How do I deal with my obnoxious, overreacting, jealous, clingy, rude, and generally hard-to-deal with best friends?
There’s so many things I could say about them. I love them both, I’ve been best friends with one of them since I was three, and the other one is her cousin who moved here a few years ago. I love them both to DEATH, but they’re INSANE.
1. They’re jealous if I’m with one of them instead of the other, or especially if I’m with someone else outside the group.
2. They put me down all the time.
3. The one cusses me out when I’m not the perfect friend, and the other is very good at making me sound like a culprit to her parents, who intervene ALL. THE. FREAKING TIME.
4. I’m accused of being their “mom” but then they freak out when I don’t fix all their problems for them.
A bunch of stuff happens ALL the TIME. What do I do??
Not wanting to put up with crap OR losing my best friends,
A Friend On the Verge of Insanity
Dear Friend on the Verge of Insanity,
Help me out here. You put the words “obnoxious” and “rude” in the same sentence as “best friends?” Ah, forget it. I can’t pretend. I wish I could say this was unusual with girls, but it’s not.
If you ask little kids to draw you a picture of a bully, they sketch a picture of a tough boy who kicks your butt and takes your lunch money. You know, a bruiser, the kind of guy who’s been in fifth grade for five or six years, lurks in the playground…you know the drill.
That may be a bully for some people, but not for girls. Most of the time, the people that bully a girl will be her close or even best friends. They won’t do it physically. It’ll be subtle, through put-downs and hot-and-cold moods.
Too many of us put up with it, precisely because “they’re my friends.” But just because someone is your friend doesn’t mean she might not also be your bully. Friendship is not some all-holy state that gives people license to throw jealous fits, cuss you out, put you down, and freak out when you don’t fix all their problems (and that is what you describe above).
Every friendship has its ups and downs, no doubt. But if your downs far outnumber your ups, and if your downs come weekly or even daily, you may have a bully masquerading as a friend – kind of like that wolf in sheep’s clothing in Little Red Riding Hood.
Except your life is no fairy tale. You’re going to have to make your own happy ending. Here’s what I’m thinking: lay low for a week. Keep a journal of all the stuff that happens with your friends that bothers you. Write down what happened, when, where, who was there, all those details. You may even want to write a few sentences about how you felt in the moment (use emotion words if you can – they’re way more telling about what’s going on for you than words like “bad” or “like crap”).
After the week is up, read over your list. Then ask yourself this: if you had a best friend who showed you this journal, what advice would you give her? Would you tell her she was in a toxic friendship and to get out, or stick with it?
If you do decide to stick with it, I urge you to sit down with each friend on her own – not together, because they’re related and they’re clearly tight, which means that if you talk to them together, they’ll likely be invested in protecting each other and not listening clearly to you – and run through your list. Say something like, “This doesn’t feel like a healthy friendship. I need this stuff to change.” It’s up to you to suggest some alternatives, such as, “When you’re jealous about me hanging out with her, I need you to just tell me instead of [whatever you’re doing].”
I’m not feeling optimistic based on your email, but I support you in trying to fix this. The only way to do that, though, is to talk to both of them and make some clear statements about what’s not working and what you need to change.
Good luck and let me know how it goes!