• Handling Breakups

How do I opt out of a friendship I don’t want to continue?

Published: September 18, 2015 | By | 27 Replies Continue Reading
Friendships are voluntary relationships with the right to opt out.


Dear Friendship Doctor,

About 10 years ago—and against my better judgment, because I had not wanted to pursue a relationship with her—I accepted an invitation from another woman, an acquaintance from a prior church, to meet her for lunch. Nothing wrong with her, but not a person I was interested in being friends with. Therefore, I actually wouldn’t have accepted her invitation except that I felt sorry for her because of some health issues that she was developing.

Lunch went okay I guess, but then she started calling me, to get together again or to help with other things, like needing a medication picked up or giving her a ride to a doctor’s office. I do like to help people if they need it so on occasion I did help her or go out to lunch with her again. This was not often, not more than every three months or so. But the only reason it was this occasional was that, over time, I realized that she was rather “needy” and also manipulative. I was finding that the more I responded to her, the more she called and the more she wanted.

She was not a pest, she didn’t call constantly, but I strongly feel she WOULD have if I had kept responding. Every time I did something for her, it generated another call from her within the next day or two making another request. I still did not want to be friends, or even acquaintances anymore, but she clearly did, and I knew she thought I was a good friend to her. All this was despite the fact that I myself never initiated contact with her, because I still had no interest at all and didn’t want to lead her on; she was doing all the calling.

Then over time, I stopped picking up the phone when I saw her number, I let it go to the answering machine and didn’t return her calls for several days, just hoping she would start taking the hint. But she NEVER DID. She was still having health issues, on medications, and also not terribly stable at times – would even call me and leave a message that I basically HAD to respond to — like the time she left the message that she had nominated me for Grand Marshal of the July 4 parade! — so immediately I had to find out who was in charge of that and get my name off the list!

Though I think she meant well, it was really an off-the-wall thing to do, and I’m certain it was also a tactic so that I would be forced to call her back to thank her (i.e., initiate contact with her). This has gone on for years, and by now I have made excuses not to do anything with her, as it is just prolonging the whole thing.

Finally, about a month ago, her adult children got her into an assisted living situation where she could get more help; this was in another suburb about 20 miles away. I was SO relieved, because this gave me a better excuse to be “unable” to see her because of the distance. She left me a phone message to tell me where she was now living, and I did not respond. But yesterday, I just got another phone message saying she is no longer living there (probably drove them crazy) and is now back here in my town, living in a different apartment complex and doing well, and left me her new phone number.

I’m happy that she is doing well, but here we go again. How can I extricate myself and STOP this relationship? She is a pleasant lady, really truly, and enjoys seeing me, and I don’t wish her ill at all, but I DON’T WANT TO BE FRIENDS WITH HER AND NEVER DID!!!!!

What can I do? Is it okay to never return another phone call ever again? Because that is what I’d truly like to do. (I also work, have family at home, and have other things that take my time, including other friendships I would like to continue to cultivate.) I feel like a CAD, but this nice lady just won’t give it up. Advice? Thank you so much.

Signed, Kat


Hi Kat,

Friendships are voluntary relationships and like romances, they involve a certain degree of “chemistry” between two people. Each person needs to determine whom they want to befriend and be befriended by—which friendships they want to pursue and those they want to pass up on.

You sound like a lovely person who is compassionate towards others. It seems like you allowed your kindness to rope you into doing favors for someone you really didn’t consider friend-worthy. If you had the time and inclination to do something nice for her, that’s fine but it doesn’t mean you have an ongoing obligation to continue.

It’s understandable that even though you didn’t extend invitations, the other woman may have interpreted your relationship as a friendship because you were responsive to her gestures and helped her out in different ways. You also suggest that you have some misgivings in that she may have been a bit manipulative, perhaps “guilting” you into helping her.

Although her moving into assisted living gave you a welcome hiatus from the “friendship,” that was short-lived and you really no longer want to have contact with this woman. My suggestion would be to let her know that you really don’t have time to continue the friendship or help her out because you are overextended with other work and family responsibilities of your own.

