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Can I ask for some advice on a friendship?

Discussion in 'Hangout' started by ieatbugs, Oct 6, 2012.

  1. ieatbugs
    Shiny_Rock

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    by ieatbugs » Oct 6, 2012
    Hello guys,

    I'm having a hard time evaluating my friendship with a co-worker and would like some advice. During orientation at my new job I met another woman around my age. She was quite friendly and we quickly became pretty close acquaintances. (I work in an extremely male dominated industry and she was one of only 5 other females in a nearly 150+ people company). After getting to know her I was really impressed by her analytical skills and maturity level. When a position in my department opened that was similar to her current one but a bit more complicated (but paid more) I recommended her for the position. A few months later she was promoted to it and it worked out great. Her director told her to thank me profusely because he never considered her based on her past employment history. She is a perfect fit for the job and is well-liked and respected for her work.

    Over the months, we were required to work very closely and we forged a much closer relationship; discussing our personal life outside of work frequently and mutual common interests.


    However, the more I have gotten to know her the more it is becoming apparent that she has a near pathological need to please. This became obvious after I tried to make plans outside of work with her and she opened her schedule and was booked for 3 months in advance. "Yeah, (name of guy she doesn't like) invites me to play basketball every week and won't take no for an answer so I do that. Also, (name of girl she admits to being not so fond of) invited me to another weekly event so my weeks are pretty busy."

    We scheduled an outing for her earliest availability and things seemed to go smoothly. As she lost weight and ran out of clothing that fit, I offered quite a few pairs of jeans to her to regain some closet space.

    She has shared with me a great deal of very personal information during this time. She talked about her decision to stop drinking because she can't limit or pace herself. She spoke of her tendency to fall in love and become obsessed with what her therapist says are fantasy relationships. The last time this happened she spent 6 months obsessing until she was able to let go of someone who she readily admits she was never dating. When this guy broke off communication with her, she decided it was due to her weight and has since been obsessively and unhealthily trying to diet ever since. She thinks that she won't be happy until she is skinny and guys find her attractive.

    I've tried to mentor her somewhat to provide perspective; she says that I have helped her learn that whether other people find her attractive isn't the sole source of happiness and that she needs to learn intrinsic motivation. She has acknowledged that her desperate desire to be liked is unhealthy and due to a lack of self esteem. She also has an incredible fear of confrontation.

    My issue is that I only ever hear from her when she has a problem. She has never once tried to invite me out or make plans with me with the exception of a mass birthday party invitation. Over the months that I have known her, we only engage outside of work if I initiate it. Which I don't mind doing on occasion, but I feel like I have been pretty kind and generous and would really appreciate it if she even took the time to be like "hey, want to walk with me to the office kitchen and chat while I get a cup of coffee? Especially recently, as I have had a very difficult and painful series of surgeries that has left me at home bedridden for a week at a time after each procedure. I could really use some support/distraction/lunch dates!

    I can see that she does initiate plans, most recently with a brand new guy she is obsessed with. She tells me she loves him, but that he "doesn't feel the same way", and apparently has said things to her that were so upsetting she needed to leave work early at least once.

    Sometimes I even wonder if she actually likes me or just is kind to avoid confrontation. Does she only interact with me because I recommended her for the promotion?

    Clearly she has a lot of issues, but is she so lost in her own world that I just can't reasonable expect her just can't reciprocate? Or is this an indication that our friendship is merely built on her sense of obligation toward me for her promotion?


    I feel like I end up in this situation a lot. I meet other women and try to be kind to forge a friendship, and we seem to get along, but it never really goes anywhere. It's really hard to make grown up friends as a woman in an industry that is 98% male.

    Thanks for any input that you all can provide!
     
    


    


  2. Skippy123
    Super_Ideal_Rock

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    by Skippy123 » Oct 6, 2012
    I wouldn't push a friendship with her. You say she is obsessive; I would feel a little nervous to be friends with someone like that. I understand wanting a stronger friendship with people sometimes but I think it is best to do things you enjoy and it sounds like talking about her lovers or the guys she is obsessed with isn't healthy for you or her. Personally I would just stay polite with her since you work together and keep your distance outside of work. It is great you helped her get a job; it sounds like you work well together. I would leave it at that and not question her motives. It sounds like she appreciated you helping her out. I once helped someone get a job and they never said anything so I think it is nice to help people but they don't owe one something, just a thanks. Is there something you can do outside of work where you can meet others like a book club or another interest? I actually made friends with someone else from a club and we are doing a cake decorating class together which has been fun!
     
