Dealing with a self-destructive friend

How to explain ERE, arranging family matters
Post Reply
chenda
Posts: 1080
Joined: Wed Jun 29, 2011 1:17 pm

Dealing with a self-destructive friend

Post by chenda » Tue May 07, 2019 5:20 am

I have a friend who I've know for years. Lovely women, who earns good money as a nurse.

But her life is a self-destructive mess which is spiralling out of control. She drinks too much, takes drugs, is grossly overweight and is in constant financial problems because she is incapable of budgeting. She lives in a run-down block of flats in a rough part of town, and hangs out with some very random group of people. Last week it all seem to come to a head when she was assaulted by one of her 'friends' who apparently has serious mental health problems.

I fear she is heading for an early grave (her doctor advised her years ago to give up drinking because her kidneys are damaged) and already has lots of lifestyle caused health problems. I don't think she is suffering from addictions as such its just her lifestyle.

I just want to give her a slap and sort her life out for her. I want her to become healthy, move out of where she lives and start a new life somewhere better. What's the best way to do this ? I have in the past suggested she volunteer or work as a nurse abroad, thinking a change of scene might do her good.

2Birds1Stone
Posts: 612
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2015 11:20 am

Re: Dealing with a self-destructive friend

Post by 2Birds1Stone » Tue May 07, 2019 5:45 am

You can't sort someone's life out for them until they are truly ready for change, and often times that means hitting rock bottom......sometimes too late.

Bankai
Posts: 410
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2014 5:28 am

Re: Dealing with a self-destructive friend

Post by Bankai » Tue May 07, 2019 6:01 am

chenda wrote:I just want to give her a slap and sort her life out for her. I want her to become healthy, move out of where she lives and start a new life somewhere better. What's the best way to do this ? I have in the past suggested she volunteer or work as a nurse abroad, thinking a change of scene might do her good.
There's no good way to do it. I know it's hard to accept, but you can't change another person. People only change when they are ready; your friend is on a way down but looks like she hasn't hit the bottom yet. And there's no guarantee she'll ever change anyway.

As harsh as it sounds, I'd disassociate from her. Your own piece of mind is most important and having her as a friend is pulling you down as well, if only by worrying about her and having negative thoughts.

Scott 2
Posts: 1262
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: Dealing with a self-destructive friend

Post by Scott 2 » Tue May 07, 2019 9:07 am

I don't think anyone wants someone coming into their life, telling them how it's all wrong and they need to change it.

IMO accept her for who she is. Share your common interests. If that stops working for you, it's time to move on. People diverge over the years. Nothing wrong with that.

Jason
Posts: 2036
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2017 8:37 am

Re: Dealing with a self-destructive friend

Post by Jason » Tue May 07, 2019 9:53 am

Funny, I just read a thread "Dealing with a Meddling Friend." It went something like "I am independent, well-paid professional, who likes to party and have a good time. You know a "let's have a good time because we are going to die any ways" type of person. Yes, sometimes things get out of hand, but this is how I like to live. And yes, I could stand to lose a few pounds and cut back on my drinking. My friend keeps on reminding me of this and thinks I should save all my money, stop having a good time and become some type of medical missionary in a foreign land. I value her friendship but if she doesn't begin to accept me for whom I am, I'm going to have to tell her to go hang out with her tight wad, stick in the mud, friends." What's the best way to do this?

Frita
Posts: 133
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:43 pm

Re: Dealing with a self-destructive friend

Post by Frita » Tue May 07, 2019 10:21 am

Accepting people and situations as they are can be challenging as hell, huh? Until that step is mastered, it is hard to set/maintain boundaries. We can’t change other people, just how we respond to them and what we do. (Even then, doing so with the goal of them changing in response is futile.)

vezkor
Posts: 96
Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2016 9:51 am

