With friends like these…


Q. I have a friend who has been my friend since childhood, but isn’t a very good one. She is selfish (always makes me do the traveling when we see each other; insists I come to her events but always has an excuse why she can’t come to mine), sometimes says things that hurt my feelings, but says she only means it for my own good (like telling me about a party I wasn’t invited to so I’ll know not to invite that person if I ever have one; or that someone is saying bad things about me behind my back). My husband doesn’t like her, but puts up with her because he knows how long we’ve been friends. A few times I tried to tell her I didn’t want to see her and told her why, but then I feel guilty, and we always end up seeing each other eventually. I guess it’s because she’s like a family member that I can’t imagine not having in my life at all. What do you think I should do?


A. It’s pretty clear that you realize this so-called friend is only a negative influence, yet you choose to continue having her in your life just because you’ve known her a long time? This is very faulty reasoning. Whether you realize it or not, you are one half of a parasitic relationship. She controls and takes advantage—and you relent and complain. Not healthy! You asked for my advice, and here it is. It’s up to you to end things and be definitive about it. Whether or not a person is a longtime fixture in your life should not be the deciding factor on whether or not you keep spending (wasting!) time with them. If they are a family member, there may be more reason to get along since you’re likely to see them at family events. But you are lucky enough to have the advantage of not being related by blood. You’re husband doesn’t like her and you don’t like her, yet you travel long distances to see her? As my niece would say, “What’s up with that?” Is it possible that you have some masochistic tendencies? Are there signs of this in any other part of your life? Have you ever spoken to a therapist about it? Just some food for thought. In the meantime, I say you make up your mind to rid yourself of this toxic person and then DO IT! No more trips to see her for more punishment. No more phone calls (if you don’t already have it, caller ID can be very helpful). And no more feeling guilty for not taking abuse—from her or from anyone! If you can pull this off, you will be happier, freer, healthier and stronger for it. It’s all up to you.

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  1. Nicky Wells Says:

    What a tricky conundrum. I agree with Bonnie that sometimes we hold on to people for all the wrong emotional reasons. On the other hand, friendships are precious, even difficult ones. I’m a pretty tolerant person so personally, I might be inclined to let things run but keep my distance for a while, see what shakes out if you’re not always at her beck and call. You might be surprised. But if it’s really getting you down, trust Bonnie. 🙂

  2. Sheryl Browne Says:

    Ooh, defnitely tricky. I think guilt plays a big part, but then she may be relying that to ‘guilt’ you into things. Yep, sounds like a bit of a co-dependent relationship. Some people are drains rather than radiators, this person sounds like a definite drain. I think I would try the caller ID and ease yourself out of it. Good luck! 🙂

  3. Bonnie Trachtenberg Says:

    Thanks so much for your thoughts, Nicky and Sheryl! I always think life’s too short (or long!) to have someone in your life who is a detriment to you. I have found that people–who as you put it, Sheryl–“drain” you are like vultures and should be removed so there’s more room and more time for other nurturing, positive relationships to thrive. Power to you and your tolerance, Nicky! You are a more patient gal than I! 🙂

  4. Stephanie Keyes Says:

    I had friends like that once. I would have told you that they were my best friends at one time. Then I realized that I was better for them than they were for me. That’s a sign that you need to walk away. Although it’s always good to look deep within and determine why we make the decisions that we do, change is a challenge for everyone. It’s understandable that walking away would be hard. However, sometimes it’s best to make a clean break. Good luck. 🙂

  5. Bonnie Trachtenberg Says:

    Very true, Stephanie! Great insights and thanks for commenting!

  6. Kit Domino Says:

    I had a few friends like that but in the end, I let them go. It was hard but had to be done. They weren’t true friends I realised, they were using me. Now I spend my time on those that matter and who I know will be there for me.

  7. Bonnie Trachtenberg Says:

    Glad to hear it, Kit! Thanks for your comment! 🙂

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