When a friend in need is a… pain in the butt
You’ve heard the story so many times before.
And now you’re hearing it again.
Yes, your friend is telling you their problems, and you’re listening and trying to be sympathetic.
But inside, you’re thinking:
Not this again! If you’re not happy with your life, why don’t you actually change it instead of giving me earache about it?
You’ve already given all the sympathy you can give.
You’ve talked through all their options, and they don’t want to choose any of them.
You’ve given your advice – and they’ve decided not to take it.
And you’ve reached the point where you’ve had enough.
It’s time to dump that needy, pain-in-the-butt friend and go off and have a happy life without them – right?
That’s the advice you’ll find on some self-improvement blogs – but you won’t get it from me.
Sure, it would make you happier.
If you didn’t have to listen to this tedious moaning yet again, you could be off enjoying yourself doing something else.
And if you could just ignore all the pain and suffering in the world and spend your life having fun, you’d have a great life.
But the price is too high.
Caring about other people is what society is all about. What life is all about.
If you don’t care whether other people are happy or not, you’re nothing.
If you can’t have compassion for someone who’s been your friend for years, what’s the point of your existence? Just to enjoy yourself, regardless of others’ misery?
That puts you on a par with those vile rich people who spray starving homeless people with champagne, then zoom off laughing in a Rolls-Royce. Surely you’re better than that.
I’m not saying you have to put up with everyone else’s problems all day long. I see no reason why you shouldn’t tell your friend to stop complaining and make a few changes. That’s tough love – and you only get it from true friends.
And if your friend won’t change?
Then limit the amount of time you spend listening to the whinging. Give them ten minutes, or half an hour, then tell them to shut up.
Or don’t go round to see them so often.
But don’t take away your friendship forever and slam the door.
You won’t jolt them into making something of their life. But you could be the last rock they’ve got left to cling to, and losing you could be the final blow that destroys them.
It’s truly said that ‘a friend in need is a friend indeed.’
Because I’ve been the needy friend. I’ve been the one who was told, ‘I think my life would be happier without you in it.’
And I’ve been the last rock left to cling to for someone else.
And I can tell you – if you’re not a friend in need, you’re not a friend at all.