The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m a homemaker in my 50s. I have doubts about my relationship with an old friend.
She has been a friend since I was a company employee. I didn’t meet up with her when I was busy raising my children, but we resumed our friendship several years ago as they became older.
Recently, however, I’m sometimes offended by her behavior. For example, when I forgot about having talked to her about something and repeated the same topic once again after a while, she bluntly pointed it out, saying, “I’ve already heard that before.” When I’m trying to tell something to someone else, she cuts in, saying, “I know it,” and eventually makes me give up on talking.
I indirectly tell her my disapproval of such behavior, but I’ve found it hard to make her recognize her problem because she is less sensible than before.
Nevertheless, I don’t dislike her from the bottom of my heart. I also don’t want our relationship to go sour, and therefore I try to go out with her whenever she wants me to. When I decline sometimes, she mischievously says, “For real?” I’m a little upset that she speaks like this.
I can’t help but feel there’s something unreasonable about our relationship.
Dear Ms. A:
You’ve been friends with her because you believe you can both benefit from each other. However, you’ve started to feel your relationship with her is a little unreasonable, and that there is something unfair. I think now is the time for you to review the relationship.
I suggest you write down the advantages and disadvantages of meeting with her and compare them. If you find it more advantageous, you can continue the relationship, although you may have to endure a little bit. If you find it more disadvantageous, you don’t have to force yourself to go on. You should never ever expect to change her personality.
You are probably the type of person who can’t make it clear to her you want to terminate your friendship, although some people can. I suggest you let the relationship fade out. If she complains, you should take it lightly and simply focus on slowly reducing contact. She will probably realize your intentions sooner or later, and eventually leave you.
You will have many chances to make friends with someone you can truly get along with. Also, your friend’s personality may change in a few years. If that happens, you could reexamine the advantages and disadvantages once again, and decide whether to resume the friendship.
Masahiro Yamada, professor