Carolyn Hax

Carolyn Hax: Best friend just calls to complain

 

Dear Carolyn: My best friend calls me on a regular basis always with complaints, a new crisis, or just needing to “vent.” Most of the time, these events in her life that cause her strife are of her doing.

The more I think about it, the more I think she thrives on the “drama,” and when there is none she creates it.

I am not sure how to proceed at this point. I have been through some major trauma the past two years: divorce, the birth of a very sick premature child, job reduction and my own health scare. Not once during these calls does she ask about me.

I am tired of the daily barrage of her calls, so I just stopped answering them. I know I have to say something, but I am sure it will be misconstrued. Do you have an idea of what to say to her to make her understand there are people out here with REAL problems, and not just ones they cause themselves?

Drama Queen?

There should be an autocorrect function in the Submit Question prompt, whereby if you type any construction of “make her understand,” the software rejects the question.

You can’t “make” anyone do anything. (Except perhaps “stop breathing,” but let’s keep this forum homicide-free.)

You can only state your opinion, share your feelings and observations, or ask fact-finding questions — with as much transparency of thought and motive as possible — and hope she has the emotional capacity to appreciate what you’re saying.

For example: You invite her to coffee, you sit down, and you admit that you have been screening her calls. Why? Because she was calling with her desire to “vent,” but not asking you, ever, how your child’s health was progressing, how you were faring emotionally during your divorce, or whether there were any new developments on your health.

If you expect that whatever she says won’t be enough to restore your interest in taking those calls, then be careful not to pile on; it’s hard enough to learn a friend is dumping you without the parting gift of a detailed inventory of your shortcomings.

If your intent is to save the friendship, then that warrants getting more in depth with your concerns.

Start by asking her if she thinks you have been fair in your representation of the past two years of your friendship. Then see what she has to say.

She might stun you by being stunned, but this is someone who has demonstrated little self-awareness, so it’s a real possibility that she has no idea what you’re talking about. Anger and defensiveness are also responses worth anticipating.

If nothing else, these possibilities are reasons not to do this in a place where you have to flag someone down for the check — but, more important, they’re reasons to be careful about your goals. You’re not in this to fix her, you’re in this to be heard, with the hope that it will help both of you, and your friendship, to be clear about what you want and need. Whether she listens is up to her.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at washingtonpost.com.

Read more Lifestyle stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
Try it: The flavors of olive tapenade pop in a surprising way when you make it at home.

    Cooking

    Got olives? Try tapenade at home

    Olive tapenade, an earthy, salty paste of olives, capers, anchovies, garlic and other flavorings, is easy to find jarred in specialty shops. But when you whip up a batch yourself at home, the flavors pop in a surprising way that makes you never want to buy it in a jar again.

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">Cold corn:</span> Vichyssoise is just one option of a refreshing soup during a hot summer.

    COOKING

    Dive in to a big bowl of cold soup this summer

    The sun is blazing. The sweat is dripping. The air feels as if it is sticking to your skin.

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">Fresh and crisp: </span>Oven-baked Parmesan adds a salty crunch to this salad recipe from “Chef Michael Smith’s Kitchen.”

    Today’s Special

    Parmigiano-Reggiano earns its reign as king of cheeses

    I love Italian cheeses, everything from Gorgonzola, mozzarella and burrata to pecorino and Parmigiano-Reggiano, the King of Cheeses.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category