• Handling Breakups

Changing places and changing friendships

Published: January 12, 2011 | Last Updated: August 31, 2014 By | 7 Replies Continue Reading


Dear Irene,

I have never been the type to initiate friendships, although I can usually guess pretty accurately whether I’ll end up being friends with someone from the moment we meet. I just wait for the friendship to ‘happen’ or for them to make the effort. I have very few friends and am somewhat of an introvert. A little over a year ago, I moved halfway across the world for grad school, mostly because I felt restless in my country. I considered five girls very close friends and for the first few weeks away, I kept in touch with them pretty much every weekend.

Friend A, whom I’ve known for about five years, made little or no effort to stay in touch. She took days to return my calls, or only called when she needed advice. I find myself in a ‘shrink’ position with all my friends, not just her, and this is very draining. They forget I have feelings, needs and problems too. I tell her my problems from time to time and she’s ‘happy’ to hear them, not because she wants to help, I think, but because it makes her feel better about herself.

She’s competitive (even though she doesn’t admit it) and puts a lot of effort into keeping up appearances and projecting a certain image. When I first met her in college, I walked past her (she was standing with an acquaintance of mine) and she said “Thank God for make-up” implying I was ugly without it. I had just woken up and was barefaced. Years after we became friends, that remark never left my head. I mentioned it to her and she laughed it off.

She’s planning to get married to a guy she admits she doesn’t love. She often calls me for advice when the situation gets sticky. As soon as it gets sorted out, I don’t hear from her except when she’s teasing me about my looks or making jokes about my ambitions. How do I tell her I don’t want her asking my opinion about her love life because she never follows my advice? It’s happened so many times that I’ve lost count. In jest, I’ve told her to quit telling me about her love triangle but I can’t keep myself from ‘interfering’ when I see the path she’s headed on. What do I do?

Friend B literally makes me think for her. She asks me even the simplest thing that she could Google and find answers to for herself. Never mind we’re on different continents and I’m busy with school while she has recently graduated and isn’t working yet.

The common denominator with all these old friends is that they almost always let me down. I hardly ever ask anything of them, whether advice or to help me run errands. This saddens me when I seem to bend over backwards for them. We all joke about my ‘shrink’ role but now I’m wondering if I should let go of these friendships. Admittedly, if I met my old friends today, I most certainly wouldn’t be friends with them, as we have nothing in common anymore and the relationships are too draining. One of the reasons I’ve hung on is so I’m not friendless when I return back to my home country.

How do I break off without hurting their feelings or creating resentment? I’ve since made a few new friends here and have no problems moving on from new friendships before they get too deep. What should I look out for to avoid the same mistakes?




Dear Blanca,

Friend A sounds like a classic toxic friend. She’s competitive, self-involved, irritating, and you can’t count on her. Friend B sounds needy and dependent. It seems like after your move, you’ve come to realize that both these relationships weren’t particularly satisfying. (You may have even come to the same conclusion had you remained at home.)

Now that you’re a continent away, it’s a perfect time to assess your old friendships and make new ones. You don’t need to cut yourself off from these friends entirely but you can downgrade the relationships and focus more on new friends. When you return home, you can decide whether you want to pick up on these relationships again or keep them as old-time acquaintances.

Blanca, you mention that you are somewhat reserved and private but if you want to develop close and mutually rewarding friendships and break out of the “shrink” role, you need to be willing to share more of your feelings with friends instead of always being the listener. No wonder they see you as having no needs of your own. This may be difficult for you to do on your own and talking to a counselor might provide you with some insight as to why you are having problems with your friendships.

One other caveat: You are making a huge mistake if you think you can always spot a potential friend immediately. Yes, many women say they feel an immediate connection when they meet someone new and seem to “click.” But true friendships develop over time. Instead of passively letting friends pick you, you need to be more active in figuring out if the friendship seems suitable from your end.

Hope this is helpful.



Have a friendship problem or dilemma, ask The Friendship Doctor.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Comments (7)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. demon names says:

    I am pretty much like you. I am never the one to go forward and approach someone for friendship. I let things take their own course. Also just like you I too am an introvert and thus have very few friends.

