8

To keep the issue brief, there is someone in my life who I would like to interact with less. I don't have any ill will against her, but given the way she has developed as a person over the years it's becoming clear to me that she is someone that I don't need around anymore. To preface I've known this girl since I was in 8th grade.

Here's why: She is 21 years old, doesn't have her license, has never had a job, and shows no interest in changing either of these things. While these things may sound like they don't effect me, I have come to realize they play a sizeable role in both how a person matures and becomes independent. This girl is contacting me constantly. She sits around her house all day, texting me the entire time complaining about trivial things. Complaining about not having money, how she can't go shopping because she can't drive, how nobody ever hangs out with her (everyone is just sick of picking her up constantly), and all sorts of other things that I really just can't pretend to care about anymore. I'm beginning to think all of her other friends realized this well before I did and stopped hanging out with her, and I'm one of the few people who still puts up with her.

I feel bad saying all of these things because she's a nice person, but I've reached a point in my life where I don't want to be talking with her outside of the occasional times I see her in social settings while I'm home. Someone who puts off growing up to this severe of a degree isn't somebody I want in my life anymore.

  • 2
    Would you be willing to reconsider your position if she hypothetically at some point in the future showed significant improvement? Or are you mostly ok with burning bridges? – Randolph Carter Jun 22 '18 at 3:32
  • I would definitely be willing to be friends with her, it's just gotten to the point where I don't see it happening any time soon. This isn't a recent development, I have been bothered by this for almost the past year. Eventually she's gonna reach a point where she has to get a job, and I have a feeling that rude awakening for her is going to open the floodgate for a lot of complaints. – f1sh234 Jun 22 '18 at 3:46
  • 1
    Did you or any of the other friends talked to her about this or encouraged her to get either one? – Robin Jun 22 '18 at 7:59
  • Depends on culture, any chance for a location tag? – DonFusili Aug 8 '18 at 8:46
14

I've been in a similar situation, where a fairly close friend of mine started behaving in a way that I didn't agree with. I think the details of the situation are less relevant, the situation is the same: you have a friend, they're behaving in a way that causes you to not want to interact with them, but if they change their behaviour you're quite willing to start interacting with them again. There may be a cultural component here, my approach worked for me in the Dutch culture, where honesty is valued.

In my case, I took the honest approach: when I was alone with my friend, I told them how things stood. In your case, this might look something like this:

X, I need to talk to you about your recent behaviour. You've been complaining about things instead of fixing them and it's reached the point where it's overshadowing our friendship. I'm talking about the fact that you don't have a driver's license nor a job, which affects everything. You're stuck in the house all day unless someone picks you up. You don't have any money to go shopping because you don't have a job. You complain about these things instead of fixing them, which has led to people distancing themselves from you. It's reached the point where, if you don't start making a change soon, you're going to lose me too. I love you and I want you to succeed in live, but if you keep this up then that's just not going to happen and I can't bear to watch that.

The important elements are:

  • Stick to the facts. You're not trying to start an argument, you're explaining why you feel the way you do.
  • Be honest. Sugarcoating things will make it harder for your message to get across. It's important that your friend understands exactly what the problem is, and how it's affecting your relationship.
  • Make it clear that you still care about them. You're trying to help them, not kick them while they're down.

Now, there's a strong chance that your friend will not take this conversation very well. You're confronting them with facts that they probably know to some extent already, but they are probably unaware of just how strong an effect they are having on their life. Having a friend tell you that you're about to lose them is an emotional affair, for both parties involved. If they become angry, give them space to think and wait until they come to you to talk about it. They may decide that you're wrong, in which case you've achieved your goal to stop interacting with this person.

Hopefully though, your friend will be able to see this for what it is: a last ditch-effort on your part to salvage the friendship, before you break off contact entirely. This is what happened with my friend: after his emotions had calmed down a little, he began to see that I wasn't trying to hurt him. He saw that his behaviour had caused him to lose his other friends and that he was about to lose one of the few friends he had left. He turned things around and we're friends to this day.

  • Sounds harsh but very honest solution to me. This will help "The Friend" to either change or get angry and not contact the OP. – Ahsan Aug 13 '18 at 12:08
2

From reading other answers it is clear this is a familiar situation to a lot of people, myself included. I'm in my 40s, and incredibly I still know people like this.

Some people are just late starters, often people that weren't "academically smart" so didn't do well in school but are still smart in other ways and eventually find their way.

Others though never change. Their thinking is just geared towards wallowing rather than doing anything about their problems. I think some believe their problems - their lack of a job, lack of money, lack of a driving licence - actually define them. And of course it is all cyclical - can't get a job because I don't have a car; can't afford a car because I don't have a job. It is frustrating to any rational person and I can understand why you find it toxic.

So - you are looking for a way to break contact rather than offer help. You probably imagine an offer of help will be tiring and strung out, which it may well be.

