A friend is constantly telling you their problems and rarely asks how you’re doing. You find you’re working harder at helping them solve their problems than they. Every time you come up with an idea they find a reason why it won’t work. Or alternatively, they try your idea then tell you all the reasons it didn’t work. You’re getting frustrated and burned out.

Should you:

a) Self reflect on why you’re over functioning in the relationship?
b) Stop providing advice, listen then tell them what you’re up to?
c) Consider phasing out the friendship?
d) All of the above.

The issues

This is your issue:

  • You likely see yourself as having value largely based on what you do not who you are;
  • You may feel you need to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to be liked or loved;
  • You probably take on too much responsibility for others and not enough for yourself.

What to do

The answer is ( d ) above. If you tend to over function in many of your relationships you need to spend some time reflecting on why you do this. Do you feel others are incapable and need rescuing? Do you feel responsible for the welfare, success and happiness of others? Do you find it hard to say “no” and set boundaries? If so your self care and self esteem is likely suffering. It would be helpful to shift the focus back onto you and let others take complete responsibility for their lives, choices, actions and consequences. You can’t “fix” anybody else, you can only fix yourself. When your friend calls, listen for a few minutes, acknowledge their feelings but don’t solve their problems. Say something like, “Wow that sounds really upsetting. I wish I knew what to tell you but I have no idea how you should handle that.” If they keep going say, “I know you’ll find the best solution for yourself. By the way did I tell you about…(something happening in your life)? Cut the conversation short if they persist in going back to their problems or not listening to you.

If you try this approach a few times and nothing changes, perhaps you should consider why you are in this friendship.

Key Thought

Relationships are two-way. If you are giving more to a needy friend than you are getting in return it might be time to re-evaluate if you need to move on.

All situations and dynamics referenced in this blog are fictitious.  Any resemblance to real situations or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.


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