She may be disappointed but you aren’t being a cad. You have every right to opt out of a friendship you don’t want. Since she is a nice person and you bear her no ill will, telling a “white lie” is the most gentle approach you can take to ending the friendship. In the future, you need to remind yourself that you have the right to say “no,” even to friends.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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Comments (27)

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  1. Savvy says:

    I completely understand where Kat is coming from and I agree with Irene’s advice as I had to do something similar last year to extricate myself from a “friendship” that I did not want.

    In my case, I had met an elderly woman in my neighborhood because we both feed birds and squirrels and she saw me feeding “her” birds one day. I saw her on occasion and would stop to chat and that was fine, but when she fell at home and fractured her hip, she expected me, an acquaintance for only a short while, to show up to visit her at the hospital even though I didn’t know that she was in the hospital. She ended up in a rehab facility within a 30 minute walk of my home and she wanted me to visit, so I did because I felt sorry for her especially when she would go on about how lonely she was when she called me, which she did often. When I found out that I could bring my dog, I would bring her there on her walks once or probably more like twice a week. During this time, she even had the nerve to say that I had a lot of time on my hands since I don’t work full-time, I work freelance, a concept she couldn’t really understand; the implication being that I should easily be able to visit a lot because I had nothing else to do. I also learned that she had not one, but two sisters and that one of them visited her just about every day not to mention nieces, nephews, and friends or acquaintances from the neighborhood.

    After she left rehab, she wanted me to visit her at her sister’s apartment who lived further away. I went twice over the course of a couple of months, but when she went back to her own place on the 5th floor of a walk-up building from which she refused to move to a more accessible apartment, she became home-bound and would call me up regularly to have short conversations that ended with, “come visit me whenever you can.” Sometimes, she would say, “are you going to visit today? How about tomorrow?” So, I went or tried to go visit her about once a week out of a sense of guilt not because I ever actually wanted to do so.

    The more I got to know her, the less I liked her. I found that we had nothing in common except for the fact that we both tried to care for the wildlife around us. She however liked me and considered me her great friend because no one else she knew cared about animals as much as she did otherwise we never had anything to talk about other than asking after each other’s families and even that was a challenge because she was hard of hearing but didn’t like to wear a hearing aid sometimes.

    I also happened to be having a less than great friendship with a friend from college around this time and when we had a particularly bad get-together one day, the frustration and stress that I felt over these two relationships bubbled over and I realized that I did not have to be involved in either relationship if I didn’t want to do so. I was trying to be a kind person when I visited the elderly woman, but she was trying to make it into more than I wanted it to be and her happiness came at the expense of my happiness and that wasn’t going to work for me long-term. So, I wrote her a nice card telling her that I was very busy with a new full-time job that required me to travel a lot (not true, but telling her the truth would have caused her pain and that wasn’t my intention) and that I barely had time for my family and existing friendships, much less new friendships or acquaintances as we had known each other for 7 or 8 months at that point.

    She wrote back and after saying she was happy for me she asked me to call her or come visit and followed that with the comment that her sister had gone to FL, but still found time to call her and her other sister. Seriously, this woman cannot differentiate between a virtual stranger and her sister in terms of appropriate behavior especially after telling her that I am too busy? During this time she also called to say that she was worried about me since she hadn’t heard from me. I wrote her one last card telling her that all was well, but that I was also trying to start an internet business and explicitly told her that I was very, very busy and that she would not be hearing from me anymore. She called two or three times more after that card, but she has left me alone since and I can breath a sigh of relief at not having to deal with that situation anymore. I saw her sister on the street last month and she talked to me a bit, but I think she understood how things had gone because while she is her sister, she also got tired of having to do everything she did for her sister at her age, 86, and given how demanding her sister could sometimes be. And while I wasn’t expecting to see the sister, I shrugged it off because I wasn’t going to get roped back into anything including feeling guilty when I didn’t force the relationship in the first place.

