Should I Just Dump My Judgy Friend?
One of my oldest friends has been getting on my nerves and I don't know how to bring it up with her (or if I should at all). The main problem is hanging out with her in group scenarios. She's very sarcastic, and likes to push my buttons/make me the butt of the joke in front of others. Other times, she'll completely take over group conversations, interrupting others to talk about how the topic applies to her life. Lastly, she can be very judge-y, deciding someone isn't smart/political/cool/weird/punk enough, etc. and will dismiss them for it. Based on her judgments about others, it's made me feel self-conscious about what she privately thinks of me. I've stopped hanging out with her as much, and it's caused a huge rift in our relationship, but I'm not really sure how to talk about this without hurting her feelings or causing deeper resentment. – Frustrated Friend
If your goal is truly to avoid deeper resentments and unnecessary hurt feelings, it’s time for some real talk, Frustrated. Tell her that you don’t like being teased by her in group scenarios. You don’t have to write a poem about it, just let her know that it’s been hurting your feelings and you need it to stop. Let her know that you’re having a hard time trusting her, and you worry that she’s judging you behind your back. If she reacts angrily you can stop right there, but if she’s open to an honest conversation, healing can occur. If it goes poorly then at least you know where you stand; you may need to demote her in the hierarchy of your trust, or fire her altogether, but you’ll have tried to change things first.
I can’t help but wonder if she’s always been this way or if this is brand new behavior. Either way, it’s possible that she needs a friend intervention, and who better to serve that slice of humble pie than an old pal who can cut through her crap? If this is how she is and you’ve finally had enough, that’s a different story; in that case it’s you who has changed, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but again, she deserves to know about it. Two bad-friend moves never make things right.
What’s for sure is that if you can’t have a direct conversation with her then the two of you are not really friends anymore, anyways. If you no longer want to be her friend for whatever reason then own it. It’s sad to outgrow a long time friendship, but it happens to the best of us.
The point of friendship is not only to hang out and agree with each other. When you act like a jerk it’s a friend's job to let you know. When you cross a line from funny and teasing to insensitive and hurtful, you want a friend to give you a chance to correct your mistakes. She won’t change if she doesn’t realize what she’s doing, which she may or not – especially if you laugh along with her when you don’t actually think she’s funny, and never let her know how you feel about her acting like a modern Judge Judy. It’s totally possible that she has become a straight-up bad person, but giving her the benefit of the doubt is a better move than just ditching her. Just because she’s hurting your feelings doesn’t let you off the hook; stand up for yourself, Frustrated! This status quo is not worth maintaining and the only reason to not mention it would be because you’d already written her off, which it doesn’t seem like you’ve done quite yet.
Avoiding your friend is a terrible strategy for not hurting her feelings, or to get her to stop pushing you around. Even if she totally sucks she deserves to know why you’re evading her, and unfortunately there’s no way around some hurt feelings for both of you at this point. What’s for sure is that if you can’t have a direct conversation with her then the two of you are not really friends anymore, anyways. If you no longer want to be her friend for whatever reason then own it, Frustrated. It’s sad to outgrow a long time friendship, but it happens to the best of us.
The Mission’s resident advisor gets booked months in advance by San Franciscans seeking help with all kinds of relationship issues. So we asked Jessica if she’d come on board to do a weekly advice column, Truth Talk, for The Bold Italic. If you have a burning question for Truth Talk with Jessica Lanyadoo, you can post your question anonymously here or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, and check back on Wednesdays to see if she has an answer for you.
Image from Thinkstock