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Saying NO to Friends: An interview with psychologist and author Susan Newman, PhD

Published: September 19, 2007 | Last Updated: October 11, 2013 By | 140 Replies Continue Reading

People are often hesitant about saying no to friends but it might be the best thing to do.

Social psychologist Susan Newman, PhD, a colleague of mine from the American Society of Journalists and Authors, is author of The Book of NO: 250 Ways to Say It—and Mean It and Stop People-Pleasing Forever (McGraw-Hill, 2006) and a dozen other relationship and parenting books.

Susan graciously agreed to participate in an interview for this blog about the relevance of her book to female friendships…

Why are women hesitant about saying NO to friends?

Women are raised to be nurturing and caring, which is a good thing up to a point. For many women, saying “Yes” is simply an ingrained habit; For others, it’s an addiction.

People think of the word “NO” as a negative and fear that using it will jeopardize a friendship or that their friends will think them selfish. Some women fear they will be left out of the group if they say “NO” or that their friends will think they are uncaring or lazy.

Women tend to be people-pleasers and agree to avoid confrontation and keep the peace. At times, saying “NO” is the path of least resistance, but the irony is that the fallout from a refusal is rarely as dramatic or harmful as one imagines.

If you can change your attitude about requests from friends to thinking “NO,” before you say– “Yes, sure I’ll do that for you. No problem” –your life will be a lot less complicated and pressured. It helps create boundaries and keeps others from crossing them.

What are the consequences of not saying NO to friends?

Saying “Yes” creates anxiety and stress and, in extreme cases, depression. Agreeing too often also can lead to overwork, to being overwhelmed, and to exhaustion. One of the real dangers in saying “Yes” to friends when we would rather say “NO” is that we not only become angry with ourselves, but start to resent those friends who ask for favors we don’t want to or really have the time to do. Also, if you say “Yes” indiscriminately, you may not have time for those you want to and/or really need to help.

Is it okay to turn down a friend who asks you for a favor?

Friends who ask favors with annoying frequency (and we almost all have them) are the ones you want to be wary of and learn how to refuse. The Queen of Favors, for example, is friend who has little regard for what’s on your plate; her main concern is her own agenda. You may have a Flatterer friend, the con artist who sweet talks you. She’ll tell you that you do whatever she needs done better. Another friend to be on the alert for is the one I call Damsel in Distress. She can be counted on to make a mountain out of a mole hill and her problem is rarely as horrific as she makes it out to be. She attaches to people who need to be needed and who will therefore be helpful.

You want to say “NO” to these and other friends who take advantage of your good nature and inability to refuse them. The activities that you built your friendship around (borrowing each other’s clothes, asking for advice, pulling each other out of a jam) may quickly become bothersome or even down-right unbearable, if they are not kept in check.

Look for warning signs that your friendship is unbalanced. When it feels one-way, with you doing all the giving, it is more than okay, it’s imperative that you begin to say “NO” to protect yourself. You only have a limited amount of physical and emotional energy and there are periods you can’t be there for friends without sacrificing your own physical health or emotional well-being.

What’s the best way to turn down a friend?

  • Always be polite. Use phrases such as, “Wish I could, but I can’t.” Or, “I know this is important to you, but there’s no way.” Or, “thank you for asking, but I have to say NO.”
  • Be firm and don’t offer explanations and excuses which will open up room for the person to keep pressuring you.
  • Don’t apologize; save the “I’m sorry” for the time you really do something wrong.
  • Don’t gild your NO with a lie or pad it with lame excuses. That’s counterproductive because in all likelihood you will feel guilty about your fabrications and that’s precisely what you are trying to avoid.

These approaches work with friends as well as with family and people at work. They will help you say “NO” in many sticky situations.

What’s the best way to tell a once close friend that you can’t see her?

People’s lives and commitments change and the reality is you probably don’t have time to be with her in the same ways you were previously. A slow withdrawal with comments like, “My life has gotten so complex, I can’t get together now” or, “I’d like to see you, but I simply can’t” should do the trick. Be straightforward and truthful. She will get the message and you will avoid hurting her feelings.

If you already have too many friends, how do you react to an acquaintance who wants to get chummy?

Try a positive approach: “I think you’re great and would love to spend time with you, but I don’t have a minute to myself these days.” Or, “I can’t do another thing right now. Let’s talk in a couple months.”

Should you ever turn down a “best friend?” Under what circumstances is it permissible?

Saying NO to friends is a right we have that most of us don’t exercise often enough. It’s one of the most liberating things we can do for ourselves even when a best friend is involved.

You simply can’t be all things to all people. A close friend will understand if she is a true best friend and you are normally there for her. If the relationship is open and honest, you do not have to always try to please your best friend to keep the friendship solid.

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  1. Saying no to friends - The Friendship Blog : The Friendship Blog | September 6, 2013
  1. pinkster says:

    I have a very nice friend who I would do anything for but she is always at my house! She needs to know wvery part of my life and rummages through out belongings and goes in to my girls bedroon being nosey. I ignore my phone when she texts but she still turns up and frequently lets herself in even though ive said I dont like it and nor do my children so we keep the doors locked and if I say we r out she still comes to the house and looks in through nets and comes round the back looking in as our neighbours are elderly and not happy. I dont want to hurt her feelings , id hate to upset anyone but ive even tried shouting at my daughter (which I dont do) to make her feel uncomfortable but she still didnt leave! My girls have had enough and its really stressing me out! How do I say get a life and stop coming to our home ? There must be a polite way to save my sanity! Thank u for your help

    • A for apple says:

      It seems that there’s no way to go around it but to be honest and tell her your need for space:

      Change your locks and put up gates/fencing so she can no longer access your backyard; put locks on your daughters’bedroom doors and cabinets you want off-limits to her.

