Home » Ask the Therapist » Is the Way I Relate to My Friend Healthy?

Is the Way I Relate to My Friend Healthy?

Asked by on with 1 answer:

From the U.S.: My mom is a schizophrenic and will not accept treatment. She has had absolutely no relationship with me in the last 3 years since her breakdown. Before that she did the basics of raising me, food, clothing, school, etc but was verbally and emotionally abusive and occasionally physically abusive. She had a VERY rough childhood and she actually raised me much better than what she had, so I won’t be too hard on her, but it did affect me.

I’m struggling with depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and I think bpd. Bpd explains me. :( I can also get very clingy with friends and panic if I think they are leaving me. I’ve learned to take responsibility for my actions even if I am really afraid or doing badly. Just because I’m doing badly doesn’t give me a license to not respect others boundaries, etc. But the feelings are still there. I am in therapy, possibly changing therapists as she doesn’t have time to see me very often and that makes it VERY hard for me to trust and open up.

My friend that is a mom is being there for me and she knows about my mom and my depression and anxiety, and how I get with my friends (including her) and I am really glad to have a positive figure in my life.

Is it ok if I want to call her mom? I’m too shy to say it to her, but she is “mom” when I think about her, and in my phone contacts her name is mom. She doesn’t know and I’d be shy to tell her. Is this healthy?

Is the Way I Relate to My Friend Healthy?

Answered by on -


It’s not at all unusual for people who did not have a healthy relationship with their mother to find other people to fit the role. In fact, the dimensions of many female friendships have a “mothering” dimension to them. As long as there is reciprocity, it can be healthy.

Since you mention BPD as one of your issues, I do have concerns about you calling this woman “mom”. It may set up expectations that she can’t possibly meet. It may encourage a level of dependency on your part that doesn’t belong in a healthy friendship.

I suggest you work with your therapist on grieving the fact that your biological mother hasn’t been able to be the mother you needed. Then create a circle of friends who are mutually supportive. Do talk to your therapist about this exchange with me. A therapist who knows you can give you better advice.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Is the Way I Relate to My Friend Healthy?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Is the Way I Relate to My Friend Healthy?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 24, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 30 Jan 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.