• Resolving Problems

My friend has no interest in what I have to say

Published: January 3, 2014 | By | 13 Replies Continue Reading
How do you handle a friend who is perfectly happy to talk about himself but shows no interest in you?

QUESTION

Hi,

I am a college student in the throes of my junior year and had an emotionally rough semester when it came to friendships, specifically with one friend. With him, I feel like I am an appendage. I want him to be able to talk to me about his problems and his life, which he does. I ask questions because I am genuinely interested. The hurting comes from the fact that I’m pretty sure he knows absolutely nothing about me and my life–because he doesn’t ask. And when he does ask, he starts to lose interest.

He has redeeming qualities and a lot of positive things about him, which is why I want to remain friends with him. But his conversational selfishness really upsets me sometimes. I want to be there for him but I feel used. Is there any way I can let him know that I feel this way? I fear I’d be addressing a personality flaw and not something that can actually be changed.

Thanks, Jennifer

ANSWER

Dear Jennifer,

Sorry you’re having such a difficult time with your friend. If you think your friend has no interest in what you have to say and you haven’t been monopolizing conversations, that could be a sign you are more interested in him than he is in you.

If your friend seems uninterested in you but interested in others, it might mean he’s not interested in having a close relationship. (Although since he answers your questions, chances are he trusts you and wants to share with you.)

There are different types of friendships ranging from acquaintances to best friends. Also, you will encounter many people who have different styles of relating that have nothing to do with you. Some people, like you, are more curious and ask questions, while others wait for their companions to share, without asking questions. The more confident you are in your own worth, the less likely you will be to take another person’s “quirks” personally.

If you have a problem you want to talk about to your friend, simply say something like:

“I’m going through something I want to bounce off you. Can you give me some advice?”

If you’re routinely bothered by his lack of interest, you might want to be more direct:

“Hey, I noticed I ask you about your life and you don’t seem to ask me a lot of questions. What’s up with that?”

Don’t accuse him of being “selfish” or having a “personality flaw,” which might cause him to react defensively. You may discover that he isn’t even aware of the one-sided nature of your friendship.

Bottom line: You deserve to be in a mutually satisfying friendship, so if these suggestions don’t work and you decide to pull back from this friendship, that’s understandable.

If this is a pattern in all of your relationships, however, you need to look at the people you are seeking out as friends, how you’re choosing companions, and why these folks seem desirable but don’t turn out that way.

Good luck.

Signed, *Amy Feld


*Amy Feld, PhD, MSW has trained and worked as a child psychologist.

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Category: one-sided friendships, RESOLVING PROBLEMS

Comments (13)

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  1. Genica says:

    Well, I have this two Best Friends who are really nice, but most of the time I feel left out or maybe a little bit out of place. Because THEY BOTH LIKE ANIME, and I don’t sorry, but I really don’t. That’s my problem, my other Bestie is always so close to my other Bestie just because of ANIME!!!!! WHY????? That’s why I’m starting to think that sometimes my other friend is like trying to steal my other beloved bestie from me!!! PLEASE HELP ME…. ANYONE? PLEASE HELP!!!
    BTW, my likes are singing and music…. They love anime songs while me, I like Ariana Grande songs…. I’M A TOTAL ARIANATOR!!! PLEASE LEAVE AN ADVICE… THANK YOU!

  2. chandler says:

    Hey I am 17 year boy n I have one frnd to whom I want to share everything and ya I do love her but we both are strange to each other though everyday we have lill bit conversation but in that conversation It seems that she is less intrested in my friendship n also she is not intrested in this love n ol but belive in friendship but in my case I don’t know whether she Is intrested ij my friendship or not what to do….I really want her

  3. HARSH VAGHANI says:

    I am a 16 year boy… I have one kf my bestest frnd wid whom i feel very nice.. I love her alot and to want to be more den a best frnd.. But she at dis age is nt at all interested in dat. So she has told me to wait untill she is confirmed wid her decision regarding me.. But frm her actions i really feel she’s gonna reject me. She has a personality like any clashes occur between us.. Even if Its her fault she forgets it d next day.. And i cmt frgt clashes especially wid her.. Nowadays she hasn’t much tym for me and says she doesn’t like to be wod me in clg alone.. And needs sm1 else to be wid us. I’m seriously frustrated of dis one sided caring and its all bcz i love her very much. I’ve started even smoking out of frustration.. Wenev i ask her y does she do. She says think whatev u want to. Plss help wat shd i do…

  4. Maddie says:

    I guarantee if you ask him “what’s up with that? ” and berate him for not asking personal questions about you that it will be the beginning of the end.

    You encourage him to answer personal questions. He doesn’t. It may not be at his comfort level. Accept it. Turn your desire for emotional intimacy to friends who desire it as well.

    • Maddie says:

      Also males and females relate differently. This is not selfish or a personal flaw. It just is. I would advise to stop expecting something from him that he cannot or does not want to give.

