Feeling hopeless that a friend can handle my new boundaries

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JenniferSmith

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Re: Feeling hopeless that a friend can handle my new boundaries
« Reply #20 on: September 19, 2017, 02:06:05 AM »
Like you and other posters here, I've had "friends"/people like this in my life.  And, like you,  I've almost always felt guilty about going N/C with these individuals.  As you wrote, I,  too, a) didn't want to be unkind  &  b) I felt sorry--and overly-empathized with the person and the person's problems.

I frequently have been told that I am an excellent listener. And if  true, that's because I am genuinely interested in people. People being their authentic selves, that is. And I have a wide range of interests.

My take on these nice, but annoying people is that it's not simply that they "have a lot of problems." It's HOW they communicate with others about those problems-- and how they manage their problems-- communicating with you and other people.

One-sided relationships are extremely exhausting, frustrating and ultimately, unfulfilling.  This kind of dynamic is not good for YOUR well-being. But it's also not good for HER, either, to dominate the discussion. Friends are not supposed to serve as social workers/shrinks. (well, they can be for a very short time, but it shouldn't be expected routinely). There has to be give and take in a friendship-- MOST of the time.

Through the years,  I tended to have this type problem in  relationships in which the "Annoying Person" and I were "isolated" from other mutually known contacts --meaning we two did not have any common friends.

I've learned that  a "common friend/coworker/acquaintance" can often help validate your very real feelings/impression about the person.  And help enlighten you and help you to cut ties earlier. It's helpful to realize that this annoying behavior is USUALLY an established pattern of behavior with the Annoying Person.

Thank you Spring Light- you made some excellent points which really resonated with me.  I feel like you very much "get" this situation. 

You are absolutely correct that this issue is not that this friend has problems, but rather its that the manner in which she communicates them and deals with them is just not a match for me. 

And you are right about this being an "isolated" friendship. We met in a support group, but I eventually grew tired of the dynamics in the group, and left. So that is another fact at play that I hadn't really thought of.

I think the root of the issue is that she is just way too negative for me to find any enjoyment with. I was in a needy/lonely place in my life when I met her and I ignored my initial impressions because of that.

Anyway, thanks for your post.

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JenniferSmith

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Re: Feeling hopeless that a friend can handle my new boundaries
« Reply #21 on: September 19, 2017, 02:12:16 AM »
I'm fortunate enough to have a contrasting story to share. Perhaps my story will illustrate emotionally healthy friendships.

About ten years ago I made friends with someone who, it turns out, was going through a horrendous, contentious divorce. She needed someone to lean on, to be sure. But ya know what she did? She always went out of her way to ask me how I am, and to really listen, and to always remind me that my problems are just as important as hers!

Her problems have continued to this day. And needless to say, we're still friends today.  I get teary-eyed when I think about how much she means to me.

That's a success story of two people working at balance.

That is a great example and I've definitely experienced that in other friendships. There does have to be a balance in order for it to work. I have a TON of super challenging issues in my life- but when I meet my friends for lunch, I make a point of asking about their lives, sharing some of the good things in my life, and laughing/joking and having fun.  So the problems are in a balance with fun and positive things. 

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Spring Butterfly

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Re: Feeling hopeless that a friend can handle my new boundaries
« Reply #22 on: September 19, 2017, 09:15:29 AM »
Yes you're absolutely allowed to reevaluate your friendships / relationships and make adjustments. There were friendships I had made when I was extremely codependent, they were the people who had needs like a deep bottomless chasm and completely self-centered. Once I hit a wall and had problems of my own these persons disappeared because I was no use to them any longer.

You've expressed to this person you have some need to focus on some things happening in your life. Rather than take the opportunity to be there for you this person continues to try to suck the life out of you. This is not a friendship in my estimation. This is not two persons being there for each other.
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SpringLight

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Re: Feeling hopeless that a friend can handle my new boundaries
« Reply #23 on: September 19, 2017, 05:58:26 PM »
Like you and other posters here, I've had "friends"/people like this in my life.  And, like you,  I've almost always felt guilty about going N/C with these individuals.  As you wrote, I,  too, a) didn't want to be unkind  &  b) I felt sorry--and overly-empathized with the person and the person's problems.

