DAME’s Friendkeeper helps a woman separate being nice from taking abuse and gives an etiquette know-it-all the what for.
One of my good friends is clearly going through a hard time because she’s had a drastic mood change—and seems to be alienating all of our friends, one at a time. We’re all trying to be patient with her, give her her space, but we don’t want to make her feel alone, either. But man, she is being a bee-yotch. Like, really mean. She just has no filter, really going out of her way, deflecting responsibility for her actions. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I don’t know how much longer I can take this. She hasn’t been married in a long time, and thankfully, she doesn’t have a kid. But by the same token, that means she’s alone. So, I don’t really know what to do. Do I wait around and take it? Let it play out? I’ve already confronted her about her behavior, and she’s managed to turn it around and make it about me. About everyone. I am at my wits’ end.
Oh, Julie, this is just so sucky. What am I gonna do?
Just Plain Hurt
She’s a bitch, but she’s a good friend. She’s alienating everyone, but she’s lonely. She’s a tiger in the bedroom, but a kitten in the kitchen, or something like that. This is the kind of situation that we in the advice business call “a toughy.” Honestly if you’ve confronted her about it and she hasn’t responded positively, I’m not sure what else you can do. If I can put my Lucy van Pelt, PhD, hat on for a minute, I think what’s happening here is your friend feels unlovable and she’s making you all feel that about her, too. It’s very common. It isn’t very fun to be on the receiving end, though I’m afraid if you’ve talked to her, the only thing you can do is pull back from her. This may not be good for your friend, but you need to take care of yourself. You can’t have a person in your life who doesn’t take responsibility for their shit. Maybe with a little distance she’ll see her part in this, if she doesn’t, then at least you aren’t being abused.
My friend has this incredibly annoying habit of correcting people, myself included. It starts with grammar, but it goes beyond her making sure to tell me that I mixed up your and you’re in an email (sometimes I type faster than my brain. What does she want, a trophy or something?). Her finger wagging extends to etiquette, too. Once when we were out to dinner, she told me I should really be eating with my fork in the other hand (I didn’t ask! Besides, I want my aim to be precise when I’m forced to stab her with it). I’m sure there is a lot about me that could use correcting. But ain’t that the truth for all of us? Hanging out with our friends is when we shouldn’t have to worry about being perfect. What is up with her corrective compulsion, and how can I stop it without ruining the pretty great friendship we have otherwise?
Perfectly Imperfect and Proud
Dear PI & P,
You know, one of them etiquette people once said, “The point of etiquette is to make people feel good.” So according to whoever said that, your [YOU’RE] friend gets a big fat zero. Did you ever hear the story of Queen Victoria entertaining the Shah of Persia? He picked up his finger bowl and drank from it, and you know what she did? Picked up her finger bowl and drank from it, too. You know why? Because she didn’t want him to feel bad. So your friend should not only shut up, but she should start using “you’re” to mean “your.” Generally that type of pontificating comes from someone who feels insecure so they can make themselves feel smart or genteel by pointing out the things they notice. It is above all else, very bad manners. And in this case you are certainly within your rights to point that out to her.
Got a platonic problem of your own that could use the Friendkeeper’s advice? Fire away: [email protected]. No situation is too uncomfortable or too small and all details are kept confidential.
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