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Toxic/passive-aggressive "friend" (long, sorry)

(22 Posts)
Hidari Sun 27-May-12 22:35:49

I?ve been feeling very down about a friendship I?m in and would welcome other people?s take on my situation.

I?ve a friend who moved into our area about four years ago. As her parents are old friends of my parents I offered out of kindness to meet her and help her settle in, showed her around a bit, recommended tradespeople, the usual thing. Since then as we both work part-time/freelance, we?ve met up for coffee and lunch regularly. Her kids are in their twenties and off her hands, mine are at uni and still at school so our lives are a bit different.

She?s kind and not a bad person but over the years I have become very disenchanted with her. She?s very definitely a cup half-empty person and her general demeanour is that life has dealt her a poor hand. I can?t see why ? husband has good job, she?s accomplished and intelligent, kids in work and relationships, nice house, own car etc etc. She?s incredibly money-conscious ? they are not poor but she takes a perverse pride in her skills in getting everything ? from catfood to car insurance - for the lowest possible price. They do everything, it seems, on the cheap. She?s very cynical about just about everything, you perceive that she thinks everyone was put on this earth for the sole purpose of ripping her and her family off.

For a long time I was able to laugh this off to myself but what is getting to me is she seems to be using me as a bit of a punchbag for her barbed comments and way of damning me with faint praise. My DH and I choose to live our lives differently. We do not always look for the cheapest deal but the one that suits us best. So last week when out with the ?friend? for a coffee, I found myself embroiled in a discussion about car insurance ? she had got hers recently very cheaply. I normally would simply smile and say well done but she seemed determined to draw me into an argument. She had spent hours if not days online seeking out this cheap deal. I replied that we use a broker and accept the best deal they offer us, as longstanding customers. She regularly has a little jibe at me for shopping at a particular supermarket online ? her supplier always gives her a better deal on delivery charges apparently. She seems obsessed with money ? in the sense of not spending it! And yet her parents boast to mine about how well off she and her DH are.

She had a real go at me some months ago because DH and I use decorators. DH works away and prefers to pay to have such work done because we don?t have the time and prefer not to use our leisure time in that way. I sensed she was outraged because her DH expects her to decorate their house.

She makes a big deal about cars and if ever she picks me up, always jokes like ?...if you can bear to go in my old wreck of a car..? because mine is quite new. When I once gave her a lift in winter, I said I had put on the heated seats and she snapped back ?oh I hate them, they always make you feel like you?ve wet yourself...?

The latest thing that pushed me over the edge last week was the way she asks a loaded question, often money-related, where she knows full well the answer is going to upset her. This time it was about my DS2 who has just passed his driving test. We live in rural area and when DS1 passed his four years ago we helped him buy a car and helped pay for the insurance. ?Friend? disapproved strongly of this, as her son, years ago, could only have an ?old banger?. So this time she wanted to know if and when DS2 was getting a car. I found myself having to almost defend myself and my family. I hate talking about money ? I?ve been brought up that it?s in bad taste.

I am really sick of these little jibes and pokes, done under the cover of friendship. Is this classed as passive aggressive behaviour?
I could understand if I was a real show off but I?m not! That?s another facet of my upbringing and my husband accuses me of hiding my light under a bushel. I hate offending people, I?m a people pleaser. I play down things we do and money we spend. But this latest incident upset me because I felt pushed into acting out of character and snapping back. Surely if we want to help our kids with cars, that?s our own affair?
DH thinks it?s all very simple ? she?s jealous of me. But if that was the case, surely she?d avoid me like the plague?

How do I back off from all this and possibly even extricate myself from what I think has become a toxic friendship. I get nothing out of it. I came home last week feeling like I?d been on trial, forced to defend my position all the time. She may ?get off? on trying to make me feel uncomfortable and I know that means she has problems. If I?m so awful why hasn?t she dropped me long before now?

Sorry for going into such detail but needed to talk about it somewhere and somehow. Have any of you had to get yourselves out of a friendship that?s doing you no good? And if so, any tips?

Thanks for listening

cornflowers Sun 27-May-12 23:07:32

Just phase her out, it's the only way with people like this

bogeyface Sun 27-May-12 23:19:39

I think your DH is right. She is soooooooooo jealous of you that she cant keep away!

