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Wanting to end a friendship of 8+ years


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I'm 37 and my friend is 33, we've had some good times.  He is very active likes to bike, kayak etc so I've enjoyed him helping me get out.

He's been diagnosed with bipolar but refuses to medicate himself properly; he uses marijuana instead despite my expressed concerns.  In the past he verbally and almost physically abused a female acquaintance of mine he was dating; they broke up and he lost a another friend because of how he was acting.  He tried to kill himself shortly after that breakup by closing his eyes while driving drunk and hitting a telephone pole.

I've noticed lately he's becoming more intense and insulting others and myself recently, becoming more competitive.  My girlfriend notices that I'm miserable after hanging out with him.  I want to end the friendship.  We share some mutual friends but I think those people would understand if I wanted to go my separate ways.

Another example: one evening recently we were at the bar and he insulted my by saying "I wouldn't stand up for myself" so to prove myself, I arm wrestled someone and won.  He immediately chided others to say I cheated.  He even called over another drunk patron to try and goad me into an arm wrestling re-match despite me repeatedly refusing because my arm felt sore from the prior match.  I felt really betrayed and was in a really bad mood for about 3 days.  I know that I played down to his level by arm-wrestling someone but I felt backed into a corner and I knew my own physical strength would back me up.

He's been phoning me but I've been avoiding him.  I know that I shouldn't delay conflict, but I'm frankly kind of terrified of him retaliating and trying to wreck my other relationships.  How do I deal with this?

Thank you for reading.

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Don't treat this like you are dating where you have to have some kind of a confrontation and "break up".

Friendships usually just fade out over time. Busy, so so busy, maybe later....and eventually you stop talking or hanging out. Learn to be vague with him like "yeah man, sorry things have been hectic....still are...no time to party.....catch ya later". Next time he reaches out, again with the things are sooo crazy, can't talk, gotta go.

This way you are not directly rejecting him but rather weaning him off of you so he can go fixate on someone else. This is exactly the sort of a situation where you need to fade out.

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You've more or less ended the friendship already by expressing such misgivings and hesitancy given the amount of problems he's given you and the way he treats you. He hasn't sought treatment for his bipolar and is self-medicating. Slowly distance yourself as you're already doing. 

You know saying anything isn't going to stop him from being who he is. Avoiding is the right thing to do. Just avoid him. Stay out of his path and if he approaches you just say you're busy or maybe another time. Don't pick up his calls and mute them. 

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Thanks you two, I guess I was thinking of it too much as a relationship to "end".  But that's not necessary.  My instincts to avoid were right, I'll definitely take the fade-out approach and be vague, avoid and brush him off.

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Yup, I agree with the others.  This relation has become toxic 😕 . I know a few like this and yes, they do become too much.  Sad if they can't see this for themselves and yeah, end up pushing people around them, away. ( in ways, sometimes, I do think they know what they're doing or how they're being).

His own fault for not seeking prof help for this.

Do as you must and avoid him now - for your own well-being.

 

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It's not as though a confrontation would accomplish anything. Nobody who's fallen into instability and mistreatment of others will respond with welcoming arms to such a discussion.

He's not going to suddenly straighten up and fly right.

The fade avoids such an unnecessary interaction. You can still be kind whenever your paths cross, but in those cases, I'd also make an early exit wherever he shows up until your mutual friends learn their own lesson and stop inviting him to gatherings.

I'm really sorry you're going through this. Last year I had to let go a friend with similar problems after a lifelong friendship. Some people are best loved from far away, as their raging can end in a life-changing event that you don't want to be near.

Head high.

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Agree with others. I would duck his calls and if pressed, tell him that life is busy for you right now, you can't meet up.

I have a good friend who has bipolar disorder but she is treated and is doing well. I have had to cut off a different friend in the past who become erratic and toxic. She also had bipolar but she was refusing all treatment and smoking weed, which made her worse. I cut her out of my life years ago and I have no regrets. 

