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Friendship is wearing me out


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Mary and I have been coworkers for years. We are now nearing our late '40s. Mary has lived in her hometown all of her life, is married to a nice guy, and has one son, a good kid. She has a nice house and is fiscally stable. Unfortunately, Mary is not taking the prospect of aging well and seems to be getting somewhat annoyingly flightly. While she has been a decent friend over the years, I am getting fed up with her conversational dynamics to the point that I am avoiding her phone calls when I see her number on caller I.D. and when I do take her phone calls, I am certain not to share much detail of anything because she has to contradict everything or feel the need to correct me. I feel badly about this because Mary does not have many friends.


Example Mary will present a topic. I will respond. She will not only contradict me but will turn it around to make me look like a unsavory person for suggesting something.


Mary: I am so tired of never going anywhere. Did you know that X and Y are going on a cruise?

Me: Sounds fun (I'm thinking that I couldn't care less)

Mary: I've always wanted to go on an Alaskan cruise.

Me: Go. There's nothing stopping you.



Or this one We were meeting some old coworkers for lunch a while back. We were discussing a very popular restaurant near my mother's neighborhood. I made a joke about the restaurant, that if you wanted to be sure to get a table, just whisper my mother's name (used to be a frequent customer). Everyone was laughing about it because I was being facetious. Mary has to talk over us and say "Well, do you really think that the new workers there would even know who YOUR mother is?" It took the spirit of the topic away because she felt it necessary to put me in my place for insinuating that I may think I'm self important.


A final example One of her old friends, P, is a classic moocher. They will plan a dinner or get together and her friend (I'm well acquainted with P as well) and P will not do her share of the work. Mary will call me and complain......


Mary: P did it again! She called me before they came over and said she didn't have time to cook. So, we had no side dishes. I cooked the main dish and all she had to do was to bring a side dish.


Me: (I've heard this complaint for many years--P will not change, that's why I don't hang out with her) That's pretty inconsiderate.


Mary: Yes, she always pulls this stuff. She doesn't realize that I work too. She always claims she's busy.


Me: Yea, that's been her excuse for years.


Mary: Well, in her defense, she does have a lot going on.


Me: She gets by with it.


Mary: (snotty tone) Well...you are one to talk. You used to talk about how your sister in law showed up with nothing. Did you say anything to HER? (okay, this is obscure. I mentioned once, in about 1991 that my ex-sister-in-law showed up empty handed to a reunion. Mary never met her). ](*,)


Every.conversation.goes.like.this. It doesn't matter what the topic. She will present something wanting me to comment. Then she has to contradict me. And yes, anymore I do not comment on what she says. I just say, "uh huh" or "huh." It doesn't seem to do any good, she will just contradict herself. I hate to disband our friendship completely but I am really tired of this. If I called her out on this, she would get her feelings hurt. I don't know what to do.

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I don't think she is going to change based on just a talk with you -she is stuck in this negativity. I would keep the conversations brief and distance myself, slowly fade away. Perhaps try saying "so, what's good that's going on with you?" or similar and see if you can get on a better topic but otherwise.... based on what you write about your limited emotional connection I don't think it's worth it.

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Sometimes even good friendships end, or fade. I doubt she will change - this is part of her make-up and if you feel she is dragging you down, then it's probably best to slowly wean yourself off of the friendship and distance yourself. When things get to the point of making you unhappy, then it's usually time to question the relationship/friendship and move on.

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