To ask how I can stop attracting frenemies/using friends?

(55 Posts)
winearama Thu 20-Jun-13 23:26:47

I currently have about 3 'friends' in my life that all make me feel shit when I am with them and that treat me like dirt. I've had to dump numerous other friends in the past for the same reason. People seem to think I'm fair game for nasty comments, nasty digs, and for taking the piss out of and generally using, generally at the same time as befriending my other friends and being as nice as possible to them.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm oversensitive. Other times I think perhaps I put up with too much until it's too late and I have to dump the friend, whereas other people would make a judgement sooner about the person.

I'm not in general a people-pleaser. My confidence and self esteem levels are reasonable but when I'm in the company of those types of friends they feel at rock bottom.


WinkyWinkola Thu 20-Jun-13 23:32:54

Watching with interest

WafflyVersatile Thu 20-Jun-13 23:40:30

If it's a repeating pattern it might be worth talking to a counsellor. Maybe there is something you are doing that is landing you in this situation a lot. Also the old 'you can't change them, you can only change you'.

winearama Thu 20-Jun-13 23:42:56

I have pondered on it so much Waffly and I think it's the following things:

I am too 'nice'; if someone wants to be my friend I let them be my friend and often don't realise what they are like until they have really been unpleasant and I realise I can't put up with their nastiness any longer.

I'm not unassertive in general, but I'm not very good at witty comebacks and also I'm not very good at saying replies in a humerous way.

quesadilla Thu 20-Jun-13 23:44:40

You say people make nasty comments and digs: how do you tend to react when this first starts happening?

You wonder if you leave it too late before you knock this behaviour on the head: without knowing you it's hard to be sure but it sounds that way. People with well developed self esteem tend not to take much if that sort of bullshit from people: if someone is routinely doing that to you that is abusive and they are not a friend.

It sounds like you need much clearer boundaries and to put them up earlier. If people you call friends are doing this to you a lot you need to teach yourself to spot the signs and withdraw from them when they start doing it, or tell them they are out of order. If it feels shit it's not friendly and you don't have to tolerate it.

WafflyVersatile Thu 20-Jun-13 23:48:31

Well there is nothing wrong with being friendly and welcoming. Maybe you need to learn to cut them off quicker. Or built up more robust shields in the face of what others see as friendly teasing but feels to you like attacks or put-downs.

I can't tell if you are my idea of oversensitive. I do think some people are.

Samnella Thu 20-Jun-13 23:49:08

You have pretty much answered your own question.

I am too 'nice'

Drop the ones who are causing issues and be more choosey with new contenders. I find a simple 'what do you mean?' is enough to challenge most people.

winearama Thu 20-Jun-13 23:49:36

Quesadilla, my reaction varies really. In the past whenever I've pulled anyone up for a comment or for treating me shoddily they've taken the hump and I've been told I'm oversensitive, I can't take a joke or they just fall out with me and turn it into a big thing.

One of the friends that has started doing it is someone I've known for around 3 months. She has been really nice until a few weeks ago and is now doing it more and more. It's like when she sees me she is glad as she can then take the piss and make jokes at my expense.

What are the signs that someone is going to be that type of person when they are nice at first? I don't know if there are perhaps things that I'm not spotting?

winearama Thu 20-Jun-13 23:50:59

Waffly, is 'teasing' ever friendly though? And should it be the only thing that a friendship should consist of?

chickenliversfortea Thu 20-Jun-13 23:59:23

Mmm well you answered your own question. When you say "let them be my friend" it implies you are unsure about whether you want them to be your friend. Why not make friend with people you actually like?

Do you have habits that annoy people? Are people friendly because they have to be ie school run, clubs etc?

What are you looking for in a friend and work out if you meet that criteria.I think 3 months is enough to tell if you are going to be mates or not. Possiblily this is why friendships reach breaking point. Find people you will get on with outside your enforced social groups.You can't assume these friends will come into your life unless you embrace them.

winearama Fri 21-Jun-13 00:02:02

I don't think I have habits that annoy people, what kind of things did you mean, chickenlivers?

When I meet that type of person they are usually very friendly and go out of their way to be my friend; inviting me out all the time, saying nice things and being very friendly, then it's after a few weeks/months that the nastiness starts

winearama Fri 21-Jun-13 00:03:30

I meant to say earlier in the thread that I do have other friends that aren't nasty types; I just seem to attract these nasty types in addition to them. I probably should have clarified that.

yamsareyammy Fri 21-Jun-13 00:05:31

Where do you meet these people?

yamsareyammy Fri 21-Jun-13 00:07:06

How many other real friends do you have?
You probably have enough all ready.
Frenemies are not real friends at all.
But I dont think they can be spotted. It is more a case of, kno ing when to cool it with them.

carolthesecretary Fri 21-Jun-13 00:08:19

Either cut them off or withdraw gradually.

