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Hey everyone! So I need some advice on how to talk to my best friend about something without hurting her feelings or potentially causing her to have a nervous breakdown. She’s already hanging by a thread as it is.

 

This is my best friend of 20 years. We’ll call her Amber. She lives in another state, she moved there for college right out of high school. But we’ve never gone more than a couple of weeks without speaking to each other.

 

I’ll just get right to it - she is very emotional. She always has been, but it’s definitely gotten worse over the last few years. She’s been through a lot - she has an alcoholic/substance abuse/manipulative mother, she got mixed up in a cult that really broke her down for a couple of years, left church over a year ago due to manipulation within it. She went through a faith crisis for awhile and is still going through it. Her family was very disappointed in her for leaving church. There was a lot of pressure on her. Things have steadily gotten a little better with her family, but it isn’t perfect the way she wants it to be yet.

 

She is 30 and single and this really gets to her as well. She hasn’t had a relationship that lasted longer than a few months in quite some time. But I think the problem with this is some of her personality traits - she is a very deep and emotional person. She wants to talk about feelings, past trauma, and anything else personal and deep you can imagine. This is all she ever talks about. She constantly is talking about her problems and her past traumatic experiences with the church and cult and her mother. If it’s not those topics then it’s friends who have betrayed her or boyfriends who are gaslighting her (this is her favorite term lately). When she gets into a relationship she is over analytical of everything they do and say. Our conversations consist of her nit picking and analyzing something so small a boyfriend did and she is convinced this is a deal breaker or he’s keeping something from her. I’m talking little things. I understand everyone is different and we all have the right to choose what we want in a significant other, but there’s so many things that get to her and I’m just like “really?”... And the other issue is she is clingy and over analytical like this within the first week of meeting someone. It’s my opinion that she might be scaring some of these guys off.

 

Now before y’all ask, yes I have tried to point these things out to her in the nicest way possible. I’ve told her “Amber, he probably just had a tough day at work, don’t overthink it”, or “Amber, he already sees a therapist regularly, let him talk about that stuff with his therapist. He probably doesn’t want to come home and have another therapy session with his girlfriend”.

 

And guys this is just the tip of the iceberg and me trying to sum it all up. But it’s gotten out of control. It’s hard for me to have conversations with her. Literally - I can’t have a “normal” conversation with her anymore. She only wants to cry and talk about everything she’s going through and how hard her life has been. I’ve told her many times in the most respectful way that we all go through stuff. Every single one of us. Life isn’t easy. She knows what I’ve been through. And I guess I’m different because I like to fight my battles silently. I can’t begin to tell you what I’ve been through, but I look at it as something personal. I don’t tell everyone. That’s the other thing - she tells anyone who will listen her entire life story. I’m not exaggerating you guys. Anyone. And when she’s going through a situation or having problems, I know for a fact she has about 5 friends including me that she’s talking to about it simultaneously. She has sent me screenshots of the conversations! When I offer advice she sends a pic and says “well so and so told me to do this”.

 

It’s gotten to a point where I feel like her self esteem is so low she’s just desperate for attention. I’ve told her hundreds of times when she’s having guy trouble “Amber, even if you have to fake it, act like the most confident woman in the room and pretty soon it will help your self esteem. Confidence is key, you need to believe in yourself”. I’ve offered all of the good advice I can give and it literally goes in one ear and out the other.

 

I just can’t do it anymore. We talk a few times a week on the phone, and I’m not joking, they are minimum 2-3 hour conversations, consisting of her crying and talking and me not being able to get a word in. When we finally do get to me and she asks how I’m doing, I can tell she zones out because the conversation isn’t “stimulating” or “deep” enough for her. Or centered around her and her problems.

 

I don’t know how to tell her how I really feel in a nice and respectful way. She’s hanging by a thread and I feel like if I say one wrong thing she’s going to snap or not want to talk to me. She’s very firm on her feelings and emotions - if someone tells her she’s being too emotional she cuts that person out of her life. She thinks her being emotional is healthy, and no one can tell her that it’s wrong or not valid.

 

She sees 3 therapists regularly and I’m so shocked none of them have pointed any of this out to her or prescribed her medication for her mental health. I struggle with anxiety too, but hers is on a whole different level.

