Q. I have a friend who has been my friend since childhood, but isn’t a very good one. She is selfish (always makes me do the traveling when we see each other; insists I come to her events but always has an excuse why she can’t come to mine), sometimes says things that hurt my feelings, but says she only means it for my own good (like telling me about a party I wasn’t invited to so I’ll know not to invite that person if I ever have one; or that someone is saying bad things about me behind my back). My husband doesn’t like her, but puts up with her because he knows how long we’ve been friends. A few times I tried to tell her I didn’t want to see her and told her why, but then I feel guilty, and we always end up seeing each other eventually. I guess it’s because she’s like a family member that I can’t imagine not having in my life at all. What do you think I should do?
A. It’s pretty clear that you realize this so-called friend is only a negative influence, yet you choose to continue having her in your life just because you’ve known her a long time? This is very faulty reasoning. Whether you realize it or not, you are one half of a parasitic relationship. She controls and takes advantage—and you relent and complain. Not healthy! You asked for my advice, and here it is. It’s up to you to end things and be definitive about it. Whether or not a person is a longtime fixture in your life should not be the deciding factor on whether or not you keep spending (wasting!) time with them. If they are a family member, there may be more reason to get along since you’re likely to see them at family events. But you are lucky enough to have the advantage of not being related by blood. You’re husband doesn’t like her and you don’t like her, yet you travel long distances to see her? As my niece would say, “What’s up with that?” Is it possible that you have some masochistic tendencies? Are there signs of this in any other part of your life? Have you ever spoken to a therapist about it? Just some food for thought. In the meantime, I say you make up your mind to rid yourself of this toxic person and then DO IT! No more trips to see her for more punishment. No more phone calls (if you don’t already have it, caller ID can be very helpful). And no more feeling guilty for not taking abuse—from her or from anyone! If you can pull this off, you will be happier, freer, healthier and stronger for it. It’s all up to you.
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