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Confused and upset by good friend's behaviour

(19 Posts)
ReallyNotSureWhatToMakeOfThis Sat 17-Sep-11 21:56:06

I'm hoping you can help me gain some insight into a situation I'm struggling with.

One of my very good friends has totally changed character lately. She's turned into a complete bully - and her main target is me.

We've been extremely good friends since university, we've helped each other with DIY, gardening projects, house renovations etc, been on holiday together, lent each other money (all paid back on both sides), borrowed clothes, know each others' families etc. Been pretty much like sisters, TBH. It's been a fairly normal close friendship - we're not on top of each other, probably speak 2 or 3 times a week, text and email. Lived at opposite ends of the country so met up every 3 months or so.

I am as confident as I can be that this is not related to drink or drugs, she's very into keeping fit and watching her diet. I suspect it is connected to her on / off boyfriend.

2 years ago she met a friend's cousin and immediately fell for him. He was from New Zealand, over in the UK for the summer. She spent all summer with him, travelling all over the place. She still came on holiday with me and several other friends, but left early to spend time with him. We all understood and were indulgent about that - we were pleased for her, first flush of romance etc. (I had met DP by this stage so could empathise!) The next summer she went to NZ, spent some time with him and some time travelling round. When she came back she announced she was moving there. None of us were terribly surprised, she'd been looking for a change for a while and had got stuck in a bit of a rut workwise. I was very excited and pleased for her, whilst I will miss her I think she is doing the right thing for her and I'm very proud of her, I think it takes guts to pack up and move your life.

She said she would like to do one last holiday with us all before she went off to NZ - 10 of us went off to Europe. Up until this point she was behaving normally.

That 10 included her on / off NZ boyfriend. He lives in North Island, she is moving to South Island.

I can safely say he is one of the most boorish, selfish and strange people I have ever met. He had her (this strong, independent woman!) running round after him like a 1950's housewife, desperate for affection and attention. We tried all we could to include him but he was extremely standoffish and uncommunicative, tried to play several people off against each other, and made me the butt of his 'jokes'. She spent most of her time with him - fair play, it's their holiday too, they can do what they want, but the rest of us were trying to have a nice week, not that we all had to do everything together but this was 'pointed' IYSWIM. She really picked up on the way he spoke to people and interacted with them, and started trying to out do him on point scoring - kind of showing off I think.

It started halfway through the holiday when I said I wasn't feeling great one evening so I was going to stay in, and asked if people minded, I was just going to go to bed with a cuppa and have an early night. She said - almost shouted at me - 'Don't take this the wrong way, but I don't give a SHIT what you do'. I was gobsmacked. She just sounded so vindictive. I just said fine, have a nice evening, and went upstairs. The next day she was terribly rude and standoffish and I ended up in tears by the pool. Two of the others went to speak to her and tell her she was out of order (I didn't know this until afterwards, I was just going to keep the peace) and she responded by being completely OTT with affection and bounciness. We ended up having a heart to heart and she said she was going to dump this guy, she apologised for having said what she did and I asked if there was anything I had done to upset her - she said no.

Fastforward to coming back off holiday. She's now seeing this bloke in October and November so clearly hasn't broken up with him. Her leaving do was hell, frankly, she bit my head off several times, dropped the present I bought her on the side, yelled at me the following morning but then cried on me as I was leaving. She then wanted me to meet her for dinner before she flew out a couple of days ago but I couldn't. We were speaking every few days but things weren't normal at all. She even said that if DP and I get married in the next 2 years she can't afford to come back for it and we should go and meet her halfway for part of our honeymoon hmm

I spoke to her the night before she flew and it was obvious that she didn't want to talk to me. really obvious. I said I would ring in the morning before her flight left, but everything went crazy with work and I didn't have a chance. I sent her an email to say I hope the flight was ok etc, and figured maybe with some distance it would sort itself out.

Tonight a text came through to say she had landed so I sent one back saying I hoped she'd had a friendly Kiwi welcome and the dreaded jet lag wasn't too bad. I got back a telling off that it was 5.45 in the morning, I'd disturbed her sleep, she needed to sleep more. I apologised but was actually quite cross - I hadn't memorised her flight arrival time and her text had come through so I assumed she had just landed. She went off on one about now she would need to have an early night tonight and telling me what time she had landed in UK time. I said sorry again.

I don't know what to do any more. Is this friendship over? Should I even try? I'm so upset by it, my friends are confused by her behaviour, and DP is swearing blue and blind we are not going to the other side of the world to be made to feel like this in person. None of us like her boyfriend but all we can do is be there to pick up the pieces.

I think one of the reasons I'm stuggling with this so much is that I used to be in an emotionally abusive relationship and I can almost see what this guy is doing, how he's changing her, that she's trying desperately to please him.

I'm sorry this is so long, it's been cathartic to get it out. It sounds so ridiculous.

HerHissyness Sat 17-Sep-11 22:09:10

Nothing you can do now really, she is too far away.

