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Thread: Am I an insensitive jerk?

  1. #1
    Silver Member ElectricSheep123's Avatar
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    Am I an insensitive jerk?

    I have a small group of friends that are very dear to me but over the past few months Iíve realized that my closest friends are going through a lot.

    My best friend has been depressed over his job and the death of his brother for the past year. And now has broken up with his partner of 10 years. My other best friend is single and depressed about it. And she just got let go from her job.

    Also, my bf of 2.5 years is depressed due to feeling stuck in his career.

    Iím generally a happy person and when Iím sad Iím able to work through stuff in my own head and move on from it.

    But I find myself just being annoyed with my friends always being down. My best friend has become extremely needy and emotional ALL THE TIME. Heíll message me to thank me for my friendship and wants to reminisce about past things. Iíll be in a great mood and heíll just send me a random mopey message that just ruins my mood.

    My bf has his ups and downs but spends a lot of time talking about feeling lost in his career. I listen and provide advice but Iím growing impatient because I feel like that all he talks about and I canít help him.

    I know they would be there if I need them, but I donít act needy towards my friends and burden them with my problems. Itís great to be needed but I just wished people around me were happier because their mental health is really starting to affect my own mental health.

    Am I selfish for feeling this way? I am very sympathetic to what theyíre all going through and help when I can. But Iím just tired of everyone crying to me about their lives. Iíve encouraged them all to seek professional help and none of them has.

  2. #2
    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
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    Boundaries and limits. After that change the subject. If people's emotion dumping is affecting you, that's what you need to do. Don't be anyone's therapist. Be their friend and that's it. Don't be a cheerleader or try to fix their problems or listen endlessly.

  3. #3
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    I donít think you are an insensitive jerk. I am very much the same way. I am a happy person - but also sensitive - and if too many people come at me with their problems and depression, it actually affects MY mental health. Itís not good.

    I try to live by the philosophy of ďdonít worry about things you canít change. Worry does not help. If you can change it, change it. If you cannot change it, there is no sense in worrying as it cannot changeĒ (or something like that)

    For your boyfriend, he needs to change careers or get a new job. Bellyaching about it wonít change anything. I think itís time for some tough love. If he wants to talk to you about his career, he needs to talk about the steps heís taking to change it.

    Same as your best girlfriend. Bellyaching about being single isnít going to change anything. She needs to find her happiness (and a boyfriend by going online or whatever). She is only allowed to bellyache about the loss of her job for a period of time. Thatís legit - but does not go on forever. She needs to talk about the steps sheís taking to fix it.

    For your male best friend - heís the only one truly allowed to bellyache for a while (a couple of years). The loss of his brother was outside of his control and if they were close, thatís devastating. And then the loss of a partner of 10 years? Oof. Double devastating. The people heís accustomed to leaning on and talking to and being around are gone. It makes sense that heís needy right now. I think any of us would be.

    Personally, I would concentrate your empathy and shoulder to lean on on the things that just are. The things that cannot change while they adjust to their new normal. But for the other stuff? Yeah... I would have less patience for that and tell them so. Sometimes people need a kick in the butt to get into action about changing things. You should only ďkickĒ them over things they have the power to change - because YOUR mental health is important too.

    Just my opinion...

  4. #4
    Platinum Member DancingFool's Avatar
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    Life happens and everyone has a different approach to how they deal with it. Some people will whine to everyone and anyone who will listen, while others will internalize, take action and move forward. Your friends seem to fall into the former category while you into the latter. Thing is that there is no right or wrong approach here. Different people react and deal differently.

    All you can do really is two things. First is limit how much you listen to them and change conversation/topic before you start to get irritated or start feeling upset/depressed with them. Second thing is detach yourself in the sense that no, you can't help anyone and as a friend, all you really can do is offer a shoulder to cry on within limits. I get the urge of wanting to help people you care about, but you've got to get a grip on that and disconnect that urge. Just chill out and listen and commiserate with them and when you've had enough of it, change topics completely.

