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Rafael M.T.Therapist
Rafael M.T.Therapist, Psychotherapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 3189
Experience:  MHT-MHRS-MS-MA Integral Psychotherapist & Life Coach
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I have a friend who has been a dear friend for the past 4 years.

Resolved Question:

I have a friend who has been a dear friend for the past 4 years. We have always been there for each other through our most difficult times. We have always been accepting of what each other has been through and experienced. My dilemma:
Ever since I've known her, she has been in an on-off unsatisfying relationship with a guy. From nearly our first contact 4 years ago she talked about how the relationship with him is unfulfilling for her in that he does not give affection, doensn't have the capability to give compliments or affection, and typically seems to be indifferent to her needs. She has come to the understanding (as she is an LCSW) that he has a combination of schizoid and antisocial personality traits. She is very affectionate, cuddly, wants an appropriate amount of attention (as I believe all people do in romantic relationships), but at some level knows that this will not come form him. But she keeps trying, and saying, "I need to at least know that I did my best and gave it a chance". my problem is that it is becoming harder for me to watch this happen. It's even harder knowing that this is not a woman who shows any signs of low self-esteem. She's very assertive, has a successful high-level position with a major health insurance company, very efficient and effective, communicates well and tactfully deals with difficult personalities at work, and is probably the most savy woman I've ever met when dealing with the 20-some guys she has dated during the on-off period of dating this other guy. She is somewhat egotistical, and has a difficult time with being wrong. Whenever someone implies that she may have done something careless in a relationship with another guy, she always has, what I see, as a rationalization...a bullet-proof rationalization to justify her fickle behavior that hurts other guys. I care about her, but at the same time it's getting harder to watch her do this. it is affecting my opinion of her...the fact that she keeps trying with this guy and is showing slight signs of being stuck in a neglectful relationship (that she some times recognizes) with a manipulative guy, and also having watched her use other guys to neutralize the stress that the relationship puts on her.
Her come-back to me is that she is fine with what she does with other guys, and if it doesn't have any bearing on my personal life, then so why would it bother me?

Is it possible, and how, to communicate to her in a caring way that it does hurt me to see her almost unknowingly hurt herself, as well as hurt other guys? I've been watching her do this for 4 years. When I met her, She recently came out of an unsatisfying marriage with a guy she fell out of love with because he was "boring" and not meeting a need for excitement and passion. He was very passive and she married him because she knew that he was safe and stable.

I feel like I may want to end the friendship because it is becoming harder to see someone I care about nearly abuse them-self and develop low-self esteem while stuck in a relationship, and even harder to see her use other people to boost her self-esteem. None of what I described to you fits in with what she seems to be like to anyone else (including myself, her closest friend), with how self-assured and confident she appears to be. Any advice?
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Rafael M.T.Therapist replied 10 months ago.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Hello, I am Rafael. Thanks for asking your question - I'm here to support you. (Information posted here is not private or confidential but public).

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

I am sorry to know about his very frustrating situation.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

It is very sad to know about this person's serious issues around her personal life and relationships.
You are very clear showing how much you care about her but also how conflicted and frustrated, hurt and uncomfortable you feel as a close or best friend of her.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

It is frustrating that regardless your friendship, there has not been this level of openness, honesty and trust, for you to talk about these personal issues, in order to be supportive as a close friend, what has fueled this deeper and overwhelming frustration and hopelessness about your friendship.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

I support your decision to end these friendship based on what you have seen and felt for all these years, since it's not helping you to feel well and has become an unhealthy experience in your life, and whenever that's the case, we all need to assess the pros and cons round a situation and make decisions based on our values, beliefs, core needs and expectations, taking consistent action, for our reality to improve and reflect what we want and deserve.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

What I have seen is that people with these issues do most times only consider reassessing their ways and to work on possible change, when they have to afford further pain and consequences from their own mistakes, otherwise they would continue reinforcing what they feel is right and works for them. Obviously she needs of good psychotherapeutic support, but she would not be able to benefit from it if she does not even acknowledge her core issues and distortions, and her profession appears as a huge limitation used to justify her ways instead of allowing her to have better insight and assertiveness to work on herself with adequate support.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

I would suggest, now that you have come to terms with this painful reality and your need to end the friendship, to leave her a letter where you could assertively tell her what you think, feel and hope for her to consider in her life, to take better care of it, in that way you would know you did your best , being consistent with the friendship and caring you have had for this long.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Does it make sense?

Rafael M.T.Therapist, Psychotherapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 3189
Experience: MHT-MHRS-MS-MA Integral Psychotherapist & Life Coach
Rafael M.T.Therapist and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Rafael M.T.Therapist replied 10 months ago.
Our chat has ended, but you can still continue to ask me questions here until you are satisfied with your answer. Come back to this page to view our conversation and any other new information.