I frequently have been told that I am an excellent listener. And if  true, that's because I am genuinely interested in people. People being their authentic selves, that is. And I have a wide range of interests.

My take on these nice, but annoying people is that it's not simply that they "have a lot of problems." It's HOW they communicate with others about those problems-- and how they manage their problems-- communicating with you and other people.

One-sided relationships are extremely exhausting, frustrating and ultimately, unfulfilling.  This kind of dynamic is not good for YOUR well-being. But it's also not good for HER, either, to dominate the discussion. Friends are not supposed to serve as social workers/shrinks. (well, they can be for a very short time, but it shouldn't be expected routinely). There has to be give and take in a friendship-- MOST of the time.

Through the years,  I tended to have this type problem in  relationships in which the "Annoying Person" and I were "isolated" from other mutually known contacts --meaning we two did not have any common friends.

I've learned that  a "common friend/coworker/acquaintance" can often help validate your very real feelings/impression about the person.  And help enlighten you and help you to cut ties earlier. It's helpful to realize that this annoying behavior is USUALLY an established pattern of behavior with the Annoying Person.

Thank you Spring Light- you made some excellent points which really resonated with me.  I feel like you very much "get" this situation. 

You are absolutely correct that this issue is not that this friend has problems, but rather its that the manner in which she communicates them and deals with them is just not a match for me. 

And you are right about this being an "isolated" friendship. We met in a support group, but I eventually grew tired of the dynamics in the group, and left. So that is another fact at play that I hadn't really thought of.

I think the root of the issue is that she is just way too negative for me to find any enjoyment with. I was in a needy/lonely place in my life when I met her and I ignored my initial impressions because of that.

Anyway, thanks for your post.

Jennifer:

I'm glad I was of help. Unfortunately (and/or possibly fortunately--for the sake of this forum?) I have experience with this problem. In fact, I did some reflecting, and I think I came up with 3-4 people like this woman that you encountered.  No, wait...I think I just came up with a fifth person.  (I've lived a long time!!!)

After I read your posts, I reflected on these people from my life on the planet, and I noticed a pattern. Turns out all of them were friends I had acquired as "offshoots" from another group or another friend, or a job I held.  And the relationships became "isolated", meaning that by the time we were closer, the group was a thing of the past. (Similar to you and your support group situation friend.)

Like you, I struggled with guilt when I wanted to end the relationship.   And let's not forget the obligation I felt.  (The voice in my head: "How dare I ABANDON this person?! How would *I* feel if someone did that to ME?!")

It was only much later on, that I was able to "de-dramatize" the whole "obligation situation." The fact is that yes, over the years, IN MY LIFE there had been people/friends who did the slow fade on me, or by whom I had felt "dumped." Hasn't it happened to everyone at some point in life?

 But....although the end of the friendship was (sometimes) sad, I didn't have a nervous breakdown over it. And I'm a sensitive and emotional (not to mention nostalgic!) person, who deeply values my friendships. So what did I do? I moved on.  It occurred to me that if sensitive ole me can move on, THEY can move on, too.

I often felt GUILT and OBLIGATION. And in one particular "friendship" with one of these types, I remember feeling FEAR. 

This was a  woman (whom only later I realized was textbook BPD)--a peer. I "met" her at work because I frequently needed to call her office for information. This was before the Internet.   On the phone, "Helga" was charming, bright, funny, upbeat, with a great sense of humor. She seemed to be a ton of fun.  I was single, she was single.  Eventually, I had a business trip that allowed me to meet "Helga", for the first time--in person-- in her home city.   After staying one night at a hotel for business in her home city, she invited me to spend the weekend with her in her condo.  The weekend activities actually were enjoyable. But the entire time, she talked non-stop about herself.  I wasn't completely passive--I tried my best to inject some "me" stuff. But my stuff, my opinions, my observations fell on deaf ears.

