I’m having trouble with a friend in that she has become increasingly self-centred, so much so that I cannot bring myself to spend time with her anymore.
We’ve been friends since we started uni, over 10 years ago and I am reluctant to throw all those years of friendship away. However, she has just become this self-centred, unaware me-me-me type person who pays no consideration any more to the way in which the people around her feel.
I’ll give you some examples of her behaviour:
- In response to a big promotion I’ve been given in my work, she remarked that she always assumed she’d be ‘the high-achiever in our friendship’… I think this was her way of congratulating me, but it actually hurt a bit.
- I recently put her in touch with a business associate of mine as she needed assistance in his line of work. He gave her a very competitive rate because she’s my friend. I have not received a single word of thanks from her for it.
- The last five times I have called / FaceTimed her, she has not once asked how I am. Instead regaling me of how stressful her relationship with her husband is at the moment, how much she loves her child, how well she’s doing at work etc.
I don’t want to lose the friendship, but I’ve come to the point where I don’t want to see her at a weekend away we’ve scheduled in, because I know I won’t get a word in edge ways and we’ll just have to do everything that she wants to do.
She has a history of being very sulky if I dare to address room for improvement in our friendship, so I’m afraid going down the classic route of ‘just tell her how you feel’ won’t go down very well. Is there another way I can salvage our friendship?
I’m sorry to hear there has been a bit of a breakdown in your friendship. Relationships that have lasted that long are definitely to be cherished, especially given how important adult friendships are.
Good friends tend to live life vicariously through each other, celebrating in each other’s successes and also working through the lows. Knowing that someone has such a genuine interest in your life is what makes a friendship so rewarding.
However, like anything in life it needs balance to work and for a friendship to last and there needs to be an element of give and take from both sides. When this balance is shifted and starts focusing on just one person, it can leave you feeling uncomfortable and annoyed, and rightly so, having been through this myself I can fully relate. It can almost seem as if they don’t really care and they see you as a way to have a brain dump, which isn’t nice to be on the receiving end of.
First of all congratulations on your promotion at work, but with regards to her comment you are right, it does sound like it was well intended but poorly executed. Some people do mean well, but they don’t think about how other people might perceive their comments. This isn’t to say that it’s okay, but some people are just like that.
In adult life, it is very easy to get wrapped up in your own life, especially when there is work, children and a partner in the mix. However like I said it can be draining to listen to someone talk about it 24/7.
If she wasn’t like this before and it’s a relatively new thing, then it’s possibly a phase, there could be stresses going on that you are unaware of, or perhaps she’s not getting the chance at home to brain dump her thoughts on anyone else, so there is a chance this could pass.
If this was the case I would suggest maybe having some space from one another. It’s the old issue of noticing something about someone that bothers you, then it’s all you can notice when you are with them. Perhaps some space and time apart could do you good, that way when she talks about herself it may bother you less, or she may stop doing it to begin with.
However, if you want to do something more immediate then you could purposely change the conversation topic to something more neutral or even about yourself. This doesn’t have to be done abruptly or in a rude manner, but try harder to get yourself into the conversation rather than letting her talk on and on. This could be a ‘Oh that reminds me’ or a ‘Oh actually something similar happened to me’ because there is a good chance she is completely unaware of what she’s doing.
If there’s something you want to talk about, perhaps a problem at work then you could say you need her help with something and you’d like to chat about it, that way you are more in control of the conversation. This could also serve as a gentle nudge that she has been talking about herself too much.
If these don’t work, I know you said she doesn’t react well to criticism but it can be done in a way that you are not pointing fingers and blaming her and focus on your feelings instead. You could say something like ‘I feel like I don’t have the space to talk to you about my life’, that way you are also showing her that you value her opinions and advice.
If you do decide to bring it up with her then try and focus on how she has been acting and her behaviour rather than speaking about as her as a person. There is a fine line between calling someone self-obsessed and them acting self-obsessed. I would also say be prepared to take any feedback that she might have to you, this makes you look less defensive and like you are validating how she feels also.
She may not like criticism but I’m sure she would take that over loosing your friendship all together.
In these situations, there is no right answer and you have to do what you feel most comfortable with.
Best of luck.