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Expert:  Rafael M.T.Therapist replied 10 months ago.
Rafael M.T.Therapist says:
9/6/13 4:46 AM
Hello, I am Rafael. Thanks for asking your question - I'm here to support you. (Information posted here is not private or confidential but public).
9/6/13 4:47 AM
I am sorry to know about his very frustrating situation.
9/6/13 4:53 AM
It is very sad to know about this person's serious issues around her personal life and relationships.
You are very clear showing how much you care about her but also how conflicted and frustrated, hurt and uncomfortable you feel as a close or best friend of her.
9/6/13 4:57 AM
It is frustrating that regardless your friendship, there has not been this level of openness, honesty and trust, for you to talk about these personal issues, in order to be supportive as a close friend, what has fueled this deeper and overwhelming frustration and hopelessness about your friendship.
9/6/13 5:02 AM
I support your decision to end these friendship based on what you have seen and felt for all these years, since it's not helping you to feel well and has become an unhealthy experience in your life, and whenever that's the case, we all need to assess the pros and cons round a situation and make decisions based on our values, beliefs, core needs and expectations, taking consistent action, for our reality to improve and reflect what we want and deserve.
9/6/13 5:07 AM
What I have seen is that people with these issues do most times only consider reassessing their ways and to work on possible change, when they have to afford further pain and consequences from their own mistakes, otherwise they would continue reinforcing what they feel is right and works for them. Obviously she needs of good psychotherapeutic support, but she would not be able to benefit from it if she does not even acknowledge her core issues and distortions, and her profession appears as a huge limitation used to justify her ways instead of allowing her to have better insight and assertiveness to work on herself with adequate support.
9/6/13 5:10 AM
I would suggest, now that you have come to terms with this painful reality and your need to end the friendship, to leave her a letter where you could assertively tell her what you think, feel and hope for her to consider in her life, to take better care of it, in that way you would know you did your best , being consistent with the friendship and caring you have had for this long.
9/6/13 5:10 AM
Does it make sense?
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
We've been spending time together over the past couple of days and she has recently started to work on issues regarding her habit of keeping old boyfriends around, as well as ending the emotionally neglectful relationship she was in when I sent you my initial question. The last 2 times we spent time together, her phone didn't go off a single time. When I pointed out that I noticed she wasn't getting any texts, she said "yeah, that's because I don't want old boyfriends calling me anymore". She went on to talk about how she was realizing that keeping them around was preventing her from spending quality time with herself. She also said that she has been reevaluating her relationships with men. Even though she became defensive in the past when I brought it up, she also must have thought about it and internalized the message I was sending her.

She left the emotionally neglectful relationship she was in. We talked about it last night, and she told me that she finds herself feeling worse about herself when she is involved with that guy. She said that she was attached to him and that she has given in to him when she would try to break up in the past, but knew that he (as a narcissist, and as someone who can not genuinely understand or care about the feelings of others) could never provide her with a fulfilling relationship. It was hard for her because she felt they were such good friends and she was attracted to a lot of his better qualities, but she ended it today. She texted me and said that he had just left her house after a long discussion, and that she felt very sad, but also relieved.

When I initially contacted you, I was feeling a lot of distress. Things about her were starting to affect me deeply because they were touching upon my own relationship issues with women. Your response makes a lot of sense, in that people typically don't work on change until a pattern of behavior that initially gave them pleasure starts to cause them more pain, and also that they have to become cognizant of how they are hurting, rather than helping them self. Just like when people slip into drug addiction is what I think.

It also makes sense that I would end the friendship being that it started to cause me great discomfort at times. Her and I have been friends for 4 years now, and over the last few months I started to have issues with her behavior, feel uncomfortable, and at the same time, not want to acknowledge what I was feeling. I developed some unhealthy feelings for her around the same time that we started to occasionally have sexually intimate experiences together. They were very occasional, but left me feeling a certain way. It was around that time that her behavior with other men started to cause me to become judgmental and uncomfortably angry with her. Given that her and I were so close, it would have been better for me to address my feelings with her at that time, but I ignored and hid them from her.

Since I last wrote you, I decided to address with her some of my personal feelings and how some "mishaps" between her and I left me feeling. She took her end of the responsibility and said that she would never want to do anything hurtful to me, and that she had no idea that her behavior was touching upon personal issues of mine. We agreed that for the sanctity of a friendship that we both would maintain appropriate boundaries. I decided for myself that i would be more mindful of my feelings when they arise, and appropriately address them with her at any expense. Our friendship is very deep and complex. We both agree that neither of us have experienced such a deep friendship before (and we're both in our 40's). Given that we are both close to the same age, single, and both have issues with romantic relationships, it adds some complication. But we both felt it was worth trying to untangle, and have successfully done so through being open and true.
Expert:  Rafael M.T.Therapist replied 10 months ago.
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