  3. ieatbugs
    Shiny_Rock

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    by ieatbugs » Oct 6, 2012
    I definitely don't want to force a friendship...I kind of feel bad for her and feel like she needs SOME positive guidance or interaction which I guess is why I'm asking.

    I don't know what is wrong with where I live but there are SO few people my age around and because of my work schedule anything during the week is basically off limits. I am somewhat looking forward to this project ending next year and moving somewhere that makes sense. My boyfriend is also struggling with this: he has a bunch of guy friends from work but can't seem to meet anyone our age outside of work. It seems like the majority of the population up here is the ultra rich and most people go to the country club and ride horses.
     
  4. Skippy123
    Super_Ideal_Rock

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    by Skippy123 » Oct 6, 2012
    I don't know where you live but I think it is fun to have people as friends who vary in age. One of my most wonderful friends is 70!!! She and I have so much in common and then I have a good friend who is 29 and I am in my mid 30's. ;))
     
    


    


  5. sonnyjane
    Ideal_Rock

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    by sonnyjane » Oct 6, 2012
    It kind of sounds like you're trying too hard. I wouldn't even go so far as to say that she is just being nice to you out of a sense of obligation for you recommending her for the job. It sounds like she is just being herself - polite to you when around, asking for advice when she needs it, but not going out of her way to do "friend" activities outside of work because frankly, she might not see you as "outside of work" friends. I know that I have "work friends", people that I eat lunch with at work and joke with, but I don't hang out with them outside of work because we don't really have much in common and I am busy enough as it is. I know you're in a new place and having a hard time making friends, but you seem to be putting a lot of labels on her to explain why she may or may not be doing something, but the truth is, you're the one that keeps wanting the relationship to be more than it is which is why you're being disappointed.

    In my opinion, "she's just not that into you" lol. But the GOOOOOD news is, that means you can stop wasting time and effort on her.

    Are there any organizations you could maybe volunteer for? Meet friends that way?
     
  6. ieatbugs
    Shiny_Rock

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    by ieatbugs » Oct 6, 2012
    I never really felt like I went out of my way or did anything for her that I wouldn't do for most people, to be honest, so I'm not sure 'trying too hard' is the right word: I don't feel like I'm trying. I love to chat with most people and am happy to listen and give advice. I suppose I did volunteer the extra pants but that was pretty low effort :)

    Like I said before, 10 hour work days just leave me pretty fried. I don't have much for work-life balance, and it's something I plan on changing but probably not until this project is over...I'm working on one of those 'Opportunity of a Lifetime' things that was a lifelong dream, but it's REALLY eating into my social life!
     
  7. ieatbugs
    Shiny_Rock

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    by ieatbugs » Oct 6, 2012
    I have quite a few friends who are older, but I met most of them through a perfume forum, and my allergies have basically have killed that interest for me :(

    I will probably just need to keep hanging out on the internet until my Work-life balance improves a little bit more.

    After a 60 hour work week, going out and trying to meet people SOUNDS like work! lol :)
     
  8. Upgradable
    Ideal_Rock

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    by Upgradable » Oct 6, 2012
    :idea: Very good insights. :idea: It is impossible for anyone to see inside anothers' head or thoughts. The only thing one can change is oneself.
     
  9. sonnyjane
    Ideal_Rock

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    by sonnyjane » Oct 6, 2012
    When I say it sounds like you're "trying too hard", I don't mean that you're doing things you wouldn't normally do, I mean that it sounds like you're trying too hard to make this a closer friendship when it sounds like you two are really, in all likelihood, just co-workers with a friendly rapport at work. From how you write, it sounds like you are doing nice things, trying to make plans, giving her things, offering her advice expecting that she will reciprocate, but to her, as someone who might not want a close friendship, you're just being extremely nice and helpful like usual. She doesn't realize that you expect anything more, I'd guess. And if she hasn't already volunteered to do more, I just don't want to see you waste your energy and get hurt because it sounds like she really isn't interested, at least not right now.
     
  10. sonnyjane
    Ideal_Rock

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    by sonnyjane » Oct 6, 2012
    I started therapy last week and this is what we are working on. My situation is not the same as the OP's, but I'm actually going to therapy because I have a hard time dealing with a co-worker...
     
