How do you manage it when a friend won’t let go of you despite your best efforts?
In this situation, I have a friend I’ll call Jane. Jane is a nice, social butterfly kind of person who I worked with for several years. During that time, she became a bit of a mentor figure for a time, and later a close ally. Jane was my mom’s age, but really liked to go out and about, and I’m more of a wallflower. I enjoyed her company so I mostly went along for the ride. Everything was fine, no concerns really.
After leaving that job, I genuinely wanted to keep in touch with Jane. We’d done a few things outside of work - maybe a half dozen times in all - such as going to the bar or to local events. I figured it’d be nice to continue that, so if she called to do something (usually along the lines of “I’m by your house and on the way to the bar, are you free?”) I’d often go along.
Awhile after I moved jobs, she got separated from her husband. Their relationship had been tumultuous. She had met him a few years back in an online chat room. Her attitude seemed to be pretty blase about the whole thing - I always got the impression that she was serially monogamous (sort of, they were swingers) and had a line of serious relationships going awhile back. In any case, she had met someone new - a woman. This was a pretty big deal for her, so I didn’t hear from her as much until she worked up the nerve to tell me. I honestly wasn’t terribly surprised, and definitely didn’t disapprove or anything, as she apparently thought I would for some reason.
In any case, around this time, she started getting a lot more interested in spending time together. She’d frequently call or text asking me to come over at the last minute (bear in mind she lives on the far side of town, about 20 minutes away). If I’d try to ask her to come over to my area, she’d never want to. Usually, she had plans with a bunch of people and wanted me to go too. I’d participate occasionally, but due to the last minute notice I’d often say no. Often, she’d be rather passive-aggressive about it. If I didn’t answer a call, she’d leave increasingly whiny voicemails about how I never answer, et cetera. I frequently asked her to take things to email as I didn’t usually answer the calls as she’d call during work hours, but she ignored me.
I tried inviting her to mixed events in the hopes of not always doing things with her friends, but this didn’t work. I threw a house party and she basically corralled me in a separate room from everyone else and would pout if I wasn’t giving her attention. She got really drunk, made a mess, and antagonized some of my close family members who were in attendance. So, no more of that.
In any case, I tried to be sociable on occasion, but when we’d get together, she’d spend most of the time guilt-tripping me about never seeing me or not answering my phone when she’d call or whatever. I got rather aggravated with this but we were generally always in mixed company, so I didn’t feel it appropriate to go off on her, and besides I’m not much for confrontation. I began to genuinely avoid her, but on a few occasions she wore me down.
Finally, she got separated from her new love (they had done a commitment ceremony about a year earlier). I didn’t know, but she left me a few passive-aggressive voice mails wondering when she’d talk to me, which I ignored due to being rather aggravated with them. Finally, I answered my phone when she called and she basically let loose on me for a long time, crying and screaming. I didn’t know what to do, and I genuinely felt bad that she was going through a difficult time, but I didn’t think it was fair to be told “you weren’t there when I really really needed you!” I mean, we’re not close friends! We’re barely friends at all. And you didn’t say any of this in your messages. I had no idea that this was all going on whatsoever, and frankly I didn’t feel that I deserved such a thrashing. In any case, being the non-confrontational person that I am, I reassured her for yet a thousandth time that it wasn’t because I disapproved - I didn’t know what was happening, and anyway, I hope she’s doing all right but no I can’t come over tomorrow. I didn’t hear from her for a few months after that.
After that time I’ve just avoided her completely. It’s been about six months, I suppose. She’s getting married again (I’ve met her new partner during one of our previous get-togethers) and now has invited me to go (in a text message), saying it’s really important to her. I can appreciate that, but honestly I feel like I’ve put up with enough. And, for goodness sakes, the wedding is on Christmas Eve of all days, and while I don’t have firmly immovable plans, I definitely planned to spend it with my own family.
I have no doubt that many folks will go, “What the hell, kick her to the curb”, and I suppose that’s fair. But, I try to be a compassionate person. I think in this case I’ve been taken a bit advantage of to be more like a doormat and I just wanted a bit of a pulse check on my decision.