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I need to understand why this keeps happening to me

(70 Posts)
Lollypoppop Sun 08-Sep-13 21:51:46

I seem to have a very strong track record of ultimately being let down by my friends. This has happened for as long as I can remember. It usually takes the form of a long term friendship suddenly disintegrating and it always takes me completely by surprise. For example, my best friend for 6 years all thorough secondary school suddenly dropped me because her boyfriend didnt like me. Funnily enough two years later I met him at a party and he decided I was a suitable friend after all and she tried to rekindle our friendship but it couldn't be done by then.
Around the same time I discovered a friend was stealing from me when I spotted her wearing a unique silver ring of mine. There was no confrontation but the relationship couldn't continue.
That happened again when I discovered that a friend I had known since babyhood and was regularly babysitting for my children was also regularly stealing from our home. She got away with quite a lot because I totally trusted her. There are lots of other examples I could give but this week I have had two more experiences.
I run my own business and one of my employees who has grown to be a friend over the years we have worked together has suddenly announced that she is leaving, doesn't want to work her full notice period and will not negotiate the leaving date despite having no other job to go to (she wants to set up her own business) but this is our very busiest time of year. We also just lost another member of staff two weeks ago and i directly asked her if she would be able to do extra hours in the coming months to help out. she said yes, but 10 days later hands in her notice! it almost seems as if shes being vindictive to leave now. She also knows all about the stress I have at home, ds has recently been diagnosed with asd and ADHD and he is incredibly challenging, she knows I have been on the brink for many months now and I thought she cared but she can't have done, can she? I asked her if she would stay just a couple of weeks to give us time to recruit a replacement but she refused. I don't know why.
Also this weekend my sister suggested I might like to look after her kids today as she had a lot of work to do. I happily had them for the day but at the end of it I had an unpleasant realisation.
She is a teacher and has had the whole summer off, I have had an extremely hard time as my ds got excluded from his summer play scheme (his special needs mean he is very explosive and impulsive) so I had no childcare. I suggested that we had one another's children but she declined and said she would prefer her kids not to be with ds. Obv I found that extremely difficult but accepted her view. But now that she needs help it is no longer a problem! So clearly it was just an excuse for her to be able to avoid having to help me.
So, there must be something I am doing to make this happen. I am not blaming myself but I know that I can only change my own behaviour, not that of other people. But how? What is it that I am doing? People say that I am assertive and confident and I think I am but why is it always such a sudden shock when people let me down? time and time again I must be lining myself up for this?

Lollypoppop Mon 09-Sep-13 07:41:31

Garlic, this is not the total of my disappointments, just a representative sample. Every long term friendship has ended in this way. I look around and see lots of people who keep their friends for decades yet I don't seem able to. Why?
With the employee I guess there must be something else going on but she has shared very personal things with me in the past and vice versa. She knows that my ds has been seen by Camhs and we have been in such a difficult situation recently that they referred us to social services for emergency respite care. She also knows that there is another member of staff having some mental health issues (which I am trying to support her through) and has taken some time off, and she knows this is literally the worst week of the year to go. I really don't think I am over sensitive to be mightily pissed off that she will not stay just a few extra days after seven years working together- it's really not much to ask is it? I have a friend who had a very unpleasant working environment and awful boss. She got a new job but still worked more than her notice period (even though new job wanted her because she felt it would be wrong to leave the old business in the lurch. (I know I am not an awful boss by the way because she has told me many times that I am great to work for- maybe I should have been meaner?

QuintessentialOldDear Mon 09-Sep-13 07:52:52

Dont make the mistake of confusing friendly behaviour with real friendship.

I would be very careful mixing business with pleasure. Employees are not friends. They never will be, because the power balance is uneven. They will want to remain friends with you because they work for you. They dont want to lose their jobs. They will act friendly and listen to you, and they may chat with you. But at the end of the day, they are there because they are paid. They are however not meant to be, or paid to be your therapists.

"She also knows all about the stress I have at home, ds has recently been diagnosed with asd and ADHD and he is incredibly challenging, she knows I have been on the brink for many months now and I thought she cared but she can't have done, can she?"

She is coming into work every day to have her ear bent about all this? It must have caused her immense stress listening to you day in and day out taking confidences. I think you have possibly been burdening your staff with your personal problems, and they have finally had enough and given notice.

It seems there is not only a difficulty judging character, but keeping the right boundaries in place.

QuintessentialOldDear Mon 09-Sep-13 07:55:43

Just saw your last post.

So, this employee who is now leaving, has a boss on the brink, and a colleague with mental health problems who has taken leave.

And you dont understand how she can be uncaring and let you down? Honey, can you imagine what her work environment is at the moment? Is she also covering for the employee on leave? At some point she has to say enough is enough, she cant take any more. It is not her duty to support you and help you through crisis after crisis.

