DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a friend who constantly refers people to me for advice. He calls and expects me to drop everything and support these people. I do my best to be of help; usually they are good people. But my friend does not return the favor. When I contact him -- even if it’s just to catch up -- I usually get his voicemail, and often it takes him days or weeks to respond. How can I get him to be more immediately responsive? He expects that of me, but doesn’t offer it in return. -- Not a Priority
DEAR NOT A PRIORITY: Stop replying immediately when this friend calls you for help. The way that you may get him to notice his own behavior is if you start acting like him. Don’t be so quick to pick up the phone and do whatever he asks. Live your life, and focus on what you need to be doing for yourself, your family and your loved ones who are more attentive.
When your friend inquires as to where you have been and what you are doing, tell him that you have been busy. If you are up for it, reveal your disappointment at his behavior. Remind him that you consistently respond to him in a timely manner when he contacts you, but that he responds intermittently at best. State that it hurts your feelings when he neglects you while at the same time he expects you to keep him top of mind and respond immediately.
Next, put your money where your mouth is. Allow yourself to put him on a lower priority rung in your life so that you don’t react so swiftly to him. You have to decide that you can and will do this. Otherwise, you will end up disappointed.