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Difficult 'friend'(31 Posts)
I have a 'friend' who is part of a group of mums I am close with. All our daughters were born around the same time and we've generally met up at least once a week since then.
This friend has always had a sharp tongue and she is generally critical and quite judgemental about nearly everyone she talks about. Definitely a glass-half-empty type of person. But over the last few months she has been really undermining my happiness and confidence with her comments. I now avoid her one-on-one but even in a group she manages to slip in some subtle comment that ends up making me feel like shit.
Her: Is that a new dress?
Me: No, I've had it years.
Her: looks me up and down, turns her face away from me
Me: I could always help with the face painting for [her DD's] party
Her: Well, we'll need to see if we're still friends then, won't we.
Her: Have you lost more weight?!
Also she has laughed quite loudly in a sort of snidey way a couple of times when I have been saying something that isn't funny.
She is always commenting on my clothes and although she doesn't always say anything bad outright, there is just a sort of unkind tone to it.
Sometimes I can feel her staring at me when I'm chatting in a group, and when I make eye contact she looks away.
I have really low self esteem anyway and hate confrontation, but I am just really angry that she sees something in me that makes it okay for her to treat me like this. She has made me feel really ashamed and inferior. Neither of the other women in this group (who are lovely) seem to have noticed anything at all - she's close with both of them.
I did back off from the group for a while (she is at nearly every meet up) but to be honest I miss the other two women and their daughters are my DDs best friends.
The other thing I should say is I was emotionally abused by my mother, so there is a part of me that is wondering whether I am blowing this all out of proportion because of my past.
What do you think? She's so subtle sometimes it takes a couple of hours before I feel the sting but it lasts for days.
It's hard to tell if she is a bitch or if you are a bit oversensitive, but if she makes you feel bad is there any way you can start seeing the other mums without her being around?
We're all normally only free on Mondays, and she is always free that day too, so difficult to spend time with the others without her too :/
Why are you offering to do face painting at her DC'so party when she is such a bitch to you?
You're not over blowing it you're responding to it like someone who has experienced how to 'play the game' so have become her easy pickings.
Have you had counselling?
You need to build boundaries where this woman is concerned.
I don't think you are being over sensitive. From what you have written it sounds as though she is covertly undermining you by her subtle and not so subtle comments, general manner toward you, body language etc. For whatever reason, we don't know why she's acting out her spite and projecting her stuff onto you. It seems as though you feel intimidated and marginalised by this situation. It does sound bullying. Part of me really would like you to confront her and tell her to F off. Though I can understand the avoidance as the situation is awkward. Have you ever asked her what her problem is. It doesn't even have to be confrontational, just emotionless and factual;
I.e 'I've noticed that when I've said x,y, z...you've done a, b, c. I'm interested in why you said such a thing as it left me feeling.....', or some such.
You say you've been emotionally abused by your mother and perhaps this dynamic is what is being enacted here.
Basically you leave the situation, no doubt, feeling bad about yourself, questioning yourself, wondering what on earth you've done etc...this person is robbing you of your peace!
That was actually the first instance of her being a bitch, had known her maybe 8 or 9 months at that point. I was pretty shocked when she said that but my instinct was (rightly or wrongly) to pretend it hadn't affected me. I'm not much good at confrontation. But these 'zap' instances with her are definitely getting more frequent.
Thanks for your advice. I have had counselling but am not in therapy right now. I think (because my mum used to undermine me a lot) in these situations with this friend now I literally freeze and don't respond but feel angry for days after. My instinct at the time is to gloss over everything but then I just feel really pissed off that I've let her get away with it, and actually made it easy for her too!
For comments like the 'if we're still friends' one, you could try a simple, 'What do you mean?' Then she will have to come out and be directly nasty if she wants to be.
The other thing you could try is being deliberately positive in response to whatever she says. So to the new dress type comments 'Oh, thanks, actually I've had it for years but I really like it'. For losing weight comments 'Oh, I'm happy with how I am at the moment'. This can have a fake it till you make it effect, where you start to believe it more if you make yourself say it. It also challenges her without it being a directly hostile challenge IYSWIM.
She's a fucking bully no two ways about it- if I were you, I'd seek out a new friendship group and leave her to turn in someone else in the group- they'll soon see her true colours.
Reading what you've said, it sounds to me as tho she has a problem.
The comments are definitely 'off.'
You're not imagining them!
I think, avoid her, but expect more behaviour like this.
The main thing tho, is to understand that people are asnthey are for their own reasons. Nothing to do with you. Yes they may bring the behaviours around you which affects you, but you haven't done anything to deserve it.
This is crucial to understand because as life goes on, you will likely come into contact with people like this periodically.
I actually think she's jealous of something about you to be honest and is trying to put you down to make herself feel better. That's how it comes across to me.
Yes, a "sorry, I don't understand?" Said quite genuinely is useful so that she either has to take back what she said or explain it in front of everyone and sound awful.
She does sound awful. You might find the others have noticed and feel the same.
Hope it all works out
Personally, I wouldn't stop going to the meet-ups; why should you lose your other two lovely friends.
Whatever you do don't let her know she is upsetting you, because she WILL target you even more. Bullies do it because they have a very very nasty streak, and she certainly won't emphasise or reason with you, she'll be loving it.
Definitely agree with others with the "sorry, I don't understand? (looking confused) approach - it will soon stop her.