      When she comes over and notices all the changes, you can then tell her it is a consequence for her continual disregard for the boundaries you’ve set in your friendship. Then, set the boundaries again by telling her what you want from her and see how you go from there

      Best of luck,
      A for apple 😉

  2. Lisa says:

    I had an old friend contact me out of the blue after many years of not seeing each other. She said she needed help as she was in a desperate situation, so I called her back after work. Turns out she needed some money because she’d had a break up and couldn’t pay the bills at the motel she’s temporarily staying at.

    I didnt know what to do. We hardly know each other and it seemed a bit one sided, why ask me? She’s got family. Anyway, I decided to give (not lend, she will probably never pay it back) some of the money she is asking for but with a proviso that she never asks for it again. I said I wouldn’t be able to do it again.

    Was this the right approach to take? I figured it was better than looking like I didn’t care but made it very clear I would never do it again as it’s not something I do.

    Let me know, please!

  3. Annie says:

    I feel sad. I have a person in my life I felt close to until recently. I did anything asked of me because that’s my personality. Also, I struggle with self-esteem issues. Anyhow, ths friend I began to notice would be very sweet to me about 3-4 days before she would ask me to do things for her. Lately I have realized, she gives next to nothing back. It’s all on her terms. I can’t think straight when I say no. She’ll end up not calling me or contacting me. I breakdown because I miss her. Then the pattern starts all over again, not sure how to “be” when shes not around. I feel lost, anxious. Any insight is helpful. Thanks.

  4. Secretly_annoyed says:

    I have a problem. I can’t say “No”. Long story short, something happened and lets just say “No” didn’t matter. Ever since then I feel as though I have lot the right. Anyway, with this of course comes plenty of opportunities for others to take advantage-it does not help that I like helping others, but sometimes I feel it’s too much. I understand appropriate times favours should be asked and I know that it should be a one time thing. It is my problem I have to solve it on my own without involving another party.
    Well… Needless to say, because of that I am constantly doing things, I have become, a free lance taxi driver, I went from a previous job of giving free rides and when that store closed down I was happy because finally I won’t have to drive anyone anywhere. Then I got another job and somehow I am the taxi driver again. I don’t want money, I don’t want anything from him other than him to stop bugging me. I have said no before but it doesn’t matter. Sometimes after work he just waits for me by my car. I want to just leave him but I feel bad doing that. I know if I needed a ride I would take a cab or ask my family, or walk or ride my bike, skateboard, whatever… I just wish he would do the same… And the worst part is he lives about twenty minutes walking distance, I have walked longer for my jobs and I am girl.

    Not sure what to do but I might explode soon!

  5. Karol says:

    A few weeks ago my friend invited me out for dinner where she was with other girls. I met her friends and they all had planned a trip, they asked me if I wanted to go. Anyway I said yes i think i could go. The girl asked if I could pay $50 to split one room with another girl, I said yea. Well then last week she text me and said the room turned out to be $80/person. This weekend I heard that we’ll be sharing a room with two single guys because everyone is going with their partners. So far this girl hasn’t told me who were supposed to share rooms with. Monday my boss informed me that I have to come in Friday there is no other person to cover. So i immediately text her that I wasn’t able to get the day off. She asked to text her to see if things changed because all 12 people are going and she was going to find someone to replace me to pay. I told her yes go ahead and ask someone else because I tried to take my car but the mechanic didn’t recommend I should because it needed to get fixed. She text me saying if I could pay the $80 even though I’m not going because she’s embarrassed to ask everyone to pitch in.

    • Kim says:

      Tell her that you wish you could help her with it, but you have to pay $$ for you car to get fixed. Don’t say sorry for not being able to chip in, but do apologize for not being able to come.

    • Kitkat31 says:

      Man I hope you didn’t pay. That’s not cool to ask you to she’ll our for THEIR trip.

  6. Sabrina says:


    Recently my friend has been asking me to buy her birthday present and at first I thought she was just joking but she says to my face every single time I see her…

    I don’t want to hurt her feelings, I mean, she is not a bad person. But we rarely talk and we’re not that close.

    The other day, she asked me to let her borrow my laptop, and I told her not to use all the battery because I will be needing it later. She used up all of the battery and I ended up having work to catch up on.

    Moreover, she likes to go through my things, like deodorant, hand cream, and those cosmetic types of stuff and she just uses it without my permission! I mean, we are not close. At all.

    I feel like she’s using me because she only talks to me when she wants something.

    Some advices would be greatly appreciated 🙂



    • Irene says:

      If a friend is constantly asking you for things or asking you to do things for her, you need to set some reasonable boundaries or you will be overwhelmed with requests. If you keep giving in, you will begin to harbor resentment.

      You need to be clear, but kind, with your friend and let he know when she is asking for too much. For example, you can tell her that you only buy gifts for family and/or very close friends.

      Hope this helps!

      Best, Irene

    • Kitkat31 says:

      If not close at all why is she in your home? You should just not invite her over anymore. Or get together at a coffee shop etc instead.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I have a friend that keeps asking me for my food. But I really want it, but its just so hard to say no to her.

  8. Jane says:

    So I have this friend that is always asking for rides n at first I was saying yes cuz I wanted to help but now it’s getting old n the thing is that I don’t get money for gas or I get so little that doesn’t even cover and I was asked if I could provide ride again but I know I will not get enough help for gas what can I do?

    • Mary says:

      Tell her to meet you where it’s convenient for you at a specified time. On your way home, tell her you can only drop her off along the way to your house. If she asks, tell her because you’re watching your gas expenses and you want to save YOUR time.

