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Self-centered friends: Better in small doses

QUESTION

Hi Irene,

I’m so glad I came across this site. I’ve been having issues with a friend for quite some time now but really don’t know how to handle it anymore. We’ve been friends since elementary school, but spent most of our friendship away from each other since we both move a lot. We hardly see each other, so when we have the opportunity, I want and try to make sure that our reunion is a happy one, which usually means trying to ignore her negative remarks.

 

It seems like every two weeks at the most, she would say something to just burn my core. She actually got mad at me at one point because I didn’t agree with her opinion, which by the way, she literally asked for. She replied with an insult saying she thought I was more ambitious than that. I usually keep things to myself but this time I spoke my mind, still keeping it clean and straight to the point. She then convinced herself that everything was my fault and I’m mean and blunt.

 

Another time, she actually had the nerve to ask me to ask my live-in boyfriend if he could sleep at his parents’ house since she was sleeping over. I told her that it’s not happening. It’s his house too and I’m not about to ask this man to leave his own house. She brought this up on an argument a few weeks later saying she doesn’t understand the big deal because she would do that for me.

 

My boyfriend proposed to me recently and had invited some of our close friends to witness the event. Keep in mind that this girl lives a few states away. She actually said she’s upset that he didn’t wait for her to come and visit a few weeks later to propose, and why he didn’t call her to tell her he was proposing. Hellllllloooooooo… this is not about you!

 

When I started telling her why she shouldn’t be upset, she cuts me off and says she’s not upset and that she was just kidding. But then a few days later, she brings it up again. She also seems like she’s jealous of my other girlfriends, who by the way are really nice to her. Every time I bring up one friend in particular, it seems like she’s always competing and says something to make herself seem better.

 

These are just a few things I’ve dealt with in the past 17 years. I’ve talked to her over and over again about our issues but nothing seems to change. She turns things around on me when we get into an argument. Some people tell me it’s time to let go, but we’ve been friends for far too long and have been through so much. I don’t see myself letting our friendship go. I want to work on it, but it’s very difficult when the other person says they’ll work on it as well but don’t really do anything. I’d like to have an outsider’s point of view or advice. Maybe you can shed some light.

Signed,
Frustrated Friend,


ANSWER

Dear Frustrated Friend,

Gosh, this friend sounds beyond self-centered and possessive—she believes your world should revolve around hers.

 

I’m sure that you have a long shared history and it’s sad to think about severing ties but you’ve mentioned nothing that even suggests that this friendship has matured—or is currently gratifying to you or her.

 

You say you’ve made repeated efforts to communicate your frustration and there’s been no change. Sadly, my guess is that the likelihood of change in the future is extremely slim; you can’t change another person unless they want to change.

 

Your life seems to be filled with good relationships, a fiancée and other girlfriends. In this case, geography is on your side. My suggestion would be limit the relationship to very occasional get-togethers in small doses to minimize her getting on your nerves. The more time you spend together, the more frustrated you will feel.

Hope this helps.

Best,
Irene

 

Prior posts on The Friendship Blog that touch upon similar topics:

 

Legacy friends

Self-centered friends

Fluid friendships

Needy friends

 

Have a friendship question or dilemma? Ask The Friendship Doctor or visit The Friendship Forums where you can get opinions from others.

 

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Comments (5)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This post is spot on :) It could be that we get involved with friends like this because our own parents are self absorbed narcissists themselves and as children we are held responsible for their emotions and can get accustomed to doing this with “friends” as well. A really excellent book on this subject is called Children of the Self Absorbed, by Nina W. Brown.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’ve known people who’ve acted like this. They think everything is all about them all the time. It’s like their friends don’t matter – like they’re just props to be manipulated on a whim. And even when their friends are treated with some sympathy, it’s still made clear that they are somehow less important.

    People who act like this are delusional, childish, selfish and they don’t really care all that much about other people. Putting some distance between you and them is really the only answer. I’ve had two friends for 20+ years who’ve both shown these qualities, and I’m more distant from both of them now, and I don’t regret it. Sometimes people just need to move on…

  3. Laura says:

    Let the friendship die. Seriously, someone who is an adult and who hasn’t learned to not be possessive and to admit that others have a mind and not belittle their opinions, even if they are different (not immoral) isn’t a good friend. Part of maturity is learning who is good association and who is not.

    Do not sentimentality influence you, the “history” that you’ve had. If this person has the gall to ask your boyfriend to change his proposal schedule for her convenience, that says it: she wants the world to revolve around her. If she can’t refrain from snarky commentary and negativity, then she isn’t worth the friendship. This is why shunning was invented in religious communities; that’s how to get rid of bad apples (before it was abused). Some people need the cold shoulder to wake up to their personality flaws. And don’t fall for the “I’d do it for you” excuse they offer. Think hard: when did she go out of her way to do something over the top in the scale of her asking your boyfriend to leave his own house? Probably never, I’d wager.

    She won’t be all alone. These people always find someone else to stick themselves to like bloodsuckers. Barring a personality disorder, I think she is just flawed.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Trust me, as you age you will find that you have less and less time, and less and less interest, and less and less patience for this kind of thing. For every person you’ve ever met and thought, “What a great personality! How engaging! I’d like to get to know them better,” there’s another person who just has a bad personality. You can spend time figuring out WHAT is bad, WHY it’s bad or WHAT it is that YOU could or should do to make them a happier, more delightful person to be around. BUT THAT’S NOT YOUR JOB. This isn’t really a friend. You may have “been through” so much together, but what does this really mean? Did you hold her hand through chemo or some other genuine trial? Or, far less likely, DID SHE HOLD YOURS? Or was she, at most, merely a witness to your own trials and tribulations? I suspect the latter. This is a Christmas-card friend; nothing more. Maybe you can’t kick her off your FB page. Then press the “Hide” button on her next (negative, manipulative, selfish, immature) post and visit HER page when you think you need a dose. If Tipper and Al Gore can call it quits after nearly 50 years, you can ditch this so-called “friend.” Life is too short. Really.

  5. Laurie says:

    I wouldn’t be able to stomach this person in small doses. Even though she’s out of town, with today’s technology out of town people can be just as much in our face as local people. This can be good and bad. In this case it’s bad as this person can text, email or call just as much as a local friend.

    Not one positive thing was said about this friend in the entire post. I do understand the shared history but if there’s nothing positive in the here and now and it’s unlikely things will improve in the future why suffer with “small doeses?” Life is too short!

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