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Anxious friend makes me anxious

I have had a friend for a few years.  She is difficult, extremly judgemental and has a sense of moral superiority.   Little things bother her and I have to walk on eggs when I am around her. Others feel this way also. You never know what will set her off (it could be the waitress taking away her dinner plate too soon ) and when something has, her personality changes, she snaps at you and makes it real uncomfortable for everyone. She withdraws from conversation and ferments in her perceived slight and unhappiness.   Everyone feels uncomfortable.  She's like the unhappy elephant in the room that everyone tiptoes around.   When you talk about yourself, she gets anxious, her eyes dart and she rushes the conversation.  Of course, it's always "you" and never her.  You can't ask much of her and you have to be carefull so that she doesn't feel put out and victimized.     I hate to say this, but she's better after a drink or two, when she calms down.  Then she can be enjoyable.  She really can't "give of herself".  Compliments don't come easy from her.  She can't leave the house unless she looks great and everything is in place.  She may be depressed but to her, that would be a sign of weakness and lack of character.  I don't know how to deal with her or to help her.  What's wrong with her?  
11 Responses
Avatar universal
My God, her name isn't Dara is it?  Sounds like my friend.  Who, has been my friend for many year's and has the same personality as your's does.  But, I'v come to the conclusion that this is her, and I gotta love her no matter what, and she does make up for a good conversation.  So, what I'm saying is, as long as she is not hurting you physically or mentally then dont even try to figure her out.   How do you think she would take it if you confronted her??   Or maybe you better make sure she has a few drinks in her before you do.
Avatar universal
Hi Fuzzy,
No, she's not Dara.  How do you handle Dara?  In a way, my friend does hurt me and I don't know why. I wish I could just dismiss her but there is good in her. She just works very hard at alienating people. But it's really hard to be friends with someone that you can't be honest with - I would love to tell her to see a therapist or get medication for depression or anxiety.  But then I would get attacked.  So there she goes through life, turning people off and becoming isolated.  I feel bad for her and on the other hand, I also get angry at her.  Maybe that's the problem with me-I get angry and there's nothing that I can do.  Can't talk it out with her. Her family is that withholding type of family-they clam up, shun their own spawn and become self rightous in their indignation.  My family is the opposite,  We are more emotional and open.  We may get mad, have words and spill it all out but there is a lot of love there and we always get over it real quick.  
Avatar universal
Ha, is her name Elaine.  I had a friend exactly like that.  I did confront her and she took it very personally and dropped me like a hot potato.  Funny thing is,  one time we were talking about someone else and SHE suggested that I confront this other person and try to talk about it.  Well, obviously she didn't take her own advice.
we are no longer friends and I haven't spoken to her in almost a year now.  It bothered me for a long time but finally realized that it isn't my problem.
221999 tn?1292974438
Sometimes you just have to break all ties, especially when there is no hope for change. I had a friend who was very toxic to me. Regardless of anything I said, the situation never improved. I severed all ties and have never looked back. It was a loss, but the unnecessary drama was gone. Life if too hard as it is without fabricated issues from people who live for drama.

I am not saying this is what you should do. It's just what I did because the price to too high in terms of my own health.  You'll have to evaluate whether this person can change; whether they can realize the effect they are having on you and others. If they are unwilling (or can't), then breaking ties may be the best thing for your health.

Avatar universal
Thanks for your input. As it is, I don't see her often, maybe once a month. But when I leave her company, it's not like I say, "wow, what a great time I had and she was so much fun".  It's more like "I am really glad she had that wine with dinner".  This is telling me something.

Dolphin, why did it bother you for a long time after your friendship ended?
436507 tn?1209944174
Wow...that was me many years ago...well maybe not that long ago.

The only thing that changed me was first: I eknowledge that I had a problem, second: I wanted to change my behavior and third: I almost lost one person I loved very much because of it, that really snaped me out of it. Fourth: I stoped justifying my behavior for past events that happened to me.

My reason for being that way was, past experiences where I was put down by others, mental and physicall abuse, and I'm talking years. And it makes you so angry but instead of talking about it (in some cases you cannot because either you are to young or just mentioning it might result in worst outcome) you just hold it in, and it builds up. One day you say it's enough, but you turn into a monster, you become the agressor. Not that I physically abused anybody, but verbally I hurted alot of people.

So, it's usually low self esteam, but you build up an armor to protect yourself, and whatever happens or whomever says anything, even if it's not directly said to you, you will take it has an attack, it's personal, and then you stay on your guards and you attack before anything happens just to make sure nobody tries it again. You might say: I was not even talking about her, this had nothing to do with her...it does not matter, we get so self centered, and it's all about survival.

We need to prove to everybody that we are strong, we know it all, we are intelligent, not even sikcness can stop us from functioning. We hide our "weak" emotions and we only let people see the angry, outspoken one.So we don't need anybody trying to destroy us anymore, we do it ourself. But I will tell you this, we are very weak people, we just hide it well, we need alot of attention and alot of love, we are VERY sensitive, we care a whole lot (but we will not show it). A kiss, a warm hug can crumble us.

I'm not saying that we can change 100%, I'm still blunt, outspoken, and I'm very hard on myself and my children and my staff, I expect maximum effort, not perfection, not things done 100% right, just that the person has put 100% of themself to achieve what had to be done. I stop and listen now, I can repeat to myself 50 times a day, this has nothing to do with you, let it go. I'm more physical with my familly, kisses, hugs...at an unexpected time.