  9. akancha says:

    My friend who lives with me in hostel invited me to her home during a gap of 9 days during exam time . Earlier i said yes and now i said her NO coz i have not read for the respective subjects. And now its like everyone is angry who all are going . So what should i do now. Tell me

  10. Anonymous says:

    What I”ve learned from dealing with favour asking people is you can’t worry about them thinking your “selfish” or “rude” or “mean” or “not a good friend” or “not nice” I used to jump over backwards doing favours to people so they would think I was “nice” and a “good friend” but they just took advantage. I had a neighbor like this – who does all the classic behaviours in The Gift of Fear book by Gavin DeBecker – one is called forced teaming – the “friend” or “con” makes it like you both are in the same boat when in fact you’re not – it is just a way for this con friend to make you do things for her or him. Loansharking is another thing – my neighbor gave me crap things that I didn’t want – then she would come asking for expesive things things because she felt I owed her because she gave me those crap things that I didn’t ask for or want in the first place. Also calling you names when you try and say no – like “you’re not a very good friend then are you?” (for not doing x and x and x favour) so that you will try and get back into their good graces. So I think you need to say no – and if they don’t like it then tough beans for them – let them feel that you are a mean bad and selfish friend and they can call you all the names in the book – it is a reflection of them, not you. Your confriend is the selfish one – and isn’t worrying about wasting your time, that you are upset or that you might be thinking that she is a bad friend. She only wants the favours. When you feel like you are being conned you probably are – read The Gift of Fear – it is an awesome book that shows you the con tricks and will help you to feel more at ease with saying NO.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I had three friends that always want to hang out on my house..and to me its okay at first..but every single day they hang to my house and I didn’t even get a nap or a rest after the entire of the school day…I’m so exhausting..I try to say no but they always mock me and say I was selfish and stuff…I sometime feel like I ‘m more like their maid than a friend..because they always told me to do their work like homework and stuff and they sometime threat me like trash and sometime I feel invisible to them…and not only me I had a friend also been treated like me ..if I’m absence she will get the worse because I kinda protect her..I told her that we should not be friend with them… but its hard because their mouth like a hot spicy sauce.. they will spread a rumor a bad one..I remembered when both of us say no to them ..then the next day there’s a rumor saying that we were the one that treat them badly and said we were selfish friend…since that day we’re like a maid like I don’t know its so horrible… every night I feel so bad about myself and I just want to quit school but if I quit I WILL GOING TO LOSE MY AMBITION MY DREAM JOB…AND WHOSE GOING TO PROTECT MY FRIEND THAT ALSO BEEN TREATED LIKE ME …PLEASE HELP ME CAUSE I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE…

    • Alanna says:

      Hang onto your dream and study to achieve your goals. I would tell your so-called friends to take a hike and that if they are going to bad mouth you for refusing to be their doormat, then you don’t want them as friends. Stand your ground and keep your self respect, you will attract the right people into your life by doing so. Good Luck! Alanna.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I’m sorry, but I have to ask you what is “fine” about spending weekend time at your friend’s house to “keep the dog company” while she is out of town having fun or whatever she’s doing???? You have said you really do not want to do these favors, so why do you do them? Is this a trade-off that you’re not telling us? I mean, is doing favors for her the only way she will hang out with you socially? Or does she hang out with you socially at all anymore? Is this a “friendship” in name only? I don’t think you’re a alone in this kind of predicament. I am not trying to pick on you. Your predicament sounds all too familiar. Some people populate their lives with “friends” who are really just warm bodies to do things for them. Maybe that’s the case with her. If this behavior started only when she got married to this guy, maybe it’s his influence. If that’s the case, you might feel more freely to tell her how you really feel about being imposed on. It could be her husband has tried to change her into one of these “user” types of people, but if she wasn’t like that before, you might be able to get through to her. Stay strong and stick to your guns. If you thought it was “fine” to hang out and keep a dog company on the weekend, you would have your own dog–right?

  13. Anonymous says:

    Hi Anonymous: NO, you are not being a bad friend and are not being selfish. She is treating you like a personal assistant. Please answer this question: What favors does SHE do for YOU? If your answer is “Nothing.” Then write a list on a sheet of paper. Draw a line down the middle. On the left write “Favors I do for her” and on the right side write “Favors she does for me.” Hang it on your mirror where you will see that lopsided list every day. LOL. SEriously, writing it down on paper will give you a visual of how lopsided this relationship is. The next time she asks a favor, just say no. Literally. No. For example: She asks what you’re doing for labor day weekend. You say, for example, “Why do you ask?” She will then be forced to answer that what she really wants is to ask you to do a favor “since you aren’t doing anything anyway.” She will then ask you the favor. And you will say, “No, I won’t be able to do that.” She will not dare ask you why you aren’t able to, but if she does ask, just repeat, “I’m just not.” If you see an opening for a conversation, tell her you feel she asks too much of you and you simply don’t want to watch the dog, mind the shop, run into the house to get papers and give them to so and so, etc. I ran my own home based business for a while, out of economic necessity, and you would not believe the favors neighbors asked of me, “since you’re at home anyway.” They thought I could stay home and wait for packages to arrive, walk the dog, run errands. I said no. I got snide comments. Then it stopped. I survived the feeling that they think I’m “selfish.” In your case it might be harder since you say you are friends with this woman. But ask yourself this question: Do you actually do friend things with her, or is the relationship based only on you doing favors for her?” Good luck, and remember, do not feel like a bad friend or that you are selfish. You are not. Repeat: You are not.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I am pretty much alone – 2 cats, don’t date much anymore, not many responsibilities unless they’re my own. I like my life as it is, not too much drama. I have a friend of 20 years. We never traded favors until she got married 3 years ago. Her husband was unemployed and he’d do some work around my house (I paid him of course)… So, when I get asked to babysit their dog over a weekend for 2 weeks in a row including a holiday weekend, and numerous times previous. I’m getting peeved, at myself mostly for not saying no. They know I don’t have much to do, but like I said, I like it that way. She did at one point set me up (not cool). It was a Thanksgiving weekend, she asked what I was doing, I said I wasn’t sure, she says ok. She calls the day before leaving town and asked if I wanted to come w/her and her hubby out of town (short trip) to visit her family. I said, no I wasn’t up to going out of town. Then she said if you’re not coming with us, do you mind watching Loki (the dog)… I think that’s a set up. I feel I got roped into the situation because she knows I do not have much to do. I’m at a loss. I am going over to her house this weekend and next weekend to “spend time” w/her dog as she still has gotten a animal keeper to feed Loki. I’m just to sit w/him and keep him company. Fine – then Thurs. night she leaves a vm to go over to her house and let some dude in that needs to retrieve a tent (I have keys) and fetch some ppwk for that guy to take to them on their vacation. Now, I’m really worked up…. They also asked me to keep their (stupid) ATV in my garage over the winter. So…..I think I’m upset w/myself for not having alot to do, but also upset w/their constant asking favors from me… am I being a bad friend and just being selfish? I don’t really know…Any suggestions will be helpful!