Codependent that I was, my only contribution was asking follow-up questions.  :stars: Yes, I was genuinely interested, and she IS interesting (she really knows how to tell a story--she could be a stand-up comedienne...)....except by the time Sunday rolled around, I was EXHAUSTED and DRAINED by her completely dominating the conversation.   :stars:

I reminded her on Saturday night that I needed to go to the airport on Sunday afternoon, when I would be leaving her, to go home.

That's when she WENT BALLISTIC.  :blowup:

She angrily screamed that "it was understood", that  she just assumed that I was going to stay with her the following day, Monday, a national holiday. I had never indicated that I was staying over on Monday, whether it was a national holiday or not.

I told her that I needed Monday to catch up with my life at home, before I went back to work on Tuesday.  I never wavered on that. Not surprisingly, she didn't "hear" me. What ensued was a nasty diatribe AT me, for not spending that third day with her.  She hurled all kinds of nasty names my way, and accused me of being heartless and insensitive.   I guess some people might think I should be flattered at her wanting my company....but us OOF'ers realize that this was a BPD who just needed a warm body to listen to her.

I was  extremely shaken by her sudden loud angry tirade and fury. She scared me and I thought I might cave...just to placate her. But I stood my ground--thank God.

 I had had experience with this behavior with my BPDsis.  I was scared that with her wrath, Helga may do something vindictive, relating to my job. I walked on eggshells and did Medium Chill for the rest of my time at that job, even when I didn't know there was such a thing. She called me a few times after that at my home numbering...but I kept reiterating how busy I was (and I was.) And I screened my calls.

Your friend may attempt contact again, but in time she will grow weary of not having a response. She will go on and find someone else.

It's kind of reassuring (and even amusing, actually) to realize that we ARE replaceable for PD people!

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SpringLight

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Re: Feeling hopeless that a friend can handle my new boundaries
« Reply #24 on: September 19, 2017, 06:26:26 PM »
I'm fortunate enough to have a contrasting story to share. Perhaps my story will illustrate emotionally healthy friendships.

About ten years ago I made friends with someone who, it turns out, was going through a horrendous, contentious divorce. She needed someone to lean on, to be sure. But ya know what she did? She always went out of her way to ask me how I am, and to really listen, and to always remind me that my problems are just as important as hers!

Her problems have continued to this day. And needless to say, we're still friends today.  I get teary-eyed when I think about how much she means to me.

That's a success story of two people working at balance.

Biggerfish:

YES! Thanks for giving us that perspective of what it means to be a GREAT friend.

I am about your same age. As I look back over a lifetime of friendships--some that have come and gone-- I realize that only a few, have been of that quality.  How do I feel about them?  I cherish them AND also I feel cherished BY them.  And, I too, can get teary-eyed thinking about how they have changed my life for the better.

On a lighter note, I also need to appreciate YOU, Biggerfish-- for introducing us to the concept of being an UNPLEASER.  :yahoo:

I've always been in favor of practicing random acts of kindness. However, NOW, thanks to you, I  periodically  practice UNPLEASING the PDs in my life. I'm no pro...and I don't think anyone has actually noticed what I'm doing...(and, after all, who needs to know?).

Bottom line: It's been empowering breaking my perpetual people pleasing pattern.

P.S. Pardon the  plentiful plentiful pppp alliteration! I didn't do it on ppppurpose.  :banana:

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SpringLight

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Re: Feeling hopeless that a friend can handle my new boundaries
« Reply #25 on: September 19, 2017, 07:00:58 PM »
I'm fortunate enough to have a contrasting story to share. Perhaps my story will illustrate emotionally healthy friendships.

About ten years ago I made friends with someone who, it turns out, was going through a horrendous, contentious divorce. She needed someone to lean on, to be sure. But ya know what she did? She always went out of her way to ask me how I am, and to really listen, and to always remind me that my problems are just as important as hers!

Her problems have continued to this day. And needless to say, we're still friends today.  I get teary-eyed when I think about how much she means to me.

