I was introduced to that term by a favorite author, Alexander McCall Smith, in one of his novels, “The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds,” and I understood immediately exactly what he meant.
The main character, Isabel Dalhousie, runs into a neighbor she doesn’t particularly care for. Every word out of the woman’s mouth is ill-advised, rude, and/or awkward. Isabel comments internally that rather than talking to this woman her time would be better spent making a salad to go with that evening’s dinner. A perfect summation of the type of inner dialog I have had with myself many, many times.
Later in the novel, Isabel refers to her neighbor as a “heart-sink friend.” In other words, a person one feels obligated to be kind to, to sometimes spend time with, but who truly makes one’s heart sink.
When I look back over a lifetime of friendships and relationships, I can identify a number of heart-sink friends. People who made me sigh in despair when I realized I had no choice but to go out for coffee, attend the party, meet for an event.
And I’m thankful for my author “friend,” Alexander McCall Smith, who recognizes those moments and those people and those feelings. In this case, as in so many others, he finds gentle words of understanding that make me say “Yes! It’s not just me!”
And that is the hallmark of a gifted author.