  15. Anonymous says:

    Testing to make sure this website doesn’t ask for passwords or an account – just want some help w/out logging into a site.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Remember what she did when you asked favour from her, write them down if it helps. Then when she happens to ask the same favour from you (just start recalling all the situations when you got refused), do what she did, and if she doesn’t get it, say it to her: remember last time when I asked you… Do this at least 3 times in a row. She should realize it, and appreciate you, else make another good friend, and show her she is not the only friend you have.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Tell her exactly what you said here

  18. Anonymous says:

    We got very close with my best friend recently. She lives abroad so I invited her over. While she was visiting me she borrowed my stuff . I proactively offered to her to use any of my clothes, personal hygiene products, food etc. We went out – almost everytime she didnt have enough money to cover the bill so I often eded up paying $10 out of $15 while she would pay only $5. She was asking me to do her hair, make up several times. Once I asked her to do my hair as well and she said no. I was preparing the food for her while she was watching TV. I have visited her as well recently. The situation with paying at the restaurants/bars repeated. She never had enough money on her and ended up borrowing my money. When it was time to give them back- she didnt return the whole sum. It was just a couple of bucks. If it was me- I would have returned the full amount and more. In the bar I started talking to someone for 10 mins she made a big scene in front of all people saying I left her alone. That person had to go as I wanted to please my friend and stay with her. The same night she med a couple of guys who we spend the whole night with.I was not particularly enjoying it but didnt make any scene and was waiting until the evening finishes. I was begging her to go home after a few hours but she refused. I went home alone that night. She is not like that always but I think I lack a firm character. I am too soft. I like to share the things, I never have a problem to help. She uses me alot because of that. She knows I can’t say no. But if I ask her something she raise her voice, says it’s difficult for her and I should forget about it. When I was visiting ger- I wanted to use a shower. But she said it was difficult to switch it on and I will be fine without it. I asked her few more times but she refused. I couldn’t do much about it so I was about to go to sleep without having a shower. And then she came and showed me how to use it herself.
    Hhow can I control the situation and let her appreciate what I do for her? I want her to know that she shouldnt expect using me or any favours for me if she doesn’t want to give something back to me. Thanks.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I said “forget it” to a “friend” who:is always there when she wants or needs something(money,cigarettes,a comforting ear)….but it was always me going to her,she rarely made an effort for me.She has cancelled on me several times when she said she’d help me clean my apt…..HOWEVER, now I am moving and its the last thing I need is to have someone back out! AND SHE DID. I got very angry and told her to forget it. She came back with a response that put ME as the bad guy! (I buy her disabled mother groceries, gave her rides in the winter cold,buy her clothes that fit,cooked a breakfast for the three of us just that morning)OH YEAH, her teeth felt good enough to eat food but she was too busy sleeping to help me sort thru clothes…..I felt like I was being slowly bled…..My part in it was I let it go on for too long and I lost my temper and used some terminology I shouldn’t (I need counseling….I know this),”bleeding heart bs” was one of them-she got me feeling sorry for her….but whenI need, where is she? I don’t think she’s a true friend…perhaps a little narcisisstic?She then had the gall to call me and ask me to ask my boyfriend who works every day, 12 hours a day, for a ride after I had told her I “need a break”. Wow. That is all I have to say! Taker in life? Yes. A REAL friend? I doubt it.

  20. Anonymous says:

    You are spending so much of your energy on others outside of you that you don’t have any time to get to know yourself and who you are. A good analogy I ‘ve read is think of yourself as a solar panel – there is only so much energy in that pannel for the things needed – you need to keep energy for yourself so you can recharge and regenerate and grow.

    It is important to love yourself and have approval of yourself – to do this you need to spend time giving energy to yourself and nurturing your spirit – reading books, studying subjects you enjoy, time with your pet.

    It is like you are spending time to cook a big nutritious meal but don’t eat any of it – then you feel tired and drained by giving it all away to others because you are afraid they won’t love you if you give nurturing and nutrition to yourself.

    If you keep giving giving giving your time and energy to others because you are afraid they won’t love you if you are not in constant giving mode then you stagnate as a person.

    In the long run saying yes yes yes to others denying yourself will leave you feeling washed up and put away wet. If a person cannot take no for an answer and pressures you with guilt then that is manipulation. It is hard at first but it does get easier and you begin to feel stronger and to know yourself.

    Also your patient man goes all the way to please but it is troubling that he is not allowing you to do what you are trained for – true love is about support and not control over another person.

    With relationship there must be a balance of give and take like the figure 8 – the energy flowing both ways giving and takng with eachother not just energy flowing from you to him or him to you.

    What you need to do is learn to say No without feeling guilty or that love will be taken away be taken away if you don’t comply with that person’s wishes for that is you being manipulated.

    A valuable book for you to read is The Gift of Fear by Gavin Debecker which will make it easier to spot people who are going to manipulate and take from you and also will make it easier for you to say no without fear.