    I may have felt guilty for letting it even get as far as that, but I was trying to be kind to her and she kept pushing for more. The funny thing is that if she had not been so pushy, I probably would have made time to see her one day a month for several hours, but because she was so pushy I just couldn’t stand dealing with her.

    The bottom line is that your time is your own. You may be a kind person who tries to help others, but that does not mean that you have to be friends with someone with whom you don’t wish to be friends. I have learned from this experience to nip this type of situation in the bud so that there is no misunderstanding about us being friends when we are solely acquaintances and I can thank her for that.

    On another note, I am also no longer friends with the college friend I mentioned, but that is a different relationship altogether as we were friends for 14 years or so and I still owe her an explanation for what happened on my end and to see if you she wants to get together once or twice a year to catch up rather than trying to be such close friends because I no longer feel capable of carrying on that level of friendship with her. It was harder to figure out what to do with this relationship, but at the end of the day, I feel a sense of relief at no longer being close friends with her or what she thought was close friends even though there was a lot that I didn’t share with her because I knew it wasn’t relevant to her at all and that she would only listen politely, but it wouldn’t be an exchange of ideas. The sense of relief is the most telling aspect of these situations because the stress is gone and that is how you know you made the right decision for yourself.

  2. Patricia says:

    Hi everyone and thanks for this post.
    I have been on the receiving end of this situation, where a friend of over 20 years has just stopped responding to my texts, not picking up phone calls and not returning calls when I leave a message. And I gotta tell you it hurts and I am constantly thinking and wondering what I did wrong as a friend. I am a pleasant, easy going, not demanding friend at all to her. She leads a very busy life where a lot of people are dependent on her – but I am not one of them. I am just calling to touch base and to see how everything is.
    Now, I do not wish to believe that she wants to end my friendship – I just hold on to the hope that she is just to busy to return my calls or return texts. Am I being neieve, probably. However we all belong to a group of friend (which we do not hang out as much anymore) and a part of me thinks that she doesn’t want to say anything to end our friendship completely so not to make things awkward if and when we where to see each other in a group settings.
    To respond to this post – I kind of have to agree with the people who are stating that this is mean and hurtful. I understand how the other person feels. I agree with Irene’s original post to be truthful, but not hurtful. DO NOT LEAD HER ON to hold onto something that may not be there. Going out with her a ‘couple of times’ leaves an impression that you enjoy your time together and sends the wrong signal.
    Next time she calls – PICK it up and own up to your decision of letting her go. It is better to learn the truth so that she can move on then for her to sit there and wonder what she did wrong to screw up this friendship.

    • Jen says:

      I see your point Patricia, however, when you are both in the same group the breakup will have an affect on the group. Then, everyone in the group will become involved. I have see this happen in the past. Better to just let the friendship fade. If she is not taking your calls or texts, take a hint and find other people to hang out with. Obviously, if she hasn’t texted or called, she is trying to fade away without it becoming an issue. I cannot tell some they are manipulative, overpowering, and too outspoken. That’s why I am fading away. The relationship was just too stressful. Hope this helps from another perspective.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Patricia, you make some good points, and I understand what you are saying. However, it’s worth considering the fact that some friendships just fade out naturally — due to changes in lifestyle, career patterns, family issues, and so on. There may not be a “reason” for the fade-out that could be explained in I’ve also “let go” of friendships that I haven’t had time for, and not for any strong reason. I cannot imagine myself telling these women directly that I no longer have time on my schedule for them, or that I believe we are changing in different directions, or that I must now spend more time with my ailing parents or family, etc. That would feel odd and arrogant, to me.

      Also, these days we are ALL so “connected” online — we spend so much time on Facebook, Twitter, and so on, that the nature of friendship seems to have expanded to include so many different types and lelebs of friendship. Likewise, the old “rules” and styles for conducting friendship are changing too. I never used to “text” my friends, and now I have friends who communicate ONLY that way to make plans. Life is very, very busy for most women. Sometimes we can’t possibly keep up with everyone as much as we would like to.

  3. Lauren M says:

    Hi Kat,

    I understand that this is a tricky situation for you. It is awkward. I like the response that Irene gave you.It is better for you to break away from her soon, and to do it in the way that Irene has suggested.

