Develop protective strategies when dealing with an emotionally draining friend.

How to Deal With People Who Are Emotional Drains

by Lauri Revilla

Emotionally draining friends can be toxic to your life. They often bring conflict, drama, negativity and resentment. These individuals often require more support and time than they are willing to give. Your own needs are often pushed aside and unmet in this kind of friendship. It is important to learn how to deal with this type of friend before they take over your life.

1. Create Boundaries

Emotionally draining friends often don't know boundaries. If you are dealing with a friend that doesn't hesitate to call you in the middle of the night or expects you to always be available, it might be time for you to create clear boundaries. Have a conversation with your friend and give him specific times when you are available for him and times when you are off limits. Help your friend identify other resources and coping mechanisms that he can use when dealing with a crisis on his own. It is also important that you set boundaries for yourself. Make your own well-being and self-care a priority. In toxic friendships, the good friend often feels guilty or responsible for the emotionally draining friend. Don't let guilt lead you to put your friend over your own needs. Remind yourself that your friend is an adult and needs to be empowered to deal with life on his own.

2. Engage in More Solution-Focused Talk

You might be dealing with a friend that is a drama queen or the eternal victim. This kind of friend feeds off of your pity and feels you are responsible for solving her problems. She is constantly complaining about everything and makes the tiniest setback seem like the greatest tragedy. The problem is that your time and energy are drained by her constant complaining and endless woes. Put things into perspective each time that she is blowing things out of proportion. For example, if she is making a tragedy out of the argument she had with her husband, talk about how all couples have their disagreements. When she is complaining, shift the conversation from complaining to troubleshooting the problem. Engage in more "solution-focused" conversations when dealing with this type of friend.

3. Don't Be Infected With Negativty

An emotionally draining friend's negativity can be contagious and can change your own outlook on life. Listening to your friend's endless rants about how people are evil and life's suffering can lead you to doubt your own positive outlook on life. Keep in mind that you are solely responsible for your happiness and have to be protective of it. Make sure you limit the time that you spend with your negative friend. Spend time with other loved ones or doing things that you enjoy to offset his negativity. The best way to help your friend develop a better outlook is by being consistently positive yourself. Your friend will slowly begin to realize through your actions and words that he is in control of his happiness as well.

4. Always Stay in Control

Always being in control is crucial in keeping an emotionally draining friendship from taking over your life. Once you have realized that this friend is consuming you, take time to analyze if this friendship is worth keeping. Ask yourself if she demonstrates concern about your needs or provides support when you are dealing with your own problems. Breaking off from a one-sided friendship can be very difficult, but will be beneficial for both in the end. According to Charles Figley, PhD, a professor at Florida State University, a common characteristic in toxic friendships is that the "good friend" feels that she cannot withdraw from the relationship. Don't let feelings of guilt, loyalty or pity push you into staying in a damaging friendship. You are in control of your life and have the freedom to choose who your friends are.

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