The change over will happen when he / she realises that it's not the entire world that has to change for you, but you who has to change for the entire world...and that's not easy.
Avatar universal
No...its my mother.  Now this really is a delema.  My mother is this person and she has controlled me all my life, just like this person and I can't just leave this 81 year old woman.  My father died 5 years ago, my sister won't do much at all and so I am like her only caregiver.  Its very hard on me.  My nerves are shot , but she is my mother.

In my teen years, she was very verbually abusive and jealous of me..my father was a gem....but if he sided with me..then she would not talk to him and he hated that as much as I did, so he did nothing.  Now I'm 60 and feel left with the guilt if I don';t call her every day and take her for erronds that she will be angry or hurt.  See...it still bothers me after all these years.  I see this problem...but I can't solve it.  Nana
480448 tn?1426952138
It is soo hard when the people who are difficult in our lives are our family.  (In most cases)...there IS just no "walking away".  Like the author of this thread...you struggle, because you really LOVE this person, but there isn't much to "like".

I think to an extent, we all have people like this in our lives.  It's hard for me to advise you....because I've never exactly been in that same situation.  BUT, IMO.....do NOT let her ourbursts, or comments upset you....remind you that this is just how she is...and she has been that way forever.  You are doing ALL you can.....just try to take her for her errands, check up on her...and not get wrapped up in any extra "drama".  I know, that is easier said than done.

MY guess would be that people like this act that way out of fear, poor self esteem, jealousy, etc.  There isn't much you can do, other than to try not to take things personally.  Maybe if you start reminding yourself that these hurtful things come from something that is THEIR issue, it will make you feel better.

You are doing all you can for your Mom, and that is great.  Caregiving is so very hard and draining.  If possible, maybe look into some community resources in your area? Most cities have services that help out with elder care (not fulltime, but anything helps!)

And Kay, I admire that you haven't just dropped your friend on her noggin...lol.  I think you need to really re-visit the friendship for your own sake....like you said...there ARE good things about her.  If there is something there that you enjoy or benefit from...then just limit the amount of time you spend together, and distance yourself when she acts like a schmuck.  And CERTAINLY, if having her as a friend is causing you un-dure anxiety....who needs that?  It is to obad you couldn't just talk to her about it.  It doesn't sound like that would work, though.  She sounds like someone who is never able to see any fault in herself, and will likely play the wounded victim card.

I had a girlfriend who I always had a ton of fun with....but after a while, I realized just how one-sided the friendship was....everything was "all about her"...ALL the time.  She was very selfish, not to mention...she started down a road I had a hard time accepting (infidelity)...and she always told me WAY too much, and it was hard to swallow.  PLUS, she would tell me about her "conquests" like it was the funniest thing ever.....it kind of /l/e me ill.  She asked me one time why I never had much to say...and I told her the cold hard truth....she didn't care for that too much.

I still consider her a friend, and would do anything for her, but I have distanced myself quite a bit.  We still talk a few times a year, but LOL, it is STILL all about her.  Basically, I just do not get anything out of the friendship...and friendship is supposed to be a two-way street.

Good luck to all of you dealing with this...it's a toughie.
Avatar universal
Thanks so much for the nice and true comments.  You are right...she is exactly all the things you said...I know this....I just can't get away from it.  She has always had this control on me and probably always will.  It is a toughie......Again thanks for responding...Nana
Avatar universal
Well, I think that maybe this is the last straw. I have been distancing myself from my friend. She sent me a holiday card a few weeks ago and  I called her a few weeks ago to thank her  but all I got was "uh-huh". "uh-huh", "uh-huh" shot off like a rapid fire machine gun on the phone so I ended the phone call.  I had been happy and then she burst my bubble.  Then a couple of weeks after that, I got together with her and another friend to go to a house party.  TYhe friend asked her about her family and the anxious one got very upset and snapped at her and said that she didn't want to talk about it.  At the party, she yelled at someone  because someone else bought the same appetizer that she got for all of us.  I think she felt put out because the other friend and I didn't have time to get anything for the party and she agreed to pick it up.  So I needed space and I didn't call her at all because of her inappropriate behavior over the appetizer and because someone brought up a subject that she didn't like and I just had had it with her. This past weekend, she didn't show up for my birthday gathering in a restaurant.  Another friend made a feeble excuse saying that she had a lot to do but I know that she was angry.  So I found out that the anxious friend is mad at me because I haven't called her and because she "thought we were friends" and she was hurt. She said that there has been this tension when we have been together.  The only tension she felt was coming from her.  Actually, when she exploded at the party and at my other friend for politely asking about her family, I decided to keep out of it.  I decided that it wasn't my job to calme her down, smoothe it over and make nice. I let her be responsible for herself. Is this the tension that she felt?   I never would have stood her up on her birthday.  This other friend is the excuse maker.  It's never the anxious women's problem, it's mine because I have to learn to "accept people as they are" or "to look the other way" or to "appreciate her for her good points".   I have to hide my feelings because thats what she does.  I can't do it anymore.  So the anxious one makes me feel like grap, gets innappropriately mad over trial things, constantly judges EVERYONE and I am the bad guy?  The anxious one has few friends, puts up invisible barriers, I am liked by lots of people and it' s my problem?  I dont' get it.  Now I feel like I have lost two friends: the anxious one and the enabler one.  Cause I can't suck it up anymore. And I am devasted.  I feel like I invested years in this friendship on one hand. I will miss the anxious women because we has things in common. But I can't hide my feelings anymore.  I want to be free to be myself.  And you can't resolve the problems with a clam.
Avatar universal
Maybe its just time for you to move on and find new friends. You dont need to be  brought down by people that are supposed to be your friends.

Or maybe as a last ditch effort confront her and see if you both can talk about the problems.
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