    


    


  11. ieatbugs
    Shiny_Rock

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    by ieatbugs » Oct 6, 2012

    Well, I think I posted this because I don't know what expectations to have, not because I'm disappointed. I'm just confused by how the interpret the response, and then what the appropriate way is to respond.

    I guess I wasn't clear that I didn't see "becoming best friends" as a potential option in the future, but I definitely don't. Even if she could have a really close relationship, this process has shown me that I don't think I would really want that ;-)

    I wouldn't mind someone to take walks with me to get coffee at the office, though.
     
  12. Upgradable
    Ideal_Rock

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    by Upgradable » Oct 6, 2012
    Wishing you the best, Sonny. It sounds like you are handling it in quite a constructive manner. My experiences have taught me never to expect quid pro quo relationships. Friends don't keep score.
     
  13. ieatbugs
    Shiny_Rock

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    by ieatbugs » Oct 6, 2012
    I don't really think keeping score is part of the issue at hand.
     
  14. sonnyjane
    Ideal_Rock

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    by sonnyjane » Oct 6, 2012
    Lol yes, I see that, but I guess what I'm trying to get you to see is that if she doesn't already do those things are want to, then you can't make her fit that role just because she is one of 5 women at your company. If you ask "do you want to go get some coffee?" and she says no, that's kind of where it ends. KWIM?
     
  15. zoebartlett
    Super_Ideal_Rock

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    by zoebartlett » Oct 6, 2012
    I see where's Sonnyjane's coming from in her advice, and I agree with what she said. This girl probably appreciates the advice and enjoys being friendly at work, but it sounds to me like she's thinking of your relationship as a workplace only type of thing. She may have (in her mind) too much going on outside of work to consider having a true friendship where you see each other socially in other places. I'd continue to be friendly at work and leave it at that. If she wants to get together after work or on the weekends, she can come to you. If you keep asking and get turned down, you may just end up feeling more disappointed.
     
    


    


  16. ieatbugs
    Shiny_Rock

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    by ieatbugs » Oct 6, 2012
    I'm also wondering about: if I just stop really reaching out to her, I'm afraid she might ask me why or what's up, and I truly have no clue how I'd respond to that one. :errrr:
     
  17. ieatbugs
    Shiny_Rock

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    by ieatbugs » Oct 6, 2012
    Yeah. Unfrotunatrly she'd always say YES PLEASE THAT SOUNDS GREAT!!! which is where the confusion lies :)
     
  18. ieatbugs
    Shiny_Rock

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    by ieatbugs » Oct 6, 2012
    She never turns me down though...that's why it's so confusing!
     
  19. sonnyjane
    Ideal_Rock

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    by sonnyjane » Oct 6, 2012
    Well, in your original post, didn't you say that she has a hard time saying no to people, even if she doesn't really like them ...
     
  20. ieatbugs
    Shiny_Rock

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    by ieatbugs » Oct 6, 2012
    Yes, that's why I am questioning if she is just a non-planner for events or if she just isn't interested.
    She's a very passive person.
     
  21. swimmer
    Ideal_Rock

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    by swimmer » Oct 6, 2012
    Hmmm, doesn't sound like she is really in a good enough place to be a good friend. She meets up with people outside of work as an obligation or an obsession. Since you don't want to be either of these, why not stay in the same "work friendship" that you currently have? That is awful that you are at home a lot recovering (hope that is going well) but she is not the sort who is going to show up with cookies (unless you go to the obligation path like the guy she doesn't like did.) Work-only friends can be nice too. I've been at the same job for over a decade so have some friends there that we just keep it at work with no potential for socialization other than daily lunch. She sounds like on paper she could have been a real friend, but in reality, she needs a therapist and you need a friend so that isn't a two way street. Good luck finding a better local friend.

    Maybe you could check out meetup groups in your area, religious community (or local atheist get-together), political organization or candidate you support's campaign, crafting, hobby groups, volunteering at local organization, hard to think about now, but stuff you can consider when you recover? There has to be something for the non-country-club set.
     
  22. sonnyjane
    Ideal_Rock

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    by sonnyjane » Oct 6, 2012
    Well, I'll just summarize one last time:

    If you are okay with doing all of the work in the relationship, with always asking her to do things knowing that there is a fair possibility that she is only saying yes because she doesn't want to hurt your feelings, and if having workplace companionship is that important to you, then there is nothing wrong with continuing exactly what you're doing.

    If it were me, however, I wouldn't put much effort into it beyond maybe asking "Hey, I'm about to eat lunch, want to join?" etc. because I'd hate for you to waste your time and energy and have your feelings hurt in the long run.
     
