I have a friend who I have known about a year & she’s kind enough about my illness, sympathetic even, but lately whenever I mention an ache or that I have a doctor’s appointment, she says, “Oh, poor baby.” I’ve had to grit my teeth to stop myself from slapping her. I can’t take it any more. Do I ask her to stop or just start avoiding her?
I once had someone say this to me. She actually worked for me for awhile & so was rather educated on illness etiquette. I ended up letting her go for other reasons but if I hadn’t those words would have been like nails on a chalkboard, so I do underst&! We aren’t looking for comments, or “poor baby sympathy.”
In my opinion these words should only be spoken to someone under three years old… or the family pet!
Matthew 18:15 says, “If a fellow believer hurts you, go & tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, & try again.” (The Message). In this situation, if the person doesn’t listen, I would not bring along two others to try to point out the wrong doing. In actuality, it is a comment that is hurtful, but not really sinful. The act of not caring how it feels to you is what is sinful.
In other words, find a time where you are alone with the person & just say, “I know you have the best of intentions, but I’m really not looking for sympathy when I mention my illness. It’s just part of my every day life & I bring it up sometimes without even realizing it. If you could avoid saying ‘poor baby’ whenever I mention it, I’d really appreciate it. I know it seems like a silly thing, but it just really gets on my nerves & isn’t who I want to be with this illness. I don’t want it to rule my life. And if you feel like I am bringing it up too much, just give me a look & say, ‘can we talk about something else?’ & I will get the hint.”
Perhaps you are talking about your aches & pains or limitations or doctors appointments more often than you realize & your friend has run out of ways to acknowledge all of your comments, so be open-minded in re-evaluating & possibly changing your own behavior too.
If that doesn’t work, you may want to decide how important this friend is. If she won’t change her behavior, even though she knows it’s hurtful, & you feel worse when you are around her rather than better, it might be a friendship you just allow to fade away for now.