    A good series video will also help you to say no, done by a lady called 4mingthoughs on you tube – the series is excellent


    This can help you to spot those who are out to use you – users look for people who don’t have a sense of self – who are “nice” meaning they have trouble saying no.

    Being afraid of losing someone because of saying no will just lead you into more fear and being manipulated by fear of loss of love . In the long term you will not be happy with yourself saying yes yes yes at the expense of yourself.

    My mother lived a life of fear – never being able to say no – and she missed out on a lot in life because of that – even though she was a wonderful giving kind human being she didn’t truly know herself from being lost in other peoples expectations.

    I grew up in an environment where if I didn’t say yes to my father he’d berate me and yell – feeling the only way to get love was to say yes and never say no out of fear of being berated and belittled.

    In my twenties I had a partner where I couldn’t feel comfortable saying no and for five years I was miserable, and didn’t know who I was. It was a one way street to fear and resentment – I said yes yes yes because I was afraid to leave me if I said no – and ended up going bankrupt because I said yes to signing a bank loan for a new vehicle – put in his name and my name on the debt.

    Fast forward a few years and I am with a partner who I can say no without fearing he is going to leave me if I don’t agree with him, and he can say no to me as well – we discuss things as partners – two way street.

    I hope that you can take chances – get out of your comfort zone – the healthy good people in life will still love and value you even if you say no to them and are not constantly doing favours to please them.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I am young profectional lady who works in a men industry and i am in a strong relationship. I have about 4 freinds all of them i have history with them and they are high school freinds . I go all the way to make all of them happy even if it means i am suffering . I didnt not grow up with my mother and Father but i was raised by my Uncle and Aunt . At a very young age i always think i have to please them inorder for me to be love and to get what i want even if i have to cleane the house , do the washing or anything for that matter. At school i was pleasing everyone if i have money i would give even if it means i will not have . I always had this idea that i would study and work then have my own money then i dont have to please people . I did that and i am doing my dream job but the pleasing people part did not stop , i do anything just to make people happy. I dont have time for myself , i even forgot the reall me i dont really know who i am . Its like i am a robot / machine that was programe to please people. Any i met loving , patient man with him i dont have to please because he is always the one who go all the way to please . The problem is that i am pushing him because he is not allowing me to do what i was trained for but i really love him and i am scared i am going to loose the love of my life because of this . I am writting this letter because i feel like its my last chance just to bring back me and to find myself .I would appretiate anyone Adivices . Thanks Nandie

  22. Anonymous says:

    Just tell your friend that you can hang out tomorrow instead.

  23. Anonymous says:

    I know it’s hard to stand your ground when you are used to always being the one to accommodate. I don’t even mind being accommodating–what I do mind is when my efforts are taken for granted. I think it’s normal to feel a bit queasy when you are coming into your own but that feeling is eventually replaced with a feeling of peace and calm. For anyone to expect a friend to engage in these sorts of antics around e-mails and phone calls is really incredibly immature. You can blame the device but it’s a person attached to the darn thing. I know another woman who is never without her IPhone–that she does not have one minute to send a text or e-mail in response to a query I’ve sent her is complete BS. I didn’t just fall out of a tree and I know when I’m getting the run around. She may feel she’s too busy or important to respond or she thinks I won’t mind being blown off but now she’s learned that I’m too busy and important to care and I do mind. Now she has more time to attend to the people she really cares about–that is until she doesn’t care about them.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Thank you, I replied to Sepulveda explaining what has just happened. What you describe and what I just experienced is very familiar, I have had several “friends” like this and only recently understood what negative narcissism is all about. Up until then, I did feel very guilty for refusing to tolerate this type of behavior while also feeling full of anger towards these individuals. Recent therapy brought this out more crucially and an “ah-ha” moment occurred when I realized just how much of a role guilt played in depression. Also, I was for once encouraged to take care of myself first instead of putting other people’s needs ahead of mine. It takes time to put this in action, old fears resurface making one very uncomfortable but in the end what is most painful, being treated with disrespect or the fear of upholding one’s right to decent behavior? I choose to go beyond my fears and claim my right to be and be respected for it.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for your comment. I just got off the phone with her (she called, realizing that I must be upset) and told her not so much how I felt but how I was understanding the situation based on the FACTS (here I must thank the therapist I was seeing a year ago). I got the whole gamut of excuses, she had been depressed and isolating herself (not the first time), she “didn’t remember” other unpleasant occasions, she has a messy inbox (!). When I stated the FACTS very calmly, indicating that these gave me the clear message that she did not value our friendship, then the criticizing phase set in, I was less available than before, I was unavailable on weekends (yes, I have a husband and a private life). I cut that off immediately saying that yes, I needed to work and as a consultant I had to respect my clients’ deadlines, that I value the special time I can spend with a friend but that I had never been available on w.e. from the start. Then she switched to abject apologies, reiterating how she was not aware of having treated me badly, that it would never happen again, etc. BS! I had to make a tremendous effort of self-respect, ignore her fake apologies and tell her that I did not want a yo-yo friendship, that it WOULD happen again and that I had no wish to run that risk, and that the trust was broken. I did not comment on her “soul-searching” intentions and said I needed a time out, that we would see in the new year. That’s me, trying to ease the other person’s pain by leaving an (insincere, on my part) opening. But I do feel calm and relieved that, for once, I was able to handle an emotional confrontation without accepting blame or guilt. Reading this blog as well as others helped me consolidate the reality of being worthy of respect and demanding it in a firm and polite manner. Thank you!

  26. Anonymous says:

    Your friend is all advertising and no product! Plus the games that she’s playing around communication are nauseating and very unhealthy. Passive-aggressive much? It’s as if she wants to see how much jerking around you will tolerate and still be her friend. If you do tolerate it that tells her that she is so valuable to you that you’ll endure anything and/or you have such low self esteem that she can manipulate you at her whim. With all the means of communication these days it’s easy (and rude) for someone to use the technology as the excuse for bad behavior, but honestly if someone really wants to be in touch I’m guessing they can find a way can’t they? The excuses your friend comes up with are embarrassing to her.

