Saturday, May 26, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Tell Me About It: Challenge 'friend' by confronting her about her complaining

Q: How do friends drift apart if I'm the only one drifting? I have a friend who lives somewhat near me, whom I've known since college. We weren't super close, but I suppose since we've known each other so long, we've kept up this friendship.

I would like it to drift into the ether. My friend is selfish and consistently negative: She constantly complains about how tough her life is, even though she has everything she's ever wanted — husband, kids, certain amount of money, big house, etc. I find our (thankfully) infrequent get-togethers draining, and find myself competing with her in complaints to prove that she actually has it quite good. I then vent about these visits to my husband and friends, and I'm sure they're sick of hearing about them.

I've tried to drift away by not initiating contact, but she always seeks me out eventually. Is there anything I can do short of a big, dramatic breakup? I don't really want to do that either.

Drifting

A: What happened to telling her the truth? Each of her complaint sessions is an opportunity for you to say: "You know, I've listened to you complain about how tough your life is — for years, really — but from the outside, you appear to have everything you wanted. If that's not enough, then is it time to look inward to figure out what's missing?" She'll either take it to heart or never call you again.

I suppose she could spin your candor into something she wants to hear and then resume complaining, but then you can say: "Okay, let's try this: Tell me something positive about your life. We'll talk about that."

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