solving, an extremely precise form of psychotherapy. Relationship therapy for couples, families, parent/child issues, business partners, coworkers, employers, and dealing with psychopathic individuals in your life.

Organizations
American Psychological Association. Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback. Biofeedback Certification Institute of America. New York Academy of Sciences.

Publications
The journal, Psychophysiology. The book, Expanding Dimensions of Consciousness. The journal, Headache. The journal, Biofeedback and Self-Regulation. The journal Psychiatry Digest. The book, The TMJ Book. The book, Dental Phobia. The network, CNN. Parade Magazine. The newspaper, Newsday. The Manhattan TV station, WCBS. The national news program, The CBS Evening News. The newspaper, The New York Post. The national TV program, The Phil Donohue Show. The magazine, The New Yorker. The magazine, Glamor. The magazine, Redbook. The magazine, Health. The magazine, Bottom Line Personal. Web MD. The website, Healthology. The magazine, Newsweek.

Education/Credentials
Ph.D. SUNY at Stony Brook, 1979. B.A., magna cum laude with Honors in Psychology, Illinois Wesleyan University, 1974.

Awards and Honors
Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare, First, Second and Third Editions, 1997-2000. Appointed to the Training Faculty of the Biofeedback Certification Institute of America (BCIA), 1993. Senior Fellow BCIA. New York Academy of Sciences, 1987. Who’s Who in the East, 1983-present. Who’s Who in Frontier Science and Technology, First Edition. Citation Paper Author. Eleventh Annual Meeting of the Biofeedback Society of America, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 1980. Biofeedback Society of America Scholar, 1979. Co-author, USVA Grant, “Variables Affecting the Experience of Pain in Migraine,” USVA Medical Center, Northport, New York, 1977-1979. Biomedical Research Fellow, Department of Biomedical Engineering, SUNY at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, New York, 1978. NIMH Predoctoral Fellowship, 1976. BA, Magna cum laude, with Honors in Psychology, 1974. Danforth Fellowship Nominee, Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, Illinois, 1973.

Past/Present Clients
Most of my clients are my private patients. However I have provided many seminars, lectures and workshops for: Columbia University. The Mount Sinai School of Medicine. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Museum of Natural History. The UJA Federation. The university, CW Post. The College of New Rochelle. Equinox Fitness. Travelers Insurance. AutoOne Insurance. Chubb Insurance. Metropolitan Life. Allstate Insurance. State Farm Insurance. Encompass Insurance. The public relations firm, Porter Novelli. The investment firm, Capital Re:. The Estee Lauder corporation. The law firm of Irwin Abrams. The National Insurance Crime Bureau. GEICO Insruance. Beth Israel Hospital.

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