 

One last thing - one of her main problems is she cares so much what people think of her. Another persons opinion or perspective of her means EVERYTHING to her. She will obsess over it. A few nights ago she said her brother and her got into an argument and he told her “Amber you try so hard to fit in and you care way too much what people think of you” and she was crying when she told me this and she said to me “it’s not true!!! This isn’t true at all!”. I didn’t know what to say because she was so emotional at the time.

 

This is already long enough so I’ll end it here. If you got this far thank you for reading. I hope this doesn’t come off as me being a crappy friend. I love her to death, she is like a sister to me. That’s why I came here for advice. I just feel like her mental health is getting worse each day. Again this is the summed up version of everything. I don’t want to hurt her but I don’t want to see her hurting herself anymore. I also know this is borderline becoming a “toxic” friendship. And I have distanced myself a little more lately because it’s so hard to talk to her.. but I’m not exaggerating when I say she is like a sister. I love her very much, and I truly just want her to get healthy and stable. I feel like if I’m too honest with her or dump the friendship things will get worse for her.

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Read some books by Steven Hassan, a mental health counselor who has written on the subject of mind control and how to help people who have been harmed by the experience.

 

-Combating Cult Mind Control

-Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves

-Freedom of Mind: Helping Loved Ones Leave Controlling People, Cults, and Beliefs,

 

You can't be her therapist but you can read the books out of general interest and recommend them to her. You could also suggest she see a doctor for a checkup.

 

Do not suggest 'therapy'. People like her can be offended by that and she should be evaluated by a physician anyway. Talk therapy can be ineffective on people recently exiting cults, they are too paranoid to engender trust.

 

Also you need to scale back. Don't go down with the ship.

she got mixed up in a cult that really broke her down for a couple of years, left church over a year ago due to manipulation within it. She went through a faith crisis for awhile and is still going through it.

 

She is 30 and single She constantly is talking about her problems and her past traumatic experiences with the church and cult and her mother.

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This woman needs professional help. Soon.

 

"one of her main problems is she cares so much what people think of her. Another persons opinion or perspective of her means EVERYTHING to her. She will obsess over it."

 

You are not a therapist, and not her therapist. Please, for your own sake, retreat from this insane scenario.

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This woman needs professional help.

 

I know you have been 'friends' for years, but this has become really toxic. She uses you as her personal therapist and i can't fathom why you have continued with this. She is not a friend! I am thinking that EVERYTHING is about her. She is a user.

 

get away from her. You should also look into co dependence, as most people would have retreated from this scenario.

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Is this the same one that did not support you after you dad died?

 

And this: "So, the best friend I am currently having issues with has been my best friend for over ten years (since high school). For the past year or so, she has hardly wanted anything to do with me. I see all the time on social media that she is out with other friends and having a great time, but I literally never get an invite. And the very few times we have hung out lately, she doesn't ever post about it on social media or take pictures with me. I don't understand what's happened to our friendship. There are these random times when she will text me and be super sweet and nice and tell me she's proud of my recent career changes, etc, and she will say "I'm sorry I'm such a bad friend, we really need to hang out soon". And then I won't hear back from her and she won't invite me to hang out. Sometimes I feel like she does this to keep me around because theres something for her in it. Ever since I've known her she has been a very selfish person, it's just the way she's always been. She actually backed out from being a bridesmaid in my wedding at last minute.. I've never been able to get over this. (Her ex bf was a groomsmen and I think it made her uncomfortable). I don't tell her it still hurts me when I think about it, but it does. Anyway, that's just one example of many times that she has hurt me. And I've still always stood by her. I don't know what to do anymore."

You have been expressing what a crappy, selfish friend she has been for years. Why do you continue with this?

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Your friend is an "energy vampire." Google those words.

 

You are her fourth therapist. :upset: She's a "Debbie Downer" and a real drag.

 

You need to cut your friend out of your life. You don't need her, she doesn't benefit you in a mentally healthy way and her misery causes you to become depressed and stressed. She also increases your anxiety levels.

 

You need to love yourself by ending and exiting this toxic, very dysfunctional friendship. It's time to dissolve your friendship. It had run its course. You'll be a much happier person when you release her from your life. Don't let her life consume you anymore and you need to let her go so she can figure out her own life. You are NOT her responsibility. She's a big girl now, a grown adult and she's in charge of navigating her own life regardless of her consequences. Don't allow her nor anyone to use you as their anchor and crutch. She's abusing YOU.

