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Dear Minerva,

My partner and I have a dear friend with whom we are at the end of our rope. All conversations with her turn to her woes about how terrible her life is and how everyone is out to screw her over. It feels like there's very little room for anything else, and all of our advice, active listening, sympathizing and patience is worn thin. At this point, neither of us have the emotional energy to keep being the supportive friends we have been, but we're not sure how to broach the subject. Is there any kind of tactful way to tell her what's up without freezing her out of our lives for our own well-being?

—S.O.S.

Dear S.O.S.,

Without knowing exactly what is going on in her life, it is difficult to know how to approach what she is going through. It sounds like you have tried to be there for her through her tribulations. Before this friend ship sets sail, perhaps you should try to distract her from her troubles. Engage in activities with her that you know she enjoys and direct the sails of the conversation toward happy subjects. Helping her to forget the choppy waters of her life, even for a few hours, is what she needs. If she is such a "dear friend," leaving her in her hour of need would be mutiny. When she emerges from the bad times, not only will she remember who abandoned ship, but more importantly, who helped her steer.

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