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Question
Posted by: Mariette | 2011/08/11

Friend problem or not?

Does a real friend set limits on what may be discussed during visits? I am a single, career woman and she is married and trying to fall pregnant. Not that she is not career driven, she has in the past made nasty comments about how much money I earn etc. It has happened several times now, the moment we sit down she says work talk is off limits today! I feel totally deflated, because with who else do I share my ups and downs? We are supposed to be best friends. She did it again on Womans day, I booked a Spa special for us abd when she got in the car she said it. I felt like I should have invited someone else, because the whole day I had to make an effort not to say a word about work. Is the friendship really worth it if I can''t have an outlet for my feelings? How do I handle it next time it happens or how do I prevent it? It angers me that my friend is so bored or irritated witg my work that she has to set limits. True friends accept the good and the bad, or helps you to see what you are doing wrong. I live for my work. I can''t just cut it out of a conversation. Tuesday I was exhausted by making small talk and anxious at the same time because I did not work and spent my time talking about the weather. In the end the whole conversation revolves around my friend. I don''t whine about work, but I need to share what happened during the day to explain my mood, why I''m tired, excited, anxious etc. The friendship is pointless if I can''t share the topic that takes up 12 hours of my day. I''ve decided to start a hobby this weekend and meet new people. But what do I do if she makes work talk off limits again? I still have to listen to the infertility issues..........

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

This hardly sounds like a friendship. And she sounds exceedingly prickly, and insisting on avoiding even mild discussion of areas where she may feel inferior, or simiply not interested ( no good friend finds aspects of your life which are important to you, uninteresting. If only her feelings matter, and yours are irrelevant to her, that's certainly not a Best Friend - is it any genuine kind of friend ? As you point out, she insists on you listening to her infertility woes.
Helen seems to be not quite getting the point. Work IS important to you, just as childlessness IS important to her - so they ought to be something you could both talk about and listen to, IF you are important to each other.
She seems to want you to simply listen to her gripes. I dont see how other readers can view YOU as selfishly self-absorbed, and not see your friend as at least equally, if not more so. This woman seems to insist on an entirely one-way stream of woe from her side, and absorption from you.
Presumably those readers who bizarrely take only your "friend's" side, behave in exactly the same way, themselves.
If you want to discuss what troubles you about her, rather than just let the relationship drift apart, don't "confront" which is a current fashion and nonsense. Tell her calmly tjhat there are aspects of the relationship that trust you, and you would appreciate her listening thoughtfully as you try to express this, and you would then want to listen thoughtfully to how she feels about it.
And as Caro and Just Saying wisely point out, maybe its kinder just to drift apart, perhaps mentioning that you don't want to bore her with your work-related concerns, or to burden her with your worries. Its not a mater of who is at fault, but that this relationship is clearly not satisfying nor helpful for either of you. Wish her well, and move on


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Our users say:
Posted by: cybershrink | 2011/08/13

This hardly sounds like a friendship. And she sounds exceedingly prickly, and insisting on avoiding even mild discussion of areas where she may feel inferior, or simiply not interested ( no good friend finds aspects of your life which are important to you, uninteresting. If only her feelings matter, and yours are irrelevant to her, that's certainly not a Best Friend - is it any genuine kind of friend ? As you point out, she insists on you listening to her infertility woes.
Helen seems to be not quite getting the point. Work IS important to you, just as childlessness IS important to her - so they ought to be something you could both talk about and listen to, IF you are important to each other.
She seems to want you to simply listen to her gripes. I dont see how other readers can view YOU as selfishly self-absorbed, and not see your friend as at least equally, if not more so. This woman seems to insist on an entirely one-way stream of woe from her side, and absorption from you.
Presumably those readers who bizarrely take only your "friend's" side, behave in exactly the same way, themselves.
If you want to discuss what troubles you about her, rather than just let the relationship drift apart, don't "confront" which is a current fashion and nonsense. Tell her calmly tjhat there are aspects of the relationship that trust you, and you would appreciate her listening thoughtfully as you try to express this, and you would then want to listen thoughtfully to how she feels about it.
And as Caro and Just Saying wisely point out, maybe its kinder just to drift apart, perhaps mentioning that you don't want to bore her with your work-related concerns, or to burden her with your worries. Its not a mater of who is at fault, but that this relationship is clearly not satisfying nor helpful for either of you. Wish her well, and move on


Reply to cybershrink
Posted by: Just Saying | 2011/08/12

l do not think she will over react - after all you yourself have said she finds you a burden. She is obviously bored with your work converstions. l think you will find she will be just as keen as you to terminate this friendship.