Re: Dealing with a self-destructive friend

Post by vezkor » Tue May 07, 2019 11:03 am

Jason wrote:
Tue May 07, 2019 9:53 am
Funny, I just read a thread "Dealing with a Meddling Friend." It went something like "I am independent, well-paid professional, who likes to party and have a good time. You know a "let's have a good time because we are going to die any ways" type of person. Yes, sometimes things get out of hand, but this is how I like to live. And yes, I could stand to lose a few pounds and cut back on my drinking. My friend keeps on reminding me of this and thinks I should save all my money, stop having a good time and become some type of medical missionary in a foreign land. I value her friendship but if she doesn't begin to accept me for whom I am, I'm going to have to tell her to go hang out with her tight wad, stick in the mud, friends." What's the best way to do this?
Well said, Jason. This is exactly the counter-perspective that stops me from interfering/influencing the lives of my friends who are making incredibly self-destructive decisions. I wonder all the time, though, whether I should make the effort anyways. If we're going to drift apart on current trajectory, why wouldn't I do what I can to "help" (by my perspective) and at least clear my conscience completely if that help is regarded as intrusive and unwanted? I guess it comes down to how much you truly care for a person. It seems almost impossible to make somebody change, but I've seen in my own life where others act effectively as catalysts to changes I want to make in myself anyways. I try to start these kinds of conversations with "Do you want my advice?" and let them tell me how receptive they are.

As always, it depends on the people and the relationship.

7Wannabe5
Posts: 4777
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: Dealing with a self-destructive friend

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Wed May 08, 2019 11:32 am

What qualities does she possess that caused you to describe her as a "lovely woman?" I can think of a couple radical suggestions, if she is of the likely type, roughly "helpless helper", to match your description otherwise.

prognastat
Posts: 971
Joined: Fri May 04, 2018 8:30 pm
Location: Texas
Contact:

Re: Dealing with a self-destructive friend

Post by prognastat » Wed May 08, 2019 2:41 pm

Also though I agree with the sentiment that there is only so much you can do to change someone else's behaviour unless they decide they need to change themselves(and even then it often fails), I would add to make sure to maintain some boundaries that protect you from self-destructive behaviour as it isn't hard for it to spill over in to your own life.

bigato
Posts: 1826
Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2011 12:43 pm

Re: Dealing with a self-destructive friend

Post by bigato » Wed May 08, 2019 2:48 pm

The safer option for everybody is to assume that adult individuals mostly don't change in essence. They sometimes do, for example through major trauma, but it has its price. And assuming the hero or saviour role is inherent is usually part of abusive relationships and just hurt everybody.

chenda
Posts: 1080
Joined: Wed Jun 29, 2011 1:17 pm

Re: Dealing with a self-destructive friend

Post by chenda » Wed May 08, 2019 3:28 pm

@7 - well she is just a good laugh, very trustworthy and we're very comfortable with one another. We've just been watching some ridiculous Japanese horror film and laughing watching some guy get his head sawn off. We like black comedy and lewd humour.

I think I was been too harsh in my OP but her problem is she is too trusting of other women and lurches between bad relationships with them (we're just friends btw) I say think, that's what's she's just told me. She also just said she knows her life needs sorting out so maybe she has started to see this. 🤔

7Wannabe5
Posts: 4777
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: Dealing with a self-destructive friend

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Wed May 08, 2019 4:17 pm

Hmmm. Not quite what I thought. "Too trusting" = semi-consciously does not believe it is in her best interest to perform due diligence.

Mister Imperceptible
Posts: 857
Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2017 4:18 pm

Re: Dealing with a self-destructive friend

Post by Mister Imperceptible » Thu May 09, 2019 10:24 pm

FWIW, a father’s friend hung himself and to this day my father regrets not doing something after he had drifted away. “I could have done more, I did not realize he was that depressed.”

Do you have belief in the soul?

Tyler9000
Posts: 1536
Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2012 11:45 pm
Location: Austin, TX

Re: Dealing with a self-destructive friend

Post by Tyler9000 » Fri May 10, 2019 10:11 am

While nobody can force someone else to change against their wishes, I also don't subscribe to the belief that you should just ignore what you see to be self-destructive behavior. First, make sure you're not enabling her in some way. And second, while I would not lecture about her choices I would make it clear why I personally do not do those things (very important not only for guidance but also for boundaries) and state in a friendly way that I'm available if she ever wants to talk about a different way of approaching life. She'll probably ignore you at first, but if she ever does decide to change you'll have planted a seed for a constructive way out.

Basically, focus on being a good example rather than a savior.

Post Reply