• Resolving Problems

Feeling drained by a friend

Published: July 28, 2013 | Last Updated: July 28, 2013 By | 13 Replies Continue Reading
If you feel totally drained by a friend, it’s prudent to change things not only for you but also for her.


Hi Irene,

My BFF and I have been friends since high school (I am now 26). For most of these years we have been as tight and as happy as you could imagine. However, I feel she has been relying on me too heavily for emotional support and empathy while ignoring any issues I may be going through.

She has complained about her now ex for years, cheated on him last year, broke up with him this year, and one week after they broke up hooked up with someone new (her ex and her were together nearly 9 years). I have been secret keeper and confidant through all of this. Meanwhile, I went through some issues over the past few years like my brother being hospitalized for a few months after a schizophrenic break, and I get next to nothing. Sometimes I have told her something I was feeling that was really important and she has said nothing!

I am in no way perfect or always right but frequently this friend uses me for an emotional bouncing board. She has told me before she finds it hard to be empathetic towards me but I feel I am expected to hear her out on everything. She has even spoken to me about suicide before. I feel this pressure to assist her and the lack of reciprocation has damaged our relationship and I don’t know how to fix it. Help!

Furthermore my personal emotional well-being is damaged because of it. I sometimes feel I am having a fantastic day or been on a great date and she will call and bring me way down. No answer is ever enough. Just listening is never enough. I feel like a sponge that soaks up all the negativity and misery she feels. Some of these issues I feel she has brought on herself. And her messing around has complicated things with the rest of my friends.

Furthermore, and perhaps the largest issue, is if I ignore her I feel guilty and it doesn’t work anyway because even if I do not prompt her, she will spill everything to me. I love this girl to death, I could never ditch her, I just don’t know how to manage living my life the way I want without being dragged into her drama but still maintaining the relationship. This situation has made me unbelievably sad. It is not that I don’t want her to tell me important things, it is just I don’t want that to be it. A lot of the time we will go out for a girls’ night and it will end with her crying. This has been going on for a while and it is becoming very difficult to navigate. I feel I am becoming angry and frustrated with her something I never wanted to feel.

Perhaps my expectations of her are unfair? I am a very sensitive, understanding person but I just don’t know what to do and feel I have nothing more to offer her, and am falling into bitterness and resentment, feelings I am very uncomfortable with.

Thank you for your support and sorry if this sounds desperate.



Hi Marissa,

Even though this relationship has become one-sided and has reached the point where it feels draining, you sound like a sensitive and caring friend. Moreover, your note makes it clear you value this friendship and want to preserve it.

If your friend is crying, bringing you down, and talking about suicide, there is a high likelihood that she is depressed. When someone is depressed, that individual’s world shrinks considerably and the person may be so self-involved that she doesn’t have the capacity to be as caring and empathetic as you or she would like her to be.

It sounds like your friend is just managing to tread water. Feeling sad, angry, resentful, frustrated, and desperate like you do under these circumstances is normal.

Both to help your friend and to preserve your friendship, you need to strongly suggest that she seek professional help. Reassure her that you really care about her, but see her floundering and can’t provide the kind or amount of help she needs. Raise the possibility, explicitly, that she may be depressed and do some homework so you are able to suggest a therapist or organization in your community.

Right now, she simply isn’t able to support you; you may need to look to other friends for that until she is feeling better. For your own self-preservation, too, reduce or limit the amount of time you spend together so you have the energy to listen without it sapping your energy. Another strategy would be to spend time with her in the company of other people.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

Other relevant posts on The Friendship Blog about depression and feeling drained by a friend:

Tags: , , , , ,

Category: Depressed friends, RESOLVING PROBLEMS

Comments (13)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. monika says:

    You need to cut all tie with people like those. I had my fair share with people who I once love and who I call a friend but it was not good for my wellbeing. I do enjoy sitting and listening to people and it’s a pleasure you can be trusted with deep secrets but I have notice that some people starting taking advantage of me. Nothing that you said to them inregards to your feelings is of any impact to them. I love people and I never have any hatred or resentment in my heart for anyone.
    When my friends are happy, I am happy and bursting with pure joy in my heart, when they are sad, It makes me sad too but over the years I have noticed that whenever I needed them, they are no where to be found, they are too busy to even send a txt or return my calls.

