Friend with escalating attention seeking behaviors

Postby EaglesLII » Sun Jul 01, 2018 2:49 am

Hello, I have a friend who has been exhibiting some behaviors that are concerning but are also starting to wear down me and my other friends trying to help her. She is frequently putting herself in potentially dangerous situations and then casually texting us about it. It's starting to feel like she gets satisfaction out of seeing us panic. This has been happening for about 7 years to different degrees. Up until recently, it was mostly random texts at 2 AM saying something along the lines of "I'm sorry I've been a bad friend but it'll all be fixed now" followed by unanswered texts and phone calls which of course sends us into a panic thinking she is going to harm herself. This has recently escalated to more frequent texts, both while sober and while drinking casually hinting about a potentially dangerous situation such as "I just ordered diet pills that'll help me lose weight overnight so I can look good for the beach" when she is already active, thin, and a healthy eater or "I'm about to go for a run but my phone is going to die so I'm leaving it in the car" when there's a heat advisory and she's running in a secluded area. About a week ago, she told my other friend that the guy she recently started dating choked her and pushed her down on the sidewalk causing her to scratch her face pretty significantly. We told her to stop seeing this guy because there really was no reason (they had been official for a week, known each other for a month, and she had stated before that "he would be fun to have around for the summer"). She is continuing to hang out with him and tells us "it's fine. We talked about it and it's okay". We of course will give her the benefit of the doubt but we can't help but believe that she is either staying with him for the attention she receives when something negative happens or she fabricated the story to get a rise. We have all encouraged her to seek professional help and we try to be there for her and support her as much as she will allow but we are all becoming worn down by this constant fear that the one time we don't respond to her will be the time that something bad actually happens. What can we do to help her that will actually help to move towards a solution rather than just surviving each individual situation?
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#1

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Sun Jul 01, 2018 3:20 am

First, there is no we. You only control you.

What you can do is model good behavior and play the appropriate role in this other person’s life. Your role is friend. Your role is not parent, therapist, or guardian. It is not your role to try and protect this person whenever you believe they don’t behave responsibly.

What I would do is go enjoy my life and allow my friend to enjoy their life. If my friend specifically asks for advice, I give it once and then I shut up. I’m not going to repeat myself. That is not my role as friend. Friendship is reciprocal.

If I feel that a person abuses the friendship, I adjust my interactions. If a friendship is not reciprocal I adjust. Rarely, if ever have I ended a friendship. Instead I allow friendships to take their natural course and I always remember my role as friend, not guardian or parent.

I have had friends commit suicide. I have had friends go down some bad roads, including drugs, abuse, and just some bad life choices. I supported and continue to support these friends as a friend. I have provided my advice when asked and then my friends have chosen their path. That is what friends do. Friends make choices that can be irresponsible or dangerous. That’s life.
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#2

Postby tokeless » Sun Jul 01, 2018 6:47 am

She sounds like she has a personality disorder. If you stop trying to save her she'll have to deal with these situations as her choices.. That's what they are. If needed tell her that next time she makes a choice you're letting her.
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#3

Postby DrPsychFeels » Tue Jul 03, 2018 12:03 pm

You say it yourself: she tries to get a rise out of you. That's her drug and you give it to her.

Tell her you don't accept that behavior and then ignore her when she tries to seek attention.
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