Its like picking a scab or looking at a dead body. You know you shouldnt, you know it will be horrible but you have to do it anyway.

The way she makes herself feel better about not having the nice things that you have is by making you feel like a spendthrift, as she is cleverer than you as she finds the bargains. And you only have the gossip that she is well off. Perhaps she shows a different side to other people, perhaps her parents only hear about her holidays and not what they cost, or her new coat and not that it was a bargain off ebay (for example).

I would start being busy when she calls. YOu say you are freelance, so you can claim that you are snowed under with work. Eventually, she will stop calling.

maples Sun 27-May-12 23:19:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Helltotheno Sun 27-May-12 23:20:02

Honesty is the best policy. 'Your oneupmanship and constant obsession with money has driven me over the edge and I can't be your friend any more. Sorry. Enjoy your life.'

End of.

Hebiegebies Sun 27-May-12 23:20:28

You have a couple of options

Either confidently state that you have had enough talk about money every time she brings the conversation up, and that " it works for DH and I"

Or phase her out by lengthening the time between lunches

She is a real drain

Commutor Sun 27-May-12 23:30:05

I have a friend like this who is constantly telling me about the latest cheap deal she has found. She is also constantly asking very direct questions about how much money my ex gives to me and what financial support I receive from him. I know I receive more than she has but I also find talk about money distasteful.
I don't always answer her calls but still think she can be a friend.

madamemax Mon 28-May-12 09:20:23

I agree with Helltotheno and Hebiegebies suggestion of just being up front with her.

Say something like, I like you as a friend and it's great that we can hang out, but I was brought up to think that money was private. I'm really not having a go at you, and things change, but I'm a bit old fashioned so can we please not talk about things like that?

Then see how it goes.

I think phasing her out it a bit passive aggressive, to be honest. I read that advice on here, and it makes me uncomfortable. Be upfront, see if you can work it out, then be honest if it's not working.

Hope that helps!

cornflowers Mon 28-May-12 09:38:38

I recommended phasing out because I've had a couple of 'friends' like this myself in the past, and attempting to explain to them why you no longer want to spend time with them really isn't worth the grief. They will become defensive, accuse you of misunderstanding them, or of being over sensitive, they will turn it back on to you and make the situation even more fraught. There is no pleasant way of saying "spending time in your company just makes me feel drained and unhappy."
Just phase her out; make excuses not to meet up, gradually stop taking calls, she'll get the message eventually.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 28-May-12 09:40:53

"Is this classed as passive aggressive behaviour?"

I'd class it as petty jealousy and being judgmental. I wouldn't feel at all guilty about snapping back... she deserves it. If you don't like her so much (very understandable) just stop being available.

DinahMoHum Mon 28-May-12 09:49:16

i would tell her that shes making you feel uncomfortable and judged with her questioning about money

madamemax Mon 28-May-12 09:58:14

Cornflowers, I completely agree with you. There is no pleasant way of saying it, but that's kind of the point. Cruel to be kind, if you see what I mean? She maybe has the potential to be a lovely friend, to OP or someone else. Maybe has just let bad habits spiral over the yearsand would benefit from having it gently pointed out? OK some people have a nasty streak, and are beyond hope, but it might be worth a try?

Whatever you decide to do OP, hope it works out, with no ongoing issues rumbling in the background (either with the parents/family friends or in a retained friendship with new boundaries).

DinahMoHum that's a great idea!

Mumsyblouse Mon 28-May-12 11:14:13

I wouldn't persist with the friendship unless she has some really great redeeming qualities, like is fun the rest of the time, or a good listener, or always helps out if you are ill, or something to balance this negativity. I am not one to throw away friendships, but this doesn't seem like a friendship to me, you only got to know her four years ago and helped her when she moved to the area, perhaps now it's time to step back and let her find other people with whom she has more in common.

I'll stick with quite difficult behaviour with very old friends with whom I have a long history of good times and their support. But in a new friend whose supposed to enhance your life? I would just see less of them.

