Here’s the situation:
I don’t really have any friends in the area. I’m kind of a recluse, so it generally doesn’t bother me too much, but when I had my baby a few months ago, I was really missing having someone to talk about all this new stuff with. So I was very lucky to find an awesome new-moms group nearby, and met some nice people.
One woman in particular seemed really cool, although a little overwhelmed, and she talked a bit about dealing with depression in the past, feeling really down over the first couple of weeks, and being worried about PPD. I had just gone through the exact same thing, and so I talked with her about it and sent her some resources I had used. It turned out that she also didn’t really have any friends nearby, and we ended up getting together now and then.
At first, I felt like we hit it off and had a lot in common. Unfortunately, over time, I’ve found that I don’t enjoy spending time with her that much. Part of the problem is that she seems to have a very negative personality. Initially, I thought it might just be depression (and indeed, it might), but more and more, it seems like that’s just the way she is. I want a friend I can laugh with, at least some of the time, while she seems to only ever want to commiserate. And if that’s not really her, if it is “just” depression, then she should be addressing it, with therapy/meds/something - and she’s not.
If it were simply that I didn’t particularly care for her, I’d just let the relationship fade away naturally. And in fact, that’s what I was beginning to do, until she sent me an email, apologizing for being out of touch, saying she’s been having a tough time and basically didn’t want to scare me away by dumping all the crazy on me, and suggesting we get together again soon.
Now, I’m feeling kind of stuck. I want to be supportive, because I feel like I’ve been where she is, and know how invaluable friends can be. But on the other hand, I’m not really her friend, per se. We have no history, and from what I can tell, I don’t even like her that much. If we had been friends for a long time, I would stand by her through this rough patch, without question. But all we really seem to have in common is a history of depression, and while I strive to keep mine in my history, she seems to be wallowing in it in the present. But even if she were fighting the good fight, I still wouldn’t feel any motivation to be around her other than to support her. Which would make me more of an unpaid therapist than a friend (Hi, Brynda!).
So I’m thinking of writing her back and saying something like, “Listen, you’ve got a new baby and a husband and a job and a million other things to worry about right now, and it’s stressing you out, and I totally get that. The last thing you need is to be trying to maintain a fledgling friendship on top of that. And I’m pretty stretched right now myself. So, why don’t we put this on hiatus for a while, and get back in touch in a few months?”
Alternatively, I could just do the drift: “Oh, sorry - we’ll be really busy the next few weeks…” etc. But I feel like that will be harder, and meaner, to do now that she’s being so direct and upfront about her need for me to be her friend.
Or, I could stick it out and be as supportive as I can, not because I owe it to our lifelong friendship, but because she’s a human being who needs help and it’s the right thing to do.
TL;DR version: New friend becoming a hassle because of stress in her life. Stay and support? Confront? Let it fade? Other? Vote now, phone lines are open!