As I’ve worked at trying to be a better friend, more thoughtful, more alert to situations where I can offer support and/or help, I find that one of the most frustrating things is trying to help someone who won’t help themselves. We’ve all been in these types of situations, and often friendships can literally end over them. You have a friend who claims to need help, but when you offer them a way to really do what they say they want to do, they find reason after reason to not do it. I’ve had experiences like that in “real life” and through this site, where I’ve been in contact with someone who is asking for support, seeking a shoulder to cry on or a sympathetic ear, and in those rare occasions where I’m actually able to do something for them or offer some concrete advice on how to make things better, it’s ignored. Turns out all they really wanted was someone to listen, not help.
Now, I certainly understand the fear that comes along with trying to make a change in your life, and I’m not posting this to vent at all the people who won’t take my advice. Actually, what I’m looking for is advice myself. I know. theoretically, that the proper response in these situations is to offer the help or the idea and simply give them the space to make their own decisions, without putting the relationship in jeopardy by demanding they take my advice. That’s all well and good, but it’s also really, really hard to stay the course with that. How do you care about someone enough to want to help, yet remain distant enough that your frustration with them doesn’t become the center of your friendship? Or, is there a point where you simply can’t be a support to them anymore?