That's a success story of two people working at balance.

That is a great example and I've definitely experienced that in other friendships. There does have to be a balance in order for it to work. I have a TON of super challenging issues in my life- but when I meet my friends for lunch, I make a point of asking about their lives, sharing some of the good things in my life, and laughing/joking and having fun.  So the problems are in a balance with fun and positive things.

Jennifer:

Yes! That's it. There DOES have to be a sense of balance. Not every day, not every single conversation, necessarily. But there has to be a clear sense of reciprocal caring and interest in each other's life--right? Otherwise, what's the point?

I mean...it's nice that this woman said that you could talk about your "stuff" if you needed to. But a REAL FRIEND wouldn't have to say that....they would have already indicated that they  wanted to hear about you.

I think the difference between a "friend" like this woman and a REAL friend is how you generally feel after talking/interacting with the friend. I know I have had some marathon conversations with real friends.  At the end, I may be tired, but I'm generally feel exhilarated and enriched by the stimulating conversation. And the LAUGHTER!  And I realize that it has been exhilarating for the friend as well.  A win-win! No matter the nature of the topic.

Like you, I have a TON of super-challenging issues at this stage of my life.  Most of these things are not exactly "exciting" topics (caregiving my elderly mother, my own health problems). In fact, some of these things can be downright TEDIOUS and BORING in the extreme.  But a true friend loves YOU-- even when your circumstances are NOT riveting/dramatic/ compelling.  A true friend knows how to engage you and show interest even when your life is full of mundane problems.

I've found that true friends won't ever allow  the exclusive focus of the conversation to be on the friend "who has the most interesting or the most problematic life." It has to be (and therefore feel like) a two-way street for both friends.

An interesting and thought-provoking topic, isn't it?  At any age...

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biggerfish

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Re: Feeling hopeless that a friend can handle my new boundaries
« Reply #26 on: September 19, 2017, 10:31:08 PM »

On a lighter note, I also need to appreciate YOU, Biggerfish-- for introducing us to the concept of being an UNPLEASER.  :yahoo:

 
LOL. Glad I could help.  I guess I really want to please people that I respect and love; the others, well....I just don't care any more if they are pleased or not. And that's precisely the topic at hand -- how to know when someone is special and cherishable. They are the only ones that matter!

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JenniferSmith

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Re: Feeling hopeless that a friend can handle my new boundaries
« Reply #27 on: September 20, 2017, 10:05:41 PM »
Like you, I have a TON of super-challenging issues at this stage of my life.  Most of these things are not exactly "exciting" topics (caregiving my elderly mother, my own health problems). In fact, some of these things can be downright TEDIOUS and BORING in the extreme.  But a true friend loves YOU-- even when your circumstances are NOT riveting/dramatic/ compelling.  A true friend knows how to engage you and show interest even when your life is full of mundane problems.

I've found that true friends won't ever allow  the exclusive focus of the conversation to be on the friend "who has the most interesting or the most problematic life." It has to be (and therefore feel like) a two-way street for both friends.

I really am enjoying your posts on this thread, SpringLight.  You are right about how on-going life problems can be "tedious and boring in the extreme" (I like the way you put that).  That is how I feel. I have some chronic stressful issues in my life (health/family) and if I talked about them in depth every time I talked to a friend, I would bore and depress myself just as much as them - possibly even more!

Despite these stressful life issues, I manage to find plenty of other things to talk about. So when I see my friends, we have much, much more than just "life problems" to talk about. The key point is balance. There is an overall balance in the friendship, and the scales tip toward happy/fun/good feelings rather than sad/down/negative feelings.

I've been reading some of the archives on Captain Awkward and those have been helping me feel more secure about my decision to distance myself from this woman (this is a good one: https://captainawkward.com/2017/06/12/977-i-just-dont-want-to-be-your-friend/ ). 

She has some good qualities- qualities that I really enjoy- but those are overshadowed by the negativity and self-absorption. 

