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"My friend calls me every day...I need space"

Q) My friend is always coming to me for advice, she calls me every day, and she can be a lot. I'm happy to help but it can be overwhelming, and because I know she needs a friend right now, I don't know how to ensure my boundaries stay in place and that I get my own space. Please help me!

A) It sounds like you're coming down with a little thing we like to call 'compassionate fatigue'. Overwhelmed by our own empathy, it's hard to see others dealing with pain and we begin to carry it on ourselves- a blessing in disguise really.

It's great that your friend can talk to you openly when she's struggling, but feeling overwhelmed in a friendship is not a good indicator of healthy boundaries. Let me guess, you've offered your support which has now become a cycle of dependency that you can't break, and now you're figuring out how you can save yourself from the awkward conversation of telling your bestie that you need some well-needed space? I get it.

Understand that your friend isn't doing it to be malicious or selfish. When we're feeling low, we can sometimes grasp too hard onto the people around us out of desperation, and apathy for others tends to slip slightly. As unhealthy as it is in a relationship to rely on one person to be the source of your happiness, the same applies to friendships. Feeling relied on is a lot of pressure for one person, and understandably, you need some space for the wellbeing of yourself and your friend.

Start by having the oh so difficult conversation with her. Suppose you carry on giving too much of yourself when you're emotionally or physically unable to, it will only strain the friendship because of reasons you were too afraid to talk about. If you think having this conversation might be too much for her right now, try implementing boundaries gradually. This doesn't mean to stop being the friend that you are or stop talking to her altogether, it simply means not always being readily available. If you go into the call explaining that you're on limited time or suggest another day that you would love to hang out, she will slowly and surely begin to understand and respect your time.

You obviously think highly of your friendship, otherwise, you wouldn't be agreeing to every day phone calls, so why not bring the fun back to the friendship. Remember why you were friends in the first place and spend some quality time together that is anything other than having agony aunt conversations (I can't talk, I know). Take the time out to rant at the beginning of your get-together and make sure to do something fun afterwards.

-Bird Talk xo

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