I “helped” a friend. Uh-oh.

She said I cared too much and now she’s not talking to me. 

Our elder has some advice on how to help a friend without being over-protective.


Dear EWC

I don’t know how much to thank you. I have had many instances in my life where I have questioned my sanity. Many have told me that I change the way I act sometimes, especially in hard situations where I have to make a stand, almost like a switch. Another problem I have is over-protectiveness and caring about someone too much. I have a great friend at school, whom I consider to be my sister in everything but blood. We had an argument regarding the way I treated her, she said I cared too much about her safety and wellbeing, she said I treated her like glass. I just didn’t want her to be hurt. She was being flirted with by an autistic boy, and she didn’t like it at all. So, I approached him and said it in a friendly manner and he got it immediately and stopped going after her. I don’t know how to talk to her anymore and it scares me to hurt her feelings. Please help me with this.


KayKay replies

It seems that you have two problems at this time: 1) acting strangely sometimes, 2) your friend who seems sensitive. 

Let’s start with #2 since you wrote more about it. There is a difference between caring for someone, and taking care of them. I think you have confused these two. When we do too much for a friend, we rob them of the chance to fail or succeed on their own and to learn from the experience. Life is going to be full of pain and sorrow and rejections, and we will thrive only when we find out how to cope. When you intervene for your friend, you are taking away her opportunity to function for herself as an independent being. When she says you treat her like glass, I think she means you think she is too fragile to handle things herself. This is the ultimate put down as we say. A true friend might do such things as listen, encourage, empathize, give advice only when asked and then in the attitude of: If it were me, this is what I would do. Never do something for them that they could do themselves. 

When your friend tells you of her troubles, she may not be wanting you to do something but just to listen and brainstorm ideas on what she could do. When we help others needlessly, we might feel good about ourselves but the other person will only feel indebted and dependent – not a happy state. 

Problem #1: I suspect that you feel a little insecure about revealing your true feelings. Therefore, you try to put on a fake front to avoid seeming vulnerable. I suggest that you trust yourself to be genuine and trust others to accept you for who you are. You might try this next time a hard situation comes up. First, stop and think about how you feel, then when you act, assess whether you were acting on that feeling or on how you think you ought to act/feel. Awareness is the beginning of change, so once you stand back and observe yourself, you can begin to see what’s happening and why. Probably it’s self-defense – a strategy you may have learned in your family of origin if you didn’t feel it was safe to act how you really felt. You don’t have to keep acting out of this learned habit once you become aware of it.

Maybe I have helped you a little more. Thank you for writing back and for waiting for my reply. Good luck.

Article #: 500199
Category: Other

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