I only allow people to get close to me over a long period now. Bad behaviour gets them struck off early on.

Ihavetopushthepramalot Fri 21-Jun-13 00:08:56

What sort of things do they say to you to make you feel upset?
Is it constant, or are there other aspects to your friendships?
If, on the whole you get on well, just make it clear that you don't like being the butt of there jokes. If it carries on get rid.

winearama Fri 21-Jun-13 00:11:36

I generally meet them through my work or through my children's schools.

As for real friends I'd say I have about 4 real, good, decent friends. I don't see them very often and we don't live in each others' pockets but we are there for each other I know they'd be there for me and vice versa.

Also have a group of nice girl friends that I meet up with regularly for meals and nights out, a group of about 10 online friends that I've spoken to online for years and I meet up with some of the local ones every couple of months.

Plus several nice acquaintances, that I wouldn't bare my soul to but that I enjoy a coffee with now and again or a chat if I see them in town, or whatever.

I am actually reading all this back and thinking maybe I just meet/know a lot of people and so there are bound to be a few loons in there somewhere and perhaps I just need to get a bit better at spotting signs of frenemies (such as them falling out with all their other friends recently, as in the case of one of them....)

SisterMatic Fri 21-Jun-13 00:20:34

Can you give us an example of the nastiness and how they put you down?

winearama Fri 21-Jun-13 00:24:09

An example, said by one friend yesterday was a comment about how my DD is really pretty but that it was 'such a shame about her teeth, you really need to get them sorted'. DD is very pretty and the teeth issue is some small hereditary stains on her two front upper teeth, which aren't overly noticeable and she is going to get veneers on them when she's slightly older anyway. It's that kind of thing. Plus this friend in particular makes put down comments about things I wear, and things that I have. 'Oooh, check you out with your new Primark bag' in a really patronising way and the bag isn't primark anyway.

Ihavetopushthepramalot Fri 21-Jun-13 00:26:07

I would say jealousy then.
Not worth your time just ignore and distance yourself.

SisterMatic Fri 21-Jun-13 01:01:16

Okay, that is nasty. How dare she criticise your dd like that?
I think she is jealous and that is not your problem to deal with when she is sniping at you and bringing you down. You don't need that in your life.
I would either tell her how it makes you feel and give her chance to amend her attitude or just end the friendship.

quesadilla Fri 21-Jun-13 06:39:17

wine At the point where the "friend" says you are being over sensitive this is when you need to stand your ground. If you are hurt by something you are hurt by it and your friend should respect that.

And the comment about your dd's teeth is just nasty.

Callycat Fri 21-Jun-13 08:50:43

Wineararama, do you tend to doubt the validity of your own reactions when someone is rude to you? I can imagine a scenario like this

So-called friend: "Generic rude/personal comment aimed at Winearara."
Winearama - "That was a bit rude!"
So-called friend - "No, it wasn't, and the fact that YOU think I'M rude means that YOU'RE really MEAN and HORRIBLE, etc etc ... "
Winearama - "Ohh, sorry, I didn't mean it .. are you OK?"

I know I've been in this situation a lot - it's because if I get upset, it's very easy for a manipulator to persuade me that my response is unreasonable or disproportionate. I'm slowly learning to trust my own feelings, which has meant avoiding people like your so-called friends.

winearama Fri 21-Jun-13 09:22:45

Yes I can identify with that, Callycat! The 'friend' will say something like they were only being honest/a good friend/only joking and will make out that I am trying to cause aggro over nothing.

At school my best friend was a bit of a manipulator and I remember being in a lesson and she said something nasty and I pulled her up on it and she started to cry. The teacher then asked what the matter was and she said I'd told her not to be nasty and the teacher then told me off and said that I 'couldn't go round falling out with everybody for every little thing'

Crumbledwalnuts Fri 21-Jun-13 09:28:54

People take advantage of people who are 'too nice' and they treat them as doormats. It makes the 'too nice' people look too desperate for friends, to an immature social climber.

An example, said by one friend yesterday was a comment about how my DD is really pretty but that it was 'such a shame about her teeth, you really need to get them sorted'.

If you bridled you should say: "She's beautiful, leave her alone" then leave the person or the coffee or the meet up soon. Don't stay and bridle - that "friend" will then be worried that you don't need her and will think about what she's said.

