Everyone Is Gay just solved a full 20% of my inbox.
You can have compassion for your friends, listen to them, give them room to vent and think out loud, be their sounding-boards and secret-keepers.
But you don’t have to do it endlessly. It doesn’t have to form the basis of your friendship or the only activity you do together. It doesn’t have to happen 100% on their schedule. You get to set boundaries around it. Sometimes complaining becomes a self-perpetuating habit where we’re dwelling on the subject instead of getting it out of our system, and we need someone to say “YO THAT SUCKS I AM SORRY BUT ALSO WE NEED TO CHANGE THE SUBJECT TODAY WOULD YOU LIKE GELATO /PUPPIES/A MOVIE/TO GO ROLLER SKATING” to break the bad cycle in our brains.
A lot of the questions I get ask “How do I ask someone to ______________ without hurting their feelings?”
1) Don’t say anything. Let the thing that is making you nuts or hurting YOUR feelings continue. Suffer in silence until you either EXPLODE or FLEE.
2) Speak up. The person might be taken aback and hurt and the conversation might be uncomfortable. But there is a chance that they will stop doing whatever it is around you and you can move forward in some way.
I so would much rather have a close friend say “Hey. Knock. It. Off.” and talk things out, even if it’s really embarrassing and weird, than do a slow fade from me because they are too scared speak up. Wouldn’t you? If you were making an ass out of yourself, or stomping on someone’s feelings without meaning to, wouldn’t you rather be told clearly and compassionately “Hey, I’d really like it if you didn’t do that anymore around me,” than have someone you care about dread your company and flee your life?
You can’t control other people’s feelings, and it’s actually dangerous and destructive to take them on and worry about them so much that you abdicate your own needs. So be brave and trust that the bonds of affection that hold you together can survive a little awkwardness.