Lollypoppop Mon 09-Sep-13 08:30:16

She never works with the other employee, hardly ever even sees her (they work opposite shifts) and has not covered anyone's leave. The working environment is great, we have a lovely team who are all very friendly, get along well and our staff retention rate is ridiculously long, people invariably stay for years and years, so it can't be that.
Other friends tell me I don't express myself enough and I should ask for help more because looking from the outside it seems like everything's fantastic.
I am not a robot and can't hide all my personal life at work, but for the most part i do. work is my respite and its a relief to forget the stresses and strains of home life while i am there. also had a relationship outside of a purely working one and obv both shared our lives with one another like friends do.

cuillereasoupe Mon 09-Sep-13 09:17:01

So two of these incidents date from years ago when you were late teens and two relate to employer/employee relationships? I think you're being over-sensitive.

springydafty Mon 09-Sep-13 10:27:37

Possibly some good points, above, but ultimately deck chairs on the titanic imo?

the root of this is your sister. You grew up with, had a key relational dynamic formed by, to a large degree, a toxic individual; a woman, who 'should' be your friend, have your back. Only she didn't have your back and was exploiting you. (That's bourne out now: if you don't adore her, she makes you pay.) She is/was playing with you, manipulating you and exploiting you. You're deeply confused that this relationship keeps repeating. Your sister would have blinded you to what she was doing, schooled you in disabling your instincts - and you are still blind, hence the almighty shock when your sister friend (even if employee) does it again.

I'd suggest this primary relationship is the titanic at the root of all the betrayals (let's call this what it is re your recent employee: she's fucked you over) - always 'sudden' (to you) - and is the reason you fall into this old pattern time and again. You probably attract people who are [like] your sister, have the same characteristics ie fuck-you-over characteristics.

I suggest you find out all you can about toxic individuals and behaviour. Knowledge is power. The fact that you didn't exclaim when you saw the ring on your 'friend' /sister - and that she had THE NERVE TO WEAR IT IN YOUR PRESENCE! - does suggest something key in you has been deactivated, to the point that you can't screech "THIEF!!" when someone blatantly steals from you. Your sister has been blatantly stealing from you all your life and maybe you need to look at that?

cuillereasoupe Mon 09-Sep-13 10:39:26

I disagree to a certain extent, springy, in that I don't think it's at all helpful to the OP to frame at least her relationship with her employees in terms of betrayal. I think she is expecting a "friendship" degree of loyalty from people whose relationship with her is primarily contractual in nature, and relating that to episodes of teenage immaturity years ago is forming a pattern that I'm not convinced is there.

LeBFG Mon 09-Sep-13 10:46:38

The people I know who have maintained long term friendships tend to keep them a bit at a distance - meet up a few times a year and communicate with texts/phone conversations but not live in each other's pockets.

Good friendships (for me) are where there is a bit of mutual dependancy - where you ask favours from each other - that way it never becomes one-sided. When I think of friendships that have ended like you have described, I think there were clear warning signs - borrowing stuff that never got returned, always me making the effort or buying the drinks.

I disagree with some posters about keeping people at arms length until they pass some tick-test - I think this would just lead to having a lot of aquaintances rather than real friends.

Perhaps you're not reading the warniing signs very well?

springydafty Mon 09-Sep-13 10:57:21

It's hard to keep people at a distance when your crucial boundaries are non-existent. ie toxic people exploit your boundaries to the point you don't have any. Her sister would have been working on her from the year dot - which may have flowered big time when OP was a teenager but it would have been there all along.

For example OP would probably find it difficult to differentiate between a contractual relationship (employer/employee) and 'friend' (which actually means 'sister' imo. Because she, or her toxic manoeuvering, set the tone for female relationships?)

springydafty Mon 09-Sep-13 11:33:02

I still think, though, that to bugger off at the crucial time of the year, with barely any notice, is crap and, yes, betrayal.

cuillereasoupe Mon 09-Sep-13 12:07:26

OP, can I ask how many kids does your sister have, and how long were you suggesting you exchange childcare for over the summer?

Lollypoppop Mon 09-Sep-13 12:36:09

Cuillierasoupe, there are more examples of issues I've had with friends over the years. The examples here were ones that were easiest to relate briefly and from various points in time.
I know the problem is with me. It has to be, I am the common denominator in all this! That is hood as i have the power to change my own behaviour (no one has the power to change other people) but what exactly is my mistake? Is it just ordinary bad luck that people let me down and the problem is i am over sensitive and therefore over- react? do i have unreasonable expectations from relationships? What is the problem and how do I break the cycle?
Springydafty, I do think that I put myself in this position so consistently that it must be almost 'hard-wired' into me from an early age, i know its not my parents (i have a great relationship with them, this may also be one of the problems my sis has with me as she does not have the same rapport that i fo with them) my sister is undoubtedly toxic. I always feel awful after having contact with her, i vow i wont let her do it again but yet I put myself in the line of fire time and time again.
The fact that I did not confront the ring stealer and get my ring back is crazy. But whenever I do stand up for myself people have a hissy fit and make me out to be the unreasonable one.

Lollypoppop Mon 09-Sep-13 12:37:50

We have 2 dc each. I was suggesting the odd day here and there.

cuillereasoupe Mon 09-Sep-13 12:47:38

OK thanks lolly. I ask because from a teacher's perspective having "the whole summer off" isn't as relaxing as it sounds, and I don't think it's that unreasonable not to want to take on someone else's kids and look after your own for weeks on end. But not agreeing to the odd day here and there is a bit off of her.