Plus this friend in particular makes put down comments about things I wear, and things that I have. 'Oooh, check you out with your new Primark bag' in a really patronising way

I would say "oh nice put down thanks for that" and just leave them. Who can be bothered with people who need to do that sort of thing?

Crumbledwalnuts Fri 21-Jun-13 09:30:09

The 'friend' will say something like they were only being honest/a good friend/only joking and will make out that I am trying to cause aggro over nothing.

So you just say "yeah sure" and then bugger off to do something nicer. They'll know you've seen through them.

Callycat Fri 21-Jun-13 09:30:46

Exactly Winearama! I was in the same situation at work a few years ago. The old "just being honest" bullshit sounds very familiar, as does the tears and innocent face when you pull them up on it.

The hardest thing for me is learning to trust my own reactions - if I feel upset at something that was just said to me, then I need to learn to analyze whether that upset is justified or not. It's not easy, and I think that uncertainty in ourselves is what makes us tempting targets for manipulators.

Crumbledwalnuts Fri 21-Jun-13 09:31:53

I am very old (well sort of) and I say, trust your reactions. Life's too short to waste on wasters and users.

winearama Fri 21-Jun-13 09:34:01

I find though that if I make any comment back such as 'oh nice put down thanks for that' then the other person will get really annoyed and turn it into a big falling out, rather than saying "Oh I'm sorry I didn't mean to upset you". I never quite know what to do at this stage; am I meant to stand my ground or try to smoothe things over to avoid a big fallout? I think that's why I just cut people off rather than doing confrontation iywim

Mumsyblouse Fri 21-Jun-13 09:38:25

I think you are too nice and give people too many chances, plus perhaps you are making friends when really hanging back might be better, given you do have quite a lot of really nice sounding friends and aquaintances anyway. so, if I was chatting with a mum and they said something negative about my dd's appearance, I would just mentally note not to be friends with them! I wouldn't take it any further and be a bit vague if they asked about meeting up or say I was busy. This person gave you a sign they are a bit critical and probably a bit jealous, so why go any further with the whole thing otherwise you are having coffee with people you don't really like.

The only people who I would allow to comment on my children's appearance are my family and my very old friends, and only if I brought it up as a concern. Once you've clocked someone is a bit competitive or bitchy, don't spend more than 5 min in their company again. Life's too short (better off calling one of your old mates on the phone for a catch up as you know they are really nice).

Mumsyblouse Fri 21-Jun-13 09:40:47

Wine- why would you want to continue at this stage, i wouldn't say anything, no confrontation, no saying anything, no need to then apologise or smooth things over, just mentally note they are a bit of a bitch and hang out with the few nice people you already know, smile at the school gate but don't take it further.

Crumbledwalnuts Fri 21-Jun-13 09:43:54

Wine, so just leave them as quickly as possible and wait for them to call. I wouldn't work hard at preventing a big fall out with someone who isn't very nice.

I think there is a "Rules" book about this sort of thing. hold on.

Crumbledwalnuts Fri 21-Jun-13 09:45:40
DevonCiderPunk Fri 21-Jun-13 09:52:01

Loads of good advice on this thread! I would add that you seem to doubt your own judgement. Only YOU can know when a friendship is enjoyable for YOU. So you've no choice, really, but to trust yourself on this point. No-one else can tell you whether it works for you. Without that, other people have an opportunity to dictate what's happening.

I second the advice that the "you're being over-sensitive" line is a huge red flag about that person's ability to maintain a positive relationship. Steer well clear.

Loa Fri 21-Jun-13 09:53:24

You could try giving them a sharp disgusted look at their comments, or freeze movement turn and stare till they are uncomfortable and change the topic.

I've done the sharp disgusted look - and then people usually back track like mad or ignore it though it pretty much all cases it then happens at a later date again.

TBH your probably best of at first sign of such behavior making a note of it and then being too busy to deal with such people again. People are often on their best behavior when your first meet so I don't think you can pre-spot such people you just don't have to put up with the poor behavior with it.

Loa Fri 21-Jun-13 09:55:52

"you're being over-sensitive"

I had that as a teenager - as an adult I slowly realized I don't have to put up with such comments or behavior - and in the few cases I have as in work situations or my DC friend parents where people aren't really my friends I've found a very professional and distant approach best.

YouTheCat Fri 21-Jun-13 10:00:49

How about 'I'm not over sensitive, but you're a bitch' and then a hasty exit?

Gives a clear message.

