Social Question

jca's avatar

How tolerant would you be of a friend who has become unpleasant to be with?

Asked by jca (36062points) February 8th, 2016

Long story short: I have mentioned this friend of mine a bunch of times within the past year. She suffered some trauma (illness and death of a loved one) and became mentally ill, or a better description might be mentally ill with noticeable symptoms. She has become a hypochondriac and is convinced she has an obscure syndrome with many symptoms. That’s not really the issue. The issue is that she has become unpleasant to be around in a way that she never used to be.

She is argumentative and she will get annoyed and loud with someone who she does not agree with. If I am resistant to see her, due to being busy, she calls me up and argues with me about how I should be more willing to get together. When I defend myself and say I don’t see my other good friends too often either, she tells me that they’re not sick, she’s sick, etc.

She is equally demanding of others, because they tell me she wants to go to their houses, lie in their bed and watch TV or other strange things. When I do see her, not only is she argumentative but she will text me the next day or two days later about something petty I said that upset her. For example, we were having a discussion and I talked about a term that not many people may know. I asked her “do you know what that is?” Two days later, she texted me that she was offended because she feels like when I asked her “do you know what that is” I’m implying that she’s stupid. It’s like we no longer see eye to eye, and we seem to not enjoy each other’s company.

Our other mutual friends say they hope the friend that we used to know returns (in other words, her symptoms are lessened and she becomes more pleasant). We’re all aware that may never happen.

I want to know, in the opinion of other Jellies, how tolerant would you be and how willing would you be to see a friend who has become argumentative and unpleasant to be around?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

19 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t see how she can be so demanding regarding spending time with her. She’s pushing you too much, so of course you are ready to pull away.

I guess since she is in a time of need you continue to want to be her friend in some limited way, and I would feel the same. I think I would not dump her altogether, but maybe make clear you have limited time to help her, and your very sorry about that. Your busy too.

Mimishu1995's avatar

On one hand, I kind of feel sorry for her. She suffered from some serious problems and maybe she just needs someone to bear with her during her difficult time.

But on the other hand, I think she’s demanding too much. I know she needs help, but she has become too self-centered and has lost some respect for others.

Like @JLeslie said, set some limit. You are her friend, not her mom who is tied to her. You have your own life and problems, you can only aid her, not do all the recovery for her. Only a devoted mom can do all she demands although I guess even a mom can be annoyed by that. You can make that clear to her and stop answering to her absurb demands, and let your friends do the same. Over time she may get the message.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

Your primary concern is preventing her illness from compromising your mental health. You cannot be supportive of her if she has begun to drag you down too.

Like the pre- flight briefing says. Put on your own oxygen mask first…

If you care about this person it’s time to tell her some things that might be very difficult for you. This is not the time for hints. It’s not the time for you to hope she gets the idea by your making excuses or changing your behavior. It is the time to tell her there is no shame in what she is experiencing.

You need to tell her that she is sick, and that your being around her will make you sick. Boundaries need to be set by you.

She needs professional help. A psychiatrist to prescribe medication and a psychologist to talk to and evaluate the positive and negative effects of medication.

She probably could do well to enter an inpatient or outpatient program to guide her through the grief process. It will also explain to her why and how her behavior is alienating her friends.

It will also explain is simple terms the mechanism in her head that is affecting her. (You should Google Cognitive Behavior Therapy).

Make a deal with her. Tell her you will be there for her as long as she is doing what she can to get better. If she refuses or quits it’s time for you to leave the relationship. If she agrees offer to discuss what she is learning with you if she is comfortable with that.

I know just how hard this can be.

I’m wishing you the best of luck.

jca's avatar

@SecondHandStoke: She is under a psychiatrist’s care, as well as a whole bunch of medical doctors. She is also a hypochondriac now, so she’s always going to various medical doctors. She’s on several medications for anxiety and depression, too.

She told me her morning routine and her evening routine (for bed) take two hours, each. She goes to several doctors every week. That’s a good indication of what’s going on with her, mentally and physically.

rojo's avatar

I have a friend that exhibits many of the same symptoms you note above. He has been that way ever since I have known him; sometimes at higher levels than others. He just has what we refer to as having a high AQ (Asshole Quotient). I have learned that I can tolerate it in small doses and have done so for the past 40 years. Overall, he is a decent person who just has problems expressing himself like the rest of us.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@jca it is so damn easy to give advice when you aren’t the one having to implement it, but here goes.

