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Show ALL Forums  > Relationships  > How to tell a friend to back off without ruining the friendship.      Home login  
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 NDTfan
Joined: 6/5/2012
Msg: 1
How to tell a friend to back off without ruining the friendship. Page 1 of 2    (1, 2)
Long read ahead....

I have a friend that I've known for almost 10 years and I need to figure out how to talk to her and make boundaries before her behavior destroys it all. She has been single now for 6 months but until then had been in a relationship the whole time.

She's 10 years older than me, is overweight/ top-heavy and has a rather masculine face... she's one of those women who will never (unfortunately) be considered very attractive by most people. I'm not saying this to dump on her, it is what it is. However, since the breakup with her ex, she's been increasingly negative and angry toward me. She begrudges me any improvement in my life to the point where she's hostile most of the time. Since the breakup, her other friends and I have been encouraging her... complimenting her when she makes an effort to dress up and she's really blossomed. Sometimes, she goes overboard trying to get attention, but for someone who's hardly gotten any it's understandable.

I'm a bit of a social butterfly type (unless it comes to a man I'm very attracted to then I clam up). Everywhere I go, I meet people I know and will crack a joke or have a quick chat. Now when we go out, and she can tell that I"m into a man she'll make a point to go up to him and flirt. A few weeks ago, we went to play pool and a very attractive man walked in. I chatted a bit with his friends and they invited us to hang out with them. Every time I tried to talk to him, she jumped in. When he invited me out for a chat while he had a cigarette, she followed us. He even called my name as we were leaving to get me to come back and she came back with me... I couldn't tell her to get lost without making it obvious. I never did get to talk to him alone. He then slipped me his number. The next week at work, we had a seminar and she gushed about the hot guy she'd met and how she just knew he was into her. I obviously couldn't say anything without looking catty but it was odd to me. When he showed up to pick me up for a date, she dropped by at the same time and remarked that he was an empty-headed pretty boy and that we'd have the shallowest relationship ever.

This weekend we went to a work party at a club, and I got a lot of attention from men there. She made a couple of snotty remarks (one of which being that none of them were interested in anything with me except shoving their *ock up my arse) so I sort of avoided her the whole night. The one time we did meet up was just outside and she'd been talking to a man. I asked her if she'd seen a co-worker I was looking for and left right away, but apparently he asked about me when I left and she freaked out at me for not staying away and ruining her chances with him.

Today at work, she was complaining about the temperature in the office constantly and I cracked a joke about her just wanting everyone to know she has a hot body and she freaked out... calling me an attention wh*re who can't stand to see someone else get any. It was noticeable enough that several people remarked on it after she left and told me that she's been rolling her eyes whenever I speak or making snarky remarks to them. The other day one of the older ladies made a joke about having large, droopy breasts and how they looked like rocks in shopping bags and I said "don't you mean oranges in tube socks?" and after I left she said "Well, it's better than ending up with little fried eggs hanging on a nail like (my name) will".

How can I approach the subject with her and warn her that our friendship is on the line? Should I even try? How can I make it clear enough that she doesn't mistake what I'm saying and without it coming across as an attack?
 TRESemme1
Joined: 6/4/2012
Msg: 2
How to tell a friend to back off without ruining the friendship.
Posted: 9/24/2012 2:12:34 PM
Let her read this post. And our comments.

Tell her exactly what you told us on here. And that you are not there to bring her down. And that you don't appreciate her bringing you down when you are not doing anything bad to her. And that you value both your friendship and don't want to see it go down the drain by this paranoia of hers.
 amohsin8
Joined: 9/6/2012
Msg: 3
How to tell a friend to back off without ruining the friendship.
Posted: 9/24/2012 2:17:09 PM
Why would you want to maintain a friendship with someone so bitter and envious? I doubt she'll change.
How to tell a friend to back off without ruining the friendship.
Posted: 9/24/2012 2:18:56 PM
You will have to let her think it's her idea to back off from you if you work with her.
If you didn't work with her I would say just completely ignore her and cut her off, but that could be touchy.

What drama..lordy


Don't confront that type of person.She will rip you to shreds and lie to everyone about you, throwing in one nugget of half truth someone knows so it will lend an air of truth to it.

She sounds like a dangerous "friend".

Don't ask her to join you for anything unless its something you know she would never do.
Shopping for clothes for hours is a good one for someone that's "hard to fit".
Actually, Make that not at all.