I totally get it. Listen to you gut and let this friendship fade so it isn't a toll on you. I don't feel anything would come from being frank with him. Doesn't sound like he's in a place to hear. 

Time may pass, he may get help in the future, and reach out to you with an apology and such. So maybe it can be mended at that time, maybe not. But he has to get help first on his own. 

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24 minutes ago, catfeeder said:

It's not as though a confrontation would accomplish anything. Nobody who's fallen into instability and mistreatment of others will respond with welcoming arms to such a discussion.

He's not going to suddenly straighten up and fly right.

The fade avoids such an unnecessary interaction. You can still be kind whenever your paths cross, but in those cases, I'd also make an early exit wherever he shows up until your mutual friends learn their own lesson and stop inviting him to gatherings.

I'm really sorry you're going through this. Last year I had to let go a friend with similar problems after a lifelong friendship. Some people are best loved from far away, as their raging can end in a life-changing event that you don't want to be near.

Head high.

I agree.  The confrontation could upset him and make him say things to me and others that are harmful.  It's not going to change who he is.  A fade avoids his anger and spares me some pain.  I will be kind if he is around but will make an early exit if he does show up.  I think you're right - end it before it gets to the point where serious damage is being done.

As fudgie said, bipolar being treated with weed is no solution. It doesn't treat the underlying cause - can just make it worse.  I'll let him figure out a treatment for himself, he tried the bipolar meds and he doesn't like how it makes him feel "subdued".  I told him that's just how a normal person feels but he wouldn't listen.

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2 hours ago, iggy3200 said:

Thanks you two, I guess I was thinking of it too much as a relationship to "end".  But that's not necessary.  My instincts to avoid were right, I'll definitely take the fade-out approach and be vague, avoid and brush him off.

I assume you’re also mourning the end of a friendship and that’s ok too. Feel sad if you’re feeling sad but draw a hard line when it comes to dangerous, risky or threatening behaviour where it concerns your well-being. You’re worried for your other relationships but take care of yourself first. You can only care for others if you’re feeling safe and secure.

None of this means you don’t have empathy either or don’t feel at a loss for the friendship. Taking care of yourself doesn’t mean you’re cold and unfeeling so process that loss and letting go of someone and let those other (healthier) relationships take over and nurture you too. 

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1 hour ago, iggy3200 said:

As fudgie said, bipolar being treated with weed is no solution. It doesn't treat the underlying cause - can just make it worse.  I'll let him figure out a treatment for himself, he tried the bipolar meds and he doesn't like how it makes him feel "subdued".  I told him that's just how a normal person feels but he wouldn't listen.

This is exactly what makes bipolar so difficult to successfully treat--the mania can feel fabulous! Nobody wants treatment for that, they only want help with the depression.

But the mania doesn't feel fabulous for everyone else around the person. They can turn hostile or even dangerous on a dime and then think nothing of it the next day. Drinking or weed can amplify the problem, because then they're manic AND drunk or stoned.

You've raised concerns about your mutual friends being influenced by this guy, Why is that? Have you discussed this with your other friends, and where do they stand?

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If you can just walk away and let the distance grow between you, do that.  

He has problems mentally. He doesn't do what he needs to do to manage that.  So he's not really capable of healthy relationships.  Nothing you say will change it.

As for the mutual friends, say nothing.  They know.  If asked say something generic like,  "yeah I haven't talked to him in a while"

Less drama is the way to go.  You don't have to end or break up with a friend. They ebb and flow all the time. Don't be afraid to decide you don't want someone in your life. 

Sometimes a loss is really a gain. And a dead end or hurtful friendship definitely is. 

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10 hours ago, iggy3200 said:

He's been diagnosed with bipolar but refuses to medicate himself properly; he uses marijuana instead despite my expressed concerns.  

Why do you want or need a friend like this?  Delete and block him. He is off the wall. Why are you afraid of him? If he threatens you call the police and get a restraining order. He has friends and family to deal with his crap. Why volunteer for this? You're not in charge of his mental health.