    My ex best friend was exactly like this. She had always used her ability to charm with words to reel me in (classic narcissist) but in thinking over the many years we were friends there was never a show of action to back up her schmoozing. During two major life events when she had the opportunity to show me the true feeling behind her pretty words it never happened. When I had had enough and stopped communicating with her she would reappear with the usual terms of endearment to see if I would pursue her again–send her birthday gifts, send her children gifts, send her little cards, e-mail her, call her–all the things I had done over the course of our friendship. I didn’t and I’m not going to. She keeps asking “Why have you shut me out?” but she knows. She just wants to get me into a conversation where she can turn the tables and be the one to announce that there’s no friendship anymore. Oh, do I know her well!

    Narcissists hate to be rejected even if they don’t really want the friendship. They have a high need to maintain control over their admirers and they want EVERYONE to be an admirer. I thought my former friend was my best friend but what I finally realized is that I was just another source of ego support. As long as I kept that coming we were good, when I started tending to my own life, things quickly started to crumble. My sister described our friendship the best, she said, “She always thought she would have you on the hook with minimal effort and she’s trying to put you back under her spell so she’s up again and you are down–chasing her, trying to please her, always available for favors”. Just writing this raises my blood pressure–what was I thinking?

    Anonymous, don’t let your friend treat you like a “less than”. If she’s not giving you what you need and what you offer her then there is no meeting of hearts and minds and no common ground for a healthy friendship. Trying to figure out the mental maneuverings of an insincere person can literally make you sick–and that’s no way to bring in the New Year!

  27. sepulveda says:

    Someone like this doesn’t want to make you “feel bad” by saying all the time how you are such a friend, etc etc etc while at the same time blowing you off. Actions speak louder than words-she’s dumping you, while at the same time stringing you along with words you want to believe. I’m glad you woke up to it. If you dread her calling you and asking you to justify why YOU aren’t contacting HER (she likes being chased?), rehearse what you’d say, write it down. Or you could just tell her straight out, “No thanks. You’re not being a wonderful friend. Goodbye.” and hang up cutting off further discussion. It’s hard to believe she’s in her 50s!

  28. Anonymous says:

    I feel very uncomfortable about a close friend who constantly says, on the rare occasions we meet or talk, how much she values me as a friend, how precious and meaningful our friendship is to her. Yet, for more than a year now and after my helping her through rough marital times, depression and her move, she is always “too busy” to see me, cancels get-togethers at the last minute (literally) or doesn’t confirm, “forgets” to call me back or “didn’t see my email”. When I gently told her I would appreciate hearing from her more regularly, she said of course but “if you don’t hear from me, then call me”. What? The last straw was an email I sent her inviting her to dinner at my place (we see each other now maybe 3 times a year although we live in the same small city). She never replied then a month later sent me 2 lines saying that she had changed cellphones and that my number was in the old one (?). Well, we communicate through one of my professional emails that has my number on it, so what’s going on? I replied that I hadn’t appreciated her not replying to my invitation and never calling. I politely wished her and her family Happy Holidays, meaning that this year I had no intention of inviting her over for dinner like in the past. I get her answer in the form of a non-apologetic apology, sorry sorry I didn’t see your email (?) but now I found it and sorry sorry BUT remember YOU canceled our last appointment because of your work (I’m a freelancer and had canceled 2 days before), and she goes on that she doesn’t want to lose my friendship, I’m so special to her, bla-bla, and ending by “give me a call when you have a minute”. So now I’m the guilty one for not following up to make sure she had read my email, and I have to call her back???? Ugh! Something’s broken for good, I don’t want to see her or talk to her anymore, I didn’t reply and filed her emails away. However, I do feel guilty about taking a NO stance and dread the possibility of her calling me and me having to justify my withdrawal. I don’t do well in confrontations. I’d just like to add that we are both in our mid-fifties, so presumably have some degree of maturity!

  29. Anonymous says:

    had one who wanted to talk about her boyf twce a day (11 at night 8 in the morning or out of the blue this for a year.
    one other also when i was working out of the blue, for a year too.one newer one who rung me when i told her i was working from home three years on and off i told her finally she ruining my life and she just said ‘mmmm’
    i spell out why it is hard to work and be interupted and get ignored, gave the last one a dose of her own medicine (not nice but was desperate) the freindship is finished, sad but necessary. on the way to that is their anger sometimes
    are these people sabotuers who like ruining lives? other phone-freaks with nothing much to do might see me as wrong. but real frends would undertstand – i mean ‘i’m busy all week’ is simple wording am not letting my ambitions get chewed up ever
    with freinds like these sabotaging who needs enemies?

  30. Anne says:

    article says “women are raised to be nuturing and caring” which is why guys expect us to be idiotic.

    am currently friends with a man who wants me to clean his house (i do not live there and have no financial stake in it) do his paperwork (my own is quite enough) while I have a hard careeer.

    nuturing and caring? not so fast!

    am nearly sixty and finally learned to look for favours back instead of being “nuturing and caring” left right and center

  31. Anonymous says:

    I understand your situation as I have a 30 year old disabled daughter. I personally would use the excuse you are busy and maybe back away from seeing the family as often. I would continue talking to the mom. If he weren’t disabled you wouldn’t have someone his age hanging around knowing he really likes you since you are married so don’t feel bad or guilty for saying no and being less available. Your a good person because most wouldn’t care the way you do. It’s hard for parents to say no to there children but the real world is out there and they don’t always get what they want. I would be honest with the mother if he continues to bring up the subject and tell her your concerns with the bathroom needs and him being able to get around your house and that you just don’t feel comfortable with it. His mom should understand your concerns and not want to push it. He probably really likes you because he can feel that you care and are a good person. You talk to his mom everyday and you are good friends. I would try and focus on that and not be as available to her son for awhile. Hope this helps 🙂

