Blake’s Advice Column
Years ago, I was friendly with a man from work who was very close to his mom. She came along with us once for lunch and ended up really liking me. From that point on, whenever he and I would get together for lunch, she would tag along.
At one point, without my permission, he gave her my phone number, and she began calling me. A little has turned into a lot. She contacts me every day via text or phone, almost always to complain about something in her life. She always wants to get together for lunch and is constantly asking me for favors, including rides to work (we do not have the same job or the same hours) or taking care of her dogs and cats while she’s away on her various work trips.
I no longer speak to the man, but I speak to his mother every single day. She considers me a dear friend and is a very sensitive person with obvious abandonment issues. My problem is, I have zero desire to be this woman’s friend. We are very different in pretty much every way imaginable. I get together with her, respond to her messages, answer her calls and do favors for her out of guilt, not wanting to be yet another person who kicks her to the curb.
How do I handle this? Should I continue to allow her to use me for favors and as a sounding board for all her various complaints, or is there a way to gracefully bow out without breaking this woman’s heart?
From Boston, Massachusetts
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It is very obvious that woman is very dependent upon you emotionally. However, I think it’s time you let her know what an irritating pest she is. Here are some of my ideas. When she starts rambling on about her daily woes, scream at the top of your lungs “Shut up!” If she’s old an has a hearing loss, your yelling won’t hurt her ears. If she doesn’t have a hearing loss, if yell loud enough and often enough, eventually she will. Or, minimize her complaints by constantly one upping her. Such as, if she says her fingers are sore, tell her your entire hand fell off, and you need to get it sewed back on or replaced. You said she has “abandonment issues”, so use that as weapon. Tell her you can understand why people abandon her, because you are scheduling to do the same thing to her in the near future, prompted by her endless character flaws. But in most stressful situations, humor can go a long way. So the next time she starts whining about her sorrows, start laughing. And the more she complains, the harder you should laugh. You should conclude by suggesting that she should try doing some stand-up comedy, give her a list of night clubs that have an “open mike night”, and then threaten to change your phone number if she ever calls you again. I hope this helps.