Do you attract needy friends?
Think about your group of friends, or those that are closest to you. Do they seem to lean on you for everything, from making dinner plans to relationship advice, and even little things like what to watch or read at night? Some people have lots of drama and others seem to just go with the flow, but whom do you attract into your life? We interpret what’s happening around us in different ways, and this can lead to living a life that’s full of chaos. I hope that I can help you not only identify your needy friends, but also make you more aware of it and how you can manage it on your own.
When I was a kid I used to care for the wounded birds I found on my walk home from the bus stop. I’d carry them into the house, make a shoebox house, feed them, and eventually bury them in my backyard after all my efforts were exhausted. I cared for these little creatures and invested time and energy into them, but it always ended the same way. This behavior followed me into adulthood, but instead of birds it was friends. I would take them under my wing and try to help them find success, mostly because it made me feel important when I made them feel important. I would attract people who lacked courage and I thought I could help them but they needed to help themselves.
My first step was that I realizing that something had to change because it was too stressful to have so much drama. Maybe you feel similar in that they text you all the time and can’t seem to do anything without your advice. I decided the only way to fix it was to see a therapist. I realized then that I was enabling them and allowing codependence instead of the mentoring I thought I was giving. I had to fix what I didn’t like, and it had to start with me. I came up with the following questions to ask myself in relation to my friendships, to help me see if they were needy and if the relationship was healthy or doing more harm than good:
- What percentage of the time is my friend’s situation bad luck?
- How often is my friend in a bad way because of her own bad or self-sabotaging decisions?
- Do I feel responsible for this person?
- Does my friend support me too?
- Is this person working to better him or herself?
- Am I responsible for my friend’s happiness, emotional state, or success?
- Does this friend eat up all my emotions?
- Am I tired of being the rescue crew?
Make sure you answer each question honestly, truthfully, and completely. Your honest assessment of the relationship will help you realize just how one sided your friendship is. If you’re working with someone who has no interest in helping him or herself and you see a pattern in their behavior that hasn’t changed, something has to give.
If it seems like you attract needy friends, and all your energy is spent on them, then something needs to change and it starts today with you. Remember that drama comes with how you interpret the situation in front of you. Be objective and think about what you get out of getting involved or lending a helping hand. Self-awareness of your behavior will not only help build your solid relationships up, but it will also enforce which relationships need to be taken down.