How to Cope With an Emotionally Draining Friends
Friendships are important – not only for our social wellness but also for our emotional, mental, and physical wellness and health. Being around our good friends, we feel energized and happy but what if you have emotionally draining friends and your energy begins draining and when spending time with friends leaves you feeling exhausted and emotionally drained, it’s time to rethink your friendships.
All of us need an outlet, a comforting touch, or a shoulder to cry on when life deals us a challenging hand. Turning to friends and family for comfort seems a good solution but many a time, it can be one-sided where one person only vents and the other only comfort.
If you’re the outlet, the shoulder others lean on, it can increase your risk to develop second-hand anxiety. Helping people we care about, showing compassion, and empathy is good but when your friend’s stress and anxiety becomes your stress and anxiety, it can quickly leave you feeling emotionally and mentally exhausted.
Below are some warning signs you have emotionally draining friends and/or friendships and how to deal with emotionally draining friends.
Signs Of Emotionally Draining Friends
Friends who drain your energy are people who are emotional wrecks – almost all the time – whenever they are in your company. Even if you aren’t face-to-face with them, these friends will still leave you feeling low on energy and exhausted.
Here are some signs you can look for to know if your friends are emotionally draining you or not:
1. Your friendship leaves you feeling fatigued. One of the biggest signs of emotionally draining friends is that whenever you’re in their company – and after you leave them – you feel fatigued, emotionally, mentally, and physically.
2. You regularly make sacrifices. Another sign of an emotionally draining friend is that where you often make sacrifices to make sure they are happy, they rarely care about your happiness and needs.
3. You feel anxious and tired after you talk with them. Whenever you hang out with your friends, you often experience feelings of anxiety, tiredness, and frustration.
4. Your positive feelings towards them are gradually vanishing. Emotionally draining friends often make you feel anxious and irritated, which in turn, may cause the positive and happy feelings you once had for your friend to disappear with time.
5. You censor your words around them. More often than not, with emotionally draining friends, you seem to censor your words, thoughts, and ideas. You are hesitant to open up about your feelings fearing their reaction.
6. You can’t ask them for advice. As I mentioned earlier, friends who drain your energy are often emotional messes around you. With them constantly venting their problems, you never get an opportunity to ask them for advice or even their support.
7. You don’t particularly enjoy talking to them. When talking to a friend leaves you feeling low on energy, you feel hesitant to talk to them and even if you do, you don’t enjoy their company, per se.
8. Your friend rarely asks about you. While they constantly vent about the problems in their life to you, they rarely make any effort to know more about your life and health.
9. Your friend is rarely there when you need them. When it comes to venting and asking advice on problems, you’re always there for them but when you need support or their company, they are rarely there, if ever.
10. Your friend uses guilt when you can’t be there for them. Emotionally draining friends will use manipulation, guilt, or the silent treatment to make you feel bad for not being there for them when they asked.
11. Your friend loves being the center of attention. Talking to your friend is difficult because they want to be the center of attention and want to steer the conversation towards themselves. This almost always makes you feel dissatisfied and tired.
12. Your friend struggles with low self-esteem. When you’re left giving constant reassurances to a friend about their self-confidence, it can be a sign of having an emotionally exhausting friend.
13. Your efforts are often met with little to no thanks. An emotionally draining friend will take what they want from you and will leave a thankless goodbye behind. Your efforts, more often than not, are met with a thankless gesture.
How To Deal With Emotionally Draining Friends?
Here are some effective and healthy ways to deal with emotionally draining friends, co-workers, or relatives:
1. Set Boundaries
One of the first things you need to do when it comes to dealing with emotionally draining friends is to set healthy boundaries. Limit the time you spend with them. If they have a habit of calling you late at night, let them know that while you’re there for them they need to set a time for when they can call you.
In the long run, boundaries matter for maintaining a healthy friendship.
2. Be Honest & Direct
Now that you’ve established your boundaries, it is time, to be honest, and direct with your friend. Communication is key here. Make your friend aware of your boundaries, of your limits. Most of the time, people are not even aware that they might be using you as an emotional dumping ground. Talk to them, be polite but firm.
3. Avoid Fixing Their Problems
Your friend needs to understand that while you’re there for them, you aren’t there to solve or fix the problems in their life. You can comfort them, take them out for dinner, have coffee with them, but you cannot become their therapist. Offer them help but let them fix their problems on their own.
4. Offer Them An Alternative
If you can’t fix their problems, offer them an alternative. Explain to them how their emotional problems are affecting you and offer them sources, and information, or suggest a professional who can help them cope with their emotions and the stress. Here, the best thing for your friend is to seek professional help.
Remember, a friend does not equal a therapist.
5. Keep Your Distance
If it’s a close friend, then this step can be a little difficult. However, for your better mental and emotional health, distancing yourself from a friend that leaves you feeling exhausted and drained is important. Emotionally distancing yourself from someone you care about is hard but for your mental peace, it is important.
Your Peace Matters Too…
To keep up with an emotionally draining friend, you need to make sure your emotions and energy are up. And to do that, you need to take care of yourself, first and foremost. To counteract the second-hand stress and anxiety your friend leaves you with, you need to stay refreshed and calm.
Do something that de-stresses you and keep your mind away from the emotions and problems your friend dumps on you. To deal with an emotionally exhausting friend, you need to be mentally and emotionally strong as much as possible.
If you can relate to the above signs of an emotionally draining friend, make sure you follow the steps on what to do and keep yourself as emotionally strong and peaceful as possible.
If the above steps do not work, it is recommended you speak to a professional therapist or a counselor for help. You can find licensed counselors and therapists here.
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Friends are important but not when they come at the cost of your mental and emotional peace, remember this!