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4 Bumps

How do you deal with a friend who constantly needs self-esteem reassurances?

I have a friend who I feel like I am constantly force-feeding her self-esteem. It seems that none of our conversations take place without her telling me how horrible her life is and that she just has to suck it up and hold in there for another 12 years because of her boys.

She doesn't seem to really like her husband and complains about him a lot, but if you say anything that might be construed as negative about him, she rushes to his defense. She has these dreams and aspirations that she wants to do just for herself but without constant reassurance, she falls apart. She says no one gets her but me, but honestly, being her friend is so exhaustive. I don't mind patting her on the back and telling her everything will be okay or listening when all she wants to do is cry and complain, but that is all she does.

She complains that her kids don't mind. She complains about her living situation. She complains about her husband. She complains that she talentless when she faces any sort of hurdle in personal endeavors. She complains that her parents love her sister more. She complains that her sister is a spoiled baby. She complains that her other friends only like her if she behaves a certain way, believes in certain things, lives a certain way.

I just don't know how to handle the friendship anymore. I'm afraid that if I say all of these things to her, she'll just feel hurt and attacked and back out of the friendship completely. But it's gotten to the point that I avoid her because I just feel like I can't hold my tongue anymore.

How would you handle the situation?


Asked by Anonymous at 12:28 PM on Apr. 8, 2013 in Relationships

This question is closed.
Answers (14)
  • She sounds like a serial complainer. Of course it's frustrating because she doesn't want to do anything to better her situation. No one says that you have to stay friends with her if it's no longer an enjoyable friendship. However, you can also be a friend from a distance. If she starts to complain, then just keep asking, "And, what are you going to do about it? What is your plan?" This shifts the conversation into taking action so that hopefully she has nothing left to complain about anymore. You can also plan time with her with a purpose. Tell her you are having a girls only outing where neither one of you discuss any problems and just focus on having fun. You can even say it's your initiative to bring more positivity into life. Whatever you say, do not tell her that you don't want to her problems b/c it makes seem like you're not a good friend. You just don't want to hear them all the time, which is different.

    Answer by hellokittykat at 6:36 AM on Apr. 9, 2013

  • People like that are exhausting! She's probably driven a lot of people away, making her feel even worse.

    One thing I've heard suggested is to repeat the complaint back to them i/o sympathizing. So if she says my kids never behave, tell her, so your kids never behave? Your husband isn't treating you well?

    In order to save your sanity, either recommend she get counselling because you seem unable to help her, or put some distance between you. Good luck!

    Answer by anng.atlanta at 12:50 PM on Apr. 8, 2013

  • Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.

    You can insert complaining if you like

    Answer by Dardenella at 1:29 PM on Apr. 8, 2013

  • Well, first you can't give anyone else SELF esteem - it's self, it has to come from within.

    As far as the complaints - I get being around too much negativity. It drains me, too. Hoever, consider that maybe she vents to you to avoid saying harsh, hurtful things to her husband and kids. We all need to vent sometimes - whether about spouses, kids, work, whatever. Maybe she does it excessively, but I wouldn't take it to mean that she expects you to make her feel better. Maybe the mere act of venting to you is what makes her feel better.

    As far as how to handle it, one option is to make yourself less available. If you don't get together, she can't complain to you. Save getting together for when you can prepare yourself for it. Or another option is to just be honest and tell her that it bugs you and you can't keep listening. Yes, she might get hurt, but sometimes we can't avoid hurting people. It sucks, but it's life.

    Answer by wendythewriter at 12:42 PM on Apr. 8, 2013

  • I always end up distancing myself from people like that eventually. They suck the life right out of me.

    Answer by SWasson at 1:33 PM on Apr. 8, 2013

  • Have you tried complimenting her on things she does well when she hasn't solicited reinforcement? That might help some. It would at least be worth a try. Everyone needs to be noticed once in a while...just because. If there isn't anyone who ever does that for her, it might explain part of her neediness. Other than that, the only thing I can think of is suggesting that she needs some counseling from someone other than you. If cost is a problem for her, suggest she call some churches, many of whom offer counseling in this area for free.

    Answer by NannyB. at 2:33 PM on Apr. 8, 2013

  • I'm guessing you probably feel bad about distancing yourself from this woman because she's driven away most of her other friends. I've had someone like that in my life, and eventually I had to pull away because I felt like she was drowning me. When it comes right down to it, you have to decide where you want to invest your time and energy, and propping up negative people like that is like trying to fill a bucket with a great big hole in the bottom. It's pointless and defeating.

    Answer by Ballad at 4:00 PM on Apr. 8, 2013

  • stop talking to her. I dont like negative people in my life

    Answer by LostSoul88 at 12:30 PM on Apr. 8, 2013

  • Ugh, she wouldn't be my friend.

    Answer by m-avi at 12:41 PM on Apr. 8, 2013

  • I let her /him know that if they loved themselves enough they would not need reassurance from anyone else

    Answer by pookie161 at 2:15 PM on Apr. 8, 2013