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I have a deaf-blind friend, and she is very sweet. Because she is deaf and blind, there are many restrictions on what she can and can't do, and she has a mitochondrial condition that causes her balance to be off, so she not only can't see where she's going and can't walk without some assistance.

The only issue I have with her is that she is very demanding. A recent text conversation about her coming to a deaf social and her needing help with transportation to get there:

Me: The place is at the corner of X and Y street, you can easily get there by bus, because the bus stop is next to it.

Friend: I can't take the bus myself yet because my boyfriend was there last time to help me, and now he's not visiting for another X weeks because of work.

M: Look into having an assistant go with you to ride the bus with you, to make sure you know what's going on and that you can ride the bus independently. I had that experience when I was just starting to ride the bus.

F: maybe. How come you couldn't ride the bus out here to her home and then ride back with me?

M: The bus company sent someone to help me, the person was paid to help me, I couldn't possibly do that. I am not a professional paid by the bus company.

F: But you're a friend and you know how to take the bus... I couldn't use a person from the bus company that doesn't know sign language.

M: You also understand that I can't miss church to take the bus to you, get you, bring you to lunch and then bring you back. You'd be taking the bus twice, I'd be taking it four times, and about an hour each trip, that's four hours. That's quite a long time.

F: awww.

She has made demanding statements before, and I've had to tread carefully to not be abrasive but also express to her that I'm not going to drop what I'm doing and help her every time.

Additional notes:

  • Driving to her from the lunch place would take a good 20 minutes one way.
  • The deaf social occurs once a month, and I am a well known attendant. She understandably wants to socialize, because her life is generally lonely.
  • The deaf-blind friend's family and mine are very, very close. Her late father was my sister's God-father and his wife (still living) is her God-mother. They are close friends. The mom is very aware of her daughter's demanding personality.

How do I approach and turn down her demands, while preserving my kindness and not putting a strain on the family-friend relationship?

  • Is this the actual text of the conversation, or are you paraphrasing? While the friend is making a significant ask of you, I wouldn't consider her tone to be demanding. – David K Jul 20 '18 at 12:27
  • Actual text. She has demanded without thinkikg of others' plans- like one of the few times i went to see her, she had me drive her to the gas station to get the biggest soda there... while she had soda at home. – ElizB Jul 20 '18 at 12:29
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The Huffington Post has a great article on saying NO to a friend.

Some of the things it talks about you're already doing, such as not waiting until you're fed up and considering why you need to say no, but there are a few things you could try.

"Try to say NO as graciously as you can"

The article talks about being apologetic when you have to say no--after all, if you could, you'd probably want to do everything in your power for your friends, right? So in this case, instead of "you can easily get there by bus..." maybe try:

I wish I could take you--it'd be fun to spend more time together! But I'll be at church and it'll end up being 4 more hours of traveling for me. I know there's a bus stop right next to the venue though!

And then when she responds about how much trouble the bus will be for her, the article says...

"If your friend can’t accept NO for an answer, recognize it as her problem not yours."

She wants to go to this event. It isn't your responsibility to take her. As such, it's on her to find a way to get there. When she responds about bus trouble, don't even try to go down that rabbit hole. I'd give her the rest of the help you had to offer (telling her about the assistant) and then shutdown the conversation:

I know you can have an assistant ride with you if you need help, but I really can't take you. If you still want to go and you find a way to get there, let me know and we can talk about what time to meetup!

This might seem harsh, but you're setting boundaries in the friendship. Which leads to (in my opinion) the most important point in the article:

"When you’re both relaxed, talk about limits and boundaries in friendships"

Discuss this with her after the fact when you're both calm and figure out why this misunderstanding happened. Set boundaries and help her understand that you care for her and want to help her, but you can't always be her personal chaperone whenever you hangout with her.

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