Loa Fri 21-Jun-13 10:14:02

I'd waste time later worrying I'd been rude unnecessarily YouTheCat - though I'm not sure if winearama would be the same.

Plus I've found such comments often occur in situations when storming off is difficult and frankly it gives scope for to much drama subsequently.

I've only found backing away politely difficult once - the person was incredible persistent about being my friend which was both flattering and very unnerving.

Crumbledwalnuts Fri 21-Jun-13 10:16:41

Also cognitive behavioural approaches can help. When I was young and wanted everyone to like me, it was off-putting. So I used to pretend I was as popular as I wanted to be, and behaved like that. Surprisingly it worked. People started paying court. Weird, shallow, but true.

YouTheCat Fri 21-Jun-13 10:28:37

Why worry about appearing rude though? These people obviously don't.

I was half joking but seriously, the day I stopped worrying about how other people perceived me was quite poignant.

It doesn't have to be dramatic. You could just stop calling. Stop engaging with people who bring you down.

monkeynuts123 Fri 21-Jun-13 10:28:40

Umm if someone said the thing about dd teeth to me I would tell them I felt they were being rude and have hurt my feelings criticising my dd and my parenting skills and then I would go and have nothing much more to do with them. I don't think a true friend says things like that. I'm wondering are you very beautiful/wealthy/clever that some people feel threatened and jealous?

gallifrey Fri 21-Jun-13 10:52:21

I have been thinking about this all morning as I too seem to attract 'frenemies'
I think it is about being too nice, I had a really good friend and I would do things like bring her a coffee to the stables (we both had horses) give her lifts in the snow because I had a 4x4 even though it was out of my way. When it was her birthday I commissioned an artist do do a drawing of her horse and had it framed.
She was also friends with another girl who was quite frankly a bitch, she got her into all sorts of trouble with our yard manager and treated her like shit. But when it came down to it she chose to be friends with her instead of me.

Catlike Fri 21-Jun-13 11:00:00

If you're concerned that any direct challenging of a bitchy remark will be met with defensiveness then just raise your eyebrows instead, look surprised and unimpressed by the comment and take a second or two before saying "ok..." or "right..." or "thank you..." then smile and change the subject.

React as though you're obviously taken aback by your friend's lack of manners but are sweetly and graciously glossing over their embarrassingly poor social skills smile And make sure you change the subject in a breezy "right, lets talk about something else" way.

It will make you look and feel more poised and confident than your so called friend. Once you've done this a few times, ie refused to ignore their rudeness but not "got into it" with them they'll probably stop doing it as it just isn't as satisfying for them anymore.

It may even make them feel slightly embarassed because they'll be aware that they've made themselves look like a nasty, uncouth twat and haven't even had the payoff of you getting upset about the put down.

They make the comments because they see you as less confident than them and therefore, in their bitchy competitive little head, they feel superior to you.

Ignoring the behaviour altogether pleases the so called friend because they see your acceptance of their put downs as weakness and it confirms their feelings of superiority towards you.

And challenging the comment delights them too because they feel that they've got to you AND they then get to have another pop about you being over sensitive, can't take a joke etc.

So much better to "obviously" rise above it, so they can see that you're rising above what is childish, unpleasant behaviour from them.

I do realise that this approach is a very, very passive aggressive one but it's honestly the most effective and least stressful way I've ever found of dealing with this kind of shittiness.

Best of luck OP. You sound like a lovely, genuine person and you don't deserve to be treated this way.

friendlessmid40s Fri 21-Jun-13 11:18:02

OP this is my life. I have totally given up now. I have no friends at all. It's easier this way.

I am like a magnet for users and toxic people.

All I can really make out is that I am a nice person but the only people who want to be friends with me are users or nasty people who enjoy putting me down in a sadistic way.

I am a kindhearted, soft person but I'm not a total walkover either. I'm quite open and friendly appearing just to blend in but for a few years now my personal policy is no more trying to have friends. It just doesn't work for me. It's too hurtful.

I've done counselling and spent years trying to be whatever that impossible-to-be person is that people want to be friends with but it's never worked.

I don't get any nice people wanting to be friends with me so Ive just withdrawn to protect myself. I am sad about it but what can I do?

Sorry for the hijack, its just you have articulated so well what I went through for years. I'm so bruised I am actually terrified of people now and have become quite reclusive. blush

apatchylass Fri 21-Jun-13 11:29:24

Simple solution: raise your standards.

Soon as someone says something like: get you with your Primark bag, I'd think, I don't choose to be friends with such a mean person and really would make a concerted effort to steer well clear.