    As the new year approaching, I get out a note pad and I started put into writing how I am feeling and who can I rely on in case I need help, in other words I analysed my position and bingo, I came up with a GREAT solution. I deleted each and every single individuals numbers who are of no use or having any positive impack in my life and change my number instant. Now I am a new person with a new and different perspective in life, my dyas are filled with sheer peace, contentment and joy. What I learn in life is that we are all responsible for our own happiness and never allow anyone to rob you of your peace.

    • R. Davidson says:

      I agree with you that some times the only solution
      is to cut ties with people who are robbing you of your
      peace of mind. I also think writing down your feelings is
      an excellent tool to get perspective. I write in my journal
      early every morning and it is helpful to get insights into

      • monika says:

        Good and am hoping you take decisive action and take back control of your life and never allow anyone to either undervalue you and not apprecitate your kindness. The reason I can relate to you becuase it’s was a constant battle in my life for years but the good news is that I am a very independent person and not afraid to be on my own and accept the fact that something were not meant to be.
        With that been said I do have two people who I can say are my friends, one I had for 10 years and the other is 9 years and I value their friendship so much. Even on weekends normally we don’t speak on the phone but we txt each other if we have to and the reason for that is you need to give other’s a breathing space becuase they have a private life also which I have to respect.
        We cannot be in each other’s pocket 24/7, on Monday we have a lot to catch up on, and it works perfectly well between us. If you have no common grounds with people then it makes no sense pursuing any friendship with that person becuase unless two agree you cannot walk.
        One of the worse feelings anyone can have nd that is to be giving and giving and in the end you are not receiving anything back part from been put down and walk all over and taken for granted. It was only a couple of weeks ago I heard my door bell ringing, I look through the camera only to see one the socall friend at my door, sorry to say but too little too late, I never answer my door I totally ignored her and watch her walked away and am hoping it’s for good.
        I don’t need people like those in my life. Her reason for been here is becuase I change my number and problem may be at her door now she need someone to use but I can no longer make myslef available to become a trampling ground for people. I value myself worth becuase noone will do that for you.

  2. Tabitha says:


    This sounds like a classic case of a narcissistic or a histrionic friend. Unfortunately, they are very self-absorbed people who have little empathy or regard for others. While they can be charming and delightful at their best, at their worst they are draining and manipulative. I had a BFF like this for 17 years. Sometimes we’d have a good honest heart to heart talk where I would tell her that I often felt not listened to, that my issues would be swept under the rug and that it seemed to be all about her. She’d always be hurt and surprised by these statements. She’d apologize profusely and try to be better about it and for a while, things would be better. However it would quickly revert back to her her her her all the time. Because she could be so funny and interesting, I often let it slide because I didn’t mind taking a back seat to her drama. But as Igot older, the drama grew less interesting and more depressing. It’s one thing for a 20 something girl to juggle multiple men, quit a job on a whim, spend money like a drunken sailor, have a screaming match in public. It seemed funny and outrageous. NOT so amusing when you’re close to 40. All those behaviors just reeked of desperation and pathetic attempts to get attention. I got sick of listening to her go on and on about her drama, most of which was caused by her own bad decisions. I was dealing with real life issues — a sick family memmber, a divorce…while she was going on about her latest sexual conquest, some guy 15 year younger than her. Her grasp on reality seemed to get shakier and shakier. She was convinced this young guy wanted to marry her, she was going to start a business (never mind she had no funds, no business sense), she was going to uproot her life and move to England, all kinds of nonsensical plans that never too place. Then she wanted to have a baby. Never mind she pretty much hated kids or any kind of domesticity. She stopped her birth control. I told her that was a bad idea and she flew off the handle. After that fight we made up but it was never the same afterwards. I was distancing myself. I had met new friends, who were mature and had real lives going on, who I could have real life conversations with. My former BFF’s behaviors had gotten so bad and embarresing I never invited her to do anything with my new friends. Things came to a head when I was invited to a girls’ weekend at the shore and former BFF found out about it. She was incredibly hurt and angry and didn’t speak to me for three months. After that she wrote me an apology letter. I emailed her a few lines back about how I appreciated the apology but that maybe it was time for us to move on from each other. Never heard back after that. I am grateful I was able to end the friendship without too much drama. Because really, I had wanted to end it for about a year or two. ALl I can say is that if talking to your friend doesn’t change things you may have to just consider the frienship has run its course.