SleepyCatOnTheMat Mon 09-Sep-13 12:47:45

The thing is, the relationship with the employee may be a contractual one rather than a genuine friendship but even within those parameters the employee is behaving badly. OP, when this woman's new business fails, which statistically it is likely to - only 35% of businesses keep going for more than 5 years, and she wants to work for somebody else again and asks you as her last employer for a reference whatever you do don't give her one.

SleepyCatOnTheMat Mon 09-Sep-13 12:52:20

P.S. It's worrying your sister is a teacher when she has such an appalling attitude towards a child with special needs, OP.

And I would do some research into what legal action you can take against your employee, it might not be as expensive as you think.

cuillereasoupe Mon 09-Sep-13 13:11:36

even within those parameters the employee is behaving badly

That may well be the case, but the problem is how personally the OP should be taking what is at bottom an employment issue.

garlicbaguette Mon 09-Sep-13 13:30:29

I agree with every word Springy wrote. The key phrase is always 'sudden' to you. Your expectations and boundaries are misplaced. There are signals you're missing from others, and signals you're not giving out. The root is your sister (and perhaps your parents.)

This is not about things you 'should do', it's a question of the subtle interplay going on all the time between people. Your side is weak in some areas. You (we!) fix this by addressing our self-perceptions; the love you hold for yourself; what you think you're worth and how strongly you protect your value.

I think it's great that you're tackling your sister. It will shift this whole balance somewhat, and hopefully give you a starting boost. Please don't just turn away from her - do your best to state your case, strongly, to her face, and rebuff her excuses. I'm not saying this will change her; it will change you.

Use this thread for support. All the best!

garlicbaguette Mon 09-Sep-13 13:37:07

Btw, I wouldn't set too much store by your friends' opinions of your assertiveness. True assertiveness in young women generally shocks people. Your friends probably mean you're decisive, know your own mind, etc. It's not the same: you can't be assertive without those qualities, but you definitely can have them while still being unassertive!

You are worth standing up for, strong and proud.

Lollypoppop Mon 09-Sep-13 16:05:34

Garlic baguette, I think you are right there. I do know my own mind and I am decisive until it comes to relationships and what is reasonable to expect in a natural give and take, interdependent friendship. I'm not assertive because I don't ever know if I'm being reasonable!
This relationship with my sister is definitely at the centre if this problem. What happens is that I placidly accept a lot of bad behaviour and as time goes by people behave more s d more unreasonably towards me because I do all that they ask of me and never ask for anything in return. Eventually, they do something that even I cannot tolerate but because they have got used to me being a complete patsy they are totally shocked by me asserting myself at last and they therefore spring into defensive mode and cast themselves as the hard done to party. This is the end of the relationship (except with my sister I always end up putting the issue aside as she is family).
So I have to find a way of being someone who asks other people for favours not just offers them out!

garlicbaguette Mon 09-Sep-13 16:30:12

What an insightful reply smile Good for you!

magicturnip Mon 09-Sep-13 16:46:41

I agree with garlic. We all get shafted by arseholes. We all have people we have gone out of our way to help dump us inexplicably or treat us horribly. It just happens. I bet you have good people in your life too.

Lollypoppop Mon 09-Sep-13 20:47:38

Guess what, the employee has told us today that she will not be back in ever, that's it. This is after we had a discussion where I said I was very disappointed she was leaving now at the busiest time of year, that she was insisting on taking her remaining holiday from her notice period and most importantly that she had lied when I asked her if she could do more hours over the coming months. I admit I was but when I asked her why she had lied she went ballistic screamed that she would not be talked to like this and and stormed off. Afterwards I went and apologised for upsetting her and we appeared to had smoothed it over and both said we wanted to part on good terms after many years happily working together. Well, I guess she must have gone home and discussed this with her family because her mum rang up (she is 30 btw) and told us she would not be coming back ever and all she wanted was for us to leave her alone and let her get in with her life (a rather bizarre statement as i certainly havnt been harassing her, this conversation was the first and obviously last cross word we have ever had between us and afterwards I apologised unreservedly for crossing the boundary (i was too harsh i think) Obviously, directly asking someone why they lied to you is too harsh for anyone to answer and that is why she went off. But as I said, it was resolved that day, we hugged and said how much we valued one another and i aplogised 20 times so again it's rather strange that now she cannot return. Maybe the prob is that she did blatantly lie, and now she has been exposed cannot face me? I just don't know.

Lollypoppop Mon 09-Sep-13 20:48:58

Magic turnip, I always think I have good people in my life but I am struggling to think of anyone who hasn't made me feel this way in the end.

garlicbaguette Mon 09-Sep-13 21:08:56

Well, SIBU obviously, and I suspect you may have overlooked - or failed to notice - her inability to act like a responsible grown-up in the past.

You should always have a Plan B available for such events. Hardly any small businesses do, and that's understandable, but being dependent on specific individuals puts you in a weak position.

Bit of a turning point for you this week, innit?!

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