Dear Sasha, How do I stop people-pleasing when it comes to one of my good friends (who happens to be one of the least self-aware people on earth)? Let me be clear here: I'm the one who has changed (mostly). My friend and I enjoyed one of those relationships with constant texting and hanging out. She's the type that comes over for dinner and then ends up staying the weekend. She wants to be constantly connected to people and as one of her good friends, I'm #1 on that list. However, we're adults now and I've recently realized I need to focus on myself and my career so I can achieve my goals. She hasn't reached that point yet.

Part of the problem is I'm a people-pleaser and my friend (unwittingly) takes advantage of this. She knows that if she asks me enough, I'll cave. I've also gotten MUCH better at saying no but it still makes me anxious and like an asshole for saying no all the time. It's gotten to the point where she asks me to do something every day and even if I'm free I say no. I'm really starting to resent her, and I'm feeling even more like an asshole for that because isn't it normal for friends to want to figure out free time to spend together? S


NO is the best word that’s ever been f-cking invented. It’s the only word I know that gives the deepest, most guttural instinct. When something feels bad or wrong or scary you can’t deny the “no feeling”. That sh-t bubbles up to the surface fast, and while it takes a lot of people a long time to give voice to that feeling ....when you finally learn to, it’s the most liberating sh-t ever.

Now S, I’m guessing that you’re in your late 20s because that’s when a lot of us figure out the power to not only assert ourselves, but protect ourselves. I discovered it around that age too and if I’m being honest, um, I kind of over-corrected my life with the word. It was like I was making up for lost time - I was swinging NOs all over the place because I felt like I could create boundaries with all the people that I felt had overstepped it. It was f-cking payback time. And dude, that’s not the right way to use the power of NO, and I worry that you might be doing the same thing....

There's seemingly more to this than you just becoming an adult and wanting to do adult things. So what is it? Does she take advantage of you? If yes, how? Does she treat you like sh-t? Again, if yes, then how? The point I’m trying to make here is that while I think saying “no” is important, it also has to be backed up by some other words too.

You just saying “no” to her all the time isn't gonna solve jack sh-t. So while I’m all for you carving out some time for yourself and concentrating on your career, I don’t think it’s fair to just cock block her out of your life without giving her some insight as to why you’re doing it. S, it’s up to you to dig deep and figure out why and where this resentment is coming from and let her in on it. Once you do that, then you’ll restore the power and balance back to your word.

Thanks for writing in and keep your questions coming to [email protected].