Question I’ve developed what I thought was a good friendship with a woman at church but she is starting to drive me crazy. She calls me at least once a day and gets offended if I don’t return her call. I don’t have time to talk for hours on the phone. She also wants to spend lots of time together and gets moody if I am too busy or have other plans. How do I keep her as a friend and still have my own life? Rhonda from PA
Answer This is a tough one because her expectations and needs of a good friendship are different than yours. But if you want to continue your friendship with this person, it’s time to have an honest heart-to-heart talk. Otherwise, you will begin to feel angry and you may blurt out something in a moment of frustration that you will regret, or you will start to avoid her all together.
One of the hallmarks of a lasting friendship is the ability to be yourself and to be honest with the other person about your feelings and needs. Learning how to communicate these things in a constructive way isn’t always so easy. Many times feelings get hurt and friendships get damaged or broken because harsh words are spoken in the moment that can’t be taken back.
Therefore I’d recommend that you prayerfully plan what you want to say to your friend. Describe how you feel and what you need with “I” statements rather than what she is doing wrong or comments about her character with “you” statements. I’ve given you two examples below. Which conversation do you think she is more likely to hear without getting overly defensive or hurt?
“I feel anxious when I can’t talk with you every day for as long as you want me to. I’m worried that you’ll be disappointed and will get upset with me when I can’t talk as long as you want me to. But I have lots to do every day and I just don’t have the time to be on the phone. Plus, I’m not a phone person in general. Please try not to take it personally when I don’t call you back or can’t talk long.”
“You are driving me crazy when you call me every day. Your expectations for me to always return your calls are unrealistic and I can’t live up to them. You’re getting overly dependent on me to be your only friend and I feel smothered. I need some space.”
You can’t control her feelings or reaction but you can control your words and your voice tone to make a positive outcome more likely. And that is the goal isn’t it? It’s not to just vent your feelings but to try to make a change in the relationship that will protect it from ending.