Friend Won’t Help Himself

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I have this friend, we know each other for about 15 years now (he’s 27 years old). Three years ago he broke up with his girlfriend and never been the same person again. From an active and funny guy he became a loner, a dreamer. I thought it’s just the typical break-up, so i did what friends do on these occasions: listened to him and got him drunk in a few occasions. But, since then he closed himself in a invisible box and he.. hopes. He hopes about having a good life someday, but he does nothing to get it, he just expect for the good life to come to him. He does not work, even though i tried to give him a job at my company, and the only real friends he got left is me and my wife. All the others gave up on him during these years. The part that scares me though, is that for example when we get together for a coffee, a football match or whatever, he crosses moods really fast. He can be happy now and 2 seconds later he’s angry, and then happy again, and then melancholic, and so on. I tried to convince him to see a therapist but he refused. I tried to integrate him in new circles of people, but it was worthless. Recently he also shows signs of self pity, envy and / or sometimes narcissism, which is a weird enough combination even for a non-expert like me.

So, my question now is: how do i deal with a person like this ? Dreamer + self pity + envy + narcissism + won’t take help or advices ? It’s like talking to a rock. I’m not even sure he listens to me, and nothing sticks to him. Due to my line of work i’m used to being patient, but 3 years is a lot even for me. I am now in a point where i started to ask myself whether i did something wrong, or if there even is something else left to do for him. (please excuse my English, it is not my first language).

A. You might be familiar with the saying “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” You can make suggestions, give advice, and so forth but unless your friend is willing to make changes to his own life, or seek mental health treatment, there’s little else you can do.

You have spent a great deal of effort trying to assist your friend but he has to decide to take ownership of his own life. You’ve done all that you can.

People have to want to help themselves. You’ve attempted to show him how to improve his life but he is unwilling to try. That’s the unfortunate reality with some people. They don’t and won’t do what is necessary to improve their lives.

You have done nothing wrong in this situation. Realize that you can’t force him to do anything. He is fully capable of seeking help and he has chosen not to.

His behavior has led to the demise of many relationships. It might ultimately lead to the demise of your relationship as well. That is one of the many consequences of his inaction.

Maybe, someday, he will realize the error of his ways but for now, you’ve done all you can. Accept him as he is and remain friends or end the friendship. Those are your basic choices. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 28 Dec 2013

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2013). Friend Won’t Help Himself. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/12/28/friend-wont-help-himself/