 

Everyone has their own problems and troubles yet good people know how not to burden others. We know where to draw the line and have boundaries with others. Whenever people are unreasonable, inappropriate, outlandish and take advantage of other people's good will, it's time to end the friendship or relationship. Or, enforce stronger boundaries. Reduce and limit contact. Learn how to cut the conversation shorter and create time and space apart from a person who doesn't know how to behave properly with consideration in mind. Excessive dumping on people is intolerable and unacceptable. Know your limits.

 

She will not change for you. It's up to you to take action and do something about this. She lives in another state, you don't see her in person due to inconvenient geography and your friendship with her is impractical anyway. Then on top of that, it's not an enjoyable, pleasant friendship to engage in. Do yourself a favor and cut her loose.

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Since she already sees therapists I would be up front with her -polite but firm. Make it about you "I feel overwhelmed when we talk because I am not a professional and a lot of what you talk about and share with me seems like something a professional should hear and when I hear it I feel frustrated because I can't give you any helpful input. If you need to vent I totally get that and I can't be the listener anymore - it's too much for me right now. I'm sorry. It sounds like you are already seeing therapists. If they are helping you that's great. If not I'm happy to help you find one that is a better fit."

 

Something like that.

 

I don't think she is a deep person - she thinks she is but people with real depth have a lot of curiosity about what makes people tick, and seek knowledge from others and often are very good listeners. Is she "emotional" -sure I guess so but many people are emotional and they don't react to their emotions by using people as sounding boards.

 

Please don't tell her what anyone else has gone through. If you had a pounding headache and were in pain would it help if someone told you that everyone gets headaches or even worse headaches or you had a terrible headache yesterday? When we're dealing with a person who is balanced, and that person shares about a tough time, I think it's most helpful to say "I'm so sorry you're struggling. How can I help?"

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You’ve all given really great advice and helped open my eyes a little bit to some things I hadn’t really noticed. Thank you for that. Cherylyn, you made a lot of great points. All of you did.

 

Thank you, undertheivy. Hope you can think long and hard, make your final decision and do what will give you peace of mind.

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I had a friend who was similar in some ways to your "friend." She wore me out with her constant complaining and whining and she NEVER listened to anything I had to say. In the end I had to cut her out of my life as she was draining me too much.

 

You really need to step back from her, stop talking to her for hours on end. She needs her therapists, they would be the ones to help her, not you. You are not qualified to help her.

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“ That’s the other thing - she tells anyone who will listen her entire life story. I’m not exaggerating you guys. Anyone”

 

So you are just another “anyone” for her to whinge to.

 

Basically you have just described someone you have no interest in being friends with since you get nothing out of this apparent “friebdship”

 

So fade away.

Don’t answer her calls so readily. She will find another “anyone” to vent to.

 

She is not holding up her end of the friendship , so why do you?

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How do you find the time to talk to her so much? Your time would be better spent on income producing work so you can finally kick your bil and his teenager out of your place. You and your partner both need real jobs. You also need to take better care of yourself and your own mental health.

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Does she show interest in your life?

 

Yes, she does. She always has. She’s always been a great friend to me. Obviously when she’s having her meltdown moments the attention is all on her, but she has always been here for me, and she has always been a true friend. When my dad died she flew across the country that day to be here for me. She’s that kind of friend. It’s just been way more overwhelming than usual lately with her. That’s why I came here. My husband and I just bought a house and she was thrilled. I just got a new art studio and she was thrilled. She wants to send me a care package of goodies for the new house. She’s always interested in what’s going on with me. This post wasn’t intended to be about how crappy of a friend she is. I’m just worried about her and feel stuck and overwhelmed. She’s delusional to anyone telling her the truth or good advice.

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How do you find the time to talk to her so much? Your time would be better spent on income producing work so you can finally kick your bil and his teenager out of your place. You and your partner both need real jobs. You also need to take better care of yourself and your own mental health.

 

Danggg. That literally has nothing to do with this post but okay :)

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This friendship is nothing more than her using you as just another "anyone" to whine to in order to get attention. Emotional vampire, energy vampire is about correct. She feels better, you feel drained.

