OK so first I've contacted you I believe three times before. The last time I really felt like I had wasted your time with since there wasn't really an honest question in it now that I look back on it, and I do wish to apologize for it.
But now I've been facing another problem. One with a friend I met recently. This is basically what my problem is.
1) The one furry I actually get to see IRL, and we're really super close friends.
2) He's really sensitive and gets depressed
3) He has an unrequited crush on me
4) I can't seem to get him to accept I'm not interested in that kind of a relationship
5) He feels dependent on me, but it's kind of my fault for letting him be
6) He gets depressed in roleplays easily, but he sets up really depressing events himself. I understand just avoiding role play but it seems like it just is part of the ways we chat, it's automatic
7) I want to make him happy, but he can't accept where I draw the line on what I'll do for him
8) Anytime i mention this he talks like he's suicidal
9) He used to have a GF but she was forced by her parents to cease contact since they didn't like the fandom
10) I've been on the other side of the unrequited love equation, I did manage but nothing that worked on me seems to work on him
I really could use some help, how do I get him to accept I'm not going to take that kind of relationship?
Anonymous (age 16)
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No need to apologize for the earlier letter. As for this one: is your friend getting any help at all for his depression? Neither one of us is a psychologist or therapist, and it really isn't our job to attend to his mental health. We can be supportive, though.
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Yes, neither of us are trained professionals, and as for if he has seen any I'm not sure. But with how he is I don't know if it would be easy to ask him either. If he hasn't though, I do want to make sure he gets help, or minimally some other friends for when I can't be around, and other things so he becomes more independent and doesn't have such a low self asteem in the future. But my issue I'm asking about and need help with first is how to approach someone like him with such topics. Because he takes so sensitively for some of the things I say, he worries about everything, and easily interprets a friendly joke for something deeply offensive. Like for instance, he told me he loved me more than he knows. Then I said:
"That scares me a little, you already have told me at such high levels. I think you know how much you love me, you tell my every day XD"
Well me saying it "scares me" kind of made him start worrying a bunch. Maybe I need to be more cautious about how I word things but idk.
But also, like I said, although I do "love" him (like he was my brother, in that kind of manner, and a lot), he wants to try and take it to a romance level that I don't want. At the same time, I still would like to be friends with him, and even if I would just forget that and let him go, I can't for fear of what he'd do to himself.
Convincing him to accept how things are for our relationship is something I'm not sure how to do. But I need to know how to approach him with any topic like that without him freaking out.
Hope I cleared up a lot things.
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What you are experiencing is a case of emotional blackmail. This can be done in a number of ways, including some you have mentioned, such as threatening or implying one will commit suicide if not paid attention to or insisting that they love you when you don’t love them back, thus making you feel very guilty.
First thing to come to terms with is this: you are not responsible for his emotional problems. You are clearly a good and caring friend, but you have to keep your own emotional state stable and not allow yourself to feel bad or responsible for what is going on in his brain. I’m assuming he is about your age (teen) and that he has parents or other family, and it is THEY who really should be dealing with this first. Offering support is great, but you are not the primary caretaker in this.
Once you get over that emotional burden, you are better able to speak frankly to this kid. When you do, he will probably respond with the usual drama—depression, “woe is me,” even suicide threats. Remember, these are just tools to manipulate you. They are inspired by his lack of self-confidence. He is afraid of losing you, and the way he deals with this is through threats and appeals to your good heart.
The undercurrent of all of this is, of course, low self-esteem. Instead of addressing the symptoms (e.g., how to respond to his appeals for love and his neediness), what you should try first is to help him improve his sense of self-worth. There are lots of sites you can google about improving your self-esteem, as well as some things I have written here in this column.
Try coaching him in these methods to make him feel better about himself. The goal is to make his ego strong enough so that, when it’s time, you will be able to speak to him frankly about sensitive topics without him collapsing into a defensive ball.
Give it a try. Good luck!
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