    I remember that my aunt told me that when you are trying to break away from people with whom you no longer wish to be friends, then don’t be so friendly. It sounds simple and basic, but there is a lot of common sense in it. She said be cooler, even fairly cold.

    Then you could say the words that Irene has suggested. It is good to say that you are “overextended with family and work responsibilities”, as this lets her down *easily*, and gives you an *out*.

    Yes, it will be a bit awkward, but you want to do it. Also, if you really think about it from the other side…Would you want someone to keep on being your friend just because they felt sorry for you, or because they could not *break away*?

    I hope that all of these suggestions will guide you and help you.

  4. Tessa says:

    I’ve been struggling in an unwanted friendship for the past two years. She is an old friend from college that I’d lost touch with. We’re now in our 50s. I was initially excited to meet up with her and do nice things together, but it seems that our relationship is totally one-sided. She doesn’t drive due to health issues, and any plan we make is always changed to me taking her to run errands until we run out of time to do our original plan. I’m a very helpful person and don’t mind an errand or two when we’re together, but hers are always very much out of the way and convoluted. We live in an area with ample, inexpensive public transportation, but she refuses to utilize it. Money isn’t the issue, as she is fairly well off. If I tell her I’m unable to help her with something, she becomes histrionic and uses guilt tactics to coerce me into doing what she wants. The guilt tends to work on me because I do feel fortunate to have a kind husband and children and a nice life. I’m suspecting that she has a dependent personality disorder, as she does all she can to get others to care for her needs. As a result, everyone–including her boyfriend of ten years, attempts to avoid her.
    In addition to all of her demands, I’ve found that we have very little in common. She does the same things that the OPs friend does–claiming that I’m her best friend and that I’m like family. She wants to spend her holidays with us and would even like to retire in the same development that my husband and I plan to.
    Lately, I’ve been making myself scarce and recognizing when she is fishing for a favor via text. Her old tricks aren’t working for me anymore. I know when she texts me about an emergency that it’s usually not–and if it is, she’s cried wolf so many times that I can’t allow myself to feel responsible. I do feel really badly doing this, but I have a family and a life of my own to lead. She drains my energy, wallet, and time with my family. I never ask favors of others because I’ve learned to care for myself–she needs to learn the same.

  5. Jen says:

    I am experiencing a situation at this time with a lady who became a friend about a year ago. I did not instigate the relationship, but being a people pleaser I find myself in a relationship I really don’t like. The woman is manipulative and everything has to be her way. I found this after a few months and feel I have no choice but to back off as the relationship isn’t healthy for me. She joined a group that I have belonged for 20 years. So I can’t tell her the relationship isn’t going to work and shut her off. That would be entirely too hurtful. I have decided to just fade slowly and not spend a lot of time together in the future.I cannot completely avoid her since we are in the same group. I feel bad as she doesn’t have a lot of friends, but now I know why as she is very difficult and pushy. I have many friendships that I have cultivated over a life time so I don’t need this stressful relationship. I feel we are a mismatch as I become upset every time I spend time with her. I am just not texting frequently or making plans and slowly fading as this seems to be the most humane way of opting out. Of course, I will see her when the group meets, but I cannot be cruel. I am happy to see others feel the same way I do about this situation. Thank you for your posts.

  6. Thomas says:

    Kat, I agree with Irene. I would tell her that so you both can save face in this situation. You should not have been so helpful in the beginning if that is how you truly feel about her. No party is at fault in this situation. People in her situation will always be more “needy” because they want companionship. Health issues have a way of isolating people sometimes. I would try to end this friendship soon though. The more time elapses, the more resentment will build in you and you don’t want to hurt her.

