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How Do You Handle a Complaining Friend?

Photo: Pingz Man on flickr

Dear Meli,

I have a friend. She’s one of my oldest and dearest friends. We went to grade school together. She’s always had my back, and in many ways she’s one of my biggest supporters. But – and this is a big but – she’s a big complainer. Like, half of what she says is a complaint. I’ve tried to talk to her about it, and I try to steer the conversation into a more positive direction, but she’s pretty intent on seeing the negative side to things. I love her. I don’t want to lose her friendship. But I also don’t want to hear her complain any more. What do you think?

Weary of Woe-Is-Me

Dear Weary,

This is a tough situation. I would suggest that you talk to her, of course. That is always a great place to start. However, given that you’ve done so already, there are other approaches I would suggest.

But first, I want to suggest that you probably used to complain along with her and just didn’t notice. The fact that she’s been your friend for a long time, and this didn’t always bother you would suggest that this is true. So there are two things to do about that.

1) Forgive yourself. Forgive the previous versions of you who used to complain. Send love to her. She can use it. Right?


2) Congratulate yourself. Take note that you have transformed your consciousness. Of course, Spirit has done so, but you had to do your part too. So pat yourself on the back and allow yourself to feel good about your personal growth!

Now, on to her.

One thing that comes to mind is to see her happy. Picture her happy and celebrating life. This is always a big help, even when people don’t know it.

But what to do about your time together? It depends on your friend, actually.

Is your friend someone who is doing her spiritual/self-awareness/personal growth work? Because, if so, she might be open to another conversation. In this conversation, you might be able to express the pain and sadness you feel about seeing her so unhappy. You may even be able to (oh-so-very gently) suggest that she is creating her unhappiness by complaining.

You also might let her know that leaving her presence and feeling bad afterwards is not inspiring you to want to spend more time with her. And that this breaks your heart. (Pardon my presumption that all this is behind your question…just a guess.) I would take this suggestion into meditation and prayer and see if it resonates for you.

If you do this and it doesn’t work, then you might need to tell her when you are changing the subject because of her complaining. It will either awaken her and inspire her, or make her angry or frustrated. But at least then you’d both be in the frustration. Maybe then she would be willing to work with you on a solution?

Of course, I’ve not suggested every option. I’m sure there are others who would have more ideas.

But if you were to do all of this, and things didn’t shift, then I would very sadly suggest stepping back the amount of time you spend with her. In know – I know – it’s sad, sad, sad. But sometimes we grow in different directions than our friends. And sometimes, the chasm between where we dwell (and prefer to dwell) and where they reside in consciousness can one be that doesn’t feel worth the energy it takes to connect.

In this case, I’d suggest prayer, meditation and ritual to support letting go of your friend as the friend you’ve had. Open to a new relationship with her; one that allows you to walk away feeling good.

I do want to say here that as much joy as I live in, and as much happiness as I have in my life day-to-day (which is immense and ever-expanding), life just has some sad stuff in it. If we are paying attention and “keeping it real,” then that’s simply an aspect of life.

If you need to alter your friendship, allow yourself to honor the pain of it, knowing that there is – even in the midst of the sadness – perfection. And know that you are loved. Infinitely. Knowing this can allow for an opening to the sadness in a way that allows the sadness to be an experience of grace.

Blessings and Love to you in all you do,


 What is your experience with complainers? Share your comments below!

Have a question for Meli? Interested in a private session (in person or Skype)? Contact her at meli@ohmygodlife.com




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4 Responses to How Do You Handle a Complaining Friend?

  1. Joan October 25, 2016 at 10:55 am #

    Wow – this one really hits home. In my case, the friend is my brother, so it’s not someone that I can totally cut out of my life. Although I’d like to sometimes. The best thing I can do with him is to just love him as much as I can, both when I’m with him and when I’m not. Thank you for all the wonderful ideas here!

    • Melissa Phillippe October 25, 2016 at 10:59 am #

      Hi Joan, That certainly sounds challenging. It’s so wonderful that you have been able to open your heart and are able to send him love both when you are with him and when you are not. He is lucky to have you as a sister! :) Big love and blessings to you, Meli

  2. Betty October 25, 2016 at 10:56 am #

    I had a situation like this and I ended up backing away from the friendship. It was really really hard to do, but it felt like the best thing for both of us. From what I hear through the grapevine, my friend is still complaining as much as ever. I send her love whenever I think of her!

    • Melissa Phillippe October 25, 2016 at 10:58 am #

      Hi Betty, Yes, it can be heartbreaking to have to back off from a friendship. I think it’s beautiful and yummy that you still send her love. That’s good for both your heart and hers. Big love and blessings to you, Meli

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