4

I get this quite often. The most recent situation happened today. A friend of 15 years asked me for a favour. We used to be close but over the years we grew out of our shared interests. Nowadays, we're seeing one another no more than 2 times a year (usually at our birthday parties). I have no problem with helping friends and people in general but I also hate the feeling I get when a person contacts me once a year for the sole purpose of getting something from me.

I want to help her out since I still kind of like her as a friend but I also want to make it clear that I'm not cool with the fact that our only yearly interaction is centered around me doing stuff for her.

Again, this is not the first time I'm experiencing this kind of situation. I've had this happen to me with multiple people. I've never declined to help them and also never said anything that would suggest I'm not cool with it - I need that to change.

So, how do I tell them that I'm not okay with the fact that they only contact me when they need me?


TL;DR

Some long-time friends only contact me to ask for favours. I want to help them but I also want to let them know that I'm not ok with it.

  • 3
    Have you tried to make contact with your friends? In your question you say how they only contact you if they need something, but you haven't stated if you make an effort to contact them either. – Violet Flare Apr 26 '18 at 9:17
9

The problem is that YOU FEEL they only contact you for their own interest - such as when they need something from you. There are 2 situations here:

  1. This person would like to see you more times as friends, but because of circumstances this doesn't happen frequently. However, when she needs something, she contacts you even if normally she doesn't because of lack of time - or any other reason.
  2. This person doesn't have any interest at all in seeing you as friends and she indeed only wants to get something she needs from you.

In the second case, your feeling is completely right: this person is using you, and nobody likes that. In the first case, your feeling is (at least partially) mistaken: this person doesn't intend to use you.

In the second case, you shouldn't help this person, since she is not really your friend (even if you thought she was). You don't need to be honest with this person: it is not very polite to say "I don't want to help you", even if you have good reasons for it. You can invent some excuses to not help her, like lack of time, or any other. This excuse doesn't need to be a REALLY good excuse, it is enough that the other person doesn't know if you really can't help her or if you don't want to. It is even better if she suspects that you don't want to, because she will stop asking you for favors (if not the first time you refuse to help her, maybe the second or the third).

To know if someone is in the first or in the second case, you can try to resume your relationship, trying to see her more frequently. If you see that the other person is still interested in seeing you, you won't have that bad feeling about her asking for your help, because you will know that she's in the first case.

If you see that someone is interested in seeing you but you can't because of lack of time, distance, etc. you can choose if you help her or not (you can use the same method written above to refuse), but you will know she's still your friend and you will neither have that bad feeling.

If you see that someone is not interested in seeing you nor in being your friend, they're in the second case, so refuse to help her as explained above.

EDIT:

Other answers suggest to ask for another favor in return. I think this is not the best approach because friends don't make favors just to get another one in return. Because of this, with this method you will stop people who only want to get something for you, but you can make people who is your friend feeling that you only will help them to get something in return, so they will think you are not a good friend.

However, they suggest requesting to have a beer or a lunch as examples of the favor you can request in return. This is a good approach, because you are requesting friendship in return, not another favor, which is clearly a fair request. This will also allow you to check who wants to spend some time with you and who doesn't want.

What I mean is that saying "request a favor in return, for example having lunch with her" includes the possibility to request a different thing in return. It would be better to say "request to spend some time with her in return, for example having lunch".

4

There are usually two possibilities that cause this situation:

  1. They do want to sustain contact with you but only search for pretext asking you for little things.
  2. They are exploiting you knowing that you are 'a domain expert' with qualifications to solve their current problems.

Even if the second one is most probable, mentioning that you have no problem helping them, as a person with high social skills, you would choose to approach as if it was 1.

Ask them for a little favor in exchange. The best will be lunch or dinner (or beer if you are both into that). Anything that makes you spend some time together, talk to each other, ask what important happened in your life.

2

Is this really a question about love language?

We do things for many different reasons, and use excuses for making contact and reaching out to others.

We may also be unaware that our way of relating is by helping others, or shared experiences, which when the interest dies, is thought of as a burden, when actually that was what was happening all the time, except now we view it differently.

Some also like playing the needy role while other the supportive provider. If all our contacts are founded on this type of role playing, it does wear thin if it does not develop into something else.

One way to change things is just to spend time with others for the sake of sharing common experiences and being encouraging to each other. If this is not possible, maybe this is not actually about friendship at all.

1

If you think their just trying to exploit you, the best thing to do is ask a favor in return.
This can be on the same day

Sure I'll come and help, but only if you prepare a nice home cooked meal afterwards for me ;)

Or you yourself can try to ask them for help first and see how they respond to it.

If they really expect you to help them and they don't want to put in any effort in return you should re-evaluate this friendship. People do grow apart and friendships end, which usually means you're making more time for new relations with other people. Nothing wrong with that.

Alternatively they do want to spend more time with you and might just use the favor as an excuse. If you think this is the case and you too want to spend more time together you should just ask them to do something together more often. Make some phone calls and organise some activity with everyone (like go bowling, going out for a drink, play some board games together, ... whatever you find interesting and think they might enjoy as well).

You didn't give us enough context about this so ignore the following if not relevant:
She might be into you and is afraid to really make the first move. Try meeting up with just her and have a nice one on one talk to see if you're interested as well. But that's worth a completely different question here.

1

The answer should be a no brainier.

Your time has a value. and you also have bills to pay. Define a price for your services and charge accordingly.

When such a old timer friend contact out of blue, tell them your change x per hour, or tell them to define the service, and you will sell them a pro-forma invoice.

For instance, I absolutely refuse to do computer maintenance to friends, and refer them to a computer shop. I usually tell them I only deal with Macs and Linux.

When I am asked for a professional opinion by friends in the industry, I wont mind to give them some clues what to research, but if it involves more than that, and actual work, I will bill the service.

Do not let yourself being abused. People usually do not work for free.

PS. There is a saying in my mother tongue related to this "Work is work, cognac is cognac."

0

This is a real world, so everyone has his/her own self-interest in every work. Because if you are not ok with it, because, doing there help you don't see any benefit for you.

There is only a solution for such types of people, if you can do something very easily and you have enough free time then say Yes to them for their work. Otherwise you can make false excuse to avoid them. But before avoid someone, try to ask them to do any favor for you. And they can able to give time to your work, then never say no to them.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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