Stop making jokes or to much conversation at work with anyone for a while and if someone asks whats wrong.
Just say you are feeling a little under the weather or have oodles of things on your mind lately..

Do your work and don't make any comments to her other than" hi" or "how are you today?"
Then stop your side of the conversation.

Maybe just a half grin or nod acknowledging her.
Don't go out in public with her.

Hopefully soon she will attach to someone else.
They always do when they see you aren't playing the same card game they are.

DO NOT CONFRONT.

She is NOT your friend anyway.
 LiliMarleen
Joined: 5/24/2009
Msg: 5
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How to tell a friend to back off without ruining the friendship.
Posted: 9/24/2012 2:19:03 PM
Your friendship? What friendship?

All I see is a bunch of competitive juvenile drama.

My friends and I don't act this way.
 thepigofyourdreams
Joined: 2/23/2012
Msg: 6
How to tell a friend to back off without ruining the friendship.
Posted: 9/24/2012 2:23:37 PM
The other day one of the older ladies made a joke about having large, droopy breasts and how they looked like rocks in shopping bags and I said "don't you mean oranges in tube socks?" and after I left she said "Well, it's better than ending up with little fried eggs hanging on a nail like (my name) will".


She's full of shit.

I'll take the eggs over the flapjacks.
 Blah_User_Name
Joined: 8/27/2011
Msg: 7
How to tell a friend to back off without ruining the friendship.
Posted: 9/24/2012 2:26:56 PM
Friends are supposed to be supportive and loyal and look out for our best interests and we are supposed to do the same for them. Friends are a special relationship where you know someone is looking out for your interests, you know someone will always be honest with you and you know you can always be honest with them. Friends, when you have good ones, are like lovers without the sex ! It's a lucky person who has good friends and a miserable person who has horrible friends.
You seem to be caught up in a toxic situation of each of you pea-cocking. You both seem to be in competition with each other for the available men in your community and you've both lost sight of the friendship. There is nothing in your account of recent events which would even suggest friendship. The language, the actions, the bitterness. None of it is the behavior of friends.
I think, it's time to put some distance between each other because you are not bringing out the best of one another. This is nasty and childish and neither of you can possibly be enjoying the others' company whilst all this is going on.
It's rare that all of the people we form friendships with, walk with us throughout our lives. Certainly we have one or two people who do that, but often friends come and go, depending on what happening in our (and their) lives. Sometimes they move away and the contact fades, sometimes there is an argument which breaks the connection. All sorts of reasons why some friendships don't last a life-time. It sounds to me, like this friendship has reached it's natural conclusion and it's time to wish your friend well, and to move on without her, preferably before one of you gets really hurt.
 uarealoser
Joined: 9/5/2012
Msg: 8
How to tell a friend to back off without ruining the friendship.
Posted: 9/24/2012 2:46:10 PM


How can I approach the subject with her and warn her that our friendship is on the line?

I don't know.
The proper "how" is going to be based on your group and how that has affected your ability to communicate effectively with her.

Maybe some perspective would help?
Here's how I see it.
You know in Star Trek it's usually a red shirt that dies? Someone no one cares about, but adds some "oh noes hes diededs!" drama to it, and then people move on?

Her relationship(s?) died, and it wasn't a red shirt. More like Spock or McCoy.
But your group is still alive.
Her identity in the group is different without the accompanying relationship(s?).
Human beings are competitive.
People constantly compete to determine their pecking order and place in the group, to make sure they are seen as important, to secure a place, as high in the hierarchy as they can rationalize.
In most social groups of normal, non military or oriented on a specific goal, people individuals tend to delude themselves into seeing themselves as just slightly better than everyone else, the leader.

She had a place when she was in a relationship(s?). That/they got killed, and now she's trying to reestablish it.
Self sabotage, push me pull you, I'm better than you, I deserve to be the queen/king games.
Usually things work themselves out, where behavior towards them normalizes, and they can delude themselves to the importance and security of their place.
Harder to do that when behavior has already normalized, then identity is completely changed, and one person has to relearn all new behavior and boundaries from the very beginning while everyone else is attempting to simply enforce and operate by the old norms and expectations of behavior.

Not to mention if she was in a single 10 year relationship that was in any way traumatic in its ending, then she's also dealing with grief (really not sure if you were saying she was in a relationship for 10 years, or for 10 years she was perpetually in relationships).

