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Old January 25th, 2016, 02:56 PM
Amuria Amuria is offline
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Stubborn, unreliable and selfish friend?

Hi everyone, I've had this problem for a few years now and I guess I finally need to ask somebody's advice. Sorry for a very long post, it's kind of hard to describe all that in just a few sentences, especially since English is not my native language. Maybe someone will have patience to read this

My older sister (cousin, actually, but I call her that) and I have an activity we share together. When time and weather allows, we go for one-day trips to a nearby nature reserve. We both love nature and need it to relax, so the trips should be really pleasant and enjoyable, but sadly this isn't a case.

I really don't know who's more at fault, me or my sister. We like spending time a bit differently - she likes to mostly sit in a nice place and relax, and I love walking and exploring. There's some tension about that, but I don't mind splitting the time and doing both things. The problem is, it's so hard to organise it so we both would enjoy it, because... And here I'm not sure, but after years of watching her, I suppose it's my sister who behaves like a spoiled child.

First of all, she has less free time than I, so we need to adjust the length of the trips so it suits her. It's ok with me, but she used to be late very often, and we would miss the bus to the reserve. The bus stop is 200 meters from her house, while I have to get there first by tram, so when we miss the bus it becomes a tedious 1,5 hour long route for me (including waiting for the next bus). Nowadays she's rarely late, but tends to come just 1-2 minutes before the bus's departure.

When we get to the forest, we usually have a plan: go for a long walk, sit and rest several times along the way for long enough so she could relax. Unfortunately, she doesn't let me enjoy my walks in peace - she changes them into a hunt for a nice sitting spot. She can't make up her mind, so she constantly bothers me with thinking out loud: "That place looks good, let's go see. Oh no, it's not perfect. Maybe there'll be a better one a few steps away, let's go check!" If I tell her to decide already, she does that, but pouts and complains all the time while resting.

She would also often shorten the time of the trips very suddenly, sometimes informing me about this on the evening before the trip, or only after we've already met. I wouldn't mind if it was because something important came up, but it's usually something along the lines of "I slept in and didn't have time to wash my hair, so I have to come back earlier and do it, cos tomorrow I'm working and can't go with dirty hair".

Sometimes she just suddenly cancels our meetings altogether, for very (to me) annoying reasons. Let's say we agreed to meet on Sunday, because she wanted to clean the house on Saturday. Then she would call me on Saturday evening and say "I'm very sorry, but I just couldn't bring myself to tidy up today, so I guess I should do it tomorrow instead of going with you...", but sounding like she wasn't really sure, so I would often insist on going. She would agree very reluctantly and make me feel selfish and demanding.

She has a hobby of taking photo sessions with some props, and lately she asked me if it was okay to bring the stuff with her to our trips, and dedicate some time to those sessions. She promised it wouldn't take long. I said okay, but it ended up taking 2 hours in a freezing cold. I told her politely but openly that I wasn't very keen on that, and I'd be ok with doing some short sessions from time to time, but not too often. She agreed. This weekend we arranged to go, too, and she told me a few days before that she wanted to take a long walk, and just do one short photo shoot. This was fine by me, I planned where we would go for a nice long stroll. Of course, she called on the evening before and said she actually only had about 3 hours. I was pissed off, but decided to go anyway and just take a shorter walk. Then, after we met, she told me she took stuff for two photo sessions. I just clenched my teeth and endured it, because the props are heavy so I'd be sorry for her if she didn't use them after carrying them all the way, and she would argue with me too. On the way back, I told her I'd like her to inform me earlier of how much time she has and when exactly she wants to go back, so I can plan things and just know what to expect. She was visibly annoyed I would ask something like that, and even expressed shock at how I wanted her to notify me earlier than on the previous evening.

I know it all sounds petty and only slightly irritating, but combine it all, throw in some of her other behaviours, and instead of relaxing in a beautiful forest I get frustrated and anxious. I would really like to come to terms with her, but I don't know how to reach her. I'm a very impatient and quite rude person by nature, and can't find a right spot between being completely submissive or rash and aggressive. She's, on the other hand, stubborn and overtly sensitive, and has issues with anxiety and mild depression. She reacts to a smallest critique as if you tried to murder her. When I try to suggest she did something wrong, calmly, politely and with a smile, she either becomes defensive, immediately coming up with tons of excuses, or simply ignores me. Stays quiet and doesn't look at me. This irritates me so much that I can't speak without anger anymore, so I either snap at her or get silent too, looking offended.

