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A friend of mine calls for support. The common theme is she is a victim. From the tone of her voice I can tell when she just wants to vent. I can repeat literally 40 times "yes that is not fair". If I offer my input she will get mad and often just hang up on me.

How can I tell her that getting mad and hanging up on me is not working for me?

Usually I just wait a few days and tell her I am sorry I upset her. Not willing to continue with that. If she is going to get mad and hang up on me then I would rather just not talk to her.

We dated years ago and she got mad back then. Now we meet up for lunch like every couple months.

  • What do you mean by "Do I need to reach out"? – Tycho's Nose Dec 23 '17 at 14:56
  • @Tycho'sNose Call - I will edit – paparazzo Dec 23 '17 at 15:12
  • The title and the question asked don't really match. I'd suggest editing the title to more accurately reflect what you're looking for – baldPrussian Dec 23 '17 at 15:12
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    Do you have other interactions besides these calls? If so, in person or on the phone? At what ratio during the last 2 months? And last but not least, what is the desired result from asking advice? Thank you! – michi Dec 23 '17 at 17:55
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    Why are you listening to these calls, what do you get out of it? How long are you on the phone listening & repeating? Have you tried asking her if making videos (youtube, facebook, etc) might be better for her, if she just wants a silent audience to rant to? – Xen2050 Dec 23 '17 at 23:51
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When she hangs up on you, don't initiate contact with her after that. Don't phone her back and apologize. Don't contact her in any way. You don't want to talk to her when she behaves like that, so just don't initiate contact with her.

She has learned that hanging up on you is acceptable behavior. It's not. By stepping away you are removing from her the chance to talk to you. If she can't have a conversation on your terms, then she can't talk to you at all.

When she does eventually make contact with you and asks where you've been and how come you haven't called, you say that she hung up on you, so you thought she didn't want to talk to you anymore. If you want to, you can elaborate about it and say she hurts your feelings when she does that.

If she wants to talk, she needs to learn to do it as an adult on your terms. If she can't, back off and don't initiate contact until she can.

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  • I like this answer. I want to help her but I agree I need to not contact her. – paparazzo Dec 23 '17 at 18:24
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    @Paparazzi She isn't letting you help her right now, she's hanging up on you before you get the chance. This technique also means she doesn't take you for granted. – user6818 Dec 23 '17 at 18:29
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You said that

From the tone of her voice I can tell when she just wants to vent.

If you can tell that she wants to vent then why offer her your input? This isn't what she is looking for and this is why she gets mad and hangs up. She doesn't want you to tell her what you think. She just wants you to listen.

Now from your question it seems-and correct me if I'm wrong- that you might be tired of just repeating yourself. So you are basically trapped. On one hand, if you do what she wants you to do-just listen and repeat yourself-it affects you to the point it forces you to give her your opinion. And when you do that she gets upset with you. So you are both playing a game and you probably got tired of it.

Be honest with her and ask her how she would like you to help and be supportive, otherwise don't say anything, listen to her vent or rant and when she's done, ask her if she cares to know what you think (though she seems to have reached a point where she's going on circles. She most likely knows what you think but doesn't want to accept it or act on it or change the situation).

Or change the subject or talk about you. If she continues to get mad or put you in a position where you end up offering suggestions or advice when it clearly hasn't been effective, just tell her politely either on the phone or in person that it seems that you aren't able to help her anymore because you either have to repeat yourself which drains you (if it does) or be tricked into offering advice which she clearly rejects by getting mad and hanging up. Your friend seems either to not be able to or be ready to change whatever it is she complains to you about. There isn't much you can do here. It's basically up to you to enable or not enable her behavior.

Something helpful is to use her own arguments or examples from your discussion to defend your position. You could tell her that every time she says A, it forces you to do B, which makes her do C (gets mad and so on). Don't be afraid to address that and ask her what she would do in your situation.

From your comment to my answer:

If the fact that she won't accept your help when you seem to know how to help her, bothers you so much, ask her why. Find out why she won't. Tell her if you feel rejected or offended, be open about your feelings without being rude to her. Her answer might give you more clues as to whether this is her not really wanting to be helped, or not trusting you can help her, or there could be other reasons. I don't know if you only talk on the phone but this seems like a discussion you might need to have in person.

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    "Are you done?" would set her off for sure. I am frustrated she won't accept my help on a problem when it is in my field of expertise. – paparazzo Dec 23 '17 at 16:03
  • @Paparazzi Alright. This is why I suggested asking her how she would like you to help and that this feels like a game...If you stop playing the game, she's going to stop, too, eventually. Just think of why she won't accept your help and why this frustrates you. There could be other reasons... You know your friend better than me :). Just think of other issues here that might be affecting your communication. – Tycho's Nose Dec 23 '17 at 16:13
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    "Are you done" is just asking for trouble. – user6818 Dec 23 '17 at 18:06
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    @TychosNose Asking "are you done" is demeaning. It treats the other person as a child, implying that they are having a tantrum and that they must hurry up and get it over with because you have no time for their feelings. Additionally, if someone is very clearly upset, it is obvious that they are not "done". There are other ways of addressing the issue (if talking doesn't work, remove yourself from the situation) but asking an adult person "are you done" is something that I cannot conceive of being very productive. – user6818 Dec 23 '17 at 19:48
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    @Stacey Keep in mind that I never suggested the OP should violently or forcefully interrupt her and I've also suggested he said nothing. The OP knows her better than me so he can follow those pieces of advice that seem more helpful to him. Allow me to say that while I don't necessarily agree with the entirety of your comment, you have already made your point twice and I have since edited my answer. – Tycho's Nose Dec 23 '17 at 20:21
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How can I tell her that getting mad and hanging up on me is not working for me?