Kind of like when a kid turns into a teen, has an all new pubescently changed identity and tries to separate itself from being seen as "The Kid" by its parents.


How can I make it clear enough that she doesn't mistake what I'm saying and without it coming across as an attack?

I don't know because I don't know her or how she communicates or what she understands.
If you try to do the whole "adult rational" conversation, she can just as easily take that as you attempting to assume an authority position, higher than her "I'm better than you."
So, IMO, no one outside of a sociologist trained in how you communicate to your friend effectively and hand her understanding of boundaries and expectations that were made over the course of 10 years that don't apply anymore can tell you the "right" way to confront her. Ideally, you were supposed to be paying attention to who she was as a person and learn these things. Practically, that rarely happens, especially anymore IMO, so relationships end through the drama.
 NDTfan
Joined: 6/5/2012
Msg: 9
How to tell a friend to back off without ruining the friendship.
Posted: 9/24/2012 3:00:00 PM

Let her read this post. And our comments.


I can't let her read the thread. She's had very low self-esteem since the breakup and I don't want her to see the part where I called her top-heavy with a masculine face. I could ask one of the mods to modify it, perhaps. :)

She's done such a 180 since the breakup, that I feel like I'm walking a minefield. I will mention the points you brought up.


Why would you want to maintain a friendship with someone so bitter and envious? I doubt she'll change.


Because I'd like to at least try to get our old relationship back before I give up completely.


What drama..lordy


I know and it makes me sad. We went 9 years without anything like this happening before and I still can't quite get my head around it. We used to be able to talk about anything without either of us getting pissy or angry but she's like a completely different person. It makes me sad to think you're right about this :(


Your friendship? What friendship?

All I see is a bunch of competitive juvenile drama.

My friends and I don't act this way.


It never used to be this way and I'd like to salvage it if I can. The competitiveness is completely one-sided.


Friends are supposed to be supportive and loyal and look out for our best interests and we are supposed to do the same for them. Friends are a special relationship where you know someone is looking out for your interests, you know someone will always be honest with you and you know you can always be honest with them. Friends, when you have good ones, are like lovers without the sex ! It's a lucky person who has good friends and a miserable person who has horrible friends.


I agree with you... and that's what we had for so long.


You seem to be caught up in a toxic situation of each of you pea-cocking. You both seem to be in competition with each other for the available men in your community and you've both lost sight of the friendship. There is nothing in your account of recent events which would even suggest friendship. The language, the actions, the bitterness. None of it is the behavior of friends.


I think you're mistaken about the pea-cocking. I'm not in competition with her for men,simply because I'm not constantly going after men and I'm not looking for a serious relationship so they rarely come across my radar. Most of the time, I'm completely unaware of them. Generally we have completely different taste in men (she likes buff muscleheads) and I go for the chubby nerd type. And this is all really new. There was nothing in our friendship that would suggest that she has it in her to turn like this. I honestly don't act any differently that I did before she broke up with her ex... she's just decided to make me her punching bag.

It's probably very naive, but I'm sort of hoping that she's unaware of how mean and bitter she's being and talking to her will get through to her. If not, I'm completely prepared to walk away.
 LoveMyDog55
Joined: 7/18/2012
Msg: 10
How to tell a friend to back off without ruining the friendship.
Posted: 9/24/2012 3:23:57 PM
I wouldn't want to have anything to do with someone like that

I understand things used to be better but if she can only be civil and nice when things are going well then she has a poor character
 privat33r
Joined: 2/8/2009
Msg: 11
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How to tell a friend to back off without ruining the friendship.
Posted: 9/24/2012 3:46:13 PM
OP, She's up to offensive nonsense but why see that as a negative? Its annoying for you but socially maladroit individuals are, in small doses, an aid to making connections to people that may work. They break the ice, provide counter-pose to awkward situations and generally scare the livestock into retreating to the pens.

I was at party when I was 24. One of the house-mates brought his brother along. The bro had issues with some of the girls switching clothes with guys in the washrooms, chicks ignoring him and just the general sense of wild'n'wilder that he wasn't involved in. He got rangy, had a bread knife fight with me over the fallafels (I wrapped my wrist with a t-towel), he eventually broke a bathroom door down, clawed a babe, was wrestled away by his bro, ran off into the night- and created a peaceful time for us to feel blessed by his absence .

