No matter who I’m talking to, no matter what I’m saying, I have a friend who always brings the conversation around to herself. Especially when we’re in a group.
She interrupts and brings the focus directly back to herself even on boring subjects such as where you live. For example, “Oh, I used to live there too, for three months, 20 years ago.”
Just recently, someone in our group announced her engagement, and we all clustered around her with hugs and chatter about her fiancé and their plans.
But the first thing this woman said was, “Oh, I wish I was getting engaged too! Maybe there’s still hope for me yet!”
I’m realizing that I don’t actually know why I’m still friends with her. Should I move on?
All About Her
Maybe. It’s obvious that she’s a self-absorbed person, and not very happy. Yet you say nothing about how and why she originally became your friend. Or, the previous reasons you stayed connected to her.
I’m asking a lot of questions in hopes that you can find the answers for yourself. Perhaps being part of the larger group provided the security of having other people around for you?
Meanwhile, reflect on how the others handle her “more-about-me” information.
They must also clearly see that this woman is needy, and can’t keep quiet lest she be seen as boring.
If this friendship group has lasted for some time, surely some people just accept that she keeps trying to show she “belongs,” because she’s shared some similar experiences to the others.
As for “moving on” from the friendship: Though you don’t owe her a long-term commitment, you do owe her some dignity within the group. Or, you’ll devastate her, which she doesn’t deserve.
Growing up, my older sister was brilliant. Our parents supported her choosing an excellent school and a difficult profession. Today, she has a great job, is highly respected in her work, married with two late-teenage children.
I’m seven years younger than her. My parents said they needed to maintain her high tuition costs. So, I chose a local university’s basic course.
I now have a job I enjoy, having made wonderful friends and socialized frequently, yet obtained a degree.
I also have a son, 14, who’s doing fine in high school but focused on basketball and soccer. He excels at both just like his father (my husband) once did.
My problem is my parents. They believe that one of my sister’s children is brilliant, and hired an expensive career guide to assure acceptance into a top-rated school.
I’m happy for my nephew but very annoyed that my own son’s sports achievements are ignored by his grandparents. Again, they’re focused on the “brilliant” child, showing little interest in the others (one modest Christmas present each, period).
Do I tell my parents how unfair they are? Do I discuss this with my sister or will I appear jealous of her and her family (I’m not)?
Never raise a difficult and sensitive issue when you’re not sure what you want to achieve.
Your son’s sports are his primary interest now. He has great support from both his parents. Keep his contact with his grandparents uncomplicated.
Your sister surely recognizes what’s happening with her children, but is likely thrilled with the one son’s potential plus the grandparents’ help.
Raising any issue with her about “the other” grandchildren, could serve to divide you two, which would be a personal loss for you.
Also, it would resolve nothing about the grandparents’ choices except hurt feelings.
FEEDBACK Regarding the daughter who doesn’t do anything for herself (Dec. 13):
Reader – “Your response suggested to talk to her about what foods she’d like, and that perhaps she’s embarrassed at not knowing how to prepare breakfast or lunch.
“I’m a retired former social worker whose practice focused on adolescents. While teens often display rebellious behaviours that could be interpreted through one lens as “lazy” or lacking knowledge, it’s not always about the surface issue.
“If she’s not eating, falling asleep, leaving for parts unknown, be concerned about the possibility of anxiety and/or depression.
“Her parents would be advised to first talk gently with her about how she’s doing, then speak with school teachers regarding her performance there, then seek help from the family doctor.
“As you’ve noted, the effects of COVID-19 on top of normal teen angst can result in difficulty, but don’t assume it’s about how to make snacks.”
Tip of the day:
It’s too late to “re-educate” some people.