During a lunch with some friends, one mentioned that she is in the midst of dealing with a relative who repeatedly calls her at all hours of the day and night to moan, groan, and complain about her problems. She rarely asks after my friend. Her cup of patience is almost empty. She turned to me for guidance and I told her I needed to think about things. I believe that these types of situations might be common, so after discussing with my friend, she agreed I could share my insights with you. Below you will find what I advised her. Name changed to protect the innocent.
I pondered your situation on the drive home and the first thing that I would like to remind you of is the fact that your phone, be it your landline or cell, is for your convenience only and not for anyone else’s. You are entirely within your rights to only answer the phone when it is convenient for you. I know that you felt guilty letting it go to voice mail so often, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
I am very dismayed that this person only seeks out your listening ear to vent and spew complaints and never asks how you are.
BUT, and it is a big BUT, if you are the only person who listens to her, perhaps there may be an emotional problem that she is suffering from and your being there for her is helping her. Because she is family, I would not cut ties with her; but I would be very honest with her and inform her that because you and your family are very busy there must be a set time when you will take calls. Give her one or two times during the week that you will speak to her and explain that if she calls out of those times, you will not be answering. If there is an emergency, she may text or email. You must control the situation while being loving and considerate.
I feel that one can set boundaries and still be a good friend and we lose nothing by extending these courtesies. In fact, you may find you regain your sanity when dealing with her.
Best Telephone Wishes,
The Lady Hooper-Brackett