The author of the letter had found herself in a difficult situation as she felt one of her friends was beginning to rely on her a little too much. Constant phone calls, frequent unannounced visits, demands to meet up all the time, talking about herself and her problems and then not listening to advice had left the friend on the receiving end of all this feeling drained of time and energy, neglecting her other friends, dreading answering the phone or door but feeling guilty and concerned about what this friend might do if she severed the ties.
The response from the Telegraphs relationship expert Sarah Abell gave some useful advice on what to do when a relationship becomes toxic.
Friendship is very much a two way street and though at times you may be more of a giver than a receiver, there will also be times when you’ll be mostly all take and no give and this system works extremely well because you will both have ‘good memories, good will and good loyalty to draw on’ says Abell, meaning in the end it all works out relatively. However, in toxic relationships such as the one in question, the relationship is completely unbalanced.
Abell goes onto say that although many people will have unbalanced relationships in their lives, as there will always be those who find it hard to help themselves, it is important to build strong boundaries.
This means learning and feeling comfortable with saying “no” when necessary, being clear about when something is inconvenient for you and you haven’t got the time, not answering the phone when your busy and returning the call when it is more convenient.
If the situation persists you may need to let the friend know that you can’t give her as much time as you have been because there are other people in your life you have been neglecting recently. Book in a specific date to meet up, on your terms and be sure to stretch out the time between meetings so you don’t fall back into the same routine.
If upon meeting up they continually repeat the same problem as they have always done, Abell advises asking what they are going to do differently to change the situation and if this fails simply say it would be great to discuss something else.
Finally remember that you are not the only person who can help and if you are seriously worried a friend might be suffering with depression then urge them to seek professional help from a GP.
Do whatever it is you need to re-energise yourself and get your zest back because the stronger you feel the better position you will be in to help your friend and keep the new boundaries in place.