I am writing to ask for advice about a friend of mine, let's call her A.

A and I have known each other since our childhood and have been very close for most of our friendship.

Recently there has been some tension. A is in her last year of dentistry school, completing an internship and having major exams. This results in her being very stressed and negative about life in general. I've noticed it and I have been there to comfort her and support her, however her coping mechanisms are leaving me frustrated, angry and not sure wether we should continue being friends.

The concerning behaviors I've noticed:

  • every chat that I have with her is negative

  • she has been yelling at her family - she says it happens when they try to comfort or encourage her

  • she has been bad-mouthing her roommate and colleagues

  • she performed a serious, unnecessary procedure on a patient to meet a quota.

For me, this is the behavior of a person who cannot handle stress. What I've tried so far when she is being negative is:

  • to remind her that there is life after university and to try put things into perspective - "A year from now you will have graduated and things will be better"

  • to bring up the past and the fun times we have

  • to distract her with something in the immediate future not connected with uni (like a trip or a movie)

While the above-mentioned do work, they work slowly and every conversation we have feels like square one. Additionally, they do nothing for the other concerning behaviors. This has been going on for 6 months now, but was present before as well - it was less of a problem since the exam times were around two months in length. If this continues much longer, I fear that:

  • I will lose my cool and start yelling at her to handle her stress better (rather ironic)

  • she will turn into a horrible person who does all sorts of sketchy things and then blames it on stress/other people

What I am looking for:

  • ideas for what to say / try that will make it stick that this sort of behavior is not acceptable

  • a fix that allows me to keep our friendship and my sanity

Thank you very much in advance for your advice!

  • 3
    That she has performed a serious, unnecessary procedure on a patient to meet a quota, suggests to me that she has already turned into a horrible person.
    – EricS
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 0:36

2 Answers 2


As a person who is undergoing a lot of stress lately (work + studies + distant relationship to start with), I have noticed I am seeing everything negative kinda like your friend does. The encouragements about how everything will be nice in the future do not work because in no way they fix the stress that is happening now, meaning that no matter how bright the future is, the current state is still horrible and stressful. With things you say, you seem to try to block her stress from venting on you, distract, as you say. What I would suggest

  • Let her say whatever she wants no matter how bad it might sound. The stress can make people say things they do not really mean but they find it hard to express in other way. If I say "I hate my boss, gladly would kill him" it does not mean I gonna grab a knife and do that for real (my boss is nice guy anyway)
  • Do not try to "block" her venting, rather say that you understand and support her
  • After this all, but not instead, try to bring some positive emotions in her current life, like go to movies, or eat out or whatever nice small things you come up with. But first two items on this list are more important.

Hope this helps


A suggested fix to allow you to keep your friendship and sanity:

You divide all the time you spend with her in two:

  • Time to talk about her life. This would be what you two have been doing lately. Listening to her vents and rants while you try to be as supportive as you can. You could do this in a quiet and calm setting such as during dinner.

  • Time for different activities. This will be the part where you watch a movie/go to the beach/bowling or whatever activity you guys enjoy doing together. During this time, none of you are allowed to talk about your personal lives. No problems, no co-worker stories or whatnot.

Why is this a good idea?

Well, everybody needs some amount of distractions. Spending time together should be a fun and enjoyable experience. If talking about her life is getting in the way of this, you need to seperate this part from the rest. It will also help her being more positive if she is able to empty her head from time to time and stop focusing on the negative.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.