You tell her that. We all want to support our friends; that's what friendship is. However, friendship is overall a reciprocal action - you do something for your friend and at some point your friend does something for you. No one keeps score, but in a solid friendship it somehow evens itself out. If one party is just taking and not putting anything back, it's hard to call that a friendship. Apologize when you are in the wrong or might be in the wrong, but one party continually apologizing is also not a sign of a healthy friendship, either.

It's not necessary to be overly blunt with her, but she needs to understand that you do not have infinite time and patience for that behavior. Perhaps something along the lines of "When we talk about this, it ends with my being hung up on. That doesn't help me at all. What are you looking for?" Then, work it out from there.

There are some people who always see themselves as victims. No matter how you handle this, she may see you as being unsupportive. All you can do is establish limits with her. If this continues after your first attempt, then still interact with her but when she calls to say how she is yet another victim, I'd suggest "the last time we talked about this, I was hung up on. I'm sorry, but I don't have the strength to continue with this. Let's talk about something else." And then guide the conversation elsewhere.

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  • I get hung up on more than one topic. I can tell vent from the tone of her voice but at that point rational conversation is not going to happen. I guess I could wait for a rational conversation. – paparazzo Dec 23 '17 at 15:39
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It sounds as if you're annoyed by her victim mentality and offering suggestions just pisses her off and she hangs up. And by what I'm reading you feel frustrated that she does this to you. Does that sound about right?

I know some excellent ways to handle people like this so I'll chime in with some of my time tested techniques you can decide what works. Also keep in mind there are numerous ways to approach situations like this.

Part of the problem from what I can gather is you and her have a different approach. At least in this context, you are more of a problem solver and she is more of a seek support and understanding type.

Option 1

Try reversing the roles or at least switch tactics. I am not saying you have to be a victim, but play the part of the one in need. In other words make her the problem solver by asking her lots of questions about what she would do to solve your problem (made up or otherwise). Engage her brain, by asking for advice. Do this on a consistent basis and she will start to become conditioned to think in a more analytical way when she's around your. Either that or she'll get tired of solving your problems and avoid you (which can't be all that bad from what it sounds)

Option 2

I also have another similar approach that works well for me.I am a fiction writer so I am pretty good at making up stories and character development. You know the subject matter which she is venting about? Create a fictional character just like her and assign him/her the same mentality and same problems. Lets call him Joe from work and he has this problem. Next time you talk to her, say, "This guy Joe, from work has this problem, and I want to help him" "What should I tell him?" By doing this you are giving her an outsiders view of her self without her feeling criticized, and this will allow her to bring up solutions from her subconscious.

Option 3

This option also works well if you are emotionally chill (like me). Just pretend you care even if you don't. Try it. You don't have to get emotional with her, but agree with everything she says. Try to stay as neutral as possible. Ask her lots of questions so she'll think you are interested, but slowly shift her in the direction of solving the problems. If you are are cool you can get her to think she came up with the solution. She'll think you're the best person in the world.

Option 4

Cut her loose if you're fed up. You can go no contact or slowly fade out. The problem I find with cutting people loose is there are people in the world of similar mindset. You'll likely run into someone like her. Best learn some skills.

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  • I can support for like 30 minutes. I am not young. World is not full of people like her. When she is happy she is fun to be around. Right now her life is kind of in a rut. I would like to be supportive but I think I could also help her get out the rut is she you take some of my advice. – paparazzo Dec 23 '17 at 20:22
  • I've just joined IpS so I can upvote this answer, esp. with your (@Paparazzi's) comment "fun to be around". Life's got its ups and downs for all of us, and sometimes we just need someone to lend an ear. (I tend towards 'fix it' also, so I know it's hard to apply the 'just listen' theory). But if your friend is a good friend at other times, maybe 'being there for her' at times is part of the friendship. I'm not trying to minimise the frustration at your end - just highlighting this answer's point, which is that some people (sometimes) don't want advice - they want comforting companionship. – Lawrence Dec 24 '17 at 7:51
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Hanging up a phone call, if not in the middle of a serious argument, is really impolite. It's childish, at the very least. She is taking way too much personal space, eating up yours. I would never do it, unless I were really pissed off and I were talking with a very close friend of mine - in other words, a person that could interpret correctly my behaviour and to whom I could effectively address my apologies.

The kind of relationship that is built up by two people always depends on the two of them. Sure, on one end there is this woman that plays the part of the egocentric and spoilt victim - but at the other end she finds somebody willing to spoil her and taking all the blame for her excesses.

She seems a lot off-centered, to the extent that she doesn't even know what the acceptable limits of her behaviour are and overflows you with her unstoppable feelings. Sometimes scolding somebody can be useful. Of course, keep the focus on the problem: the two of you can still be friends, the legitimacy of her sorrows is not put in any doubt etc.

This is the nth time you call me for help, I listen to you for like an hour and then you hang up for no reason whatsoever. I'm really fed up with it, and I won't accept it happening another time. I really want to help you, but if you behave like this I end being drained up and you get nothing either.

Then proceed in investigating why she hangs up like that:

  • does she want to conceal her reaction to you/protect you from her reaction (eg tears, cries, excessive rage etc)?
  • Does she feels that your suggestions are useless?
  • Does she want your suggestions at all? Lots of people just want to be listened (or to be able to play the part of the victim and complain).
  • Lastly, does she behave like this with other people /did other people behave like this with her in the past or present? I find the latter likely: she probably learned somewhere that this is an acceptable and repeatable behaviour.

If, after stating how her behaviour makes you feel, she apologises, you might apologise as well about the parts of your conversation that make her mad, without overdoing it: even if the fault never lies on only one side, in this case it's mainly hers.

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