Friend refuses to make the changes she needs

Published 8:48 am Monday, January 22, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

DEAR ABBY: I have a friend who complains over and over about the same issue. I’ve given her advice and even helped her with contacts to enable her to move so that she’s out of her abusive relationship. She always responds, “Yes, I need to do something,” but never does.
She continues to allow her part-time spouse to return to her home and resume his abusive, drunken behavior. I’ve reached the point where I can’t continue to help or offer potential solutions because she won’t do anything to improve her situation. She reaches out to me only to complain about her situation.
Our friendship is very much a one-sided thing. That she has never just called me to say hello and inquire how I’m doing is disheartening. What else can I do? I can lead her to water, but I can’t make her drink it! I’m so sad that she doesn’t see her own value and what she’s deserving of. – IT’S INSANITY IN NEVADA

DEAR ‘INSANITY’: Wake up to the fact that this woman is using you to vent, nothing more. She’s not interested in your advice. She doesn’t recognize her own value because it was either eroded when she was growing up or by the drunk abuser she married. You could boost her ego to the top of Mount Everest but it wouldn’t last because she has no core of self-respect.
You recognize this friendship is not reciprocal. Unless it brings you some sort of psychic gratification, ask yourself why you are spending so much time nurturing it. Compile a list of resources she can use if her situation becomes dangerous but, beyond that, waste no more time trying to “fix” her.
DEAR ABBY: My brother and I were very close while growing up. But when he got into drugs as a teen, he started doing things I could not support, so we drifted apart. I never wanted to believe that he would do me harm, but I have finally had to admit to myself that he’s the one who stole my treasured, irreplaceable jewelry and sold it for drug money.
He has been in recovery for nearly 30 years and has apologized to everyone – except me. He may not remember, or may not want to remember, how deeply he hurt me. How do I continue to see him at family gatherings when I’m so disgusted with him that I won’t speak to him? It’s not a matter of taking him aside and telling him this; he would just attack. Should I just stop going to family gatherings?– SADDENED SISTER IN CANADA

DEAR SISTER: Your brother may have been in recovery for the last 30 years, but the behavior you describe is not that of a well man. Please do not cut yourself off from the family gatherings, and resist the urge to confront him, which you know won’t bring you the satisfaction you want or end well. Keep your distance, occupy yourself with the relatives with whom you are close, be polite and ignore him as much as you can.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
To order “How to Write Letters for All Occasions,” send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby – Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox