Ottawa Citizen

Woman’s friend­ship is tested


Dear Abby: How can I set healthy bound­aries with my best friend with­out feel­ing guilty?

I have al­ways been sup­port­ive and avail­able be­cause I sym­pa­thized with her dif­fi­cult fam­ily dy­nam­ics dur­ing child­hood and adult­hood.

She of­ten talks to me about her prob­lems with fam­ily and ev­er­chang­ing re­la­tion­ships with men, but rarely al­lows me or oth­ers to share their points of view or per­sonal con­cerns. Say­ing “no” to her is chal­leng­ing un­der any cir­cum­stance, and she de­mands that all fo­cus be on her in so­cial sit­u­a­tions.

I love and ac­cept my friend as she is, and I try to give her all the grace I have. I now re­al­ize that set­ting healthy bound­aries is the only way I can sus­tain our friend­ship. I know this dy­namic may put a strain on our re­la­tion­ship, so why do I feel so guilty? Tested In North­ern Cal­i­for­nia

Dear Tested: That’s a good ques­tion, and one that I can’t defini­tively an­swer for you. It’s pos­si­ble that like many women, you were raised to be­lieve that if you as­sert your­self you won’t be con­sid­ered “nice.”

That’s a mis­take be­cause as long as you al­low this friend to take ad­van­tage of you — and that is what she’s do­ing — the more your re­sent­ment will build un­til the re­la­tion­ship be­comes one of di­min­ish­ing re­turns. So tell this self­cen­tred per­son as nicely as pos­si­ble that you are not a ther­a­pist, and be­cause her prob­lems per­sist, she should talk to one.

Dear Abby: Do you ever get tired of giv­ing ad­vice to peo­ple who ask com­mon-sense ques­tions, or those who prob­a­bly know the an­swer to their prob­lems if they just thought it out? Jim In West Vir­ginia

Dear Jim: The an­swer to your ques­tion is no. I love what I do and con­sider it an hon­our to be trusted. While the re­ply to a ques­tion may be ob­vi­ous to you, it isn’t to the per­son who asks me. Com­mon sense tends to go out the win­dow when there are strong emo­tions in­volved.

Dear Abby is writ­ten by Jeanne Phillips, daugh­ter of Pauline Phillips, the orig­i­nal Dear Abby. Write Abby at or c/o The Ot­tawa Cit­i­zen, Box 5020, Ot­tawa, K2C 3M4. For a re­ply, send a self-ad­dressed en­ve­lope. Abby cov­ers postage. In­clude name and phone num­ber if you want your let­ter pub­lished.

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