I still haven't learned this all the way. I have had friends with mental problems, addictions, co-dependant or abusive relationships, and emotional disorders. I am always trying to help, and I don't want to stop that part, but I want a better understanding of when to pull back and raise your hands in defeat. I guess you only get that from experience.
Sometimes, I wish there was something like a Telezapper for these kinds of relationships. Someone would try and suck at your sympathy teats for the umpteenth time, but instead of attention, would get a recording, "I am sorry, but this relationship has become repetitive and dysfunctional on both sides, and will now cease to continue. Please seek professional help, and do not call again. Your response to this message will not be recorded. Goodbye and good luck." Of course, if I could sever friendships like that with no feeling invested, I'd be a total jerk. I just wish I had a device like that so I could be lazy and avoid saying it myself.
Often, I don't. I use the lazy passive resistance thing. I don't call. I avoid them at parties, or treat them like some outer circle friend I don't know very well, but will be polite with because they are a fellow human. I stop listening, or form a repeated response like, "You know my opinion on this subject, I will not repeat it, and the subject will now change." I hate being put in that position.
I am not a therapist. I am not any sort of legal help, nor will gaining my side in any argument make it any more or less valid. I am a person, just like anybody else. And your set of problems, my friend, are out of my ability or desire to fix.
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