Stop Turning Your BFFs Into Emotional Dumpsters: A Thought-Provoking Perspective.

There is this fairy tale about friendship that has resulted in a lot of frustration over the years. The assumption that I speak of is the illusion of complete loyalty and tolerance from your BFFs. The idea that a friend must always be available to support you when you are going through life is wishful thinking. Most adults know that they cannot expect all their friends to “ride or die” yet, they get upset when a friend seems to be uninterested in their mishaps.

The expectations placed on BFFs are unrealistic and the bars are too high. Yes. Your good friend should be happy for you when you succeed, she should provide a shoulder for you to cry on when you need her, she should be available to help you process difficult situations, and she should sometimes make your problem her own. She must pray with you when the devil is at work. She must be willing to make familial sacrifices for you as needed. She definitely needs to bring you ice cream and cookies on those dark days. As if all that is not enough, a good friend must also make time to hang out with you when everything is going well. These are expectations that we have placed on one another because this is how society told us to feel. Should you really expect that much from another human being?

Well, I call BS! Your friend should not be your emotional dumpster. Don’t get me wrong- I am all for reaching out to a good friend when life deals you a nasty hand. However, it is fundamentally unfair of you to expect that friend not to burn out if you keep confronting him/her with your life disasters. It is great to have a friend or friends that you can turn to for moral support, but you should not be blowing your friends phone up because you’ve got some problems. You should not make it a habit to dump all your problems on your friend at every given opportunity just because she is your BFF. She is human too- you know. You should make more effort to simply talk about life and not just about your issues with life. You should stop being that friend that walks through the door always carrying sad baggage.

Adulting requires you to problem-solve your own life to a great extent. It also requires that you dish to others only what you are willing to take. Calling a particular friend multiple times a week to help you with your life situations as they arise is both selfish and childlike. The whole idea of friendship becomes even more frustrating when a friend gets upset every time you are not available to help them deal with life. As an adult, you are required to make independent decisions regardless of how silly they will be in hindsight. You are also required to take responsibility for those decisions without trying to blame it on the advice of a friend. Most people “need” a friend to process life with- this is a known fact. The question is- how much talking can you do to a particular friend before you become a nuisance? The answer to this question is often unknown because most great friends will never tell you that you are becoming an emotional drag on them. Most BFFs help you anyway because they are trying to be there for you in time of need. Most good friends are not worried about the effects of your drama on their life because society has taught us not to be “selfish”.

As appealing as the idea of great friendship is, many people are without BFFs today because the reciprocal demands are too grave. Personally, I choose to have good friends not BFFs because I could no longer keep up with the daily updates. I am all for making myself available to my friends when I am needed, but I am not able to talk to any friend (or person) on the phone daily for life updates. Was there a time that I was “kinda” like that? Possibly- while in college. Nowadays, if you are not one of my two kiddos and you are not my spouse, we do not need to be talking on a daily basis. Many adults are at a place where their friendships are causing more emotional, financial, and psychological stress than necessary. It is only reasonable to choose peace and if that means no BFF- so be it.

If you are the type who clings to your friends as if your life depends on it, cut it out. Grow up. Get grown. As a matter of fact, wake up. Your BFFs will disappoint you eventually because they will get tired of your shenanigans. I understand that life can be rough and I empathize with your current feelings. However, dumping your life’s misfortune on your friend constantly will not help you get through the situation.  As a friend, it is your responsibility to care about that friend who you always call to dump your heart. It is also your duty to intentionally spare her some of your petty foolishness. What you need is a therapist who is obligated to help you without you needing to reciprocate the kind gesture.

If you are the friend that typically gets dumped on, I feel your struggle. I know that you really want to be there for a friend in need. I also know that you just want to support your friend through a difficult time. The question is- are you feeling constantly stressed about the situation that your friend is in? The fine line between being a supportive friend and a grumpy friend is the stress factor. If you feel overwhelmed by your friend’s misfortune, you are automatically less able to help her. If you feel like you need a therapist to deal with your BFF, then this article is directly talking to you. Stop letting your perceived obligation get in the way of taking care of your own sanity. Realize that you are entitled to peace of mind regardless of the amount of mishap going on with your BFF. As a good friend that you are, the best thing you can do for a friend going through a difficult time is to give her the number for a great therapist or stress coach. If your friend gets upset over the suggestion of professional help, you have to consider the possibility that she may like the chaos and you are simply part of the show.

Written by- Ganiyat Badmus, LCSW-C  | Mental Health Therapist

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