In a perfect world, is it possible that you could write her a letter outlining what you’ve told us, reiterate that you love her, but until she can find a way to work past the problems you feel it would be better for the both of you to cut ties for now? Explain that you seem to be inadvertently stressing her out, without meaning to, and that she is stressing you out with these new demands and behaviors.
Maybe if she actually starts losing friends she’ll dig deeper to find some way to fix it.
She can’t take advantage of you unless you let her.

However, I know how damn hard it can be to tell someone no. So much easier said than done.

stanleybmanly's avatar

My wife’s dearest friend underwent a severe transformation as the result of a crucial operation on a vascular tangle. The procedure nearly killed her, but she emerged from it relieved of debilitating migraine headaches, but a tragically different person. And it has been a terribly dispiriting thing to watch.

SecondHandStoke's avatar


“She is under a psychiatrist’s care, as well as a whole bunch of medical doctors. She is also a hypochondriac now, so she’s always going to various medical doctors. She’s on several medications for anxiety and depression, too.”

This sounds to me like classic drug seeking behavior.

This needs to stop before doctors begin refusing to see her and pharmacies start to deny her prescriptions.

Too much and or the incorrect drugs could easily explain her behavior.

Dutchess_III's avatar

But what exactly can @jca DO? It isn’t a family member. I get the impression this person is a friend, but not such a close friend that she considers her family.
I don’t think there is anything @jca can do about it, except distance herself for her own peace of mind.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I think you must either learn to weather it or watch helplessly as every relationship this woman has crumbles in front of you and her bitterness and resentment grow. Her delusions are in effect certain to bring about the very situation of which she now complains. Those who hang on longest out of loyalty or guilt find more of the relentless load focused in their direction. If you can’t steer her toward professional help, the choices are grim.

jca's avatar

@stanleybmanly: She’s getting professional help. She sees a psychiatrist and is on all sorts of heavy duty meds.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Are things improving. FOR YOU?

jca's avatar

@stanleybmanly: What do you mean for me? She’s hard to tolerate.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Is it getting better or worse? Are there any other of her friends left to help you shoulder the load?

Dutchess_III's avatar

I think what we’re saying is that we’re more concerned with the impact it’s having on you, than with her, just because we don’t know her.
I still say you need to consider dropping out until / when / if things improve. Maybe it’s a wakeup call she needs.

jca's avatar

I’m ok, just that in the past year, whenever we see each other, there’s contention.

The other day we were arguing via text, back and forth, and I told her I feel like our friendship is hanging by a thread. She said she agreed. I said maybe we should give it a rest. I meant give the friendship a rest but I think she thought I meant give the argument a rest. Then yesterday she was emailing me some nonchalant emails about the movie we saw. I responded to them because I don’t want to stay mad at her, I just don’t care to see her if it’s going to lead to arguments.

I’m going to try to just communicate with her by phone, text and email and not see her for a while. The next problem is my birthday is coming up in a month and I know she’s going to want to take me out for my birthday.

Jak's avatar

In the end it’s going to come down to how much you’re willing to put up with. It doesn’t sound like a two-way relationship at this point. How long can you hold on for the sake of what was rather than what is? You can’t really control another adult, but you can be supportive right until you’ve had enough. She obviously has issues. Don’t beat yourself up if you have to bail. Sometimes holding on hurts more than letting go.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

You can’t fix your friend. Only the professionals she is working with can help her to get better. So your priority has to be looking after yourself and managing how her illness affects you.

I would tell her how her behaviour is affecting you. If you don’t think you can have a rational conversation, write to her and explain. As has been said above, set boundaries. Let her know what they are. How often you expect to be able to see her/speak to her. What you will accept from her in terms of aggression and demands. Be quite specific and be firm. Stand by what you have said.

My sister had mental health issues and at times, she was impossible to be around. Rather than me blowing her off, she would lose her temper if I didn’t agree with her and refuse to see me. I can’t say I was terribly sorry when we had periods like that. Another positive was that it forced her to look after herself and stop being dependent on me (or whoever else she’d dumped). I invariably found her health would improve because she had nobody else to blame or to lean on.

@jca, you aren’t responsible for your friend. Do as much as you can, but look after yourself and your child first.

Here2_4's avatar

War vets lose friends and family this way. She is suffering from shock, and trauma, and much as you would like to help, there is nothing you can do.
Write a nice long letter. A letter is best, because she can refer back to it as her condition improves. Reminisce. Remind her of pleasanter times, and occasions when you enjoyed being around her. Point out that she is going through some changes, and though they may or may not be apparent to her, they do stand out to those who know her. Urge her to get some help. Beg her, maybe even. Tell her you miss your friend and want her back. Tell her you would like her to take time away from you to pursue help for herself, and that you will be waiting to hear from her once her outlook improves.

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther