dearmargaretDear Margaret: What should I do, or say, to a friend who only calls me when she needs something? She's asked me to pick up her child from school when she's held up at work, bake cupcakes for a social event because she raves about my baking, wants me to watch her house and pick up her mail when she goes away, and more. She always tells me that if there's ever anything she can do for me, to just ask! She always pays me for out-of-pocket expenses, but never for my time. I am apparently self-sufficient, as I've never needed to ask her to reciprocate in any way. However, I have asked her on many occasions if she wanted to go out for lunch, a movie, or other social event, and the answer has always been, "I'm just too busy." I like this person, but feel like I'm being used. How can I make this a more equitable relationship so I don't feel like she's taking advantage of me?
One-sided Friendship
Dear One-sided Friendship: I'm sorry to say that this relationship isn't what I'd classify as a friendship. She may not be intentionally setting out to use you in a malicious vein. She might lack the sensitivity to understand her behavior is hurtful, and simply views you as neighborly. On the other hand, you are an apparently generous individual who agrees to help those in need without giving it a second thought. Decide what your boundaries are. If you know you won't be compensated for your time, and it's a source of irritation for you, kindly refuse her request. You are asking for friendship in compensation for your efforts on her behalf, and that isn't the currency she's prepared to offer.

Click Here to write to Dear Margaret.  Margaret Snow is a Life Coach in Ithaca, NY.