Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Carolyn: My best friend calls me on a regular basis always with complaints, a new crisis or just needing to "vent." Most of the time, these events in her life that cause her strife are of her doing.
The more I think about it, the more I think she thrives on the "drama," and when there is none she creates it.
I am not sure how to proceed. I have been through some major trauma the past two years: divorce, the birth of a very sick premature child, job reduction and my own health scare. Not once during these calls does she ask about me.
I am tired of the daily barrage of her calls, so I just stopped answering them. I know I have to say something, but I am sure it will be misconstrued. Do you have an idea of what to say to her to make her understand there are people out here with real problems and not just ones they cause themselves?
You can't "make" anyone do anything. (Except perhaps stop breathing, but let's keep this forum homicide-free.)
You can only state your opinion, share your feelings and observations, or ask fact-finding questions - with as much transparency of thought and motive as possible - and hope she has the emotional capacity to appreciate what you're saying.
Invite her to coffee and admit that you have been screening her calls because she was calling only to "vent," but not asking, ever, about your child's health, how you were faring during your divorce or whether there were any new developments on your health.
If you expect that whatever she says won't be enough to restore your interest in taking those calls, then be careful not to pile on; it's hard enough to learn a friend is dumping you without the parting gift of a detailed inventory of your shortcomings.
If your intent is to save the friendship, then that warrants getting more in depth with your concerns. Start by asking if she thinks you have been fair in your representation of your friendship. Then see what she has to say.
This is someone who has demonstrated little self-awareness, so it's a real possibility that she has no idea what you're talking about. You should also anticipate anger and defensiveness.