- I really care about you, that's the only reason I say you did bad by not coming to my birthday party! You said you'll come! What kind of friend are you?
- I said, I'll try to come, and if I do, it'll be towards the end because I committed myself to that charity event that gave a high review to my services. You know I am trying to get my business off the ground.
- No, Mary, you should really listen to Chloe. Chloe is right. You have behaved very selfishly of late and you no longer care about your friends. We worry about you and your so-called boyfriend Carlos.
- What are you talking about Emma? I've been with you through your divorce and helped you look after your kids when you were dealing with lawyers. And you? Chloe? I've been to the hospital countless times when your own husband couldn't face seeing you when you were undergoing a treatment for cancer?
- That's irrelevant. We are now talking about you Mary.
The argument between the three friends has escalated to a massive row in front of worried pub goers.
After such bizarre display of reasoning on behalf of her friends, Mary felt confused and disturbed, she felt hurt and she felt as though she was back in school. She is 36 years old.
Mary isn't the only one. Many women and men face peer pressure from their friends who know what's best. Friends who feel it's their obligation to look after the less lucky buddies of theirs.
The challenge is:
This is how such friends see you - the failure, and they can't and won't change their views. In their eyes; once a failure, you are always a failure. That's why they became your friends in the first place. You make, or at least made, them feel good about themselves. Next to you, they are not failures. Next to your troubles, their life is blossoming like sakura (cherry blossoms) in first bloom.
Of course they have issues with their partners, spouses, work, kids or else, but... you, their friend, usually have more than that. You are more likely than not are single or perhaps in relationship and not married. You are more likely than not struggling with your work or a business. There is definitely something with you that lets them feed off your weaknesses. Something that sets off their desire to parent you, or in real terms scold and educate you.
As like any normal human being, you progress. Eventually your life does improve. That's when such friends turn into the poisonous snakes, where some bites can be lethal (depression anyone?). From a failure you became a butterfly with your wings proudly waving.
Your friends? They are now losing the source of their nourishment: their naughty child who is always in the wrong.
Can you blame them? When what at first you took as a sign of friendship was in fact nothing else but a pure jealousy to those who have better fortune. At a time, you weren't that person and there was no need to experience the all-over-painful spams of jealousy that you so generously started to provide them with. They can't take it. They can't take the pain that jealousy causes them, and the fact the failure-friend is no longer that person.
They may berate you as your parent's do, that's why your brain translates such behaviour into they-must-care-about-me. In that case, call you parents, and get a dose-of-parenting, along with the reminder of who your actual parents are.
The bottom line is:
How many parents do you actually need? If two are enough, the parenting friends should go. They are not your friends. If you feel responsible for all the support they gave you before - don't. They did it exclusively for themselves and not for you. It was for them to make themselves feel better... about their life in general. So you owe them nothing. Pack-up your emotional baggage and get out of such friendship as soon as you possibly can. Now, is the perfect time.
You may feel lonely and guilty for a while. Some studies claim that a break-up with a close friend harms your heart the same if not more, as a break-up with your beloved. But don't be tempted, it is time to get busy. You have new friends to meet, new relationships to build and new opportunities to fulfill.
During the recovery time however, spend more time with your parents, even if on the phone or other means of communication. The longer you had such parents-friends, the longer it will take to get rid of the dependence you built towards them. Your parents and your other friends are the only real solution to get you through such an ugly break-up. Your parents will help you to sustain what your parents-friends were doing to you before. And your other friends will be a reminder or a new learning curve in your life, where you'll slowly learn to appreciate what real friends are about.
And in case you still have your doubts, friends, healthy friends, do not sound like your parents. Unless your parents are your best friends.*
*In which case you are extremely lucky.