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Should I retain this "acquaintance"?


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Guest Anonymous

Hi all, 

Lately, I have been re-assessing the few friendships I have left. My dad passed away in December 2021 and it has really shifted my mindset on a lot of things. 

I have this former work colleague turned "close acquaintance" I've known for 6 years now. He is a great person and quite supportive in general. However, my core issue is that this person only talks about their job (i.e. my former employer). While I have much more going on in my life, we always end up talking about my former employer (his current employer). I left the company 4 years ago and have zero interest in discussing it. It's one thing to discuss work stress or issues, but it's another for him to text me the various gossip in that particular company on the daily. 

For instance, on Monday, they texted me at 9am to tell me that my former manager (who bullied me during my time there) has resigned from their role then they started asking me questions as to whether this person was related to some higher up in the company. I honestly do not care. I'm not interested in talking about people who made me upset in the past and that I haven't seen in years. I've better things to worry about right now. 

I know this person is trying to get my mind off things (they know about my dad's death), but I don't want to talk about my former employer / bosses each time we talk. It seems their sole topic of conversation is this company. They never really talk about anything else really.

This person texts me every week and has been for years, but it's only to talk about my ex-employer. One might argue they're just an acquaintance, which at this point, is the title I give them because it's always the same gossip they talk about. 

I don't want to be unreasonable or cut people off randomly, but I feel as though we're just going round in circles. 

Any advice?

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Guest Anonymous
Just now, Guest Anonymous said:

I have this former work colleague turned "close acquaintance" I've known for 6 years now. It seems their sole topic of conversation is this company. 

This person texts me every week and has been for years, but it's only to talk about my ex-employer.

Distance yourself. step back and fade out a bit. Don't rely on him for support. Simply be very busy and focus on your current friends and family. Change the subject.

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Do you have some other mutual threads? You can talk about something else that you both have interest.

People do go distant over times, it happens. However just cutting off somebody who has been a good friend and supportive, seems cold. If he is acquaintance he is not big part of your life anyway. 

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maybe just tell them, I don't really want to talk about this.  Give them a chance to change. 

It is unfair to cut someone off without giving them a chance to change the behavior you don't like. 

It's up to us to set boundaries for behavior we don't like. 

If you tell them and they don't change, then you let them go 

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If he or she asks you questions about someone just respond that you don't know or aren't aware, avoid partaking in gossip. Mention that you're not comfortable with those questions and want to move forward, not discuss work. 

I'm sorry about the loss of your father. 

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Next time they text you just ask so how are you and how’s your family doing.  Don’t respond to the idle gossip and you can say “I left that place and don’t care about it, there is more going on around us”. Just change the subject and if they return to the subject maybe you need to respond a day later till they vanish.  Negative energy is not worth a cent.  Don’t waste time with other people that can’t be positive for you!

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Guest Anonymous

Yeah, I've already tried to change the subject, but it's always the same story. They always revert back to speaking about that place. If I don't hear from them for a week or two, they always reach out afterwards with a text along the lines of "Hey, how are you? Have you heard, so and so blah blah". 

I appreciate them, but talking about my former employer endlessly is a bit blah. 

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5 minutes ago, Guest Anonymous said:

Yeah, I've already tried to change the subject, but it's always the same story. They always revert back to speaking about that place. If I don't hear from them for a week or two, they always reach out afterwards with a text along the lines of "Hey, how are you? Have you heard, so and so blah blah". 

I appreciate them, but talking about my former employer endlessly is a bit blah. 

If you want to keep the acquaintance, then be more direct and say you don't want to talk about xyz subject. 

If you don't care at this point, just fade out. Sometimes words can fall on deaf ears and you may be sensing that it's far wiser to walk away than be direct with someone you don't even consider a friend.

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4 hours ago, Guest Anonymous said:

I have this former work colleague turned "close acquaintance" I've known for 6 years now. He is a great person and quite supportive in general. However, my core issue is that this person only talks about their job (i.e. my former employer). While I have much more going on in my life, we always end up talking about my former employer (his current employer). I left the company 4 years ago and have zero interest in discussing it. It's one thing to discuss work stress or issues, but it's another for him to text me the various gossip in that particular company on the daily. 

I actually have a similar situation. And to compound matters, he (my former coworker) was diagnosed with a brain tumor last June. So, I felt even more obligated to spend time with him. But actually, I'm now at a point where even the brain tumor isn't enough. There are a couple of reasons for that. But to make a long story short, I've been putting distance between us and I do that by not responding and not calling as much. I'll just add a little more time between calls and texts and outings. It's a really easy thing to do. The slow fade. 

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2 minutes ago, Jibralta said:

I'll just add a little more time between calls and texts and outings. It's a really easy thing to do. The slow fade. 

Yes. Do this. Slowly fade. No need to be rude or abrupt, but a simple "gotta go" then foreshorten the text exchange is ok. 

