How to I manage my demanding friend?

Relationships change over time and we can grow out of them.
Relationships change over time and we can grow out of them.

My closest older friend has been very supportive over many years, listening to my problems without bothering me with any problems she might have. Even though I know she has my best interests at heart, I am starting to get frustrated with her. She gets upset if I don’t do what she wants. Something doesn’t feel right even though she is important to me and I am scared of losing her.

You are confused. You have had a stable friendship with this woman over many years and now it is changing. Relationships do change over time if one person grows.

You are the one who is changing. You are growing out of the need for this friendship. Your friend senses this and feels threatened. She doesn’t want any change.

There has always been a power imbalance in this relationship. You are the one with the problems and she helps you. She is the knowing mother and you are the needy daughter. Most probably she is like a mother hen with several relationships of this nature.

You think she has your best interests at heart. This is a very dangerous belief to have about anyone. Virtually everyone has their own interests at heart whether they know this or not. The people you can trust are those who are honest and make this plain. Be very careful of anyone who tells you they have your best interests at heart. Most likely they are just about to manipulate you into meeting their needs.

This friend is no different. She has her own agenda. She wants to believe that she nothing but a caring, giving person who devotes herself to helping others.

The truth is she is very controlling. She likes being in power. She hates being vulnerable and hates to admit that she has any problems that she cannot handle. Probably, she’s very positive about her life and glosses over any setbacks.

Underneath though, she is scared just like the rest of us. Most likely, she fears being alone and she is afraid of opening up the emotional baggage that she still carries. Feeling vulnerable is a part of working through past hurts. She hates that and avoids it at all costs.

She wants to keep the status quo. An equal relationship would require her to open up about her problems and listen to your response. She is resorting to manipulative behaviour to keep you in your place by getting upset when you don’t please her. She doesn’t have your best interests at heart. She doesn’t want you to grow up. Once you do, you won’t need her support and she senses that she has little to offer in an equal friendship.

You need to face the fact that you are quickly out growing this friendship. Don’t revert back to the helpless child trying to please your mother. Stand your ground and act like the adult you are. Let her be upset. Only you know what is best for you. She does not.

Challenge her this way and you give her the opportunity to change. You will know if she is changing. She will stop trying to manipulate you and start opening up instead.

If this doesn’t happen, grieve the loss of the friendship and get ready to move on.