I've been trying to reflect on what got me to the point that I felt like I had to extract myself from this friendship and this is what I've figured out:  I was at a low point in my own life when I met her. I overlooked the negative qualities that I had noticed from the very beginning because she had a good sense of humor and some other qualities I like. I thought, maybe she isn't so bad after all.

After a few months, I started noticing that her negative qualities were starting to weigh on me. A few weeks before I posted this thread, after receiving a couple of emails from her where she just dumped a bunch of complaints and negativity on me, without asking about how I am doing, I sent her an email saying that given what I have on my plate, I wonder if we could try to just share positive things with each other for a while. I said a couple of other things in an attempt to set some boundaries around our email communication.

She reacted VERY badly to that email (even though I clearly did not criticize her, I just said what my needs were), and basically said I was abandoning her like everyone else does and then she dished out some criticisms of me.

I chose to cut her some slack after that email, but in retrospect, I should have gotten angry at that point and confronted her on her behavior.  But I didn't, and then a couple of weeks later, I just couldn't take it anymore and I sent the "I need space" email, and now no contact.

So the truth is that I had given her a few indications that her behavior wasn't working for me prior to cutting contact completely, but she just could not hear those.  Knowing that I did make some effort to communicate boundaries makes me feel better about my decision to go no contact at this point.  It wasn't like everything was just sunshine and roses and then one day I dumped her. Although in her mind, it might feel that way.

Anyway, thanks for your posts, I appreciate them!



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JenniferSmith

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Re: Feeling hopeless that a friend can handle my new boundaries
« Reply #28 on: September 29, 2017, 08:19:57 PM »
Its now been three weeks since I disengaged from my friend.

I've been exploring my feelings about this situation.  I realized that there was a fair bit of guilt going on. I found myself feeling sorry for this woman. I was thinking "she's old and she's all alone."  I know she has a crappy family, so I don't judge her on that. But I realized that its HER choice that she has no other friends.

She has had 20 years longer than me to get involved in groups, or a church, or volunteer activities, or anything, really.  She does have poor health, but again, I also have health challenges. She has not made hardly any effort to develop social connections. There are a lot of different ways to do that if one is motivated enough.

After examining that aspect of it, I realized that there is absolutely no reason I should feel any obligation to her based on her isolation.  Its not my responsibility to "save" her from being lonely.

Anyway, just wanted to add that.

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Spring Butterfly

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Re: Feeling hopeless that a friend can handle my new boundaries
« Reply #29 on: September 29, 2017, 08:57:27 PM »
Well done! Good you were able to take a step back and set that straight in your heart.
Every interaction w/ PD persons results in damage-plan accordingly, make time to heal
Individuation is one key to emotional freedom
It's foolish to expect of others what they have no capacity to give
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hanna3b

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Re: Feeling hopeless that a friend can handle my new boundaries
« Reply #30 on: October 03, 2017, 08:45:42 PM »
Congratulations on enforcing your boundaries!  I came to the site today to post about a (very!) similar situation.  I met a woman in a support group.  She doesn't have other friends and we communicate mostly via email.  Her emails are relentlessly negative.  I don't know what to say anymore.  Nothing I say makes a difference, I feel like I am just a dumping ground.  Reading about your experience was a great reminder that I can choose to stop reading and replying. 

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JenniferSmith

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Re: Feeling hopeless that a friend can handle my new boundaries
« Reply #31 on: October 05, 2017, 11:29:11 PM »
Thanks SpringButterfly and also hann3b - I am glad to know my thread helped someone!!!

Just today, I decided to finally read the four emails she sent , while in my therapist's office for support.

She sent a couple shortly after I sent the "I'm taking space" email. When I didn't reply to those, she sent two more - one telling me that our friendship meant a lot to her and how could I dump her like other people did, and then another telling me I am messed up too, and then criticizing me about my appearance.

The thing is, I don't judge her for being hurt and angry. I have a ton of empathy for her. That is what made this so hard for me.

