I'm in a situation that I don't know how to solve without hurting the other person's feelings.

Basically, I requested some help from a person which have accepted promptly. Help that requires motivation, friendship and time...... (would take a long time to accomplish, one time per week, some hours), things that this person is happy to do and even shifting hours of her life to help me... and all for free. (and no, we're not talking about my therapist :P )

Meanwhile, I've "used" this person help 2 times and I really would not want to continue with this help for a group of reasons: distance to this person; methodology/habits of this person that are very different to mine; and some other things of my private life that I want to keep secret of this person but that affect my availability for the help I requested for.

In my mind I've thought of all kind of excuses to say to this person that is very kind and friendly, but somehow I think I will always hurt her feelings.

Any ideas?

  • 4
    Can you clarify why you don't want to continue with the help? Do you feel guilty? Is her help unsatisfactory?
    – JohnP
    Oct 31 '17 at 14:29
  • 1
    @Dryadwoods It sounds like you're talking about your therapist :) Oct 31 '17 at 14:41
  • 1
    @Dryadwoods - I would edit that into your question, as comments can go away any time. Any information you can put in can help get a better answer.
    – JohnP
    Oct 31 '17 at 14:43
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    What is this person helping you with? Homework? Managing your money? Addiction? You don't have to disclose everything if you don't want to, but it might help to understand the relationship between you two better. Is it professional (are you paying for the help?), or is the other person doing this for free, because they are just a good person? Is this something the other person does professionally normally (even though you might not be paying for it)? I'm proposing to put this on hold, until some more detail is added, so we can give you a better answer :)
    – Tinkeringbell
    Oct 31 '17 at 14:47
  • 1
    So you asked this person for help, but are finding that you don't like the manner in which they are helping you? And you need a way to "let them down easy", as it were?
    – AndreiROM
    Oct 31 '17 at 14:48

Give it a positive vibe, instead of a negative one, i. e.

They don't need to help you

instead of

You don't want their help

For example:

I have good news! You don't need to go to troubles for me any longer. I know that I have made use of your help several times in the past, but I found another way out this time. Still, I'm very thankful to you for your willingness to help.

You could also offer them some "compensation" as a little "thank you" for their offer to help, depending on the terms you are with them. Maybe inviting them for coffee and cake or something.

This way, you convey the information you want ("I don't need your help"), but you make clear, that it is good for them, that you don't want to cut ties with them and are thankful. In the best case, they will accept it right away. This is much more positive than something like "I don't want you to help me anymore".

  • I like this. Reframing it in a way that says "you've done a lot for me and I don't want to be a burden" takes the onus away and gives you a good reason to decline their help while not hurting a friend's feelings. No matter how you explain it, the response would be seen as personal, so stick with the simple "you've done so much for me already; you deserve a break. Let's get some coffee and catch up" to show that you value this person. Oct 31 '17 at 16:47

You just need to be honest with the person, that the help that they are giving really isn't working out the way you expected. It might be a bit of an awkward situation for sure, but the alternative is to just keep going down a path you don't care for.

What I would do is arrange a time to buy them a lunch or something similar, in a neutral location and you can tell them something along the lines of:

I really appreciate the way that you have extended yourself for me, and that you value our friendship enough to want to do this, but after thinking some things through, I've realized that there are things that I just need to take care of myself, I'm not comfortable sharing them.

If there are things that she can still help with, you can offer that as an easier out as well. Let her help with some things, while letting her know that you are not going to be relying on her as much.

If you are also going to be asking a different friend with certain things, you should let her know that as well. Hearing it first hand from you is much better than finding out second hand down the line, things like that can cause resentment later. If she asks why, have an answer for her, don't waver back and forth. Just let her know that maybe this other friend has a different perspective, or similar.

If you stress the gratitude and the appreciation of the friendship, and indicate that you may need help in the future, it will make it an easier transition for the both of you.


Say something like this.

I'm grateful for all the help you've given me, thank you. I'm feeling as if I'm making our friendship too one-sided by relying on you for so much help. I know that you may not feel that way, but I am starting to, and I don't want to rely so heavily on you. Thank you again for all the help you've given me, I really appreciate it, and If I ever get in a real mess, I know I can rely on you. You are a great friend for being there when I need you. Now, let me be more of your friend and less of a responsibility.

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