My friend is so selfish

How can I get her to listen to me? 

Ask her questions, observe how she interacts with others, and sit down and have a serious talk with her, says our elder.


Dear EWC

I’ve been friends with this girl for almost three years and I considered her to be one of my best friends, but I noticed, during these years, that she’s a bit self-centered. I try telling her something hurts, she has to go like, “Me too!”. I try telling her I’m feeling very very sad, almost depressed, she goes like, “Me, too!” I told her that nothing makes me happy, she goes like, “Not even me?”. Maybe I am ove-reacting? It’s not like she doesn’t always care. She sometimes listens to my stories, but I don’t know… One time I punched a wall and my knuckles got very swollen because her supposed ‘boyfriend’ who used to be my friend annoyed the hell out of me and she didn’t care at all because she was mad that I talked to him for half an hour to sort something out. She insisted that it wasn’t that bad, but one classmate who I’m friendly with started panicking that I might’ve broken my bone and went to the cabinet. A dude who I am only friendly with cared more than my best friend.


Dirk replies

Thanks for sharing your concerns with me about your friend.

I agree with you that your friend seems very self-centered. Whether your friend is going through a phase in her life or whether her behavior always turns conversations back to herself, my suggestion for you is the same. You need to consider directing her in conversations with questions. Without prompting her to respond to a specific question or request, she will turn your thoughts about anything into how it affects her. If she ignores your question or gives a short answer, call her out on her behavior and ask the question again. Also ask questions that cannot be easily answered with one- or two-word answers. “What do you think?” should get a much more useful response than “Did you…?” She should be able to focus on the answer to the question and not just on herself.

In your example about your swollen knuckles, I think that she did care about your injury, but your friend may have felt that she was losing her place as the center of attention due to your half hour conversation with her boyfriend and also due to your injury. It was no longer all about her.

If asking her questions does not shift her focus, I would spend some time observing how your friend interacts with others. Does she try to put herself at the center of most conversations? Only with other girls? With guys? With adults? With strangers? Does she minimize others by dismissing their issues like your swollen knuckles? Does she use humor to put others down? Does she expect boyfriends to see her as the center of the universe? Do her parents treat her with excessive care and attention? Does she act out when she is not getting attention? If the answer is “no” to most of these questions, then the problem is between the two of you. She may be threatened by you. If the answer is “yes” to most of these questions, then the problem may be due to some kind of insecurity.

Finally I think that one of the hardest things about friendship is to do the right thing even if it means losing your friend. Sometimes friends need to hear what they do not want to hear. They need to be told how they are treating people. Whether they are ignoring others, putting them down, lying to them or taking credit for things that they did not do, their friends have to try to make them understand that they are wrong in their treatment of others. The statement that I have used, “I do not care if you ever speak to me again, but you must listen to what I have to say…” signals to my friends that I am willing to lose the friendship in an effort to help my friends. Sometimes they never talk to me again, but sometimes they finally realize that they have to change their behavior. I share this drastic approach with you because your friend may need a wake-up call. 

I hope things work out for you and your friend. It is worth your efforts to save the friendship because good friends are rare.

Article #: 423858

Category: Friendship

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