Never show any weakness, she needs to learn that she can't get to you.
So yes, a bit of faking it until you make it is definitely needed here.
OP my first thought is she is jealous of you. Have any of your other friends commented about this?
I agree with PPs with what do you mean type responses.
If that doesn't work I would probably end up with slight bite back.
Her: have you lost more weight
Me: Would you like some tips?
Her if we are still friends
Me well I had thought that myself too
But then turn your back on her to someone else and be back to your lovely self.
Good luck op she sounds a bitch. Just keep your head it is her faults that make her do this, and not yours
I work with someone who made very similar comments. Unfortunately, things came to ahead and found working alongside her extremely difficult and we ended up in a mediation meeting together chaired by senior managers. She was quite confrontational and because I hate confrontation I wanted to just "put any misunderstanding to one side and start again" sadly my colleague felt this wasn't possible and she needed to discuss everything in detail. Luckily I had had lots of meetings with the managers about what had been going on. She was advised about all the passive aggressive and underhand comments, she was genuinely mortified and said "it sounds like bullying" hmmm . She genuinely had no idea, but watching her years later I realise that it wasn't just me, she has done it to others. Some people are able to laugh it off, others less so but it is likely to have been noticed. I wouldn't distance yourself from the group but I would avoid being too close either x
She probably sees you as someone weaker that she can bully. Sorry. So she will continue until you challenge her.
As a non-confrontational person, I think the "what do you mean?" response to her would be the most powerful. You won't have to think of a witty or quicky reply, just ask her what she meant, in a calm, curious voice?!
As you can't avoid her, it may be enough to get her to back off. Good luck tackling the nasty * .
OP; different situations for me but honestly reading your posts is like seeing my own words on the page.
Only in about the past two years or so have I grown the balls to say "sorry, what do you mean?" to a couple of repeat offenders in my circle.
It's worth it just to see the horror on their faces when you eventually go against type and
gently expose them for being shitheads.
Bridget Jones called this type of friend a jellyfish. Get their mean little stings in while you are least expecting it. Google the clip from the movie. It may give you a giggle.
As to how to deal with her...harpoon?
Thanks, all. It's actually such a relief to have people confirm that she's being nasty, as she somehow makes me feel so ashamed because she doesn't seem to do it to anyone else I've seen. So it's almost like I am just so incredibly annoying/ridiculous l, she can't control her behaviour. Which I know is not on. Was second-guessing myself for so long, feel like I've reached a corner with what I'm willing to accept from this woman going forwards.
Think she does see me as weaker, definitely. She's made me feel inferior a lot.
You're not imagining it and my first thought was that she sounds jealous. Jealous of your skills or kindness (facepainting) , your looks or figure (weightloss question) and clothes. This is not how a friend speaks.
I wouldn't initiate conversations with her, just answer politely if she asks a question and stop making an effort. She'll soon get the message.
Yes, I often get this too, so it's reassuring to read your post in a way. I'm having therapy as I want to change the way that I interact with other people as I am fed up with being everyone else's step up to feeling better. I accept that I have a responsibility in the interactions, as I am generally 'the weaker' one and I can see it needs to change. Good luck to you and I hope you can make positive changes too. It's very hard though. I know, believe me.
Do you think you may have done something which has upset her in some way? I'm not saying you're in the wrong here BTW, just that some people are very good at holding a grudge for a very minor thing, and will make PA comments rather than raising the issue.
If I were you I'd go down the fake it til you make it route. Just stay sweetness and light, come up with a positive response if you can but if not just say "oh, what do you mean?" with a smile.
I worked with someone like this and she was moved to another team as part of a restructure. That was a great day at the office! You never know, maybe her working hours will change, or she'll move away (fingers crossed )
Ooh I can empathise with your situation. She's toxic. Probably deeply unhappy but that doesn't excuse her nastiness. I found it easier to engage very superficially - and don't respond to the comments negatively. You've lost more weight? I'd do a pirouette and say 'yeah, I'm so happy to be this size' and smile, smile, smile.
Bounce everything swiftly back:
Is that a new dress? You reply, 'Why do you ask?'
Have you lost weight? You reply 'Possibly, does it matter?'
If we're still friends...You reply "Indeed, we both have to want that, don't we?'
Thing is, she's nasty, possibly low confidence and is feeding off putting you down. People like this can sniff out others with low self esteem in a second, and she's targeting you because you're allowing it, she knows you're baffled and hurt and it makes her feel good.
Call her on every single comment. If she starts laughing when you're being serious don't feel uncomfortable and certainly don't ignore it. Pause, look her straight in the eye and say 'what on earth have I just said that you can possibly find amusing?'
She's relying on a certain reaction; kill it.
Next time you interact with the whole group, give her a quite obvious wide berth, be polite but nothing more, get really busy talking to others and being your normal self with them. Give her none of that. Answer her questions with one word, whilst being even overly polite but give nothing of yourself to her. You don't like confrontation, we'll the bad news is she's pushing you into it, because it's coming and unless you tell her where to get off, you will keep taking it from her. Next time she makes a comment you don't like simply ask her "what's your point"?. She won't come up with a satisfactory answer, but keep asking. She will soon get fed up. She doesn't like you. Now this type of thing isn't about you, it's about her. There isn't anything you can do to change that. But don't keep taking Shit from her or it will never stop.
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