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How to deal with a friend who's very defensive

(52 Posts)
samesame31 Sat 06-Jun-15 07:38:11

I have a close friend who's great fun a lot of the time but she's very defensive and never says sorry. I think her behaviour is probably due to low self-esteem, but I also have low self esteem and am the complete opposite: a people pleaser. This means that I modify my behaviour to stop her getting defensive, and aplogise when ever I might have done something to annoy her, but I never get a sorry back.

I sometimes think I should stand my ground more so that she knows that she is pushing my boundaries, but also know that if I do that she will see it as criticism and it will probably make her even more defensive.Any ideas how to proceed so that I don't regularly feel like I am being mentally pushed around?

AlternativeTentacles Sat 06-Jun-15 07:39:11

What sorts of things does she do?

samesame31 Sat 06-Jun-15 08:08:11

We work for the same company but in different buildings a couple of minutes apart. Last week she emailed me to say she had something for me and I could go to her office to collect it. I emailed back and said couldn't we meet half way. This led to a succession of messages where she told me she was too busy, then when I asked why she didn't have 5 minutes in her break, it turned out she wasn't that busy. But I think her initial refusal to meet half way was becuase I had cried off lunch the day before because I wasn't feeling great. It's like she had put up the defensive barriers because I hadn't met her. So I end up apologising for not going to lunch and for getting grumpy when she said she couldn't meet half way, and if I'd been in her position I would have apologised for saying i couldn't compromise when I could. However, she didn't feel the need to apologise to me.

I know this sounds like a trivial example, but a regular succession of similar incidents has worn me down recently.

Vivacia Sat 06-Jun-15 08:17:37

Do you mind me asking how old you both are?

ALaughAMinute Sat 06-Jun-15 08:18:34

Perhaps she thinks you didn't make an effort to see her so why should she make an effort to see you?

People can get a bit funny when you cancel arrangements, especially when you're not that friendly with them in the first place. If she was a good friend she would understand. Are you sure you want to be friends with her?

samesame31 Sat 06-Jun-15 08:21:26

When we first became friends she actively went out of her way to be nice and compliment me. But now we've been friends for a couple of years it feels like she doen't see the need to make any effort to keep me as a friend. When I challenged her a couple of months ago about her defensiveness she said I should be glad that she's rude to me because it shows we are friends, and she is superficialy nice to people she isn't friends with. I don't believe this but it's another example of her being defensive about her behaviour.

samesame31 Sat 06-Jun-15 08:22:19

We are both mid 30s.

Vivacia Sat 06-Jun-15 08:26:32

It all sounds like too much hard work. I'm not sure why either of you bother.

ALaughAMinute Sat 06-Jun-15 08:28:00

It doesn't sound as if she's a very good friend. Perhaps you should distance yourself from her for a while and see if she makes more of an effort to be nice to you. Either that, or forget it!

Orange6358 Sat 06-Jun-15 08:36:56

The easiest thing would be to have contact when she's nice, steer clear when she's not. In theory she should pull her socks up fast if you are rewarding good behaviour with attention, poor behaviour with no attention. Like a child

She maybe enjoys all the faff and upset and underlaying feelings. However it doesn't suit you - so take control and stop playing the game. Stop contact and go silent when necessary.

You can always be honest with her if she quizzes you. Tell her you don't enjoy elements of your relationship and you have decided to not get involved when things start.

Springtimemama Sat 06-Jun-15 08:37:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Orange6358 Sat 06-Jun-15 08:38:22

Also I wouldn't tolerate rudeness. Just tell her you don't accept rudeness from anyone including her

Orange6358 Sat 06-Jun-15 08:39:06

Or you might find seeing her less often helps

samesame31 Sat 06-Jun-15 08:40:36

The reason I haven't given up is that we've had a lot of good times in the past and I don't want to give up on the chance of that happening again. Also, as I have esteem issues which I know affect how I act sometimes, I want to work with her behaviour, hence my initial question about how to 'manage' the situation, rather than just saying it's too much hard work. I would hate someone to say that about me without first trying to show some understanding

AlternativeTentacles Sat 06-Jun-15 08:42:32

I emailed back and said couldn't we meet half way

Ok. So you dipped out on meeting her and you wanted her to make the move to half deliver your thing as if she is at your beck and call? That might be the way she sees it.

samesame31 Sat 06-Jun-15 08:48:30

Alternative: I see that she probably has a different perspective. However, I had explained to her that I didn't think it was a good idea for us to have lunch as I wasn't feeling great, and it was the first time I had skipped lunch in about a year. In contrast my friend has at least 4 times said she couldn't do lunch because she was busy, with no further explanation about what the busyness was. I didn't take offence at her not meeting me because if she says she is busy then I accept that as a reason not to meet and not question it.

AlternativeTentacles Sat 06-Jun-15 08:49:18

Perhaps you need a new friend?

samesame31 Sat 06-Jun-15 08:52:17

Sorry, I realise that the last message sort of contradicts my earlier comment about asking why she didn't have 5 minutes to meet. That's because I see that being too busy for lunch as slightly different to a 5 minute trip to the car park to hand over something. Also, the reason I didn't want to go to her office is because I find her building quite intimidating and she knows that.

Orange6358 Sat 06-Jun-15 08:52:41

Alternative - she cancelled cos she was ill. That's fine. Friend sounds very immature.

AlternativeTentacles Sat 06-Jun-15 08:58:45

Alternative - she cancelled cos she was ill.

Yes. I know that. You missed the bit where I said 'That might be the way she sees it'.

ALaughAMinute Sat 06-Jun-15 09:00:51

Maybe as you have self esteem issues you are taking the fact that she didn't want to meet you in the car park as a huge rejection when it wasn't.

It sounds to me like you might need to work on your self esteem. Have you considered CBT?

goddessofsmallthings Sat 06-Jun-15 09:02:33

She's out to impress, you're out to please... not a good combination as she'll be all over newcomers to her/your social circle only to treat them in a cavalier manner once they've served their purpose or she's confident she's got them where she wants, while you're consistent in your desire to have people look favourably on you and you're reluctant to cause any waves for fear they won't.

You describe her as a 'close friend' but you can't be honest with her?
If that's the case I can't see any way in which you can 'manage' this situation other than continuing to dance to her tune and venting here smile

samesame31 Sat 06-Jun-15 09:13:53

Laugh: I agree that I initially saw her refusal to meet as rejection but I'm having ongoing counselling for my esteem issues and worked through this feeling.

Goddess: i've tried being 'honest' with her but treading gently so as not to offend her. All that seems to happen is she gets even more defensive and then ends up twisting things round so that it's my fault. She's rude because i'm irritating, too picky, etc etc.

I feel like I'm painting her out to be a complete bitch. A lot of the time she's great company and we have a really good time together. But I feel like I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place: if i point out when she is being defensive and rude she gets more defensive, if I don't say anything I feel she sees it as acceptance that it's ok to repeat the same thing again.

ALaughAMinute Sat 06-Jun-15 09:23:36

It's good that you're working on your self esteem, you might also want to work on being more assertive.

To be honest it sounds like you are analysing everything too much instead of just enjoying the friendship. You say she's defensive but I can't help wondering if you're reading this wrong.

If you want to keep the friendship why not invite her for a coffee and friendly chat? Maybe you need to lighten up a little bit?

Enjoyingmycoffee1981 Sat 06-Jun-15 09:25:10

Your offices are "a couple of minutes apart", and you suggested you meet "halfway".

Wow.

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