But her negative behaviors and communication style is just not what I want in a friend. I don't want to have to raise my voice to get someone to stop talking and actually listen to me. She seems to have a bit of self-awareness at times, but not enough to really change.  I do truly believe she has untreated ADHD, and I know it is causing her relationships to fall apart.

Since I cut contact, I don't miss her at all. I do feel very sorry for her though. Her outburst doesn't really hurt me because I view her as a toddler having a temper tantrum.  That is why I felt conflicted- I just see her as a human being in a lot of emotional pain.

I think her final words to me though, where she criticized a very specific aspect of my appearance, seals the deal for me. I would never say something like that to anyone. I know its just her lashing out in pain, but does she really think I would want to keep in touch after she said that? It just baffles me.

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echo_

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Re: Feeling hopeless that a friend can handle my new boundaries
« Reply #32 on: October 06, 2017, 08:52:51 PM »
Kudos to you for how you handled the situation! It's so hard when you empathize with someone but they're hurting you and crossing boundaries at the same time. It could be true that she has undiagnosed ADHD, because I struggled with the hyperactivity and loss of focus before I was diagnosed with ADHD. But, I struggled more so with not being able to talk much because of my anxiety from it, so I'm not really sure.

I definitely agree about there should be a sense of balance. That's what friendship is about. I feel like in the past I don't even know what balance IS, or looks like. I just let people talk all over me and do ridiculous things while justifying their behavior because of their past or whatever other reasons. I feel like it's such an easy pattern to fall into.

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JenniferSmith

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Re: Feeling hopeless that a friend can handle my new boundaries
« Reply #33 on: October 11, 2017, 03:06:26 AM »
Kudos to you for how you handled the situation! It's so hard when you empathize with someone but they're hurting you and crossing boundaries at the same time. It could be true that she has undiagnosed ADHD, because I struggled with the hyperactivity and loss of focus before I was diagnosed with ADHD. But, I struggled more so with not being able to talk much because of my anxiety from it, so I'm not really sure.

I definitely agree about there should be a sense of balance. That's what friendship is about. I feel like in the past I don't even know what balance IS, or looks like. I just let people talk all over me and do ridiculous things while justifying their behavior because of their past or whatever other reasons. I feel like it's such an easy pattern to fall into.

Thanks echo ....  yes, the key is balance, and not making excuses for people due to them having a bad childhood or other stressful life experience.  Once I removed the pity I felt for this friend, and the sympathy I had for her due to her crappy family,  all that it meant was that she was still a very, very negative/bitter person. I tried to reflect on our times together and realized I never really had all that much fun with her. It was more that I was bored and she gave me some companionship. But it wasn't quality companionship.

Anyway, I am still feeling sad over losing a friend, but unhealthy friendships are not worth it to me anymore, so I know I made the right choice to walk away.

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Foggyfriend

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Re: Feeling hopeless that a friend can handle my new boundaries
« Reply #34 on: December 08, 2017, 04:48:08 PM »
Is it possible that your friend is also a little deaf?  Many of the features you describe can be attributed to deafness.  Early hearing loss might exacerbate PD symptoms of your friend.  Another thing to consider is whether she has developed an adverse reaction to medication (our metabolisms change as we age).  You are a good friend to persist, and it might be worthwhile checking out these two age-related issues.

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JenniferSmith

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Re: Feeling hopeless that a friend can handle my new boundaries
« Reply #35 on: December 15, 2017, 04:49:43 PM »
FoggyFriend, I don't know if this person has any of the health issues you described. Its possible.

Its been a while since I cut ties with this woman. I have zero regrets at all. I feel completely certain that I made the right decision, and should have cut her off sooner. It was due to my own feelings of loneliness that I even continued with our friendship for as long as I did.

I noticed her negativity from the very beginning and yet I overlooked it due to some of her good traits. That ultimately came back to bite me, as the overwhelming negativity is what caused me to finally cut ties. I have a lot of stress in my own life, yet I don't constantly dump that on my friends.

As I meet new acquaintances, I am now paying very close attention to their behaviors and habits and checking in with how I really feel in their presence and using that to determine whether I will make efforts to develop a friendship with them.