    Honestly, when you assert that boundary, after a bit your friends will notice and quit treating you like free endless therapy. It might even help them to actually get a grip and instead of whining and whining, take some action about their problems. Being too supportive of whining can actually result in becoming their enabler.

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    If you're looking for votes, I'm not seeing a problem with how you respond to these people who are wallowing in grief and depression. It can be contagious you know.

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    Platinum Member catfeeder's Avatar
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    Try moving them from ruminating mode into a rational problem solving mode by interrupting to ask them, "How can I help?" Don't allow them to just say "I don't know..." and them move back into rumination. Call them back to the question. Ask them to come up with something tangible that you can offer your time to help them resolve.

    This moves their focus onto thinking through possible answers. If they still come up with nothing, tell them, "Well, my offer stands. If you come up with a way that I can help you, let me know. It can even include going with you to a therapy session and staying in the waiting room until we celebrate afterward. Until then, let's start this new year with a new focus on enjoying our time together."

    You don't need to play therapist to everyone in your life. You can set boundaries that limit dumping on you in favor of other things, and if they aren't interested, they can contact you when they are.

    Head high, and be proactive about changing how you're willing to spend YOUR time.

  8. #7
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    I have exactly the same problem with my partner. I've been listening to him bellyache at least one hour every day and often he concludes the conversation by saying "you don't understand, you're so detached, you don't even try to help", blaming it all on me, which drives me nuts. I've told him many times to stop nagging so much, because it give us both negative energy. I've also told him that I'm not selfish and I would be totally fine with a little bit of bellyaching if it would make him feel a short-term relief, but certainly this much of it is destructive.

    I believe putting a lot of effort for your partner or friends is good, as it's a sign that you care about them. But every thing should be balanced. An endless loop of rumination would tire both of you.

  9. #8
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    Why isn't your bf looking for another job?

    It is not fair to use you as a sounding board, indefinitely .

  10. #9
    Platinum Member indea08's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by catfeeder
    Try moving them from ruminating mode into a rational problem solving mode by interrupting to ask them, "How can I help?" Don't allow them to just say "I don't know..." and them move back into rumination. Call them back to the question. Ask them to come up with something tangible that you can offer your time to help them resolve.

    This moves their focus onto thinking through possible answers. If they still come up with nothing, tell them, "Well, my offer stands. If you come up with a way that I can help you, let me know. It can even include going with you to a therapy session and staying in the waiting room until we celebrate afterward. Until then, let's start this new year with a new focus on enjoying our time together."

    You don't need to play therapist to everyone in your life. You can set boundaries that limit dumping on you in favor of other things, and if they aren't interested, they can contact you when they are.

    Head high, and be proactive about changing how you're willing to spend YOUR time.
    This is perfect. Thanks for this post Catfeeder. I think Iíll keep this one in my back pocket for future use myself!!

  11. #10
    Platinum Member catfeeder's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by indea08
    This is perfect. Thanks for this post Catfeeder. I think Iíll keep this one in my back pocket for future use myself!!
    You're welcome. The key is to ask how you can help, first. It not only takes the sting out of asking to move forward without coming off as dismissive, it interrupts the 'poor me' emotional dwelling and forces a search for an answer with the rational part of the brain. When the default answer is "I don't know," the kneejerk will be to fall right back into searching for the 'woe is me' mindset, so interrupt that again with a standing offer to help. Possibly offer a way or two that you'd be willing to step up for them. THEN ask them to back-burner the lamenting in favor of spending your time together lifting one another UP.

    You can repeat this exchange as necessary to avoid future dumping sessions. You may end up seeing less of this person for a while, because you've made it clear that you're not willing to go down to the level where they believe that they want to be. That's okay--you've put an offer to be of help on the table. Either they'll take you up on it, or not, but you'll make it clear that you're no longer a dumping ground for unproductive boo-hoos.

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