  7. Bizzy says:

    A lot of people who have answered here have been very unkind to Kat. She came here with a legitimate question and concern and was asking for ideas. I am a people pleaser who used to get trapped in unwanted friendships all the time and was afraid to say no. I don’t have that problem anymore. Kat, that woman does sound manipulative, even though she may not realize she is. She may be scared or lonely, and being manipulative is how she gets things accomplished and keep people around. That is sad, if so. I would take care of yourself, first and foremost. If you can explain it to her, then do. But telling her could also be unkind. I think all the people who say they want explanations really wouldn’t want to hear them. There is nothing wrong with the slow fade. It can save face for her, actually. But it doesn’t do anyone any good to get roped into a friendship that later breeds resentment.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Bizzy — I agree with you. Kat asked a legitimate question and a lot of the responders here seemed to miss the point. As I said in my previous comment here, many of us find ourselves in the position of having to end a friendship, or put some distance between ourselves and a difficult friend. As Irene has pointed out in the past, not all friendships are meant to last, for one thing, and for another, sometimes new friendships turn out to be a mis-match later on. We cannot always predict who will be a good friend until we get to know the person …. and sometimes we have no choice but to back off when we find out that a friendship isn’t healthy or right for us. Nobody should be faulted for having to make that choice.

      • ruth says:

        Based on what is shared by the letter writer, I would have nothing further to do with the woman. Her pushiness drives me far away.

  8. ssylvie says:

    Very interesting post and I’m glad you wrote it on this blog. I agree with another poster that you’re probably a people pleaser. And so am I. We have difficulty setting boundaries, it’s uncomfortably to say no, if we do we feel guilty, etc. I couldn’t really understand why this friendship issue was such a big deal for you to write it on the blog as you only see this lady once every three months. But I think her moving back into town might have made you realize how uncomfortable this relationship was for you. There’s a great book When I say no I feel guilty. This might be of help. Because she doesn’t pick up the hints, I’m not sure she’ll pick up a white lie. Personally I don’t like it when people lie but it’s socially accepted to tell white lies to avoid uncomfortable conversations. My question to you would be if you’re more comfortable setting boundaries, would this acquaintance still be such a problem? The reason for my question is that I can imagine that your friend might be one of the women posting on this blog as well about people not returning her calls and not knowing why. As you say, she’s a nice lady and there’s nothing wrong with her. I do hear that you don’t want to be friends with her. I also read she has some health issues and another poster remarked that we can get needy when we have health issue. Why even see this as a friendship on your part? Can you do something for someone else who is lonely, obviously? I actually think that breaking this relationship off is not in your best interest, nor in her’s. The only reason why you want to break it off is because you’re having trouble setting boundaries. I believe this relationship could be totally manageable if you learn how to set better boundaries. I would first explore learn about how to do that, read the book, set a boundary with her (yes, it will feel difficult) and see what happens. This relationship could be a marvelous opportunity to learn this. As you said this lady is nice and pleasant and not some maniac. I believe you’re intuition is quite right that she probably calls more if encouraged but if you say no, what’s the issue? If she doesn’t respect your boundary it’s an issue which can be discussed then. And maybe then you say no to hanging out with her at all. You go to church and there’s the value of being kind to each other. Why not do this for this lady, provided she’s not a maniac and respects your boundaries when you set them? We give money to people in need we don’t know, why not give of our time to someone we know and is in need of company?

  9. tanja says:

    Hi Kat,

    I don’t see why it is so complicated for you. You just opt out. But, by prolonging it, and then telling everyone all the nice things you do for her, to me does not make you sound like a kind or compassionate person. To me, you sound like a narcissist. You want other to see that you are kind and all that, when in fact it is not kind. By going to websites like this and talking about how people “want” you and you are soooo conflicted because you “don’t want” them, but years go by and you still keep it up, meanwhile telling others how she “drives you crazy” but you are just “that kind of person” so you keep it going, actually is kind of mean. It is mean to her and you are just using it to “big yourself up”, “sound like the hero”.

    First, if there was a friendship I did not want and I went out once or twice with that person, it was done after that. I did not talk to friends about it, write on websites etc. I just simple kept busy and went out with people I wanted to be with. Until, they stopped phoning me etc. Now, I may look back and think: what was that person’s name, what are they doing now? oh well….