I know it's not the best way to communicate. I try, but I just can't find a method to keep my patience with her. She's not a small child, she's 40. I suppose people this age should understand such simple concepts as withstanding (polite) critique, respecting others' time and wishes to a reasonable extent, and considering other people's needs. Sometimes I feel like I'm taking care of an oversized baby. If it wasn't for the fact that she's the only person I know willing to do those trips, I think I might have stopped trying to go anywhere with her a long time ago and just meet at home. I like her, I don't want to cut her off completely, I just can't stand her inability to organise, keep her word and make a decision. Please tell me if you can, am I reacting normally or overreacting? Should I be more demanding or more tolerant? I don't want to be a douchebag to a person suffering from psychological issues, but I'd like to force or teach her to abide by basic rules of social relations. Is there any way I could successfully approach her?
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Old January 25th, 2016, 04:59 PM
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Re: Stubborn, unreliable and selfish friend?

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Originally Posted by Amuria View Post
I'd like to force or teach her to abide by basic rules of social relations. Is there any way I could successfully approach her?
The answer to this is "You can't." You can't change her.

Are there any other activities that you can do instead of the nature walks?
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Old January 25th, 2016, 06:22 PM
Amuria Amuria is offline
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Re: Stubborn, unreliable and selfish friend?

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Originally Posted by KayKay View Post
The answer to this is "You can't." You can't change her.

Are there any other activities that you can do instead of the nature walks?
Thank you very much for replying, and reading that long rant
I think you're probably right saying she can't be changed. If I want to be her friend, I just have to accept her the way she is, unless she does something really outrageous of course. I'm pretty sure she often finds me annoying too (I'd say mostly when I don't comply with her every whim).
Instead of "fixing" her completely, maybe it would be possible to just come to an agreement on the organisation of the trips. Writing all that made me realize I possibly just wasn't assertive enough. Maybe I should try talking to her seriously, state my expectations firmly, but without losing my temper. It would be really tough for me, though. I'm also constantly stressed out, and this plus my violent personality makes it hard for me to keep my cool and be patient.
But the fact that she stopped coming late to the bus stop, and adjusted another selfish behaviour I forgot to mention (after we had a big fight), gives me some hope we might achieve an acceptable compromise. She needs me to come with her to the forest too, after all.
I'd really appreciate if you or other users could, if you have it, share some advice on dealing with stubborn, overtly sensitive people, and generally how not to ruin such a talk. Even though she's quite childish, she's not a totally bad person, I think we might work it out even a little if I approached her properly. If it fails, I'll seriously consider giving up going on the trips with her.
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Old January 26th, 2016, 12:46 AM
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Re: Stubborn, unreliable and selfish friend?

It sounds to me that you each enjoy doing different activities but in the same location. I'd accept you both want different things out of this and either enjoy your activity on your own with the new found freedom of doing it when ever and for how long you like or find another friend to accompany you.
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Old January 26th, 2016, 03:28 PM
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Re: Stubborn, unreliable and selfish friend?

Amura - I'm like you - want to walk (at least when I'm in shape ... pant, pant, pant)

I'd try to find another activity and enjoy solitary walks in the woods (I've spotted deer before on solitary walks - once I sat still long enough for them to start approaching me, until someone else coming up the trail yelled and scared them)
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Old January 27th, 2016, 04:52 AM
Amuria Amuria is offline
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Re: Stubborn, unreliable and selfish friend?

Annsdil & snafu - thank you both for answering.

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Originally Posted by snafu View Post
I've spotted deer before on solitary walks - once I sat still long enough for them to start approaching me, until someone else coming up the trail yelled and scared them
Right, solitary walks are ok too, although there's no one to talk to I've seen wild boars and moose. I wonder if the deer would come up to you if it wasn't scared away?

I see all people here advice me to look for new company or just do it alone, and that really got me thinking...
Maybe it's not worth it to try and convince her to adjust her habits for me. I hoped we might distribute time for our favourite activites between us more fairly, and enjoy it without her complaining and constantly changing our plans, but the more I think about it the more impossible it seems. I'll just tell her I noticed we have different ideas of spending free time, so it'll be hard to continue going on the trips together. We'll see what she'll say. Thank you all very much for your input, hope I didn't bore you to death with my First World Problems
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Old January 27th, 2016, 08:35 AM
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Re: Stubborn, unreliable and selfish friend?

