Reader Q & A: Needy Friends: They just don’t understand

September 25, 2008 | By | 3 Replies Continue Reading

 

QUESTION:

 

Dear Irene:

 

I have several girlfriends who seem needy to me. While we all go through difficult times, it seems they always have problems. I am unmarried, with a boyfriend who lives an hour away, I am running a business and my household and they have all of the support – husbands, children, family – which is great. But for some reason even with all this support they do not seem to have anyone to go to. I am essentially alone – which is fine and I get up everyday and do what I have to do.

 

Every single time I talk to any of them they are always asking me to come visit or to go out—one hour away driving from my home after I’ve worked all day. I don’t get it. It is really annoying and upsetting to me. I want these friends to be a part of my life not my whole life.

 

One seems to think that I should hang out at her place while she complains about her husband and yells at her two kids. The other wants me to sit with her while she – using her words "wallows" – she has nothing to wallow about – nothing bad has happened to her. I feel like these people have no problem always asking for something from me. I am tired of it.

 

Signed,
Anonymous Single Person

 

ANSWER:

 

Dear Anonymous Single Person:

 

I guess your friends assume that because you don’t have a husband or kids, you have no responsibilities to yourself, your business, or to other people. NOT. If this is their thinking, it makes me wonder how you ever managed to surround yourself with "several" of these self-centered people.

 

I am so happy that you are able to say that you are tired of these lopsided relationships. Identifying the problem, even to yourself, means that you realize you deserve much more. These people are going to continue to act the way they habitually do unless you give them a reason to change their behavior.

 

As a first step, set some firm boundaries (to them and to yourself) about how often you see them, where you see them, and what you do when you are together. Can you suggest that you get together and see a movie? Go to dinner? Go to a gym? Any of these would offer a more neutral turf and might also offer a much needed respite for your family-beleaguered friends.

 

If you’re tired after a long day, you’re entitled to say you that you are—why not ask them to get a babysitter or relative to watch the kids and come see you? Can you tell them that it doesn’t help to "wallow" in pity and suggest that you do something else when you are together?

 

These are a few suggestions but I think you will need to evaluate each of these relationships that you lump together as ‘needy friendships’ and figure out what you are receiving from each one. For relationships to be rewarding, they need to offer a sense of intimacy (feeling like you understand her and are understood) and a sense of reciprocity (like you are getting as much from her as you are giving). I’m not sure that these "friendships" you have described offer either.

 

Best,
Irene

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  1. Amanda says:

    This is a very interesting topic to me. I would love it if I could complain about ‘needy’ friends wanting to include me too much in their lives. As my friendship problems are usually the opposite. I am genuinely asking this, but anonymous sounds like she has a good support system, and is comfortable with herself, partly because of im assuming, strong support system.
    I used to be needy with my friends, because all I just wanted to be understood and my emotions validated. Things that were always swept under the carpet by my family. Constantly ignoring me, and patronizing/belittling about things I had a good reason to feel something about. The point is, I had been hurt in the past, from the most basic level of not being acknowledged, and this was resulting in an overcompensation from other areas of my life; a desperate need for others to be there for me. But was this person who I really was? No. I was going through a transition. I was healing. And I find ppl who have never experienced a lack of genuine emotional support so dismissive of who is and isn’t ‘needy.’ As a well adjusted 26 year old I am no longer ‘needy’ and am actually extremely independent. Sometimes I find the ‘limit’ of ppls support perplexing.

  2. Renee says:

    I can relate to Anonymous. I have a friend that I did push away because of the constant complaining. It was always something. She expected me to be there for her ALL THE TIME, but never asked about me or cared. She is one of those people that takes everything personally, and if I disagree with her she says that I am sensitive. I am anything but sensitive, I take nothing personally. I have a full time job, ailing parents & in-laws, a husband, house and pets. I am very busy and she is very Needy. I basically cut ties last summer. Recently she is back. And slowly it has been starting all over again. Only this time I do not have the patience for it. Just last night she started texting me and has to disagree and debate everything I say. So when I told her I did not want to argue she said that she wasn’t arguing and that I am sensitive. How do I push her away without feeling guilty?

  3. Sophie says:

    I could really relate to this question.

    I’m not usually quite this shameless a self-promoter, but just yesterday I posted a rant on my blog about friends who get stuck in wallowing. You can read it here.

    I’m not as gentle as Irene but I’m not a professional–I’m just cranky. I am sympathetic to my friends’ problems (which is one reason I end up hearing so many of them) but only up to a point. As Anonymous says, we all have problems. After a point, it’s time to stop talking about them and start acting on them or you are requiring too much of your friends.

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