  2. Anonymous says:

    At some point of our lives most of us have had a friend A or friend B, it’s said put it’s part of life to learn how to deal with them. My best advice is to stay away from friend A, as she’s more of an enemy than you friend. Don’t even try to confront her as she’ll pretend she doesn’t know what you’re talking about, just pretend to be on good terms with her like she does and shrug her off when she needs you like she does.

    Friend B at least believes she is your friend, but she actually forgets about you because she is so involved in herself. I too had a friend recently who turned out to be friend B first I just noticed that she was very unindependent and she did the very same thing as your friend tried to use me instead of google to find out things that I too had to google. Than she started to pour her problematic love life on me which she was over-complicating herself and she knew it. She made it all look like so dramatic and was complaining endlessly, never asking about the real tragedy in my life that she knew she was one of the only few people she knew about. I think if I were more open to her our friendship could have consisted of taking turns of complaining to one another, but I just grew bored of her artificial drama. I think people like that refuse to grow up emotionally and look for someone that they can depend on without having to reciprocate it — like a parent. And you sound like a nice caring person, and you being so discreet about your emotional problems and needs gives them the excuse to believe what they want to: that you have none. I since have started seeing this friend less and I think she understands why

  3. Christina says:

    Friend A is no friend. When she insulted you the first time, that was a warning signal. Friend B is no friend either. True friends ask about you as well as asking you for advice. You shouldn’t feel drained by your friends.

  4. Lovette says:

    I believe When you Need To Change Friends Then U Should Without Any Regrets Especially If They Are The Wrong peoples. Toxic ppls are Deadly ppls They Will Just Rob U Of Your Blood ‘N Your Soul. If U Like Negative peoples Then U Will Find No Fault In Them. I’ve Been Around Negative, Toxic Killers, I Nearly Died. When I Moved From Around Them In 03 That Saved My “LIFE”, I Never Looked Back. Those Wrong peoples Taught Me A Lesson In Life, To Always Strive For The Best, ‘N To Never Settle For Lest Than Who ‘N What I Am AS A Humanbeing. And I Can Only Help Myself ‘N I Can Only Save Myself. Some ppls just love To Tear Down Other ppls, They Gets A Sense Of Twisted Joy Outta Others “PAIN ‘N Tears. Sadly Some Peoples Don’t Understand What A Friend Really Means. It Don’t Mean [ I ].

  5. Irene says:

    Thanks so much for such a thoughtful and empathetic comment.



  6. been there says:

    Dear Blanca,

    Kind-hearted, empathic people often get taken advantage of by users and takers. While we all have different ways of operating in the world a one-way friendship is not a friendship by any definition. Anyone who remarks negatively about your physical appearance is not just “different”, they are toxic. Why would anyone with a healthy psychology think that was an acceptable manner in which to treat another human being?

    I’ve had experience with a woman like your Friend A. I’ve supported her through numerous life difficulties ranging from divorce to IRS problems to career change. After three years of being there for her, I mistakenly assumed that at some point she would reciprocate should I need her to. I was quite wrong. On the two occasions when I needed support and advice she was more than happy to interrogate me about the details of my situation yet was dismissive and obnoxious when I asked for help. Like your friend, I think hearing that I was having difficulties made my toxic friend feel better about herself. That’s not a role I’m interested in filling for anyone. After being disrespected by toxic gal a few times, I decided that having a “friendship” of that kind was bad for me and severed ties. I did try to talk to her about her behavior first but she played dumb and refused to take responsibility. At the end of that day, that’s quite alright as I’m not going to tell anyone how to be in the world or how to behave or what kind of friend they should be. I just know what works for me. You are better off with people who understand the concept of reciprocity and are kind and generous. They may not be falling from the trees but when you find them you’ll know.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I read this, and I thought: What a passive agressive and judgemental and grudge holding person. She makes no effort to make friendships, and when someone does make that effort all she does is judge that person. This is not the base of a real friendship.

    If you want good friendships you need to make an effort. And, people are all human and don’t behave exactly as you do. That does not make them stupid or bad, it just means they are different. It is not personal.

    This woman seems to hide things and then blame the other person for not being interested. Then she says they are the selfish one. She never stands up for herself and then blames the other people for her not taking care of herself.

    A new attitude and a new location could create some strong changes for her. I hope that she learns to ease up on other people. And I hope she learns to be less passive.

Leave a Reply