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Learning to take responsibility and give space in a difficult friendship

Community Member


I am looking on advice for how to manage a friendship that I have been struggling with for the past three years.

This friendship was once a very loving one, but three years ago boundaries were crossed and the nature of the relationship became confused. Although I was unaware of it at the time, my self-esteem had become linked to the place that I occupied in this friend's life. My friend was very cavalier in how he handled the change in our relationship and subsequent fall-out, which I found very difficult to deal with. I was so dependent on him that this instance of disregard left me feeling worthless.

I needed space, but instead I continually went to him for affirmation, which ultimately made me feel more hurt, worthless and resentful.

My friend is well adjusted, and doesn't struggle with the relationship in the way that I do. He drinks and parties a lot, and I find myself doing the same, even though I know that my mental health is fragile and that I do not handle alcohol well. On numerous occasions I have complete lost it while drunk, and have been insulting and offensive. It is completely unfair to him and a huge burden to our mutual friends. I have alienated a number of people.

These outbursts send me into a shame spiral, and I apologise compulsively even though I know he is fed-up and needs space.

A month ago, after another one-sided alcohol-fuelled fight, I told my friend that the solution I could arrive at was space. This frustrated him and we stopped talking.

I saw him at an event with mutual friends on Saturday night. I was highly-strung and we stayed up all night drinking. We were polite to each other, but the next day it was clear that he does need space.

I also need space to rebuild my self-worth. I spend hours thinking about this relationship and neglecting what is important to me. My failure to accept the limits of what my friend is able to give me feels disrespectful on my part and at times even controlling. I feel that I have lost my identity and integrity.

Yet today I have wanted desperately to reach out for reassurance that everything is OK and that he is not angry with me. It was extremely difficult for me to control this impulse.

I need professional help, but in the interim, I am looking for any advice on how to break these destructive patterns, be patient and respectful in allowing for space, and down the track accept this friendship for what it has to offer.

Thank you very much for reading this

2 Replies 2

Community Member

Hello Pineapple Orange,

Thanks for sharing your story on here, I can't imagine it was easy but am sure it made you feel lighter getting all of that off your chest.

In my experience over the last few years I too have gone through a lot of personal friendship changes. And completely understand where you are coming from. When that boundary is crossed it is hard to go back as being friends, but it becomes a fragile place in which you should treat carefully.

My suggestion would be self love, a lot of what you have described shows signs of you empowering others to make you feel loved, where you have to love your self first to be receptive of all the love around you.

Maybe start a list tonight of all the things you love about your self, things you are good at, people in your life that love you unconditionally.

Positive affirmations also help me through a lot of bad days, being strong and maintaining a sense of self worth will help you through this situation.

Surround your self with people you love and give yourself the space and time you need to heal from the complex relationship you have just experienced.

Best Wishes,


Community Member

Hello Pineapple orange,

Welcome to the forum!

This friendship situation sounds incredibly complex.

Here are links to a selection of trusted sites about relationship issues: http://www.mindhealthconnect.org.au/search-results/relationships

As Kiara mentioned, focusing on your own wellbeing is crucial. This will not only help to improve your emotional state, but also leave less time and cognitive energy for you to worry about your relationship with this friend.

This resource is great for understanding self-esteem and how to improve it: http://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/resources/infopax.cfm?Info_ID=47

Even if you don't feel as though your self-esteem is the standout concern at the moment, understanding how you view and treat yourself can help in many areas of life, including relationships.

I hope these resources can help in some way 🙂

Best wishes,