  32. wendy says:

    Could anyone help me with my problem. I have a family close by which I have become friendly with, who have a disabled son of 39. He has cerebal palsy, and is very disabled, but his mind is very good. He has attached himself to me, and professes he loves me. I am married, and much older than him. I like the family very much, and also like the son, who has an incredible sense of humour. However, even though I see the family twice a week, and speak to his mother daily on the phone, the son keeps wanting to came to see me at my house Whilst I have fended him off so far, it is becoming an issue, with toileting, and the logistics of getting him in my house. I feel extremely guilty saying no to him, as he doesnt have much of a life at home, but equally, I find it extremely stressful when he asks to come down to see me, and I dont want him to come – what can I do.

    He enjoys both my and my husbands company, but we lead busy lives, and giving up half a day to accommodate his wishes, as well as seeing his family (and him) at their home twice a week as well as fitting in everything else is a lot to ask.

    I cant say anything to his mother, as to his mother, he can do no wrong, and she is used to his disability, but I am not,and when I have broached this before to her, she says “he is 39, I cant stop doing what he wants”. He uses a mobility scooter to get about, hence the fact he can get himself to my house. Help please.

  33. Julie says:

    Hello all,

    I have a friend who lives three houses down from me and we have become close over the last year of getting to know one another. Each month that went by I found myself doing more and more for her, babysitting her one year old for an hour here, then lending here my $300 Margharita maker, which came back filthy. It had gotten so bad that I agreed to babysit her 18 month old for two hours so she could pack and get ready for a spa weekend with her friends. I realized I was giving someone a break who was going to be away from here children for three whole days, and sacrificing my alone time for her to get herself caught up when I was so far behind in what I needed to be doing, taking care on my infant and cleaning my house. I called her on the phone and stated I wish I was able to babysit for her but that I needed to do what was best for my emotional well being and for my family. It did not go smoothly and we are no longer friends. I did what was best for me and it worked. I miss my friend but I don’t feel she was really a true friend.

  34. Kate says:

    Hi Sam
    I had the same, I was always having coffee but thinking of all the things I wanted to do at home including just sometimes relaxing by myself!!! Anyway I just started saying no & I got asked less often. The times I did go seemed more special.
    see ya Kate

  35. Irene says:

    I’m not sure whether this woman is a friend or only a colleague but she has to be told that you can’t be a taxi service.

    You need to be firm. Explain that you were happy to pitch in for a day or two but you can no longer wake up that early and function properly during the day. Tell her you are very sorry for not being able to taxi her around (either to work or medical appointments) any more but she has to make other arrangements.

    Tell her you hope that she will understand; if she doesn’t, she isn’t a friend.

    Good luck! Irene



  36. Anonymous says:

    I have been driving this girl to and from work for 2 whole weeks now, because her car is broken. Her son is her mechanic. I have to get up at 3:30am to make it to her house by 4:20 am.. then I have to go pick her up in the early afternoon. She pays me gas money, that is fine. But it’s taking a toll on my life. The other day I went to pick her up, I was rear ended at a light, I didn’t get out of the car to call the cops or anything, in fear I would hold up traffic and be late picking her up.. she scolded me for that later.. but I don’t like doing all this driving! I was jolted pretty hard in my car, no damage, but I am now afraid to be out driving anymore than I need to. She told me on Friday her car would be hopefully fixed by Monday (tomorrow).. well she just called and said the parts are warped, her son has to go find other parts at the junkyard now, so maybe her car will be fixed by Wednesday. WTF!!! How do I tell her no? I told her “this is taking a toll on me, having to wake up this early”.. she said “well, it’s hard on everyone”.. (what!!!) And she knows tomorrow is my bday.. she said after I take her to work and then pick her up, would I drop her off at her doctor’s appt and she could find a way home from there. Ummm okay??? How can I get back to living a normal life! I do feel bad for her okay, being without a car for this long, but what am I supposed to do, keep on driving her around? Please help..

  37. Suzanne says:

    This is a bit tricky because the person has genuine needs. When my baby was small a person gave me some very wise advice. It was this. Your baby has needs but you are not the only one who can meet all of them.
    You sound as if you are a genuinely caring person who is sensitive to her friend’s plight. I would be inclined to have a bit of a think about how much you can genuinely offer to this friend then have a very honest chat with her. Perhaps together you can find some community support for her and come up with some solutions that do not involve it always having to be you who meets the need.

  38. Suzanne says:

    I am amazed that you have allowed this situation to develop. I am not sure how many years this ‘friend’ has been visiting you, but I think it is one too many. I am thinking that when this friend makes contact with you and makes a request to come and visit, it might be helpful for you to get in touch with what you are feeling inside your body. Just close your eyes and sit with the feeling for a few minutes.

    When she asks next time, you could perhaps tell her that she is welcome to stay but that you will need to charge her board whilst she is there and set a monetary figure and the ground rules so that she is pulling her weight in the household whilst she is there. Tell her that you will need the money upfront. You could also specify the time of year that you are happy for her to stay and suggest that the time is for one month only. I am suggesting this because one of my friends was in a similar situation. When she laid out her needs for accommodation and monetary recompense, she did not hear from that ‘friend’ again. We all had a good chuckle.

    You sound as if you are a caring and generous friend and that it has worked for you in the past to allow people to use you. We all do what we do because we get something out of our behaviour, even if it is unhealthy. I wonder what the need in you is that allows you to accept such behaviour from another? What would you have to deal with inside yourself if you learn to say ‘No’? Perhaps you need to learn to care for yourself as much as you seem to care for others. It doesn’t matter why she does what she does. The important thing is that you need to get in touch with what you need and then learn to go from here. Since this is a long-standing pattern, you might need to get some professional support to begin to say ‘No’.

