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Tell Me About It: Friend loses herself by becoming a crutch

Friend loses herself by becoming a crutch

Q: I'm a college sophomore and I am close with a group of girls from my freshman dormitory. One of them, "Allison," relies on me too much and I can't handle it anymore.

Allison is constantly asking to borrow my car (she can afford an Uber), get my help planning her class schedule, or for support in a crisis. Recently, she texted in a panic at 2 a.m., and I arrived breathless and worried only to realize she was overwhelmed because she loved her boyfriend so much.

I've tried to gently explain to her that acting as her security blanket is emotionally draining for me, but she acted deeply offended and was angry with me for being "selfish."

If I just cut off this friendship, this would cause a huge rift in my other friendships. This would also be devastating to Allison. Any advice?

Burned Out

A: Thank Allison profusely for teaching you that saying no is an essential skill, though she has no idea she's doing it. This could be the most valuable thing you learn in college.

This stress you're under isn't a matter of Allison's asking too much, or her failure to spread it around by asking Alex sometimes instead. Your seeing it that way makes Allison the one who is in control of this situation, and of you — since you're just asking and waiting for her to make changes for you.

But you're in control — of you, your time, your phone, your car, your definition of crisis, and your availability to help with one real or imagined. All you.

When Allison accused you of being selfish, that was manipulation 101. Do you see it?

Until you do see it, you'll be dogged by Allisons. They spot people more worried about losing their friends than about losing themselves, and latch on. The powerlessness you feel is what losing yourself feels like.

Fix it now, please, while your Allison is just Allison and not your boss, child or spouse.