All you can do is text and email.

Oh, and bloody well stand up for yourself!

TELL her not to be rude to you! tell her that friends don't do that to one another, that you love her, but that you don't like the person she is mirroring.

Tell her to make sure she always has a return ticket paid for that she can change and amend when needed, and that your door and heart is open...

HerHissyness Sat 17-Sep-11 22:10:17

Yeah, don't go there for honeymoon and if/when she asks, tell her! be honest.

Only the truth will set that woman free, the sooner she gets it, the sooner you will get your old friend back!

ReallyNotSureWhatToMakeOfThis Sat 17-Sep-11 22:13:11

That was the conversation we had on holiday Hissy, almost exactly those words.

It's not me, is it? Is she scared and lashing out at one of the closest people to her?

I do feel as if I've lost my friend, which sounds so juvenile. We're both in our 30's.

You're right about her not being rude to me, if anyone else spoke to me like that we'd be having words. I'm just so shocked when it comes out of her mouth I'm speechless. I'm also crap at confrontation and she knows this.

bubbles4 Sat 17-Sep-11 22:16:07

Could it be that she was having second thoughts about the big move and maybe expected you to talk her out of it.

HerHissyness Sat 17-Sep-11 22:18:47

She's defensive and mirroring him in a way to make herself more acceptable to him and slip under his radar... and out of his firing line sad

she'll get there in her own time... just keep plugging away at the truth.

ReallyNotSureWhatToMakeOfThis Sat 17-Sep-11 22:23:40

Well, I thought that Bubbles, but she seemed set on it. And she's been very sensible about it all, she's got some cash, she's got her admin sorted, she knows what she's doing about work etc.

It's not like she's moving in with him, they're a ferry / flight away from each other. That's why I can't understand why she's still under his thumb so much. Unless... his plans are to move to be with her and they've just not said anything?

I'll keep trying. And will start standing up for myself. Do I say anything about tonight's texts - start as I mean to go on - or do I just let it slide?

bubbles4 Sat 17-Sep-11 22:26:24

I think that you should let her know that she has upset you and then leave it and see how she replies,thats what I think but might not be what I would be as I,m a bit of a wimp.

ReallyNotSureWhatToMakeOfThis Sat 17-Sep-11 22:31:12

I'm a wimp too - if I text now it'll look too contrived - will definitely use the MN 'did you mean to sound so rude' as an answer next time.

Assertive, assertive, assertive.

Thank you.

perfumedlife Sat 17-Sep-11 22:31:30

'..but all we can do is be there to pick up the pieces'

My whole life, I've never known what the hell this means? Does it mean, say nothing, unless explicitly asked, nod politely, take crap behaviour from friend in denial and when it finally ends in tears, forget the shoddy treatment and years of tedious issues, ready to devote further years to mopping the wounds?

If that's the case, I'd say bail out. Speak your truth, just as she is free to do.

HotBurrito1 Sat 17-Sep-11 22:33:46

Sounds like she's keeping you at arms length, although it's not clear why. It's hard, but you need to keep her at arm's length too. Any other approach and you will feel crap sad

ReallyNotSureWhatToMakeOfThis Sat 17-Sep-11 22:38:45

Surely it means more that everyone's life goes through ups and downs, and part of friendship is being there for the downs as well as the ups?

But you have a point, Perfume. I will think about it.

She's definitely doing that HotBurrito. I think you're right. I feel crap anyway, I don't want to feel worse.

izzywhizzyletsgetbusy Sat 17-Sep-11 22:59:44

I suggest you do nothing for the moment and wait to see what her next communication brings.

It sounds just as well that she's on the other side of the world and can't spit her vitriol at you in person but wherever our friends may be 'being there' for them doesn't mean that we have to take any crap from them just because they may be going through a hard time - nor are we compelled to make excuses for their unacceptable behaviour.

HotBurrito1 Sat 17-Sep-11 23:00:40

Reallynotsure don't take it personally, she is probably lashing out at you because you are close. Don't take any crap, and don't make much effort. She will be back.

Bluebelle38 Sat 17-Sep-11 23:28:01

Really, I have a best friend of 13 years and I was imagining her saying the things this woman said to you and I can't even begin to imagine he hurt. We live a flight away and also meet up every three months.

Is it just me that thinks it is weird that she would fly halfway around the world and still be a flight away from him? Maybe she is peeved that he didn't want her to move in with him.

A friend of mine recently started seeing a guy. He's OK as guys go, but he is forever making sexual innuendos about things and she thinks it is hilarious and now i notice SHE has started doing it.

He also does this weird thing where he physically shudders if people mention a particular topic - and I saw her last week and she did it about something else.

God only knows what is going on, but there is obviously a mirroring of behaviour (like my friend, but on a much grander scale).

I'd leave her to it now. No point in you fearing abuse every time you reach out to her.