    The people I talked to about friendships not going well or the times I went to a website such as this, were the times I really cared about the friendship and wanted one with them and they wanted one with me, yet somehow, there was difficulty, at least from my end. But, I cared enough to seek advice to see if there was something I could do to make a friendship smoother. I talked to friends, family and these websites when I DO CARE ALOT about a person, not when I do not. I let those sizzle on their own, but I would never disrespect someone by telling people on a website that a person has “medical problems” or “needy” etc. That is rude. It is not my story to tell what that person’s problems are. It is just mean and narcissistic.

    • Sonya says:


      I understand your sensitivity towards a person being called “needy” or having “medical problems” online, but having yourself talked about in a completely anonymous way online is not considered insulting. While you choose your own path as to how you avoid developing friendships that you don’t want, others have found themselves in friendships that they never wanted or don’t want anymore. You seem overly invested in the idea that it is mean to ask a question about someone online: “It is not my story to tell what that person’s problems are. It is just mean and narcissistic.” Actually, and this is something that I am well-trained in as a therapist, the letter writer does not display any traits of narcissism, not a single one. And the way that you judge the letter writer seems much more “mean” that the way that she describes her unwanted friend, if I’m being completely honest!

  10. Maddie says:

    You just opt out. You answer no form of communication and accept your decision without guilt. Block her on social media and from your phone.

    • ssylvie says:

      That is very hurtful and no way to treat someone you’ve been hanging out with for 10 years, although not that frequent. It’s the easy route because it doesn’t involve actually talking to the other person. Please read all the other posts on this blog from women who feel very hurt by friends who opted out of friendships by stopping answering calls. These women never got closure because the friend took the easy route for themselves and didn’t muster the courage to talk about the problems they had with their friend. The person with the problem is the person with the problem. We then tell ourselves that our friend is the problem but the real problem is us not dealing with the problem we’re having with our friend. How can a friend know we’re having a problem with them if we’re never talk to them? We then complain they don’t get our hints. Our hints are usually avoiding them, unfriending them, looking the other way, etc. What type of hint is that? It’s hurtful and blaming the other party who didn’t have our problem to begin with. They have no clue what’s going on with us because we do not talk about it. It’s too uncomfortable for us and we don’t want to put the effort in trying to work things out. I totally agree it’s hard but is it not worth to put some effort in trying to save a friendship or relationship or acquintance-ship? Why do relationships need to be cut off when they’re becoming difficult for us? Why not be a little bit more creative, see if we can learn how to talk about things that bother us. If we need to part ways after trying is there not a better way than “opting out” to deal with this? As you read the other posts of how much hurt the “opt out” causes, just being honest (without being rude of course) might be gentler when you don’t want to be friends with someone. Why does someone need to wonder for years why you’re not returning their calls? Why cause this hurt and make it hard for the other person to find closure? The fact is that women do this as you can read in numerous posts. The truth hurts less if spoken kindly and talking about difficult issues can be learned.

      • JAM says:


        I couldn’t agree more! It is a strange American phenomena (and incidentally, an old tribal method of some Native Americans as a form of punishment) to just “disappear” when a relationship gets a little challenging.
        I can totally understand walking away as a tactic if someone has engaged in repeated emotional, physical, or mental abuse, surely. But that’s not the issue here. So if it’s just an “inconvenience” or not at the top of a person’s preference list, I would hope Americans would be of better character and we’d have a stronger society than to walk away at the least unpleasant occurrance.
        But that’s just me. I’ve lived in a number of places, including internationally, and have yet to experience such an uncohesive society as ours, that does not have a much more constructive way of dealing with minor problems such as these.
        I also find it rather distasteful among most (if not all) of my American friends, the habit to think firstly and right away that someone is being manipulative or scheming or selfish if they are prevailed upon for friendship, help, or an occasional phone call…or if the effort for friendship is not always exactly equal at all moments.
        I wish to say, in general, drop the scoreboard, and pick up a little more charity, tenacity, and character.
        “Kindness is the preserve of humans.”

  11. Amy F says:

    I try to be kind, direct and specific. “Agnes, I don’t have the energy to give to the relationship. I feel stressed when I hear from you and can’t get respond. I hope you understand. Take care.”

