Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
I had a friend for over 30 years who over time turned into a complete
whiner. I understand that we all have issues, but slowly and
relentlessly the entire conversation between us turned into her
complaining about her material circumstances and expecting me to
quietly listen. I confess that’s hard for me to do without at least
offering suggestions about improving things, all of which she refused
to hear or follow up on, even when I found her jobs. She absolutely
refused to take responsibility for supporting herself more than month
to month, but had no compunction about telling others that when she
ran out of what little money she had she planned to move in with
them. One by one her long-time friends began to slide away. Then two
years ago she moved away to be near relatives, but she’s just
announced on Face Book that she’s moving back to the area. What if
any responsibility do I have to resume the friendship given that our
last interaction was her telling me not to give her advice?
Dear Happier Without:
You have the right to decide who your friends are. That goes for
maintaining old friends and choosing new ones. This ties to my two
rules of dating: I only want to be with someone who wants to be with
me; I don’t have to be with someone just because they want to be
with me. The situation you describe violates rule number two.
Friendship should be a two-way street. A voluntary act of mutual
support and compassion. Usually both friends aren’t in struggle at the
same time, so the need to complain and be heard, balances out over
time. If it slides much past 60-40/70- 30 in either direction for too
long, it should be noted and corrected. So this person may choose
you, but you need to ask yourself why you would choose as a friend
someone with a lot of expectations and no sense of personal
responsibility. Unless you want to be her rescuer, you have the right to
set boundaries, by saying your life has become fuller in the interim
and that you wish her well but choose to leave things as they are.
Spell it with me: b.o.u.n.d.a.r.i.e.s.