Please keep my message anonymous to protect my dear friend who is the subject of this email to you.
I have a friend who has been a part of my life for so long that she is basically family. This is what adds an extra difficult aspect to that which I am writing to you about. If a normal friend were to act in this way, I’d probably distance myself from them, but with this friend that just isn’t an option. She’s ultimately my family and through our history we’ll always be connected.
The problem I have with her is that she is really nasty to any man I am somehow romantically involved with. Whether it’s a man who approaches me on a night out or even a man I’ve been dating for some time, she is so nasty to them that I find myself apologising for her behaviour. I’ll give you some examples:
Example 1: I’d been on three dates with a guy I’d met on Tinder. I was really quite into him and had no negative thoughts about him whatsoever. One night, he and I had arranged to go for food then I was scheduled to meet up with my friends after. The date had been lovely so I invited him to come and say hi to my friends who he hadn’t met before. Fast forward to the bar where we met them, the friend in question spent nearly half an hour attacking him as to how non academically qualified he was. He was in training to be a pilot at the time, so he was far from a stupid guy, but she kept on at him as to how pilots don’t have to be clever so it clearly doesn’t mean he’s very intelligent.
Example 2: I was talking about my ex-boyfriend who I’m still friends with and have a lot of respect for. There was no animosity in our break-up, we just weren’t working. When I was discussing him and his new job and how happy I was for him, she started saying some really horrible things about him and I had to pull her up on it. I reminded her she’d never even met him and I’d certainly never said any of these things about him so she had no right to have such an inaccurate opinion, let alone to voice it. Her answer was that I always go out with the most awful guys and she could just tell from his pictures and his job that what she was saying was bound to be true.
Example 3: I had one of those moments where you meet someone and you think they’re just the most amazing person you’ve ever met. Sparks were FLYING with us and I was so keen to know more about him. It was at an art event before Christmas. We were there with a group of friends so it wasn’t as though I was leaving my friend on her own whilst I was getting to know the man I’d just met. But whilst he and I were chatting, she comes over, completely ignores him and says to me in front of him “I’m not letting this go any further, you always get het up over bad looking ones who aren’t worth your time” then tried to drag me away. We fully fell out over this one. It was so rude and it all built up so much over time that I just wasn’t going to take it any more. I told her she had no right to keep being like this and she said she was doing it to protect me. In reality, I think she does it because she finds it really difficult to gel with guys and doesn’t want to see me succeed in an area that she’s struggling in. I didn’t say that, because I think if I had that would be very, very difficult to come back from.
After falling out, she didn’t speak to me for about three months. She eventually popped up in my Whats’apps and although she made no reference to our argument or offer an apology, I was just happy to be back in contact with my friend.
I was prepared to let bygones be bygones in the hope that some of what I said in the argument will have sunk in. However, over dinner with another friend, she made a joke about the whole thing, saying she hopes I’ve now learned my lesson. It’s not sitting easy with me at all that she still thinks I’m in the wrong.
Like I said before, I can’t distance myself from her because I’m basically all she has (her family are terrible so mine basically adopted her when we were little). Me sharing my feelings with her clearly hasn’t worked. I just feel at a loss as to what I can do.
Please help Donna,
Upon reading your letter I found myself really questioning why a friend who is as close to you as you said would act in such an unacceptable way. However, your last paragraph did enlighten me somewhat.
In my opinion, there is a very prominent element of jealousy here. The root of this could quite possibly be that she has so few people in her life that she can depend on, that the thought of losing you to a man is unbearable.
That said, this does not excuse her behaviour and it needs to change before she drives you away.
Firstly, you need to explain to her again in no uncertain terms how unhappy her behaviour makes you feel. If she knows fully that the way she acts upsets you and continues to do so then this, in my eyes, is very disrespectful to you and the special friendship you share.
I might also suggest that you give her confidence that no matter what relationship you have with a man, you will still be there for her. There are life events which naturally change the dynamic of certain friendships, for instance; having children, moving locations, new jobs etc. However, reassure her that your close bond will not necessarily end because of any changes to your life. Rather, that you would really hope to have your friend by your side at all these milestones.
Perhaps reflect on any ways in which you could help her find a partner. I have no doubt that if she was in a happy relationship, she would tone down this behaviour towards you.
Reiterate to her that you would not allow even a family member who you love unconditionally to sabotage your happiness in this way and neither would you expect them to want to do so. If she defends herself by claiming that she is doing this to protect you, explain clearly that despite her intentions she is hurting you, not protecting you and that if she continues, she will force a wedge between the two of you.
You cannot change somebody, you can only change your reaction to them. If she knows how unhappy her behaviour makes you, but does not choose to change her actions, then do not feel guilty for wanting to take some space away from her. Her familial situation does not give her free rein to control your life forever. You have been a fabulous friend to her, now she needs to step up and do the same.
You know you are in the right here, so stand your ground.