My friend keeps running hot and cold

Agony aunt Mary Fenwick offers a new perspective on your problems

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My friend keeps running hot and cold

I have a particular friend who, for some reason, I’m nervous of. She will switch from messaging me multiple times a day, being nice and caring, to going through cold phases where her messages seem rude and I can’t tell if it’s because I’ve done something wrong or not. The problem is, we do get along when we meet up and she has been there for me as a friend on many occasions, but I either feel suffocated when she wants to see me all the time or upset and anxious when she is being cold. No other friend seems to have this ‘power’ over me. I constantly feel I need to be nice to her no matter what and am scared that if I confront her, she will get angry and feel hurt. I don’t feel I can cut all ties with her as we have mutual friends, but I need to do something to feel less stressed about the friendship and stop letting it affect me so much. Name supplied

Your own anxiety means you won’t have your usual perspective on how things are going at the moment, and will be prone to imagining the worst. You’re probably not in the best state to confront your fears about your friend right now.

On the NHS website you will find a mood self-assessment quiz (see ‘More Inspiration’, below), which will lead you to some free resources. This quiz is not designed to replace seeing your GP, but you could take a printout of your results to your appointment.

Anxiety UK’s website also has useful information and links, including a smartphone app that only costs 79p, and has options for you to save and share tips that really work. It will remind you that you’re not alone, even if you’re having issues with one particular friend. In any group of five people, the chances are that one of you is feeling anxious a lot or even all the time. That might be a startling statistic, if you are new to these uncomfortable feelings.

In the short-term, draw a map of all your connections with family, friends, people you might play sport with or know through work. Put a star beside the people who make you smile, and make an extra effort to spend face-to-face time with them. Seek out one happy, honest conversation as a little vitamin-shot every day.

That friend is not the person who matters. The person who matters most right now is you.

More inspiration:

Research nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/Pages/Mood-self-assessment.aspx

Download Anxiety UK’s Stress Tips from the App store or Google Play

Mary Fenwick is a business coach, journalist, fundraiser, mother, divorcée and widow. Follow Mary on Twitter @MJFenwick. Got a question for Mary? Email mary@psychologies.co.uk, with ‘MARY’ in the subject line

Photograph: iStock