Fod someone moving halfway around the world to be with a new partner and start a new life, she seems decidely miserable.

Perhaps in her heart she knows he is not right but sees you all coupled up and doesn't want to be single.

Sorry, waffling, but I am really sorry for you because if my best friend treated me the way this woman has, I'd be thoroughly heartbroken.

ReallyNotSureWhatToMakeOfThis Sun 18-Sep-11 08:23:00

I'm going out with another friend today, who is probably the calmest and most measured of us all. I think i'll discuss it with her - get her point of view. You're all really helping me to get some perspective, thank you.

You're right about not having to take crap Izzy and HB - I know it might sound odd but I'd never thought of it that way before? I need to act on that.

Bluebelle, you're right, I do feel heartbroken. It's like being dumped - slowly - after 15 years. She's moving to where she's moving to as she's got a couple of friends there, it's better for jobs, and she prefers the city to where he lives. She keeps saying she's moving for herself not him, which I think she is. He has business interests where she is so goes down relatively regularly, I understand. Sorry to hear about your friends behavior, do you think the relationship will become long term? I think everyone to some extent picks up behaviors from those they spend a lot of time with, but that one does sound potentially rather inappropriate (the innuendo not the shuddering)

On holiday DP was talking to him about his plans for the next year and it didn't sound like anything had been talked about with my friend, he was all I, I, I - so perhaps there is hope. DP, usually the mildest chap, has said to me that this man is not welcome in our house nor will we stay in his - that's how strongly he feels about it. (I concur with his feelings to be honest).

I've been awake a lot in the night thinking about this - I wonder if I should email her? To say that i dont know what is going on with our friendship, can she please tell me what is the reason for all this viterol - im trying my best to support her in this move but i am upset by the way she is speaking to me? But then I think she's just arrived, give her time to settle down, but is that then playing straight into his / her hands?

It's like I can see the trap that he's set for her, and that she's walking straight into it, but the one thing you can't do is live other people's lives for them. Guess I just need to decide where my boundaries are, stand up for myself and try to stay a friend to her but at arms length.

Bluebelle38 Sun 18-Sep-11 10:52:46

Morning Really, tbh, I wouldn't email her at the moment. She has a lot on and she could easily flip this all around and say you are trying to upset her/stress her/take away from her excitement by being all serious.

You have supported her in the move and she has gone so you have given all the support you currently need to.

It's a good thing she does have other friends there (thanks for clarifying that) because if this does all go pear-shaped she will have a support network close to hand.

Re the friend of mine (this is not my best friend), oh, she is already talking of moving him in. I have actually found myself detaching from them because despite being a successful woman in her life, she is incredibly insecure and at the moment she is at the stage where she is flouting the fact she has a bf in my face and it is totally cringey. Just little digs and snogging the face off him in front of me/weird dirty talk about what she is going to do to him later...yawn.

He is not anyone I'd ever want to be with. The innuendos are just so obvious and I'd be mortified if a man behaved like that in front of my friends. In saying that, the one going out him laps it up and I look at her and think 'what has happened to you?' Even the shuddering is odd, but a bit more understandable.

If I invite her out for a drink, he always turns up. I mean, it is a given that if we go for a drink and chat that he is invited. I know they are in the first flushes so I try to be understanding, but really, it is all a bit much for a woman that is in her mid-40s.

I suppose all you can do is get on with your life and know that you were very kind and understanding despite her treatment.

I totally get it would feel like a break-up. I imagine because she has a lot going on she hasn't had the chance to digest her behaviour and treatment of you in depth. She will settle in and maybe it will dawn on her that she misses the friendship she had. Hopefully it will dawn on her enough for her to apologise.

She just seems so self-absorbed so I would hold back on the email for now, in my opinion.

In saying that, I don't know the woman, perhaps you feel like hitting her with a harsh dose of reality and then putting it out of tour mind (as hard as that will initially be).

I hope you are OK. If you find it all creeping into your head through the day, a ethod in the past that has worked for me is to say STOP (in your head, not out loud lol - well, out loud is fine if you are on your own).

I hope you start to feel better soon. You sound like a really lovely friend and if it's any consolation, it sounds like her loss smile

ReallyNotSureWhatToMakeOfThis Sun 18-Sep-11 15:42:03

Thanks bluebell xx

ReallyNotSureWhatToMakeOfThis Sun 18-Sep-11 15:48:34

Sorry, posted too soon!

I'm going to leave it, just wait and see what happens. Apparently she feels that she's been supportive of us all when we've had 'awful DPs' she isn't fond of and finds it hard that we all 'tune out' when she talks about him.

I think there's much more to it than that, but I'm going to keep my head down ad my door open and not act like a doormat and hope she comes back - albeit with an apology. Thank you for your kind words and I hope your friend sees the light soon - I totally get the cringyness of it all, it's hard to stomach - somehow (and wrongly!) the older the couple the harder it is to accept.

I'm going to practice being at arms length for a bit and see what happens.

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