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Help With A Histrionic Friend

Question:

I wrote recently about a person that my roommates and I are concerned about. She has attached herself to my roommates and continues to exhibit “creepy” behavior. After some research in the matter, all signs point to Histrionic Personality Disorder (amongst other possible issues).

My roommates have been happily married for 12 years. When she first came around a year ago, it was because she was a childhood friend of the husband. She slipped in under the guise of a timid, wounded, and reserved “friend” and slowly, over the last 6 to 8 months, the strange behavior presented. Stalking, attention seeking, open actions that show romantic and intimate interest in the husband, embellished gestures and actions, self centered actions, nervous and fidgety when she’s not being paid attention to, and is constantly worried that everyone’s mad at her for imagined reasons.  She lies to better her character and station in life, and so on.

She also rejects anyone who shows any romantic interest in her. It seems she is only interested in the husband. She has invested so much emotional attachment into him that she has even asked to move into our house several times. She has literally driven half an hour out of her way to “visit.”

She even plans to celebrate the 1 year anniversary of their “friendship” and even suggested sharing a bed at a hotel (which was quickly rejected by my roommates). My roommates also have two boys (ages 7 and 10) and a baby on the way. What concerns me about this is their histrionic friend can’t have children for medical reasons and extremely desires to be a mother.

At times she exhibits normal, rational thought to the new child, and other times, there is blatant resentment and other obvious mixed feelings. She refers to herself as “Aunt” and tries to get the boys to call her that as well.

We are now at a point where we don’t know how to get her to stand down safely. We feel she is at a level where she could hurt herself or others if she is rejected. Her family has told her she needed mental help in the past, as well as previous friends, but she lashes out at them and stands fast that they are the ones with problems, then quickly cuts all ties.

So my question is, do we need to confront her with details on HPD, or do we ignore her and deny her attention seeking behavior? What is the safest route to handle someone like this?

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Answer:

Your roommates have a very difficult situation with this person and the types of attention she showers on the husband and father of the house.

I must caution you and your roommates against making diagnoses of this woman or any other person, for that matter. All you are aware of is that this person is behaving in ways that are aggravating and annoying. In other words, all of you are best staying far away from behaving as though you were psychologists.

I am not sure why you seem to fear that this person would harm herself or others if firm limits were set? If you and your roommates are intimidated by her, then, its best for all of you to sever the relationship. It is simply impossible to maintain a friendship or acquaintanceship based on fear. If she threatens you with bodily harm you have the right to call the police and take out a restraining order on her.

It seems to me that this situation is complicated by the fact that you are a roommate and are not involved in this drama. Therefore, it is up to the people involved to take action against this woman. This husband and wife pair are involved and if they are annoyed by the way this old friend of the husband behaves, they must take action, especially the husband. As a kind of outsider to all of this you are best off staying away from the entire situation. Why? Because you are the proverbial good samaritan who is vulnerable to getting emotionally hurt in all of this. Also, this problems involves their marriage and their children more than it involves you.

This notwithstanding, it seems to me that it is incumbent on the husband and wife to inform this woman that she is no longer welcome in their lives because of her destructive behavior. They can state, in no uncertain terms, that they are aware of what she is attempting to do and it will no longer be tolerated.  That is my opinion. If she threatens homicide or suicide, they should report it to the police.

One more thing. It is important that husband and wife agree with one another on the way to remedy the problem. Only a united front will succeed.

All you can do is advise them and let them do as they wish.

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