*Probably not a necessary caveat, but plz don't mainpage*
I have been having some friend trouble, lately, and I don't really know how to deal with it. Specifically, I have two friends who don't seem to realize the shit that's coming out of their mouths can be hurtful, and, because I'm their go-to listening post (I mean, mutual conversation partner...) they don't seem to be thinking about what they're saying in the context of who they're saying it to. And I don't really know what to do with it.
One friend, it's mainly co-bridesmaid kinda bullshit. I'm one of her bridesmaids, she's one of mine. And she keeps writing emails to all the bridesmaids with kinda sideswipes at other ways of doing things, including things that I'm doing. Like, it's super tacky to not have an open bar! Or she doesn't think it's right to choose a maid of honour, because it's like saying she likes someone best (note, she is one of two maids of honour in my wedding, so it's not like she's feeling slighted - unless she wanted to be the only one...)!
She's... uh... in a bad place in a lot of ways, her life has gotten really challenging, and it's turned into her just going off, and it can be really thoughtless. And, in public places, when she's going off about something loudly, embarrassing.
Another friend has been universalizing her thoughts about life choices. Like, "I personally don't want kids" turns into "I don't understand why ANYONE would want kids." And then a 10 minute rant about why having kids would a)suck physically, b)change your life too extensively, c)be unpleasant for a whole host of reasons. When she knows I'm planning to have kids in the next 2 years. Or she would NEVER make a career choice that is influenced by her relationship. HOW COULD ANYONE PUT THEIR RELATIONSHIP AHEAD OF THEIR CAREER??? (I moved for my hubby's job about a year ago, and have not had an easy time settling in.)
They're two different situations; one woman's just gotten really negative in general, and I don't know how much my bringing it up is going to help her or our relationship. I just try and inject a little bit of positivity and alternative perspectives in our conversations, and try and let it roll off me. For my other friend, I feel like it might be worth a conversation, because we otherwise have a pretty open and dialogue-based friendship. However, I don't know how to go about it or tackle that in a way that doesn't make her feel accused of anything.
And, also, I seem to be finding myself in this situation a lot, because I really value compassionate listening and careful, respectful advice; I am a sounding board for a lot of my friends, and I really don't mind that situation when it's mutual. But there's a difference between being a sounding board and getting dumped on. So I would welcome any and all advice (short of just going and getting a counselling masters, hanging up a shingle and invoicing for these conversations) on how to still encourage my friends to feel comfortable opening up, but reminding them that I'm their friend, not a passive dumping ground for their issues.
Because this shit is getting old.