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Relist: Incomplete answer. I don't feel that the answer I got really helped me or gave me any clear solution to the problem. I appreciate the Expert trying to help but maybe this is not his area of expertise. I need a more direct, clear and concise answer that gives me some tools and guidelines to deal with this situation which is causing me to have panic attacks and increases my anxiety levels. Thanks.
Hi there! Let me see if my thoughts are helpful to you; ask yourself a few questions:
#1: Do you want to remain connected to him? If you truly enjoy any part of the relationship, it may be worth a serious conversation with him about what you are willing to do/not to do to be able to maintain your friendship.
#2: Is the fear of what others may think of you more intense than your own happiness and comfort? Meaning, if you truly cannot be around him anymore and he goes on a hate campaign with people you know, trashing your reputation, are these people's opinions really important to you? Or would it really not matter, as you know that those who are your true friends would never buy his story?
#3. Have you asked him what he would need to wipe the slate of debt clean? He is somehow really holding onto the fact that he did you a favor, and you need to somehow get your power back in this case. I say, let him know that friends do favors for one another, sometimes without expecting anything in return, and that you want to be sure he knows that you appreciated his help but that the constant reminders are making you uncomfortable.
I am sure you have probably thought of all of the above, but if not, hopefully it sparks some thought. I would agree with the saying, "we teach people how to treat us", and in this case, as was mentioned prior, boundaries have to now be established so that both parties know what actions are considered out of line... in order to potentially keep the friendship either intact, or at least amicable. I wish you the best as you maneuver your way through a somewhat complicated situation... and if you have any further questions or comments, let me know and I will reply as soon as I am able! Thank you for using the site, and hang in there!
Thank you for your reply.
I have spoken directly with him about his constant reminders about the house, and I have asked him what he actually expects in return. I have told him point blank that I feel he is continually looking for something in return and that most friends do things without looking for something back, but he denies that he is looking for anything and simply says that all he looks for his appreciation. I have asked him what his definition of appreciate is but I just get the same thing, that all he wants is appreciation. It is very frustrating.
I have tried speaking to him directly about everything but it seems to fall on deaf ears. It is like he only hears what he wants to hear. Sometimes he will agree and I think I have gotten through to him, but next thing he is back to his old ways again.
I know both you and the other expert refer to establishing boundaries, but how exactly do you do that? And without causing myself further stress. It is not a question of worrying what people will say or think, but I don't want to create even more grief for myself if I can help it. I have been through an awful lot this year and have battled with calling it a day and worked hard on not getting to that point, so the last thing I need is more hassle where I live. I don't have many friends as some of those I had walked away when they found out I was gay.
The committee I am part of is very important to me and I don't want to lose my place on it because of animosity with this guy if I can help it. I would prefer to deal with things as amicably as possible. It is not that I cannot stand him as I do try to see the best in everyone, it is just that he seems totally focussed on me at the moment and thinks that because he introduced me to the people who rented me the house that I now owe him indefinitely, even though he refuses to admit that, but it is how he acts.
He could make waves for me with the people who are renting me the house and they could terminate the contract. I am not sure if he would go that far because I only know him for a year, and I don't really know what he is capable of.
I just need to know how do you establish boundaries in the easiest and most amicable way. I want to protect myself in all of this. I should matter.
Thank you for the information... it helps to see where you are in the process, what you've tried and how it stands at the moment.
Boundaries are simply a matter of behaviors that you engage in, verbal and non-verbal, that send a message to someone that tells them that you are disengaging from them and to step back. One of my favorite sayings is "what we give attention to is inevitably what we see more of"... so if he is looking for your attention and is able to get a rise out of you, manipulate you in a way, it will reinforce that type of behavior. So, you have to start trying to ignore the manipulation tactics... just ignore him and turn your attention elsewhere. Then, when he says something that is kind, load up on paying attention, smiling and responding to him. It is a matter of simply establishing and rewarding the types of communications that are positive, and ignoring the negatives in an effort to extinguish them. He will, at first, try even harder to get you irritated... but you cannot take the bait. Just cut him off and move to another conversation or activity. Or just listen and smile and don't respond. Say things like, "I'm sorry you feel that way"... "That must be tough"... etc... replies that acknowledge him but don't feed into the manipulation tactics.
You will find that after a month or so of disengaging when he irritates you, that he will either begin to change his approach, or you will naturally just begin to grow apart. People like this have to want to alter their behavior if they want to maintain relationships; he may or may not choose to do this. But by simply disengaging, you aren't being mean or nasty... you are simply laying the groundwork for some new rules.
Does this make sense, or sound feasible to you to try?
Thank you so much for the detailed response and explanation. It does make sense and I will definitely give it a try. I want to create the distance but in a nice way, if that makes sense, almost without him realising that this is what I am doing. That way I will feel protected and he is less likely to react in a way that affects my life in a negative fashion.
I really appreciate your help with this Heidi and it has been causing me so much anxiety and stress but now I feel that I have a way forward.
I will try out what you have suggested and hopefully I can create the space I need.