Also if you dont care enough to want her friendship why care about her reaction to you dismissing her?

Reply to Just Saying
Posted by: Caro | 2011/08/12

Dont hurt her feelings. Can you just ease out of the friendship but seeing less of her? If a realtionship is more pain than pleasure you need to take a break or make a break. I suggest you try to take a break first. Get involved in other friendships, she has her husband after all.

Reply to Caro
Posted by: Mariette | 2011/08/12

Thanks Helen, some constructive advice. BP2 seems to be like my friend, selfish. He/she does not see the bigger picture. I still want to know how to confront her. It has been a longstanding friendship and she overreacts very easily.

Reply to Mariette
Posted by: Helen | 2011/08/11

Mariette I would just ignore BP2- s/he is obviously just a stirrer who isn''t here to offer proper advice. Anyway, I would really have a good heart to heart with her. Tell her that you feel she doesn''t take your advice seriously and even though you don''t have kids, it doesn''t mean you can''t offer honest and valuable advice. Besides, for a lot of people, dogs are their children (after all, you have to feed them like you would a child, teach them, give them attention, etc). Tell her you feel her baby troubles are consuming the friendship, and that if you have to listen to her and the troubles (even though you can''t relate) then she should listen to your stories about work (even though she can''t relate). Tell her that you also need support.

Reply to Helen
Posted by: BP2 | 2011/08/11

For someone who is NOT self absorbed you type I alot!
l think you are correct in saying you are a burden to your friend.

Reply to BP2
Posted by: Mariette | 2011/08/11

I am not selfabsorbed. I know every detail of the treatment. I recommended a Psycologist and she was not good enough. I treated her to a Spa Day to relax before her next treatment. I listen to all the details of her husbands children''s drama''s. My other friend has been too busy to visit, but we email. She was just recently unfairly dismissed. We supported each other and when I thanked her for the support she said she understands how it feels to be alone, she has a husband she can vent to. But, she still told me about all her issues. We are there for each other. I think I am a burden to the other friend, she has no other friends but I think I should end the friendship. It is just a question of how honest must I be?

Reply to Mariette
Posted by: BP2 | 2011/08/11

You sound very self absorbed,the sort of person who would prefer 2 talk about themselves than anything else.
I think this was the message she was trying to give you.
In life try to focus others and not yourself. Bipolar people do not always make the best of friends due to all thier dramas - try to always give more than you recieve.
Remember it is not all about u!

Reply to BP2
Posted by: Mariette | 2011/08/11

She does not blow off steam, she cries and asks for advice, but when I give my opinion I''m very clearly put in my place: you don''t want children, so how do you know whar I''m going through? I am Bipolar and as a result never got married. I was too unstable for many years and now I am content with my dogs and my job. I can''t have children, even though I planned to have children when I was younger and not on medication. But she does not realise, my diagnosis resulted in me being single and now I concentrate on my work. It is as if she is the only person that got dealt a bad hand. She''s in a loving relationship, nice job, financially secure... I lost both my parents at a young age. It is as if she resents me because I''m content. I just made peace with my circumstances. But I do need support. And I feel I''m not getting it in this friendship.

Reply to Mariette
Posted by: Helen | 2011/08/11

Yes, a friend should be there through the good and the bad, but have you thought that maybe she doesn''t want to talk about work because she feels that she feel just a tool for you to blow steam off, and that you don''t have anything better than work to talk about? And yes, it sounds like she is being selfish with her need to talk about her inability to have a baby, but perhaps she feels like that is more important than work? I think you should explain to her how you feel, that you don''t mind being there during her problems and listening to her moaning, but you would like the same curtesy to be extended to you. She may have the same frustration as you. But in all honesty, how good a friend is she if you have to talk about the weather? Are you guys maybe, in some way, using each other to blow off steam? Is this a REAL friendship, to you AND to her, if you have to fill up time with small talk, and that you cannot find anything else to talk about other than work and babies?

Reply to Helen

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