  23. Skippy123
    Super_Ideal_Rock

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    by Skippy123 » Oct 6, 2012
    I think this is excellent advice!!!
     
  24. ieatbugs
    Shiny_Rock

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    by ieatbugs » Oct 6, 2012
    Yeah, I think I just need to keep telling myself that it is what it is.

    Thanks for the well wishes. :) I have one more surgery left this year...then two next year, and I should be done. It will end up being almost 10 in total! Ergh.
     
  25. monarch64
    Super_Ideal_Rock

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    by monarch64 » Oct 7, 2012
    She's the only one getting something out of your relationship, and until you voice your feelings about all of it, expect it to stay the same.

    Have you said to her what you've said to us? I don't think you have. Report back once you have expressed all these feelings to her.
     
  26. justginger
    Ideal_Rock

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    by justginger » Oct 7, 2012
    I agree with swimmer's advice - this is a work-only sort of friend. She sounds so overwhelmed by what she HAS to do, due to her own inability to say no, that she doesn't have the time to do what she wants to (regardless if that's hanging out with you or not). I screen these people out of my life. They're the ones who could easily come back and hurt you -- you think they're a great friend and divulge insecurities/fears/secrets only to later discover that they're gossiping about you with someone else because they don't actually give two hoots about you. Be courteous and friendly at work, and leave it there.

    I hope you feel better soon. :))
     
  27. zoebartlett
    Super_Ideal_Rock

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    by zoebartlett » Oct 7, 2012
    You could say something like "Let me know if you'd like to get together sometime for lunch (or whatever)," and that way, it's up to her to get in touch when/if she wants to. You've let her know that you'd like to hang out, and now it's up to her to put in more effort.

    If she does ask you what's up, you could be honest and say something like, "I know you have a busy schedule, so I thought I'd let you get in touch when you're available and want to hang out." Something like that.
     
  28. AmeliaG
    Brilliant_Rock

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    by AmeliaG » Oct 7, 2012
    Honestly, it sounds like this woman wants an audience rather than a friend. It's a cliche about women that operate in predominantly male environments that they'd rather seek admiration from a large number of males than a close friendship with a female friend (or male friend for that matter). The cliche isn't true in many cases and doesn't seem to be true for you; but in her case, I daresay the cliche might be spot on.
     
  29. JewelFreak
    Ideal_Rock

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    by JewelFreak » Oct 7, 2012
    I don't see any point in telling her your feelings -- in fact, it seems like pushing too hard when there really is no relationship outside work. The thing is, you are acquaintances, not friends. Friendship is a 2-way street & she has made it fairly clear she's not in reciprocating mode. That's ok -- lots of pleasant relationships can be work-only; sometimes trying to take them further wrecks what's there.

    You say you hear from her only when she has a problem -- frankly, that's the sort of thing I run from when it's obvious I can't help. You can't mentor her. She does not seem to want mentoring & only a masochist would want to continue trying. She's in the right place -- counseling.

    It's depressing to be stuck home -- hope things clear up soon! The best way to meet people is to get involved in some activity you really like -- anything from a book club to mountain climbing, something you are enthusiastic about for its own sake. There you meet folks who enjoy the same stuff & with whom you'll have more in common. Do it just for the fun of doing it -- if you go into it with "Wanting To Make A Friend" on your mental sleeve, that eagerness can come across as neediness & tend to put people off. Have a good time, be open to the others & friendships come by themselves.

    I'd let this work colleague do her thing & you do yours.

    --- Laurie
     
  30. House Cat
    Ideal_Rock

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    by House Cat » Oct 7, 2012
    She creates unhealthy obsessions in her mind, doesn't quite see reality, has a drinking problem, and uses you as an emotional dumping ground and you want more?

    Really?

    What, exactly are you getting out of this..."friendship?"

    You say you try to mentor her. You have recommended her for a promotion. Does this girl somehow make you feel better about yourself? Ask yourself the difficult questions. She's a mess, you aren't. But sometimes, we do have the need to be appreciated and self promoted. The thing is, we don't need it from people like this. When we feel this need, it is usually because we aren't giving it to ourselves.

    This girl is a black hole.

    Go fill yourself and your time with something TRULY fulfilling. Then, when you see her whirlwind, you will have the ability to smile, send her a bit of love from your heart, and move on with your happiness.

    <3
     

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