• Keeping Friends

Me, me, me: When friendship is a one-way street

Published: April 11, 2009 | Last Updated: April 25, 2016 By | 2 Replies Continue Reading
One-way friendships can be very frustrating.


Dear Irene,

I have a very close friend who is going through a rough time. She recently became pregnant after ongoing fertility treatments. I was extremely supportive through all of this.  Since becoming pregnant, her anxiety and panic has increased immensely.

She is an only child who depends greatly on her parents and will often choose to do things with her mom over doing something with me. I don’t ask her to do much these days since she is with her mom most of the time.

With her panic issues, she has become extremely hard to be around.  I try to help as much as I can, but she will usually just tell me that I don’t really understand because I haven’t had her exact symptoms. She now thinks she’s becoming depressed as well.

I guess my issue is that over the years I go through these stages where I feel like she expects me to be there for her whenever she needs me. But when I need her, she barely has time for me. I can call her with a problem, and she’s always doing something while talking to me. I NEVER get her full attention.

I know this is a troubling time for her, but it just seems to have brought back my negative feelings about this friendship. And, to a certain extent, she is creating some of her anxiety/panic/depression.  I am just finding myself very angry about this whole friendship. Any advice?



Hi Paige:

If your friend has a true panic disorder, she may be experiencing terrifying physical and emotional symptoms that feel out of her control. Panic disorders are often associated with depression and anxiety as well. While you sound like a very empathetic and caring friend, your friend is probably correct in saying that you can’t understand exactly how she is feeling. You also can’t make her symptoms go away. But these two facts don’t make you less of a friend.

Because of your friend’s problems, the relationship has become one-sided. It’s normal that you would feel resentful because she isn’t able to be there for you in the way that you are there for her. Since you call her a “very close friend” and acknowledge that she is going through a “rough time,” it seems like your friendship once had a more reciprocal basis, where there was more give and take, so I wouldn’t give up on the friendship just yet.

The signs and symptoms of a panic disorder tend to flare up during difficult life transitions, and coping with infertility would be high on such a list. In fact, some research suggests that coping with infertility can be as stressful to a woman as dealing with a serious physical illness like cancer or HIV/AIDS. Although getting pregnant after having fertility problems should be uplifting, it can be another source of stress.

You didn’t mention whether or not your friend is being treated for her symptoms. If she is, she may need some more time. If not, you may want to suggest that she get diagnosed and treated. Perhaps, her mother is worried about her daughter’s problems and that’s why she and her mom are spending so much time together. If you have a comfortable relationship with her mom, you can mention that you are concerned about your friend.

In any case, it sounds like you are burned out and may need to step back a bit until your friend is more together. You could have a frank discussion with her and tell her that you are a bit overwhelmed by her neediness but still cherish your friendship. In the meantime, take a break. Spend more time with other friends you enjoy, create a bit more distance between you and this friend, and see how things evolve over time. Just keep in mind that it is unlikely that her emotions are under her control at this point and she’s probably suffering more than you. Above all, be kind because she’s your friend.

I know this isn’t an easy situation but I hope this gives you some food for thought.


About Panic Disorder (from the National Institute of Mental Health)

Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder. It causes panic attacks, which are sudden feelings of terror for no reason. You may also feel physical symptoms, such as

* Fast heartbeat
* Chest pain
* Breathing difficulty
* Dizziness

Panic attacks can happen anytime, anywhere and without warning. You may live in fear of another attack and may avoid places where you have had an attack. For some people, fear takes over their lives and they cannot leave their homes.

Panic disorder is more common in women than men. It usually starts when people are young adults. Sometimes it starts when a person is under a lot of stress. Most people get better with treatment. Therapy can show you how to recognize and change your thinking patterns before they lead to panic. Medicines can also help.

Have a friendship dilemma? Perhaps I can help. Write to me at [email protected]/

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Category: Dealing with friends with health and/or emotional problems

Comments (2)

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  1. Barbara says:

    Hi I recently broke of a 15 year friendship. I am grieving quite badly. My best friend started to tell lies about almost anything. On top of that she would create a drama just to get what she wants instead of asking directly. She started to talk at a high intensity all the time. Which just made it so much harder to deal with it.her speach was fast and topics constantly on herself. On top of that she was asking for money saying she was starvivg…everything was melodramatic.i became seriously ill and ended up in hospital. She avoided me for 3 mths. Then when I asked why she didnt return my calls she said she felt weak..the friendship quickly broke down after that I started to say no alot she became cold distant and the final straw was she started to interogate me via txt messages while at work. She wanted a parcel id put together for her. She wanted it now! Thats the flash point where I broke of the friendship. Cheers Barb

  2. Anonymous says:

    Wow, thank you so much for your detailed and informative response. I
    will take your advice very seriously, and I am trying to stay away for
    awhile. The hardest part about this whole situation is that I know
    that her behavior right now is caused by a medical condition (she is
    undergoing treatment that is mostly safe for pregnancy. I have an
    issue with one drug that she is taking that her doctors are allowing
    her to take minimally). The hardest part for me is that this has
    brought up many other times in our relationship where the give and
    take was uneven. So, for now, I’ll be there for her, but I’m not
    going to get overly involved. She does not really take my advice
    anyway, so I’m just going to listen. Thanks again SO much for your time

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