I don't think it's passive aggressive to simply be out a lot and not make so many plans to meet up. I think it's really horrid to tell someone their deep down flaws and expect them to just change, and I don't think it's realistic, I once had someone say 'can you stop talking about that?', it was something important to me, and I just dropped the friendship. Friends aren't supposed to make each other feel bad and I'd rather move on. But then I'm not mad on the new trend for telling anyone just how you feel, I don't think it improves things like friendships which flourish on kindness and understanding, which your friend doesn't seem to have really.

Hidari Mon 28-May-12 13:21:41

Very many thanks to you all for your kind and wise support - it is really helpful and heartwarming. I'm not perfect myself but was beginning to think I must be a terrible person. I am currently working so will reply in more detail tonight when I have more time but in the meantime, thanks again to you all for taking the trouble to post

diddl Mon 28-May-12 13:32:07

She sounds an absolute bore-and jealous with it.

My sister & I have completely different attitudes to money-& whenever it´s mentioned I find myself groaning inwardly.
I just tend to nod & smileblush

EldritchCleavage Mon 28-May-12 14:22:16

True friends don't have a problem with you doing things differently.

Your friend may well be jealous. Whatever the motivation, she can't seem to accept you as you are and appears to be seeking out confrontation so she can judge you. There is no point continuing to see her unless you can tackle this and find some common ground.

So I think you either have to broach it with her (refuse point blank to answer money questions, ask her why she wants to know, whatever) or phase her out.

Hidari Mon 28-May-12 20:34:26

MN friends, thank you so much for all your help.

I think I have to find a bit of a middle way here. Due to the family connections which go way back I don't want to fall out publicly or freeze her out but I am definitely going to put some proper boundaries in place, i.e. being busy much more often. As it happens my workload is increasing anyway at present - something else for her to be jealous about - that's perfectly doable.

I have been so aware lately of how I sound on the rare occasions when I have risen to her bait and don't like myself when I do that - it just isn't my style. She is frequently so cynical and negative and I refuse to be dragged down to that level.

I even discussed it with my mum and we agreed it was more like "onedownmanship" as so-called friend can always do everything more economically than I can! Mum also pointed out that the friend's father has always been quite sharp with his remarks too, towards her and my dad.

She is indeed as one of you suggested the sort of person who, if I was to challenge her, would twist it around and make it my fault and my problem.
I intend, next time the money subject comes up, to say something pleasant along the lines of - well you know by now that you and I have very different outlooks and ways of operating as regards money and I prefer not to get into those discussions any more.

In over 4 years living round here she has never mentioned any other female friend she's made. My DH is extremely easy going and accepting of others, rarely criticises anyone, but he doesn't particularly like her either and he finds her DH a crushing bore so we don't socialise as couples.
So will get those boundaries into place, be pleasant but firm about what I will and will not put up with.

I couldn't see the wood for the trees and was starting to think it must be me. But I have a number of other good women friends and none of them behaves like that towards me. So time to step back and stick to my own principles which have served me well over the years.

Thanks again, so much. Best wishes to you all xx

floraeasy Sun 26-Mar-17 06:57:21

Maybe she has secret debt and really does have to scrimp and save so she's jealous?

Maybe she was brought up to by a martyr and she's sick of seeing other people have easier lives?

Whichever - it's her problem, not yours! You sound very long-suffering and patient.

Let us know how it goes!

AnthonyPandy Sun 26-Mar-17 07:11:39

@floraeasy it was nearly 5 years ago.

Trollspoopglitter Sun 26-Mar-17 07:24:34

Why not just sigh and say oh Xxx, you know talking about that stuff winds you up...why go there again?, I hate seeing you get all worked up about money and bargains... We will be avoiding it from now on for your own good.

Every time she tries, just insist she'll wind herself up and turn it around. She will get defensive so practice. Think of it like a manipulative teen trying to wind you up.

Deathraystare Sun 26-Mar-17 08:14:27

I have a friend a bit like this. Her religion . She worships at the altar of martin Lewis and his money saving site. BUT she does not always follow her own advice. However everyone else is stupid. She is not such an expert as she thinks and usually ends up checking with at least 5 other people and then does things wrong anyway!

She is certainly not jealous of me, so it is not that. I think she hats not being as confident as she likes to think she is and hides behind a brash wall of noise tbh.

frieda909 Sun 26-Mar-17 09:12:49


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