But why have a conversation with her at all? She complains to you that other friends have drifted away from her. If any of those other friends had actually had a conversation with her about severing ties you would surely have heard about it. So if they just faded away and ignored her, why do you feel the need to announce your departure? I can only imagine you do hope it will have some effect on her.

Honestly, if she is someone who enjoys talking about her woes then a conversation where you just attack her and then leave will just turn into her newest woe to talk about with the next person willing to listen.

If your mind is made up to break ties, just drift. It will hurt her less. Don't reply to emails, don't answer calls (or decreasingly answer them over time) and don't tell her you are coming to visit. If you are connected on social media then move her to a group that limits what she sees.

If you are to have a conversation with her then at least make it useful to her! Use the opportunity to encourage her, but show that you don't have the time or energies to carry her if she doesn't.

I feel the most useful conversation you could have (useful to you both) is one where you don't announce that the friendship is over, but show how her inaction in dealing with her problems is forcing the end of it. You're not closing the door on your friendship, but rather showing her the way forward and then closing the door on the way out. She can either follow your advice and keep up with you, or she will know the reason why your friendship ended.

Perhaps say:

I'm worried about you. You could fix a lot of the problems you talk about, like having no money or car, but you don't do anything about it. Everybody else has grown up, moved on, got jobs. There's nothing stopping you from doing the same.

And perhaps, after any response from her, go on to make your point:

I like my life now. I wish I could say I'll always have time for you, but I have to be honest, it is very draining when a friendship is one-sided. I can't always be the one to drive, I can't always be the one to pay for things. And I can't constantly listen to you talk about the same problems you could do something about. If you had a job and a car you could get out and visit people, enjoy your life, and have new things to talk about other than having no car or money.

  • I certainly don’t want to openly tell her that I want to talk to her less, my plan is to drift. I guess I asked this question to figure out how to make it stick, to make sure she feels she can’t contact me as frequently as she currently does. My current plan is to only reply every several hours & seem unconcerned with her complaints. I don’t want to come off as rude, but I’m a situation like this I feel like I’m gonna have to be a little insensitive to make it stick. – f1sh234 Jun 22 '18 at 15:58
2

Why judge your friend instead of actually being her friend? Everyone is different and her behavior does not make your life hard. Don't answer as regularly and you can set the tone for how many messages you trade during the day. You can, as multiple people suggested, talk to her about it.

Giving up without trying is a bit like what you are accusing her of doing with her life. Be there for her. Plus she is 21, she's a kid, let her grow at her own pace. Love, Respect, Understanding and Patience are some of the key factors that create and most importantly maintain friendships.

I Wish you the best! Think about this carefully. No need to lose a close friend when you don't have to. Maybe one day you will need a shoulder and her's(since as you said she is a good person) might just be the one that is there for you. Treasure it.

  • 1
    This answer could be improved by selecting one approach and backing up that approach with personal experience or hard facts. As it stands this answer is just a scattershot of your opinions on the situation and unconnected "try this"s – spiral succulent Jun 22 '18 at 23:41
1

To keep the issue brief, there is someone in my life who I would like to interact with less. I don't have any ill will against her, but given the way she has developed as a person over the years it's becoming clear to me that she is someone that I don't need around anymore. To preface I've known this girl since I was in 8th grade.

I feel bad saying all of these things because she's a nice person, but I've reached a point in my life where I don't want to be talking with her outside of the occasional times I see her in social settings while I'm home. Someone who puts off growing up to this severe of a degree isn't somebody I want in my life anymore.

Since you are willing to lose her as a friend it would seem you have a bit of leeway.

Why not come up with a list of reasonable improvements and expectations. Explain that she can do this for herself, you, or for no one (IE: not do it). If she is not interested in improving herself and advancing forward you'll need to leave her behind and continue your own progress, without a boat anchor.

What is to be on the list, how long it is, and how you present it is up to you. You probably want to be responsible, polite, fair and fairly firm. I've met again people I've known a long time ago, their thinking was that it would be a good idea to hang around again; while not absolutely opposed to the idea I've left the question unspoken "Why?" and after a few times they've got the hint. You're in somewhat frequent contact with this person, thus by not breaking the chains you just go round and round.

0

Do you actually want...

a) to phase her out of your life?

or

b) for her to get a job and get her license, and generally just move forward wit her life?

If you really don't like this person, and do not wish to continue a friendship with her, then whether she has a license or job is hardly relevant.

If however you would prefer to keep her as a friend, but want her to get out of this rut she's apparently in, then perhaps you and your other friends could be proactive about it, and try to help her.

She may be depressed or something, and this may be why she's having trouble moving forward in her life. It doesn't seem very nice to simply ditch her because she's having some issues getting started.

She's still quite young. I hardly think she's a lost cause just because she doesn't have a job or a license by 21 years old. Lots of people don't at that age.

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