 

She isn't interested in hearing about your life or problems not because she is so deep, but because she doesn't actually care about you. When you stop being her emotional tampon, she tunes out because you are no longer useful to her, aka it's not about her so it's not interesting to her. Vomiting about her problems in life and creating many from what you've described, doesn't make her deep, it makes her shallow, selfish, and self centered. There is nothing deep about her behavior - just a lot of drama and pretense.

 

As for giving her advice, please stop wasting your breath. She doesn't see her life as a problem and is doing what she wants - whinge, whine, feed off people's attention. A professional victim. She has three therapist she is actually paying to listen to her drama. They can't fix her because she doesn't want to be fixed.

 

What you've described is so one sided and toxic, I really wonder what you are getting out of this.

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That's mental illness....big denial that they need advice or help. They feel more comfortable coping with things their way because it feels "safe". Doing anything different scares them and that's when they panic, divert, go hiding. I doubt she is seeing 3 therapists. She's just telling you that as to not receive any advice. So what you can do is divert the conversation to more positive things, generic things, and nothing about her misery, depression or issues. Redirect her attention. Do it in small increments, and hopefully she will be more interested in how you make things positive for her. Hey it's worth a shot.

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I think that Wisey asked a valid question. What happened to the the BIL and son? Are you and your husband working stable jobs?

 

My husband and I do have stable jobs. He now owns his own shop and I am a successful and well known artist. My work has been published in 3 magazines the past year (twice in the last 6 months). I sell my work online, so both of our shops are doing great :) Great enough that we just purchased our first home together. My step son is 17 and in high school so he still lives with us. And BIL still lives with us but things have gotten so much better. We had a talk with him about doing his fair share, and his rent went up a little bit after we purchased the home. The main problem I had with BIL was laziness and messiness. But other than that he’s never home. So as long as he cleans up after himself it’s like he’s not even here. We’ve always been at a point where we don’t NEED him to live here financially. It was just easier. Before my husband bought his shop he has now things were a little bit harder, but now that he owns his own shop he’s making a lot more and it’s a more steady income. We could get by without BIL but like I said he’s never here. As long as he’s cleaning up after himself I’m happy. Still don’t know how that’s relevant to this post though. If y’all were just curious then I understand. But Wisey turned the whole thing around basically saying my roommate and job are the reasons I’m worried about my best friend. But that’s just not the case.

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That's mental illness....big denial that they need advice or help. They feel more comfortable coping with things their way because it feels "safe". Doing anything different scares them and that's when they panic, divert, go hiding. I doubt she is seeing 3 therapists. She's just telling you that as to not receive any advice. So what you can do is divert the conversation to more positive things, generic things, and nothing about her misery, depression or issues. Redirect her attention. Do it in small increments, and hopefully she will be more interested in how you make things positive for her. Hey it's worth a shot.

 

Definitely worth a shot. Thank you for the input.

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Melancholy, Billie, batya, dancingfool, thank y’all for your advice as well. I appreciate it. I did look up energy vampire and it fits her to a T. I went down a rabbit hole while researching and somehow wound up on some other things like personality disorders and narcissism. The more I looked into them the more those seemed to fit her well too.

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I am happy to hear that things have improved. Sounds like a much better environment.

 

You said that she is receiving therapy?

 

Thank you! It definitely has. Yes she currently sees 3 different therapists. 2 of them I know she sees pretty regularly. She’s also in a support group for children of alcoholic parents, and another support group every Sunday for people who have left a church. So she’s getting a lot of support but it doesn’t seem to be helping her much.

 

Just to point something out, she told me recently she had a conversation with one of her therapists about a dilemma - long story short she’s hung up on a guy she dated many years ago. He’s married, and they don’t speak To each other or anything. But she told her therapist she still follows him on social media because when she does finally get a boyfriend one day she wants him to see what he’s missing out on, be jealous, miss her, etc. Her therapist said “that’s understandable”. This is just one example, but I was thinking that was such an odd response from a therapist. It gave me the feeling that her therapists aren’t helping her. She obsesses over this guy and they haven’t spoken in 8 years. He’s married. I just feel like the therapist should have told her to unfriend this guy on social media and move on. :/

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Doesn't sound like she is receiving great treatment.

 

You need to set boundaries if you wish to continue with this. This is not a healthy dynamic! You need to have a discussion and tell her what is off limits, if she starts rambling, change the topic. If this does not work, I would move on from the relationship. It sounds draining. Stop enabling her behavior, it is making it worse.

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