Posted by: Abigail | 2013-02-06

How much time is needed?

I have a friend who moved overseas a few years ago. He and his wife have been divorced for almost 12 years, but this time of the year (February) he goes into mourning (as he calls it) over his failed marriage. He becomes miserable, nasty, withdraws from everything and everyone and it is really starting to annoy me! I have always been supportive of him and have tried to help him where I can. When he went through a rought patch at work, who did he call? His loyal friend in South Africa, when he underwent surgery recently to remove a tumor, who did he call? His loyal friend in South Africa. It is after all his own fault that he destroyed his marriage. He cheated on his wife numerous times, she eventually left him, but seriously, he needs to get over it already. She has moved on, met and married a man who is really good to her and started a family with him. I am just at the stage in my life where I am tired of always being there for him when it suits him. He tells me that he is too ill to socialise or to respond to emails or text messages, but he spends hours on facebook posting pictures and silly comments. I think I may have outgrown this man. I have very little in common with him these days and also feel that I no longer want to be used as a shoulder to cry on when things get tough for him. I don''t know how to tell him that I would prefer not having contact with him anymore. You may be thinking that this all sounds very trivial and no reason to cut ties, but I have learnt things about him recently which make me feel uncomfortable and a bit wary of him, things that I did not know when we were younger and when he still lived in SA. Must I just give him time to once again get over his feelings about his marriage until next year this time when it all starts again? The same old song and dance every year!

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Our expert says:
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Anniversary Reactions, getting miserable at the anniversary of some significant loss, are not unusual, but not helpful, and usually indicate that the person would benefit from proper counselling to finished getting over their loss.
Especially if, as you say, it was he who destroyed the marriage, its important that he learn useful lessons from the experience and move on, rather than simply recycling old misery.
You may indeed have outgrown this guy, and its fair to try to halp but to recognize when a person is actually refusing constructive help. And/or when he's using engagement with you as a way of avoiding facing facts and seeing a real local counsellor directly. Your concerns aren't trivial at all.
Simply tell him that you find it discouraging that its impossible to help him both due to the distance and due to your lack of professional qualifications, and urge him instead, to contact and work with a local counsellor, where he is
And then unfriend him

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

Our users say:
Posted by: Abigail | 2013-02-06

Purple - you misread my post. He has been divorced for 12 years, I last saw him 3 years ago before he left SA and no, he does not have a hold on me. I have been too good a friend to him, always there when he needs to vent etc., but the time has come for me to put a stop to it. He can find a shoulder to cry on where he lives, I have a life and have no place in it for someone who drains me emotionally the way he does.

Reply to Abigail
Posted by: Purple | 2013-02-06

No need to tell him anything, just unfriend him, don''t respond to his e-mails and text messages etc and don''t make contact with him.

he knows very well that he''s putting nothing into the relationship. He lives in another country anyway, so why does he need to burden you with all this. He needs to sort his own problems out.

He''s got quite a hold on you for smeone you haven''t even seen in 12 years.

Reply to Purple
Posted by: nia | 2013-02-06

It is your privilege to choose your own friends and your responsibility to make good choices. If he is not adding value to your life, then “ unfriend”  him. You don’ t have to be mean or say nasty things  just let the friendship die a sudden death

Reply to nia

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