(Thank you John. I hope you didn't have to serve time. The babe never told me what the result was for your assault case, but yeah know, considering she showed up to offer her opinion that you were safe for the street-- maybe best we could do. I'm sorry we provoked you so much. I shoulda known - it makes complete sense now)

Before he exited he made it easy to just grab women wandering about in the home and sit them on my lap in ridiculous ways. I'd like to apologize for that but there was great music and I don't think any of the women really feel it wasn't a good plan. I could ask.

There are plenty of wingman gambits that are at their basics a ruse where one guy acts as the obnoxious twerp and another the rescuer.

Women can organize similar charades, or take advantage of happy and predictable accidents. like your bud.
 Vannili
Joined: 7/8/2008
Msg: 12
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How to tell a friend to back off without ruining the friendship.
Posted: 9/24/2012 3:50:17 PM
If I were you,and if she is around I'll be quite and serious, or leave the room where she is at..
And I'll party with others ,not with her.. In other word, I'll use silent method with her,
if she gave me a stupid jive ,I'll ignore her,like I don't hear or see her...
 SunForSome
Joined: 7/27/2012
Msg: 13
How to tell a friend to back off without ruining the friendship.
Posted: 9/24/2012 4:10:19 PM
I have a problem friend just like this too. And, I've decided that I should be the one to back off and slowly become less available and withdraw from the relationship - and well not let things bother me so much. I don't feel as though I should have to confront her or highlight her negative behavior or insist that she changes.

Of course, if she needs my help, I will be there. I just can't be around her as much as I would like to if I want to remain happy and healthy. I need to redirect some of that energy that was going towards listening to her problems and supporting her - well.... I need to focus on myself and self-preservation... cut myself free from the drama.
 IgorFrankensteen
Joined: 6/29/2009
Msg: 14
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How to tell a friend to back off without ruining the friendship.
Posted: 9/24/2012 4:17:13 PM
I really can only think of one thing to suggest.

Try to get her alone, so that you can talk quietly and seriously. then explain to her that you are worried about her, because she is displaying a large number of warning signals, that she is headed for a nervous breakdown.

Because she is.

Attacking long time supportive friends, violently reversing all previous behavior (going from reticent to pushy), carelessly criticizing others in a very public way, loudly acting out when challenged. Tell her quietly and in a genuinely caring and supportive way.

I am far from being a trained psychologist, I am just someone who reads a lot, has been through a lot, and seen too many people self-destruct. She fits that pattern exactly. Driving people away when one most needs them is very common to depressed people who fear isolation.

I can't promise that anything will work, but this thinking has the advantage that it is probably true, and that it matches both all of her symptoms, as well as your own desire to make things work out.
 TerrieLynnC
Joined: 5/31/2011
Msg: 15
How to tell a friend to back off without ruining the friendship.
Posted: 9/24/2012 4:22:40 PM
First off, perhaps I'm reading it wrong, but it sounds to me as if this friend didn't get the support she needed after her break up. I'm not condoning the way she is acting, but, maybe with a little support from her friends she wouldn't be acting this way.

If you want to continue this friendship, it's better to talk to her FACE TO FACE about your predicament instead of a bunch of strangers on an online dating site that's only getting one side of the story.
 Arata_na_Yoake
Joined: 1/25/2012
Msg: 16
How to tell a friend to back off without ruining the friendship.
Posted: 9/24/2012 4:24:30 PM
Unfortunately she was dealt a bad hand by Fate (appearance wise) and it seems to have tainted her personality. I'm guessing her ex-boyfriend was keeping her self-esteem in check and now that she's single she'll lash out at those she's envious of. All I can ask is how would you rate her as a friend (in all categories) prior to her break up? If she was anything less than great she's just not worth the trouble. Unfortunately she seems to work at the same place so instead of snide remarks she'll just talk about you behind your back. Fortunately it's an old routine and your coworkers will get sick of it. Fast.

I agree with Igor that she's probably going to have a nervous breakdown. Or worse. I just don't think she's worth the effort. It's obviously up to you to decide if she's worth your support.

Off topic, but are you getting the MoP expansion tonight?
 Random_geek_01
Joined: 6/30/2012
Msg: 17
How to tell a friend to back off without ruining the friendship.
Posted: 9/24/2012 4:26:47 PM
One trick I learned in my communications class to talk to someone when they've done something you don't like or upsets you is to use a technique called "When, I, because."

When you say bad things about me, I feel hurt and confused because I thought you were my friend.