  39. Anonymous says:

    What about a friend with a chronic disabling illness? If a person finds that they resent this friend fro asking for trips to the store etc who does legitimately need help and begin to resent that person how does that fit in to saying no? Disabled people are not users.

  40. Irene says:

    Your friend may invite herself to your home but you’re the one who books the reservation. She may borrow other people’s cars but they give her the keys. In any relationship, it is important to set boundaries that are comfortable for both parties.

    In this case, your judgment sounds a bit clouded by your compassion for her plight. You don’t want to pull the rug out from under her completely but maybe you can make some gradual changes in the right direction. It’s the right thing to do for both of you! 





  41. Anonymous says:

    I have a friend who invites herself to spend 3 months of each year at my house rent free. She is super social and has two to three engagements each day none of which I am included. She borrows other people’s cars for her transportation. Something is wrong here and I don’t know how to end it. It is obvious she is a taker more than a friend. I am still fond of her. She hasn’t much money and maybe that is why she uses people so much.

  42. Trudy says:

    What each of you need to realize is that not a single one of these folks is is your friend. A real friend doesn’t treat you this way. Would YOU do this to your friend? Of course not! So, since they aren’t your friend anyway, simply tell them ‘no’. No big explanation necessary. Say no and hang up. Then go for a walk so you don’t hear the phone ringing…..The first few times is hard, but it gets easier. As your spine stiffens–ahh, it feels sooo good. And, they will start to respect you. You weren’t being rude, simply assertive.

  43. Anonymous says:

    Hi, this is not so much a crisis but it has been bothering me. I’m working overseas for a year, and agreed to take my two-week vacation near here with a work-friend because I thought I wouldn’t mind not going home. Well, 5 months in and I miss my family and my husband. I don’t know how to tell her I’ve changed my mind. It’s a really painful situation.
    Any advice?

  44. Anonymous says:

    Hi, I recently realized I can’t say no to anyone and constantly go the extra mile for friends and family. This was’nt much of a problem until I found myself hiding out from my mother in law. It all started by paying last minute bills. Although works an hour away asked if I could pick her up, she was feeling sick. Later it was to borrow money to avoid forclosure. Every week she called for these favors and made excuses for not doing them on her free time. So I screened my calls and did’nt visit as often. Before I knew it, she was calling my friends, my work, my sitter, my externship site! My husband blames me for not being more assertive. Recently while my son was away, I took care of her because her husband and sons were squimish about her infection. Now that my son is back, I let them do it. But once again the calls keep coming. I’m a bad liar and I can’t say no and she “jokes about it!” Now, I’m resentful, anxious and so angry I can’t find the right way or words to say “no.” Someone please help?

  45. Anonymous says:

    I dont really have a problem with saying no as much as I do feel bad for people and i want to help but i cant tell when people are taking advantage of my niceness til after the fact. a co-worker of mine was talking to me and was upset because her babysitter just up and quit babysitting without warning. she has a 2,7, and 9 year old. i have 3 teenage daughters. this co-worker always said she paid her babysitter good and that she payed her in advance before she quit and she makes it sound as if she really treated her good. So i said maybe one of my girls would be interested in the job. So she called me a few days later and asked if they were interested and i said sure but i asked her the times and how much she was going to pay and how would she be paying. like by the week or by the day or what. well she isnt giving me a straight answer. she hesitantly said 20 or 25$. then she says she will try to pay on the day of but she doesnt know for sure if she’ll have it but she will surely have it on friday. well she doesnt work all weekend and i do so how do i go about collecting the money off of her without sounding rude. i dont even know what to say right now to her but the way she is being is making me think that she isnt going to pay and i will end up having to pay my daughter and i have to work with this girl so i dont want to have problems with her. and she is also good friends with a friend of mine from work and i dont want to jeaprodize that friendship too now. so how do i go about all of this?

  46. Irene says:

    Hi Megan:

    I answered your question on a new post on the blog. Take a look.



  47. megan says:

    Someone please help..e-mail me a response…
    i have a friend that is about to be my sister in law her wedding is in two weeks.
    she takes and takes and TAKES from me because i cant say NO! im fed up and dont know how to tell her. she has me sending out invitations baking and decorating her cupcakes and the grooms cake for the wedding, helping her with the music and no telling what else to come…if i try to say no she twists it and keeps pressuring until i give in…oh and im her maid of honor…we had to pay for our own dresses and my husband had to pay for his shirt thats over 100.00 already i paid to give her a luau shower , and i helped out with the bachlorette party…the last straw was when my husband didnt pay for his shirt because we spent over 50 dollars (the price of the shirt) on necessities for the cakes…he just wanted to call it even. Now she is calling me crying upset trying to get me to pay for the shirt!!!

  48. Irene says:

    Hi Sam:

    It may be wise to set some boundaries and make them explicit to your friends.

    Simply tell them the truth: you don’t have as much time for yourself as you would like—that you want to see them regularly because you treasure their friendship—but you only have time to meet X times a week.

    You’ll feel less stressed and will enjoy the time you’re together more.

    Let me know how it goes.


  49. Anonymous says:


    I request anyone who has advice on a good way to handle the following situation to mail me please –

    I have a couple of close girl friends with kids around the same age as mine. I think they’re great fun and like them, however, they want to meet up for lunch/dinner or breakfast too often for my comfort, and I find it tough to explain that I don’t want to do that, without hurting their feelings.

    Any advice?

    please let me know.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Israa says:

      saying NO is hard so what u can do is just let it go , just don’t go with out even telling them *that is what I do* , if they ask u why didn’t u come , just simply say the u coudn’t come because u did not want to say NO , because u love them and u don’t want to hurt their feeling in any way 🙂

      I hope that helps bbe
      , Israa Saeed

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