• Resolving Problems

Friendship: On asking for support

Published: January 19, 2015 | Last Updated: January 19, 2015 By | 8 Replies Continue Reading
Six questions to ask yourself when you are asking for support and don’t get it.


Hi Irene,

I have “friends” but when I ask for support, they are reluctant to give it. What should I do?

Signed, Rona


Hi Rona,

You’ve provided so little information about your situation that it is difficult to respond but I’ll give it a try. My suggestion would be to think about why you may not be getting what you need at the times when you’re asking for support.

Is your request reasonable? 

I’m not saying this is the case for you but sometimes people ask too much of their friends or ask for support too often.

Are you asking the right people? 

Are the friends you ask reasonably able to provide this support? Sometimes, people fail to meet our needs and expectations because they simply don’t have the practical or emotional reserves to be supportive to someone else. Is there someone else you know who could better provide this support?

Is it a matter of bad timing?

Sometimes, the timing of a request may be off because a friend is barely hanging by a thread, too. The other person(s) is unable to respond because they are having overwhelming problems and difficulties that may be unbeknownst to you.

Are you asking for support in the right way? 

Are you expressing your needs in a direct way that the other person can hear and respond to? Sometimes, people are so reluctant to ask for help that they aren’t as explicit as they need to be. Remember that people, even very good friends, can’t read your mind.

Have you communicated your disappointment? 

Perhaps your friends don’t realize you really need them. Rather than harbor disappointment that can snowball into hostility, give them another chance and let your friend(s) know you really need support.

Are these people really “friends?”

Your use of parentheses suggests that you may be wondering whether these are really close friendships after all. Are these relationships that are consistently one-sided? Are these friends people whom you can trust and depend on?

Hope these questions help you answer your own question.

Best, Irene

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Category: one-sided friendships, RESOLVING PROBLEMS

Comments (8)

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  1. Monique says:

    I have a best friend . I don’t know if I’m controlling. So I’ll tell you why I might think I am . We always hang out . But I dint think her mom likes me . She always asks my best friend questions about me .weired questions ! Like I’m conceded ? Or If a spoiled brat ? . My best friend has this friend she mice , and always good . my best friends mom likes her alot . So they depend the night together this weekend . And my best friend did bother to invite me to her house or for her to come over her . I haven’t talked to her in like 2 days. What should I do ?

  2. Maddie says:

    Make sure it is reasonable support you are asking for, such as common every day issues. Friends are not equipped to give out advice with mental health issues such as anxiety or depression. Also make sure you are not draining your friends with daily calls and texts, the dreaded middle of the night calls, frequent requests for favors, or reciting the same problems over and over.

    Needy friendship is draining and people have their own problems.

  3. hanna says:

    I would add another question:
    How have you offered support to the person you’re asking?

  4. Amy F says:

    Here are some tips I learned along the way:
    Be direct- “Do you have 15-20 minutes.”
    Be specific- “I could use your advice on a situation”
    Be considerate- “Is now a good time?”
    Be flexible- “If this isn’t a good time, might you have time during the next few days?”
    Be courteous- “You don’t need to apologize if your exhausted, I know how that feels.”
    Be helpful- “I’d appreciate if you let me tell the story before asking questions.”

    Don’t shoot the messenger- if you don’t like the feedback, getting angry will make the person less likely to be there the next time.
    Don’t ask for an honest opinion if you really want reassurance- you’re not being fair to your friend if you ask for honesty but expect to be told only positives.
    Don’t expect your friends to solve your problems- show how you’re helping yourself rather than expected them to fix you.
    Don’t ask for support when a professional is more equipped to deal with the problem- you wouldn’t ask a friend to remove your appendix, asking a friend to help with chronic mental health problems, substance abuse, ongoing emotional problems in the absence of helping yourself (rehab, AA, therapy) is asking too much.

    • Irene says:

      All great tips, Amy!

    • Lalita says:

      I second the sentiment that these are great tips, especially the last.

      There is just way too much expectation on friends when someone has mental health issues and the way you framed it puts it in the right perspective. Being realistic with expectations of other people is the best thing we can do to lead happy lives and have productive, reciprocal relationships.

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