Something along those lines. You'll have to tailor it to your situation, but if you talk to her that way and she still doesn't get it...then you have a decision to make. She doesn't sound like much of a friend, anyways.
 Sniper308
Joined: 10/21/2004
Msg: 18
How to tell a friend to back off without ruining the friendship.
Posted: 9/24/2012 4:52:16 PM
OP: Ma'am, going strictly from what you've posted about the situation, I think you are incredibly patient.

Things are complicated by the fact you both work together. If you can't salvage your friendship, and should things stay the same or even get worse, you're going to be miserable every day of your work week. If it comes to that, you may want to find work elsewhere (not an easy decision, I fully appreciate). It's your call but, if you decide to sit down with her and discuss the hurtful things she's done, and it goes badly, you'll probably have to start leaving her behind, socially speaking -- or you'll not only be miserable at work, you'll be miserable in your off time.

If you decide to discuss everything with her, try very hard to *stress* to her that it's not "her" as a person that upsets you, it's her behavior. (Most people don't "hear" this kind of difference well, so that may prove the hardest challenge of your chat. I can almost guarantee she's going to "hear" that *she* is a lousy excuse for a human being, et cetera.) You'll have your work cut out for you, convincing her *she* is not the problem, that it's "just" her behavior (of late) -- while also getting your point across and telling her how badly she's been making you feel and how she's been... inconveniencing you... during social outings.

Again, I can't stress too highly how impressed I am with your patience and compassion. It sounds like you've been putting up with a lot of negativity from her. That you are still, all things considered, trying to work things out with her speaks volumes about you as a person.

Good luck, ma'am.
 laskoboo
Joined: 2/12/2010
Msg: 19
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How to tell a friend to back off without ruining the friendship.
Posted: 9/24/2012 5:02:16 PM
Thats some idea of friendship you have... I do not have friends like that.. sorry for you if you do.
 HappySingleSpirit
Joined: 9/10/2011
Msg: 20
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How to tell a friend to back off without ruining the friendship.
Posted: 9/24/2012 5:02:18 PM
If I was in your situation I would back off. I would simply avoid her and when you are together be very neutral and not make any jokes that could be misinterpreted. Confrontation doesn't work with all people. She is not showing any signs of wanting a meaningful conversation about what's going on between you two. You can only confront someone who is willing and she sure is not ready for that.

If she values your friendship as much as you do, she will eventually come to you and want to know what's been going on and that's when you can use the previous posters (Red Chocopo) suggestion (which is very good) and say, for example, when you .... it get confused because I thought we were tight. If she downplays the situation and puts it all on you, I would continue avoiding her until she is ready to give you more credit.
 Midwest_Southwest
Joined: 9/9/2012
Msg: 21
How to tell a friend to back off without ruining the friendship.
Posted: 9/24/2012 5:04:32 PM
I strongly agree with Peppermint Petunias and Happy Single Spirit.
Let this go and lay low in respect to your friend.
 tehFion
Joined: 9/16/2012
Msg: 22
How to tell a friend to back off without ruining the friendship.
Posted: 9/24/2012 5:30:42 PM
One of the glorious things about having good, solid friendships, is that you can call each others' BS, without having friendship-ending fallings-out.

... which is what I suggest you do with this chick. Sit her down, tell her she's being an ***hole, and that you are not the enemy. If this is friendship-ending, then perhaps you're better off for the moment. Maybe somewhere down the line, she'll see she was being a**** and apologize and you two can pick up where you left off.

Although I have to add that the "she's not the attractive type and the guys give me all the attention" preamble rubs me the wrong way, big time.
 massha
Joined: 7/20/2010
Msg: 23
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How to tell a friend to back off without ruining the friendship.
Posted: 9/24/2012 5:42:08 PM
To be honest, you - at this point in her life- are not helpful and only make her feel bad. The better looking flirt, you hooked up with the guy she liked, and probably not the first and certainly not the last time. Now that her life is in shambles, she needs somebody else for a friend, not you. So don't worry about it and just stop hanging out with her for now.
 DameWrite
Joined: 2/27/2010
Msg: 24
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How to tell a friend to back off without ruining the friendship.
Posted: 9/24/2012 8:30:02 PM
Maybe just tell her that you're not having a good time these days being friends with her so you'd like to take a break for awhile while she goes and talks to a professional about her misery because you just can't seem to help her?
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