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College student can't say no to manipulative friend

Carolyn Hax on

Hello Carolyn:

I'm a college sophomore and I am close with a group of girls from my freshman dormitory. One of them, "Allison," relies on me too much and I can't handle it anymore.

Allison is constantly asking to borrow my car (she can afford an Uber), get my help planning her class schedule, or for support in a crisis. Recently, she texted in a panic at 2 a.m., and I arrived breathless and worried only to realize she was overwhelmed because she loved her boyfriend so much.

A mutual friend, "Alex," is equally close and yet Allison only burdens me with her problems. I've tried to gently explain to her that acting as her security blanket is emotionally draining for me and that she should try to reach out to Alex or others as well as me, but she acted deeply offended and was angry with me for being "selfish."

I can barely remember the girl I befriended and can hardly stand to be around her. She has yet to get the hint that she needs to back off.

If I just cut off this friendship, this would cause a huge rift in my other friendships. This would also be devastating to Allison, and I still care for her. Any advice?

-- Burned Out

Thank Allison profusely for teaching you that saying no is an essential skill, though she has no idea she's doing it. This could be the most valuable thing you learn in college.

If you don't want 2 a.m. crisis texts, then turn off your phone.

If you get a crisis text at a more reasonable hour, then define "crisis" before you agree to go anywhere. If you get suckered, express your frustration and say you won't rush there again. Then don't.

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