Life Advice

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Health & Spirit

Old friendship is hotbed of problems and advice

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I have lifelong buddy in his 50s. He had a few emotional/family/divorce issues a decade ago and he basically checked out of life. He stopped maintaining his home and business and let his health go. There were years of dysfunctional behavior, borderline hoarding, a bad diet, a disastrous relationship -- all of these things overwhelmed him.

During that period, I listened and offered support and advice.

Two years ago, he announced he was going to turn things around. He isn't making much progress and is making some seriously bad decisions. Luckily, he's financially secure, with a recent large inheritance and no major financial worries.

Now our weekly calls have evolved into hours of him either droning on about how hard he's working and how smart he is to overcome these self-inflicted problems or complaining about how hard it is to get out of the hole that he dug.

I recommend a solution, and then ask him not to complain.

If I continue to offer advice or provide feedback, he gets mad or hangs up on me. Recently he told me he just wants me to provide emotional support. He wants me to listen. But his behavior screams: "I need help."

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How do I bite my tongue to support a guy with a proven history of dysfunction with a know-it-all attitude, who seems unable to deal with day-to-day life and who lacks the self-awareness to see he's the common denominator in all of his self-inflicted problems?

I want to help but don't want to listen to him complain.

-- Tired of Listening

Dear Tired: Your friend is not asking for help. You seem to be perennially tempted to leap in and fix -- or suggest fixes -- but your suggestions fall upon deaf ears. This frustrates you.

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