    If she continues, I’d politely ask her to respect my boundaries.

  12. JAM says:

    Dear Kat,

    Kind boundaries are important, sometimes they need to be set firmly. I like Irene’s suggestion that you let her know in some way that you are overextended and cannot help as much as you were.
    I would also like to add that people who are sick are often more needy than healthy “average” people, and it is not fair to assume it is manipulation. Having had some health problems myself for awhile, and knowing the isolation and limitations it can bring, but at the same time not wanting to burden anyone, it is a hard balance to strike on both sides. If she really is pleasant and kind, is it worth totally rejecting or “ghosting” her? Most sick/healthy relationships can get one sided. I’ve been on the helping side of taking friends to the doctors, helping them with prescriptions, cleaning their house and/or watching their kids when they were in bad accidents, etc. and also on the receiving end of help (though we did not ask for help). It doesn’t necessarily make her a “bad” person or a “manipulator.”
    Try to see more needy people as just that, more needy. Her situation forces this upon her. It may be temprorary, it may not. Perhaps you could determine to see her twice a year and try to let the rest go? Letting her know you are overexteneded is a great way to help create a little more distance.
    Sometimes life gives us a little more or less than we hope or expect. We can still be kind and not totally rejecting of others in the process, especially since she does not seem to be doing anything harmful.
    If you have to let go, let go. I am just pointing out that relationships are important to people in different ways, levels, and reasons, and it is hoped they are not treated flippantly, finicky, or uncharitably (no accusations here, just bringing out the concept).
    Blessings, to all involved.

  13. Abg says:

    I have been in this situation, so I know how hard it is to say no. You do sound like a very nice person, but I would suggest to just continue to not answer her phone calls and try to let things fade away. I’m a nice person too so it’s a challenge when dealing with a demanding friend. It’s hard when they don’t get the hint. I’ve been going through that with my husband’s longtime friends’ wife. She’s a nice person, but she’s very bossy and demanding. She’s what I call my unwanted friendship. I used to hang out with her all the time and talk to her on the phone, all of it with her initiation. Now I’ve been setting up boundaries and not answering her texts and phone calls as much. She’s still not getting the hint and not letting up. She doesn’t understand that we don’t have as much in common. I feel bad because she doesn’t have a lot of friends, and I don’t have many friends either. I still see her, when we are all together with my husband, her husband and mutual friends. And I can’t completely avoid her since her husband and my husband are close friends. But I understand the annoyance you are going through, I wish you luck and I hope that she’ll get the hint and move on.

    • ssylvie says:

      Abg, I don’t agree with you that not answering calls and text is the same as setting a boundary. Setting a boundary actually involves talking to the other person and having a conversation. Not answering phone calls is avoiding having that difficult conversation. Especially as your behavior has changed over time your friend won’t “get” the hint. How could she? You’ve never told her about what has changed for you. Believe me, your friend has no clue about this and it’s not her fault. We also tend to think that people can read our minds, know that we don’t have much in common, but I wouldn’t be surprised if your friend doesn’t see the friendship that way. Now you can’t change your friend. She’ll probably always be bossy. And I understand that it’s hard for you to deal with that. There’s are numerous books on setting boundaries which can help you learn how to set them. You’re right that you can’t avoid this woman so learning how to deal with what’s difficult for you, might actually make this “unwanted” friendship less unwanted. She might never be your favorite person but why expect all your friendships to only be with people you totally like? It’s not easy but making the best of these type of friendships we all inherited, so to speak, is actually an opportunity for us to grow to learn things about ourselves and other people. As you say you don’t have many friends so your goal should not be to avoid people because you’ve difficulty with how to deal with them. Focus on what can I do to make this friendship better for me? What do I want or need and is there a way to move towards that in this friendship? Sometimes there’s nothing but be open that over time things can change. Of course, if people are difficult because they’re sociopaths, abusive or don’t share your deeper values, avoiding is the only answer.