    • Sela says:

      Something similar happened to me as well. Every now and then I miss her, but ending my friendship with her was necessary.

  3. Kim says:

    If all of the above comments fail, and you have spoken with your friend about this concerned and nothing happens, stop being available for this friend.

    1. don’t answer the phone when she calls. wait for days before calling back.

    2. limit exposure by meeting up in a common ground – where you’re free to leave at any time you wish. you can always meet up and once you’re both at the meeting place, set a time when you will have to leave. tell her – i need to leave at this time because i have to do.. or go..

    3. don’t confide problems in her. this will just encourage her to share hers.

    4. appear uninterested when she starts talking about her dramas.

  4. Anne Cynthia says:

    Marissa, I’ve poured a lot of time and effort into a few frustrating friendships like the one you’ve written about. It’s hard, but I’m finally learning to invest more time in friends who reciprocate and empathize with me — as opposed to friends who drain the living daylights out of me. Maybe you have a history, like I do, of playing the big sister and caregiver in the family. Because of this, I often attract needy friends, or friends who want me to be mentors or therapists for them, rather than friends who give and take. I have a drama-queen friend who’s been in my life for years and thinks of herself as my best friend. But whenever I have a problem, she can “top it” with something worse. If I am in a place where I need support, she suddenly disappears until she needs me for something else. I have thought about ending the relationship, but can’t because we do have good time together. So I find I can tolerate — and even enjoy — this friend more when I fill my life with other friends who meet my needs

    • Missabi says:

      Hi Anne Cynthia,
      Your drama-queen friend sounds like she is histrionic. Ever read about that disorder? It’s characterized by an unbelievable need for attention, even negative attention. People with it will always top what you say, they are competitive about things people are not normally competitive about as well. “I got threatened by a man last night when I was walking home.” “Ohh well that’s nothing, when I was in college I got brutally raped…”

      Ok, you win…..

    • Lyla Louise says:

      Maybe you are thinking of yourself as a therapist or mentor more than you are thinking of yourself as a friend, thus reacting to your friend in the capacity you have chosen. Something chew on. I also think some people are just talkers that are simply trying to stay in a conversation, but cannot do so without bragging or one upping. Completely annoying! As for drama queens, they are usually pretty obvious, yet sometimes it is a phase of some women’s lives…then it is over. Keep having fun.

  5. jacqueline says:


    You must tell your friend that you are concerned about her well-being and you are not qualified to help her with her issues, and that she should seek professional help.

    You should distance yourself as she is only bringing you down. This is no good for you.

  6. R. Davidson says:

    Marissa used the word desperate and that made me feel she needs to divest herself of this draining person. I think Marissa may be looking
    for permission from the readers to do this. In her letter she said she would feel guilty should she “ditch” this friend. Her friend is living rent-free in her head. When Marissa has a good time, her friend brings her down. It is difficult but not impossible to separate from a toxic person whom one has liked. But it sounds like Marissa has reached that point, and I give her permission to value her own well being first.

  7. monika says:

    Marissa , you need to get your fact straight, number one you got to put yourself and wellbeing first and then others after. I find it quite intriguing as to how you believe that hanging unto someone that is of no good use to you is of great interest to you. There are times I will walk into a store and saw a lovely shoes but for some reason it is missing an inch of room, then I have no choice than to walk away from it becuase it just don’t fit, no matter how well it would goes with my outfit, I just have to walk away.

    Point am making is that you cannot allow yourself to be walked over by people and their problems because of your sensitivity and caring nature. I do have my fair share with that but there comes a time when you have to realise that you are sole responsible for your own happiness, you are not obligated in making others happy, I come to realise that, friendship goes both ways and if I access the friendship and realsie that it’s going one way, then I am afraid there’s no way I am sticking around you.

