Life is full of challenges and we all have our own issues and situations to deal with. Everyone has their own coping mechanisms and that should always be respected and accepted.
I am used to being there for other people and honestly, I like it. I am glad that I can help you and others with your/their problems. You usually call on me for support because you trust me, appreciate my advice, and like that I take time to listen to you (amongst other things.) Us ‘strong friends’ accept our position in your life, but please remember that we also have our own lives to live and issues to deal with. Most of the time, we can be there for you in whatever way you need us, however, you need to understand that we cannot always be there for you.
Typically, we put other people’s needs before our own, but we must know when to prioritise ourselves before others. Think of it this way: how can we effectively help you, if we cannot help ourselves? I am not writing this to make you feel guilty, but (if you do not realise it already) you have to respect our time.
When it comes to the ‘strong friend’, you will notice that when you ask them how they are you usually receive a short and concise response. This can happen for a few reasons… Sometimes, they do not feel like they need to give you an in-depth answer, because they don’t believe it will change their circumstances. Most of the time it is because we have taken the ‘strong’ role. So, if we think of it in simplistic terms, how can we break down in front of you? Would you not be more reluctant to come to us in the future because of it? (This is the view we have and as humans, you probably would refrain from coming to us.) By taking on this role (sometimes without knowingly doing so), to some degree we have given away the privilege of being extremely open with you. In my opinion, this is only bad if we have no one else to talk to on a deeper level. Not all of us like talking about our feelings and what we are going through.
One thing I feel a lot of people do not understand, is the thought that the only way they can support people is by talking through their issues with them. At some point, people may have to discuss things, but that conversation can only take place when the individual concerned is ready for that.
Sometimes, all people need is for you to be there for them. Let them know that you are thinking of them. You don’t have to speak to show someone you care about them. You can take them out with you, so they aren’t stuck indoors, send them funny videos and memes; any small gesture would be appreciated by them.
Everyone needs support in different ways. Being there for them can be more than enough. Your ‘strong friend’ clearly wants to be there for you, because they choose to support you and be a part of your life (never forget that is a choice people make.) However, you can show them that you want to be considerate by asking them if they are emotionally available before offloading all your issues onto them.
The aim of this piece is not to make you feel guilty. We all need to be more respectful of the fact that at any moment we are struggling, our friends probably are dealing with struggles too. So, we cannot get upset the few times they cannot be there for us, when we know they are some of the most dependable people we have ever met.