Perspective | Ask Amy: I want to distance myself from a constantly complaining friend


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She dislikes her job, the town she lives in, her husband, absolutely everything.

I can barely get a word in because she is always complaining. I feel like I am not being empathetic because I can barely stand to talk to her anymore.

It would be easier for me to continue our relationship if she made any changes to make her life more fulfilling for herself.

I have three small kids, a full-time job and many extended family obligations.

For the past month, I have really tried to draw back and just say that I’m busy when she wants to talk, but now she’s calling and texting multiple times a day because I think she can tell I would like some distance.

Should I feel bad distancing myself? I’m one of her only friends. How do I distance myself in the kindest way possible?

— Unsure of Friend Obligations

Unsure: To recap: “Julie” does not make any changes, and nothing seems to help.

The reason nothing seems to help is because Julie doesn’t make any changes.

Venting is exactly that: letting off steam from a boiling kettle. But the kettle always boils again until you find a way to adjust the flame. Julie hasn’t found a way to do that.

You are now dodging her and, because you’ve reached friendship end-stage, you could try one last time to help her by essentially taking over a conversation and — for once — having it be all about you.

Try: “It’s as if your problems have taken up all the space where our friendship used to be. But I have a life, too, and I have my own stresses and heartaches. Good things, too! I miss our friendship because I want to share these things. That’s why I’ve pulled away recently. I hope we can find our way back.”

Dear Amy: I am happily married, and after moving to a new town I have found a position as a bar manager.

I have worked in the hospitality industry as a server, bartender and supervisor for many years but this time it is different and difficult because I am butting heads with a male manager.

I like the place, it’s very close to home, and except for him, the staff is wonderful. He is condescending, controlling (which he calls “OCD”), and he is just not pleasant to work with — for anyone.

But the owners like him and he has been there over five years, whereas I am five months in. I have gathered from the way he talks that he is in an unhappy marriage and would rather be at work than at home. In contrast, I enjoy the job, but I have a life outside and I intend to live it.

I am a tough cookie, but I am at the point where I wonder if it is worth it to work under these conditions.

I do have other options, but I have never let anyone make me leave a job. Can you give me your insight? It’s causing me unnecessary stress and anxiety.

— Should I Stay or Go

Stay or Go: I say, exercise your options. I understand that your professional experience and personal grit might make it seem like a capitulation but think of it this way: The person making you leave this job is not your manager, but YOU.

You are being strong, resilient and decisive. Line up your next job, do your best to assess in advance whether it will be a genuine improvement for you, and let the last round be on you.

Dear Amy: “Loving Husband” has a wife who wants to open her own business with no business plan. They should look into classes at their local community college or university.

I told my son I’d support him once he finished the program. He learned so much and now realizes why so many businesses fail.

He decided to wait until he has the expertise and contacts he needs to succeed.

— Supportive Parent

Parent: Great advice.

©2022 by Amy Dickinson distributed by Tribune Content Agency

The Washington Post: Breaking News, World, US, DC News and Analysis


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