I dropped a lot of frenemies a few years ago. A whole big social bunch of them. For ages I thought it was me - that I'd done something wrong, or was a weak person to end up feeling almost physically ill in their company. But I've noticed lots of people have drifted away from that particular glam, oh-so-fun clique and it is now reduced to three queen bees and one woman they love to hate - she has to be included in the group so they can have someone to sneer at.

It took me years of having no close friends locally at all once I'd stepped away, bt bit by bit new friends have emerged and friendships built on mutual respect and affection and similar values have built up. My social life is far quieter, but these days I never feel worse after going for a coffee or glass of wine with friends than I did before.

yamsareyammy Fri 21-Jun-13 11:33:43

friendlessmid40s sad
Are you able to move at all?
I remember there was a thread on here about 6 months ago. How certain areas in Britain are not very friendly. And I felt sorry for some of the people living there.

yamsareyammy Fri 21-Jun-13 11:35:34

frenemies are not friends.
You may be ab;le to pull up some of them on their behaviour. But other than that, stop thinking of them as friends.
Acquantancies yes, but true proper friends, no.

burberryqueen Fri 21-Jun-13 11:41:27

'Oooh, check you out with your new Primark bag' in a really patronising way
dump, dump,dump

friendlessmid40s Fri 21-Jun-13 11:43:01

Well not really tbh yammy. It's not the area I live in (Im quite happy here having moved about 3 years ago)

I don't know. About three years ago as well I just stopped engaging with the toxic 'friends' that were in my life. I stopped letting them use me and that was it. They just stopped calling unless they wanted something or wanted to vent and needed an 'ear'. (me) There have been so friends since.

My boundaries are much better than they used to be and I don't feel guilty about saying 'no' any more but although people seem to find me likeable, that's it. Nobody wants to take it to the next level and if I try (even very weakly) I get politely rebuffed.

I notice popular people spread their net wide and constantly schmooze people and dont take rejection personally. I notice that but I don't have the robust personality type to emulate that behaviour.

Sorry again for the hijack. blush

ThermalGirl Fri 21-Jun-13 11:56:50

my dd is 11 and is having a really hard time with bitchy comments from friends. I tell hear that you can spot a true friend, because 'real friends make you feel good'.

I am genuinely shocked at the immaturity of your 'friends'. do adults really behave like that? I realise that toxic manipulative friends can exist well into adult hood, but I honestly didn't think this kind of bitchy comment extended beyond the teens.

can I ask what sort ages they are / jobs they have? I cant imagine anyone getting very far in life with that little empathy and maturity. they sound a bit Jeremy kyle tbh, yet you seem educated and insightful. hmm....

yamsareyammy Fri 21-Jun-13 12:01:52

You sound lovely to me friendlessmid40s smile
Have you tried your locals board on here?

BlackDahlia11 Fri 21-Jun-13 13:46:36

Totally get what you mean. It sounds like you need to say to this person that what she is saying is hurtful. The response you get will tell you whether to continue the friendship. If she apologises and realises she was out of line then there might be hope to build the friendship again but if she gets all defensive and says you are too sensitive etc then it's time to dump.

A few days ago myself and a friend of 14 years fell out. I had enough of her put downs. She's been doing it for years, whenever her life hasn't been going right she has felt the need to attempt to put me down. I say 'attempt' because I didn't listen to her opinion because she talks a load of shite. She had done it one too many times and I snapped. I messaged her to ask her to stop being so negative and giving me so many negative comments about my pregnancy and impending birth. She went off at me and turned it all around on me and she ended the friendship. That spoke volumes.

And you know what? I'm so relieved as I've been wanting her out my life for years! I should have stood up to her many years ago.

If someone is treating you like shit, tell them and see their reaction. Judge by that whether you want to remain friends.

winearama Fri 21-Jun-13 14:27:01

Thanks all for the replies!

Quick reply as I have to do the school run but I've thought of something else the friend who slagged off my DD's teeth says! I'll just be talking, normally, about something or other, not mucking around or cracking any jokes and she'll smirk and say 'You're so funny' and start laughing. Always feel like she is mocking me and making out I'm a bit simple!

Halfling Fri 21-Jun-13 14:38:28

I am a bit like you OP.

In my case, it is due to my own low self esteem. I always put up with more shit than I should, try to minimise my unahppiness and then when things get overwhelming, cut people off suddenly.

Crumbledwalnuts Fri 21-Jun-13 16:20:07

It's quite upsetting how many awful people there are out there. Avoid, avoid , avoid.

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