You're simply texting/talking too long if the conversation has time to keep circling around to the old workplace over and over.

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Guest Anonymous
9 minutes ago, Wiseman2 said:

Yes. Do this. Slowly fade. No need to be rude or abrupt, but a simple "gotta go" then foreshorten the text exchange is ok. 

You're simply texting/talking too long if the conversation has time to keep circling around to the old workplace over and over.

It's not a case where we talk to long. It's a case where he texts me asking me how I'm doing then I answer and of course ask him how he's doing then he starts talking about the former workplace right away. Sometimes, he texts me saying "have you heard" about the former workplace. 

As I said, he doesn't talk about much except my former workplace or a few trips he has planned.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Guest Anonymous said:

he starts talking about the former workplace right away. Sometimes, he texts me saying "have you heard" about the former workplace. As I said, he doesn't talk about much except my former workplace 

Yes, you keep repeating that he talks about work, yet you are not doing anything to mitigate the situation or your irritation at it.

Was this a former lover? What exactly is the beef? If work is his life or he thinks you're interested in your former coworkers or whatever so what? 

 You have had many helpful tips on this thread but you keep repeating that you tried it, didn't work, etc.  

Help-rejecting complaining and rants won't resolve your irritation with this man.

Edited by Wiseman2
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Guest Anonymous
13 minutes ago, Wiseman2 said:

Yes, you keep repeating that he talks about work, yet you are not doing anything to mitigate the situation or your irritation at it.

Was this a former lover? What exactly is the beef? If work is his life or he thinks you're interested in your former coworkers or whatever so what? 

 You have had many helpful tips on this thread but you keep repeating that you tried it, didn't work, etc.  

Help-rejecting complaining and rants won't resolve your irritation with this man.

OK. You did not read what I wrote. 

When I ask him how he's doing. I sometimes ask about him or his family, not his work. He then redirects the conversation towards his work. I sometimes change the subject, but he always winds up finding a reason to talk about this workplace. 

He's not a lover. Far from it. There is no beef whatsoever. I simply realize I'm already upset enough, I don't need to hear about former bosses or co-workers who were bullies to me. That's simply what made me realize it may not be heathy for me to keep this acquaintance around. 

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56 minutes ago, Guest Anonymous said:

OK. You did not read what I wrote. 

When I ask him how he's doing. I sometimes ask about him or his family, not his work. He then redirects the conversation towards his work. I sometimes change the subject, but he always winds up finding a reason to talk about this workplace. 

He's not a lover. Far from it. There is no beef whatsoever. I simply realize I'm already upset enough, I don't need to hear about former bosses or co-workers who were bullies to me. That's simply what made me realize it may not be heathy for me to keep this acquaintance around. 

Time to be very direct yet polite "I do not want to talk about what is going on at my former employer.  I don't mind if you want input on plans to leave your job and get a new one but I don't want to hear anything further about my former colleagues.  I've moved on, it's in the past and as in Shark Tank "I'm out.  I'm happy to talk about other things but I feel uncomfortable hearing about my former job.  Thanks for understanding."

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It's time to pump the breaks on this abnormal friendship.

Ask your friend to respect your wishes by refraining from texting and / or discussing topics you do not wish to text / converse.  If your friend does not and cannot respect and honor your wishes, tell this friend that it's time to peacefully go your separate ways.  Maintain a polite distance. 

Enforce healthy boundaries with your former colleague.

I'm sorry for your loss.  I lost my late father when I was only 18 years old. 

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On 5/8/2022 at 12:43 PM, Guest Anonymous said:

When I ask him how he's doing. I sometimes ask about him or his family, not his work. He then redirects the conversation towards his work. I sometimes change the subject, but he always winds up finding a reason to talk about this workplace.

Sometimes there's nothing you can do. Someone is plagued or disturbed by something ongoing in their life and for him it's work issues. By continuing to gossip or partake in the conversation you're also enabling him, possibly not actually helping his situation. He may want to reconsider working there and finding another employer or job. You can gently make that suggestion and then step back. Let him know that you aren't comfortable discussing work. Ask him about something else. Continue reinforcing the suggestion to find a new position if it's affecting his mental health and to seek personal counselling or career counselling if this continues. 

It sounds like he was a good friend to you at one point and you feel indebted. It's ok to keep reinforcing those boundaries when things get out of hand and also admit to yourself when you're not of help to someone anymore.

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I like what Batya33 said.

Tell him you dont want to talk about the former employer anymore.  Be polite  but firm.  Change the subject.  Try harder to do that.  If it doesn't work, then you need to stop being so available to talk when he texts.  Fade out.  Fade away.

I had to do that with a female "friend" who talked only about herself and her idiot boyfriend, a lot of whining and complaining.  I backed away and she stopped calling.  It was very liberating!

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