Go out to lunch with your drama-addicted friend, and you may find a pleasant meal transformed into a nightmare as she demands to see the manager to complain about a perceived slight by the waiter. Her home life is typically a mess, and as her friend, you're expected to bear the brunt of her complaining. While there's something to be said for loyalty in friendship, in this case, detaching yourself from the drama may be for the best.
1. Limit Your Time
Talking to your friend after the 20th time she's broken up with her boyfriend is not only draining, but exasperating. The next time the phone rings and she's off and running about his latest romantic wrongdoing, let her know that you can talk for five minutes and then get off the phone. Chances are, if she can't spend the next two hours complaining to you about the situation she refuses to fix, she'll find someone else to be a sounding board or perhaps she will consider changing her lifestyle. By not being available, you're refusing to feed the drama addiction.
2. Avoid Being a Therapist
Don't fall victim to the idea that you can help your drama-addicted friend change her life, advises psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter in a March 2012 article in "Psychology Today." Expect your friend to put up resistance to any attempt you make to help with his problem. If you do succeed, don't be surprised if he creates a new crisis for you to become involved in, Carter says. Be supportive by letting your friend know that you are confident that he has the inner fortitude and skills to solve the problem, and that you know he'll make it.
3. Set Healthy Boundaries
Setting healthy boundaries will help keep you from feeling as though you're playing a starring role in your friend's dysfunctional soap opera. When she asks you to be the go-between in a conflict or wants to move in until she finds another apartment after an eviction, just say no. You're not being a bad friend when you do so. Instead, you are protecting your ability to have a healthy life free from the consequences of another person's drama-filled lifestyle.
4. End the Friendship
If being around your friend always drains you, or he is unhappy about your attempts to set limits on the amount of drama he brings to your life, it may be time to end the friendship. When your friendship has fallen into an enduring pattern of negativity, there is little possibility of being able to effect true change in the relationship, says author and friendship expert Irene Levine on her website TheFriendshipBlog.com. Sadly, some people have needs that can never be met, no matter how hard you try.
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