  5. Kate says:

    Hi,

    I have had a similar problem with a friend that I have had for the past 25 years: she mostly talks about herself. She is a lot of fun, is an interesting person, we have a lot of the same interests and we have been together as friends for 25 years and therefore I would like to remain as such. However, she constantly talks about her accomplishments and all the compliments she gets from others and she is constantly fishing for compliments from me. She refers everything I say back to her own life and she isn’t very aware of what is and has gone on in my life. I have come to recognize that this is what our friendship will always be, and have therefore focused on what I love about her (enthusiasm, fun, same interests). When we were younger we would always be going out somewhere and having fun. Lately, she has wanted to call and talk or come over and talk – and I avoid this, because of the one side conversation that results. My friend has noticed that I am not overly interested in one-on-one conversation – and she has expressed her frustration with this. I don’t know what to do because to tell her how I really feel would hurt her and possibly ruin our friendship. Any advice?

  6. Dinah says:

    I am going through this right now. It’s annoying because I did mention it to my friend, but I didn’t directly say it was with her & then her mom started yelling at her so she had to get off the phone. Another time she mentioned that she notices that when she talks to her friends, the only topic of conversation is what’s going on in her life. Again, she couldn’t stay on the phone. I would like to mention it again to her, but I find that she gets offended easily and has a habit of attacking people when she feels threatened. How should I approach her about this?

  7. Jenni says:

    In my opinion, there could be a few reasons why someone would make things one-sided and only want to talk about themselves. Some people are emotionally immature and just feel constant pressure to unload their problems. they emotionally cannot handle taking on someone else’s problems because they are too wrapped up in their own, which to them seem more pressing and more important than anyone else’s problems. Thankfully, some people seem to grow out of this with age or after being made aware that they do this and that it can cause hurt feelings to their friends.

    I used to be a lot like this and was completely unaware I was even doing it. I am 33 now and make it a conscious effort to ask others about themselves and talk about them at least 50% of the time. some people are intuitive about this and know it from a young age, and some grow into old age and never seem to learn it.

    Maybe a way you could handle it is to keep bringing your thoughts up into the conversation, and if he changes the subject without acknowledging your feelings, you could appear disappointed and disinterested and then say you have to go. I know that would have caught my attention if a friend would have done that. No one ever really called me out on it. Unfortunately I lost some friends in my younger, self-absorbed years because I wasn’t even aware I was doing something hurtful.

    You could also tell him straight out that what he’s doing is hurtful. There is the possibility that he will react defensively to this.

    I think if he’s an intuitive person at all, he will pick up on your repeated attempts at two-sided conversation. He’s probably gotten used to you listening and thinks you’re okay with that if you’ve never really shown that you are upset by it.

  8. Missabi says:

    I have been in a situation like this before! I have been told I am a good listener and have a counseling type personality. I enjoy listening to people talk about their lives even the mundane stuff, but I have been hurt in the past by a friend where I invested a LOT into helping them sort out issues and when I fell into a serious crisis the following year that same best friend was not interested or available to help me.

    I recommend addressing it in a friendly way. You said you like this friend’s company and want to keep the friendship. Its possible he is not aware of what he is doing. Maybe he is preoccupied with his own life and needs to be reminded that good friendships are two-way.

    1. You could (jokingly) call him out on it
    2. You could actively keep directing the conversation back to you and what you want to talk about

    You: Man, I’ve been dealing with this situation at home, my mom is driving me crazy..
    Him: Oh. (gazes off into distance) I met this girl in my biology class that I really like..
    You: That’s cool. So yeah last weekend when I was home she kept bringing up my grades, like I’m not studying all day as it is. She and my dad said that if I don’t bring my C up to an A, they’re not going to pay for next semester. What do you think I should do? (that way he has to respond in some way)

    Just be persistent and try to change the dynamic. Its works a lot better than trying to change someone else or yourself and if you criticize people or their character even if you’re right (especially if you’re right!! haha) they are likely to not like you.

    • Malibu says:

      I am so glad I found this post because just like you both, I have been experiencing a similar thing. Thank you Missabi for your insightful response, and obviously to Jennifer for posting this and Amy for responding. I am going to try these things too with one of my friends. I’m worried that he will actively avoid my attempts to redirect the conversation to me because he thinks I want attention. (which I guess is true! haha) It would be great if he would take the bait for once! I’ve also been told I am of the counseling type, and that becomes annoying when people only want to use you as a therapist. Well, therapists need a therapist too!!!

      • Tracy says:

        but friendship shouldn’t be about one person doing all the giving and the other doing the taking. Some people are like this because no-one has ever called them out on it before. If this really is just a friendship (and not a romantic interest), you might need to re-evaluate whether it’s worth pursuing. In the end, someone will only give what they want to give. It’s not much of a friendship if it’s all one way. There really is only one way to find out – confront it! I don’t mean in an aggressive way, but in a purposeful one. “I love talking to you about you, but it seems like the feeling is not mutual. Are you disinterested in me or not aware of how little we talk about me?”

        I know it is direct, but it is a question you want answered right?

      • Missabi says:

        Hi Malibu, no problem glad you got something from my post. Haha, so true, therapists need therapists too. Good luck I hope you get what you want!! Post on here how it goes if you feel like sharing?

        • Malibu says:

          I know it’s been a while…but things have gotten a little better with my friend! I realized it had a lot to do with my self-esteem, which is all around pretty low. But I’ve made the point to remind myself that I am worth standing up for, so I call him out on his shit (politely, of course 😉 When I try and redirect the conversation he’s been taking the bait for the most part, and I’ve also come to the realization that we don’t have to be best friends. ya know? 🙂

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