General Etiquette > Life...in general

How to word this - backing away from a friendship

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Danika:
I made a new friend recently and despite a few yellow flags, I continued to hang out with her. My schedule's really busy so I really haven't spent that much time with her.

The first time we hung out, she complained all night and was quite negative, but I thought she was interesting and I like talkative people, so I figured that it might not occur again and I shouldn't judge based on first impressions. The second time, it was a similar experience and I started to realize that she's generally negative like that.

She's now calling and emailing often. Her emails are long and filled with frustration about how she's a victim often - of salespeople, doctors' offices, other parents at her kid's school - she's always having bad experiences. And she says she has a hard time making friends, etc.

I've been busy so nearly every message has gone to voice mail and I haven't had much time to reply to anyone's emails.

She's asked if we (our family of four) would like to get together with hers and she picked a date far in advance. I don't mind remaining distant acquaintances but I don't want to foster a friendship. DH and I have decided we'd rather not get together with her and her family.

I don't want to lie and say we're busy because she'll just suggest another date and another. I don't want to be honest and say "You're creeping me out. You appear to be negative, whiny, angry and self-absorbed and I don't want to be your therapist." I think the best thing to do is keep the ball in my court and basically say "Don't call me. I'll call you." How should I word that?

Experience with her is teaching me that she's not good at reading people and she does not pick up on subtleties. But I don't want to be rude or hurtful either. I want to be polite and thoughtful, but also clear, if possible.

My DH is starting a new job soon so I have the true excuse that we won't know his work schedule and so I can't commit to anything right now. Does the following sound like an appropriate reply?

DH is not sure of his new work schedule yet. We don't know how many, if any, weekends he'll be working. So I'm hesitant to commit to a date in February until we know what his new job is like. Let's hold off on planning anything and I'll email you when we are able to get together.

LeveeWoman:
DH is not sure of his new work schedule yet. We don't know how many, if any, weekends he'll be working. So I'm hesitant to commit to a date in February until we know what his new job is like. Let's hold off on planning anything and I'll email you when we are able to get together.

I might say something about the months leading up to summer.

bah12:
I think that response is perfect.  Since this isn't a long or deep friendship, I don't think you owe her much of an explanation for backing away.  Be as non-commital as you can and don't agree to hang out in the near term and eventually (hopefully), thinks will die away naturally.

If anything, you could change "hestitant to commit to a date in February" to "hesitent to commit to anything"...just leaving it more open ended in case she asks you to commit to something in January.

rose red:
I'm not sure about that letter.  It makes it sound like you will call for a get together sometime in the future.  Possibly in March.  She sounds annoying, but I think it's rude to string her along and make her look forward to your call.  Also, if she doesn't have many friends, she may not back off and you'll be stuck making more excuses.

I don't know a nice way to tell her to "get lost" so I can't help with that, but hopefully other posters might.

DottyG:
I don't have an answer, but I'm trying to think about this from her perspective.  If I were this lady, what would I want to hear that would get the message across but wouldn't make me feel completely horrible (I know it's going to sting a little bit, but is there a way to lessen it some)?

If we think about what we'd want to hear, does that help phrase something useful?

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