    I once had a friend that suffer from depression, she’s on a lot of medications, she told me when and where it all started from, she cannot work , don’t have a social life, have to be looked after by the states, so basically she’s depending on whoever is available to support her, I notice that she see me as a strong person and she started becoming a burden to me, she wants to comes to my house and I band her instantly, yes it sound cold but I am not allowing anyone to drag me down a path in life I had no intention of going.

    I can only support you to an extent but I fail to carry you on my back. My policy in friendship now is, one strike and you are out, I learn lesson the very hard way and I am the only person who can protect myself.I do understand that we all need a little help on life’s journey but when it’s becoming too much of a burdern where helping people is concern, there’s no way I am going there.

    If you have a look at some of my comments, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. I use to woke up in the morning and feeling like the whole world is on my shoulder, my phone starts ringing before I go to work, laden with burden from the start of the day. Now experience teaches me great wisdom, I realise that all these burdens are not my own but it belongs to other people, so why should I filling in the gap for you ? When I have a problem, no one wants to know, they never call or even txt, they waited until a couple weeks pass when they think the problem subside, then that’s when they call to say how sick they were or how busy they were but yet never have the thoughts to even ask how are you coping.

    I take my life back in my hand along with my own happiness, when I hear of a problem, my respond is I am too busy for that now. When I do have issues I locked in my bedroom and get on my knees and pray to God for divine intervention, He’ the only one to respond and gives me comfort. The devil maybe using these people to rob me of my joy and peace and now I have a new approach in life, I am not taking up any ones problems, I am the same kindhearted and thoughtful person who not only change but also applying wisdom for lesson well learnt.

    My advise to you is that you have to take control of your own happiness and life, be your own friend and company, yes it maybe hard but I find things to keeps me occupied and just accept that there are some thing in life that’s not fair but if you cannot change it then you have to find another way of dealing with it, don’t try become everyone problem solver or burden bearer, a friend should be there to help enhance your life and if they cannot, then there’s no reason for them to be in your life.

    What people have to offer, there’s nothing wrong with it, what is wrong, is when you accept what they are offering. People comes into your life for different reasons, either to add, multiply or subtract, but it’s up to you to define their reasons as to why do they wants to be friend with you, I do the same also, the only person I would call my best friend, she’s the only one I have and I do my best to maintain our friendship and she does the same. We have common grounds and lots of similarities in taste, hence we make a pack, and that’s my reason to keep her as a friend.

    Never try forming a friendship with someone who has absolutely nothing in common with you, including your morals or values , they may not be a bad person for other’s but they are just not good for you, we all have our bad ways and good ways but sometimes the bad out-weight the good and people like these need to avoided at any cost, no matter how ok they are in other areas, you just need to put down other people’s problems and burdens and don’t be a yes, yes to everyone that need supports.

  8. Amy says:

    If you reread your letter and substitute, “I’ve allowed her to…” with “she did” you might have a different perception on your role in the relationship. I say this, because I’ve learned that the only person I can change is me, and if I look my role and boundaries in friendships difficulties, I’m more empowered to make healthier choices and set more definitive boundaries.
    As you’ve noticed, your friend, in part, creates her own dramas, although she probably doesn’t recognize this. I have a friend like that and just a few days ago I gently told her, “I think you’re about to create some unnecessary drama for yourself by engaging with X. I’m not telling you what to do, that’s your choice, but I can’t listen to you set yourself up to be hurt any more.” My boundary, her choice. Tomorrow is the day she either will or won’t beat her head against a brick wall with someone who repeatedly hurts and rejects her. But I’m out of it. Because if I’m not out if it, I will resent her and myself. I am out if it to preserve our friendship.
    When I was your age, about 20 years ago, my friends and I used each other as therapists which made for unsatisfactory and dysfunctional relationships. If you can gently suggest that therapy would be a gift she could give herself, you’d be doing her a huge favor (even if she doesn’t see it right away).
    Good luck with your friend.

Leave a Reply