  14. LauraSL says:

    Kat, you sound like a people pleaser. We can’t be friends with everyone. We click with some people, and others, we don’t. This women sounds quite manipulative, which I really don’t like. However, you let this go on so long, you enabled her and are just as much to blame for the situation.

    Next time you’re in a situation like this I would nip it in the bud so you don’t get so deep it’s hard to extricate yourself.

  15. victimizedbygeezer says:

    I totally blew it. When my bedtime moved away, she suggested I make this woman “Sue” (not real name) my friend. Seems Sue on Social Security. Couldn’t afford anything. So guess who becomes the money tree. Paying for meals, entertainment, clothes, gas, groceries, even property taxes. Driving her to doctors and sitting through hospital procedures in waiting rooms. She was invited to EVERY FAMILY FUNCTION…even Christmas and Thanksgiving. Yet I was never invited when her family had fancy functions. But when my spouse abandoned me, the money vanished. I was on half the amount Social security that she has. But she was still demanding I come up with money for her. Like, drop by the store and bring me five things, but not paying me for it. Then she got mean. Put me down in front of people. The last day I saw her, she actually had me trapped in a corner as she ranted in machine gun rapidity a string of horrible lies how NOBODY at church wanted me to attend church parties, etc. There was drool running out the corner of her mouth, but she was so evil, she didn’t even notice. I walked out the door and never looked back. She called my relatives to try to get at me when I wouldn’t answer phone. Then she left a message she was going to use the emergency key to my house. So I wrote her a very nice letter saying that I just needed a break. She then proceeded for five months to get two employees at my grocery to nag me every week about what a good friend SHE had been to me and how I shouldn’t throw away such a wonderful friend. I OWED HER???!!! My church said she was trying to drive me away from my favorite store, to stand my ground. But after 5 months, these people were getting vicious. No telling what lies she was telling them. It was Christmastime,I got badgered again, and my family said report them to manager. I had begged these people to stop before. So I reported them and haven’t been back in 3 years. When she realized that wasn’t working, she contacted my Sunday school teacher and invited her over. My dumb teacher was delighted that after not hearing from Sue five years, she wanted to catch up on all the gossip about the people at church. (Guess which people yet?) Yep. She succeeded in turning the Sunday School against me through that teacher with her lies. So. When you try to walk away from a demon, you can’t.

  16. Gwen says:

    This woman’s situation resonates with me. I have been in several similar situations where I felt cornered. When you become friends with someone who doesn’t put reciprocal effort into the relationship, it becomes very exhausting and unfulfilling. If the friend has health issues, they could reciprocate in other ways. You clearly know when you are feel like an employee rather than a friend.

  17. Elizabeth says:

    This is a very helpful post — both the question from Kat, and the answer from Irene. I think we’ve all had similar issues with friendships, and this post relates to a similar dilemma I’ve had with a couple of “unwanted” friendships in my life too. Sometimes, even when you agree to start a new friendship (or revive an old one), you learn later on that it wasn’t such a good idea. Sometimes a friendship starts off on a great note, but then something goes wrong, or you discover qualities in the friend that don’t mesh with your own, or you’re just not on the same wavelength as you’d thought … And then you feel guilty for allowing it to go on.

    It’s really hard when a friend wants more from you than you are able to give. That’s not you’re fault, Kat. I like Irene’s answer about being as kind as possible. I like the idea of saying you’re busy, that you don’t have time for another friendship, or that you’re very involved with your work or family, etc. I think some people call that “the slow fade” — and that seems to be the kindest alternative.

  18. Ben says:

    Getting honest is hard…. Honestly speaking far fewer people than I thought actually like me… ouch!!! Honestly speaking I like far fewer people than I thought I did… ouch!!! I think some of us go through years of denial and when reality comes a courtin its really really really painful….I must remind myself to be very honest with others and myself. Irene is so on target telling this person it’s ok to change your mind at any time. Others have that right too. Ouch!!!! Wouldn’t it be nice if we all grew up grounded in reality? Ooops another magical thought….. my bad…. (was trying to be funny and really identified with questioner and Irene’s response.)

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