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Originally Posted by Amuria View Post
Maybe it's not worth it to try and convince her to adjust her habits for me. I hoped we might distribute time for our favourite activites between us more fairly, and enjoy it without her complaining and constantly changing our plans, but the more I think about it the more impossible it seems. I'll just tell her I noticed we have different ideas of spending free time, so it'll be hard to continue going on the trips together. We'll see what she'll say. Thank you all very much for your input, hope I didn't bore you to death with my First World Problems
I agree that it's not worth trying to convince her to adjust her habits for you. However, I think you need to approach it from a positive light rather than negative.

To be told "We have different ideas of spending free time, so it'll be hard to continue going on the trips together" is off-putting. I would take it as an insult (and I'm one of those stubborn, overly sensitive people). Be careful the way you say it. How about "Let's just have lunch together today instead of going to the forest. It would be easier on both of us."

You mentioned that you have a violent nature. How so?
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Old January 27th, 2016, 11:00 AM
Amuria Amuria is offline
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Re: Stubborn, unreliable and selfish friend?

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Originally Posted by KayKay View Post
To be told "We have different ideas of spending free time, so it'll be hard to continue going on the trips together" is off-putting. I would take it as an insult (and I'm one of those stubborn, overly sensitive people).
Please forgive me if I said something hurtful, then. Didn't mean to offend.
Hmm, I wanted to tell her openly, but if you think it would sound insulting, that might be a problem. She'll definitely ask why anything else would be easier on us, what exactly is wrong with the trips, and we'll have to have this conversation anyway. I don't think I can explain it in any other way than directly.

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You mentioned that you have a violent nature. How so?
I guess the English word would be "hot-tempered". I quickly lose patience with people I find annoying, and can't compose myself. I start snarling or sometimes even yelling at them. Now that I think of it, 90% of my family is like that (excluding my sister). Maybe an anger managment course would be in order
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Old January 27th, 2016, 12:06 PM
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Re: Stubborn, unreliable and selfish friend?

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Originally Posted by Amuria View Post
Please forgive me if I said something hurtful, then. Didn't mean to offend.
Hmm, I wanted to tell her openly, but if you think it would sound insulting, that might be a problem. She'll definitely ask why anything else would be easier on us, what exactly is wrong with the trips, and we'll have to have this conversation anyway. I don't think I can explain it in any other way than directly.
Oh, you didn't say anything hurtful to ME. I was just saying that if you approach your sister/cousin/friend from a negative standpoint (it is hard to continue going on trips together) and she is a stubborn, overly sensitive person, SHE will likely be hurt.

You can say the same thing, just say it positively. Rather than "it is hard to..." say "it is easier to..." or "maybe you'd enjoy it more if..." She can go ahead and ask about why it would be easier or more enjoyable and what is wrong with the trips, and you can be honest without being mean, but if you indicate up front that you want to spend time with her in a different way (by asking to meet for lunch instead, for example) she is less likely to take it personally. If you tell her that you can't stand her inability to organize, keep her word, or make a decision that will be offensive. If you tell her that you get the feeling she'd enjoy a different activity more, that would be nice.

The reality is that you two have different ideas of what these nature walks should be. You don't mesh. That doesn't make her wrong and you right or vice versa. It just makes you two incompatible for such a venture.

Your expectations of her might not be feasible. You say she's behaving like a spoiled brat, but I think she's just doing what makes her happy without understanding why it is stressing you out. Some people march through their day and other people dance.
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Old January 27th, 2016, 01:39 PM
Amuria Amuria is offline
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Re: Stubborn, unreliable and selfish friend?

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Oh, you didn't say anything hurtful to ME.
I just hoped you didn't take all of what I said personally, since you say you're "one of those people". Good to hear it's ok

Your perspective seems very reasonable to me. If it's true that she's not actually stubborn and selfish, but simply doesn't understand why some things annoy me, then it changes things a bit. There was a time I wondered about that too, but I dismissed that thought, because I couldn't believe someone would ignore simple common courtesy (don't be late constantly, respect other people's wishes) to this point unknowingly. But if after all the things I listed people look at it objectively and say the problem might actually be my expectations, than it's something to consider seriously.

Thanks for the tips how to talk to her, it'll certainly come in handy. I'll be positive, and tactful when she asks for details. I hope she won't get hurt, because that's not my objective. Just want to clear this issue up.
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