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catfeeder makes a good point - mania feels good, mood stabilizers / antipsychotics tend to not feel good. People on them report feeling subdued, "zombie-like", and not themselves at all. They often report feeling like their personality is just "dead" and it depresses them. Let's not even talk about the metabolic effects too, many have a lot of weight gain!

Getting treatment for bipolar is necessary but also very difficult. I can't say that I would be completely compliant with treatment if I experienced what they did.

I truly believe that if the side effects of the medications weren't so terrible, bipolar would be a LOT easier to treat. I'm hopeful that someday, things will improve in terms of treatment so that patients with bipolar can be treated well without feeling like a chunk of their personality is being subdued. 

In the meantime, it is up to your friend and what he wants to do. There may come a time where he hits "rock bottom" and decides to get treatment and deal with the bad side effects in exchange for mood and life stability. Or that day may not come. I don't know. But you have to look out for your own mental health. It is up to you if you want to leave the door open or check in sometime in the future to see if things have changed for him. 

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When I worked with special needs kids, we had a kid who was very lively. Very erratic, his helper barely could handle him and the school had a lot of trouble with it. Until he started taking his therapy. Almost zombie like? Sure, those meds are really strong. But I can tell you it really helped as the kid was not all over the place, more composed and actually managed to listen what its said. 

Anyway, its the same with your friend. If he took the medicine, maybe he wouldnt have such erratic reactions such as jumping around and accusing you of cheating in arm wrestling or even told you that you should prove yourself at all. As he is refusing to take his meds, yes, that are the reactions you can expect from him. Its his choice not to take his meds. But its yours if you stick around somebody like that.

As for ending it, yes, slow fade is the way. No need for "breaking up" messages and speeches and such. Some friendships fade away. That is the way of life. Just dont hang around him and that is it.

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With a friend like that, I would make yourself unavailable with nary an explanation because should you explain, he'll give you unwelcome, unpleasant and very harsh replies and responses. 

I agree with others.  Decline a lot and he should get the message that both of you are drifting apart. 

Since you share mutual friends, remain peaceful and polite without being chummy. 

You can't control him.  However, you can navigate yourself wisely.  Make sure your girlfriend follow suit.  Stay safe !

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On 8/16/2022 at 8:27 PM, catfeeder said:

You've raised concerns about your mutual friends being influenced by this guy, Why is that? Have you discussed this with your other friends, and where do they stand?

I'm concerned about the mutual friends because I don't want them to be influenced away from me - that's likely just my own doubts in myself.  I'm sure they'll understand and stick by me regardless.  They're not stupid - they know the person is "very intense".  I haven't discussed it with other friends, I think I'm just going to take the "I haven't talked to him in awhile" like another user suggested.

I should also mention I'm a registered nurse with some psychiatric experience, so I partly felt like I could help him.  I definitely know all about the benefits & side effects of bipolar medication, a lot of you are quite well educated on the topic!  Either way, it is his responsibility to seek help and mine to distance myself if someone is untreated and erratic.

Edit: I should also mention he knows some of my deep secrets, I was worried he would try to use those secrets to try to wreck my relationship with my girlfriend.

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7 minutes ago, iggy3200 said:

Edit: I should also mention he knows some of my deep secrets, I was worried he would try to use those secrets to try to wreck my relationship with my girlfriend.

Okay, I understand. In this case, try making the fade less obvious--not a complete cut off.

Bore the guy into making the fade mutual. Stop being a great listener when he waxes on about himself.

To avoid hard feelings, make it his idea to see less of you.

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7 hours ago, iggy3200 said:

 I'm a registered nurse with some psychiatric experience, so I partly felt like I could help him.

Stop. You're not his psychiatrist. You shouldn't be practicing curbside psychiatry.

You're overinvolved as it is. Just distance yourself without all the paranoia about him poisoning mutual friends. Stop gossiping about him to friends. 

Leave him alone. He knows how to contact doctors if he wants.  Carefully reflect on your own controlling and micromanaging behaviors here.

He'll do just fine if you step away distance yourself.

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Is My Relationship Over - Signs
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