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Friends and Family Everyone has disagreements, even best friends and family. If you need advice about a relationship, ask us here.

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I don't know what to do - February 9th 2012, 07:05 PM

So since we got back from break, one of my good friends has seemed very cold and upset. Everyone's just sort of accepted that she's having trouble at home. We knew it would be pointless to talk to her about it because she's a very stubborn person and doesn't like to talk about things.

It's seemed like out of our group of friends, she's been acting particularly cold to my roommate and I. I asked some people if she really did have a problem with us, and somehow it got around to her asking my roommate why I said she hated me (I never said that, and yes I realize I just should've asked the source about it in the first place). She basically attacked my roommate and made her cry (though she only cried in front of me). That wasn't okay with me, so I decided to ask her about it.

Basically, I asked how the whole rumor started. She said it was a joke, and she was joking the whole time and not mad at us at all. I tried to explain to her that I know she jokes, but it really didn't seem like it, and I genuinely thought she was upset with me and my roommate. I was also upset that her joking went so far as to make my roommate very, very distraught and cry.

Then she basically exploded on me, saying that she's sorry she can't be happy all the time and gush about her problems to everyone, and from now on she'll just pretend to be happy to make us happy. There was really nothing else I could say, because that wasn't what I meant at all, and she just wasn't listening to me. I just left.

I haven't spoken to her in two days and only seen her a couple times. We hang out with the same group of friends and used to be pretty close until she got weird (which she refuses to talk about). I'm starting to avoid going to meals with them or hanging out and just saying in my room because I don't want her to be angry with me. I know she's mad that I "confronted her" and it wasn't a confrontation at all... at this point, I guess I'll just withdraw myself from my friends. That's just how I deal with things.

I wonder if I just should've kept quiet, since it obviously hasn't helped anything. I just don't know what to do anymore.... (also, I'm sorry this is so long and it might not make sense)
   
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Re: I don't know what to do - February 9th 2012, 08:37 PM

Hey there! I can understand your frustration with your friend. On one hand, you know something is wrong, and you want to help her. On the other hand, she's withholding information from you, and also lashing out at people when she's having a hard time dealing with her problem.

There are a few ways you could approach this. Personally, I would start off by reinforcing, every single day, that you love your friend and are ready to help her, whether it be listening or simply spending time with her. You don't really need to know what's going on in order to support a friend. It helps sometimes, because then you can provide insight/advice on how to handle a problem; however, what your friend really needs is to know that people care. She may not be willing to open up emotionally at this point in time, but if you don't run away and keep reassuring her she can't push you away, she may let her defenses come down.

If it gets to a point where your friend is completely destructive and putting you at risk (physically or emotionally), then you'll need to put some distance between the two of you. That doesn't mean abandoning her, though. You can offer her resources (ex. the phone number for the psych services office on campus) and explain why you're taking a step back. Reassure her that you want to be there for her, but you can't be around her when she's so hurtful. Encourage her to get help, and to contact you the moment she's ready to do so. Offer to go with her, to provide more resources tailored to her problem, etc.

I don't think you did anything wrong. This is a difficult position to be in. The only other thing I want to emphasize is that all of these reassurances - these daily reminders that you're available for her - should be done in person or via a phone call. Writing letters or text messages can be seen as cold, not to mention "convenient." It's important that your friend realize this isn't just something you're doing in between classes, when you're bored, or when you feel guilty. This needs to be an active effort on your part. She may not show it externally, but it WILL register in her mind that you truly care, even when she hurts you. If she becomes too hurtful, though, you'll need to step back a bit until she's ready to turn to you. Even then, you need to let her know that she's welcomed to call any time. You need to make a distinction between "stepping back" and "disowning" your friend while she deals with this problem.






   
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