Ask Evie: I’m tired of being my friend’s emotional crutch

Hi Evie. I’m writing because I’m stuck and don’t really know what to do about my best friend. We’ve been super close for years, but it’s been tough lately. She’s been having a hard time and it feels like she’s leaning on me too much. I’m starting to get really stressed out about it all.

Every time we talk, it’s about her problems, and it’s the same thing over and over. I’ve told her that maybe seeing a therapist would help, but she always says I’m the only one who gets her. I get that she’s in a bad place, but it’s like I can’t catch a break. It’s too much for me, and I’m feeling trapped.

I really don’t want to hurt her feelings or leave her hanging, but I also miss feeling happy about our talks. I need some space, but how do I tell her without making things worse?

What should I do? I don’t want to be a bad friend, but this is really hard.

The predicament you’re facing is a pretty common issue – you’re suffering from emotional overwhelm. I understand you want to be a good friend, but sacrificing your own well-being isn’t the way to do it.

Finding balance in any relationship is crucial for both parties involved.

Ultimately, friendships are about give and take. There will be times when you need to lean on your friend and vice versa. But if you’re feeling emotionally drained, this can have a negative impact on your health and ultimately, the friendship.

That’s why it’s important to set clear boundaries.

This doesn’t make you a bad friend – in fact, it shows your commitment to ensuring the friendship withstands this rocky patch.

I would suggest finding a calm moment to speak to your friend. You could say something along the lines of:

“I really value our friendship and I’m here for you, but I’m finding it difficult to support you in the way you need. I think it would be beneficial for both of us if you could find someone who can provide you with the professional support you deserve.”

If your friend is unwilling to seek support elsewhere, you may need to put a few measures in place, such as:

  • Designated times for discussion: Set specific times for when they can discuss heavy topics, which can help manage the emotional load. For instance, “Let’s have coffee on Thursday evenings to talk about what’s been going on with us.”
  • Positive interaction time: Encourage meetings or calls that are dedicated to positive activities to balance the emotional give-and-take, like watching a movie together or going for a walk, where the rule is to focus on lighter, more positive topics.
  • Emotional check-ins: Before diving into deep conversations, have an emotional check-in. If one person isn’t feeling up to a heavy discussion, they have the right to say so.
  • Encourage a support network: Suggest that your friend widen their circle of support by confiding in other friends or family members, so they’re not relying solely on you.
  • Limit availability: Let your friend know that you will not be available at all hours. Set a time after which you do not take calls or answer messages.

Remember, you’re not responsible for her choices or her happiness.

It’s okay to take time for yourself and it’s okay to say no.

Your friend may initially be upset, but setting boundaries is a step towards a healthier friendship. If she values your friendship as much as you do, with time, she will understand and respect your needs.

Sending love and strength,

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Ask Evie

Evie is on a mission to revolutionize relationships and help you sort through your emotional woes. Her popular column helps readers break free from societal restraints and create empowering relationships - both with their inner selves and with those around them. With a wealth of experience in relationship counseling, backed by several professional certifications, she’s open-minded, big-hearted, and extremely compassionate… But she’ll also be completely honest in telling you the (sometimes) brutal truth, so you can get straight to the heart of the matter. Maybe you’re trying to save a marriage that currently feels like a sinking ship? Or worrying that your new friend isn’t quite as nice as they seem? Perhaps you’ve accidentally killed your partner’s goldfish and are weighing up the pros and cons of going to the pet store and finding a doppelganger, or fessing up? Whatever the dilemma, Evie’s at the ready to help sort through the emotional turmoil and guide you towards the next best step. To get in touch with Evie, click here.

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