My relationship with one of my best friends has fizzled over the past couple years. She’s dealing with a lot of personal problems, and while I am more than happy to be there for her, she has a tendency to lash out at those closest to her — she needs to bring those around her down in order to boost her own self-esteem. It’s gotten exhausting over the years, and it’s at the point where I want to avoid hanging out with her because I am always emotionally drained afterwards. I feel like a terrible friend since she is going through a lot, but I feel like, for my own mental health, I need to reduce the time I spend with her. Is it time to cut her out of my life for good?
Depending on her preferred form of deprecation (blatant putdowns versus passive aggressive gibes, e.g.) you may consider calling her out on it. If you don’t think your friend will be receptive to hearing your concerns, I’d recommend temporarily excusing yourself from her life. This situation is different from just having a catty friend because you have indicated that your friend has a profoundly negative emotional, and perhaps even physiological effect, on you. I am sympathetic to her undisclosed personal problems, but also hard-pressed to think of reasons why you should be an emotional punching bag. Bringing others down is not a healthy way to build self-esteem. Hopefully your absence will encourage your friend to partake in some introspection that will lead to a healthier, reciprocal relationship.
Tiffany Kuan is a senior majoring in business administration. Her blog advice column, Ask Tiffany, runs every Monday.
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