My best friend’s husband was made redundant a few months ago, and he happens to be in the same line of work as me. My friend asked whether I might be able to help him out with some freelance work, but things have been extremely tight and I genuinely can’t afford to employ anyone else. I tried to explain, but she took it badly, and since then she’s done her best to cut me out of her life. How can I fix this?
Lucy Beresford answers: We can all appreciate that your friend is furious about her husband’s redundancy. The sad thing is that when she couldn’t attack the company
that let him go, she scape-goated someone closer to home. Her anger, we might say, is ‘her stuff’. But you, I sense, are a bit irritated that she doesn’t understand your own situation in this difficult economic climate. So the image I get is of two friends, each going through stressful times, both feeling unsupported by the other.
Good friendships work best when only appropriate demands are made on the relationship. They are based on unconditional acceptance of the other, both their attributes and their limitations. Right now, your friend has attached a condition to your friendship, which is that you should fix things or be punished.
You can’t fix your friend, you can’t rescue her husband (apart from, perhaps, offering work-related advice), but you can choose whether or not to remain supportive, even as she spurns you. With this kind of unconditional acceptance, we can recognise that sometimes the people we love have tough times and behave badly. One day
(soon, I hope), your friend will recognise your ongoing support, and that you’ve provided something arguably more valuable than a job, namely unconditional friendship. Sadly, if that day never comes, you may have to start mourning the end of a valued relationship that has run its course.
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