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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.


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

I think this might help

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....

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