• Keeping Friends

A blunt friend told me I’m boring and negative

Published: September 21, 2015 | By | 27 Replies Continue Reading
How should someone respond to a friend’s blunt criticism?


Dear Friendship Doctor,

I became friends with this woman almost a year ago and recently she told me I’m boring and negative on the phone.

Should I be friends with her or blow her off? She really does not know me that well and I was really hurt that she said that. She started off the conversation saying it was hard to be friends with me.

I might be complaining to her because I’m anemic and just had surgery a few months ago. However, I’m a faithful friend, loving and have a good heart. I’m really hurt that she told this to me so bluntly over the phone.

Signed, Dorie


Hi Dorie,

Ouch! Total bluntness hurts. But the problem could be her, you—or the combination of the two.

Do you think that your behavior merited her complaint? Being honest with yourself—should you be tempering how much you complain to her or other friends that you don’t know very well? When you speak, do you tend to talk about the same topic (e.g. your health)?

In other encounters, has this friend characteristically been blunt and abrasive? Does she have an unkind manner and brusqueness to her that you find irritating? Does she tend to be very critical of others, too?

How meaningful is this relationship? Do you generally enjoy each other’s company and conversation? Are there enough positives to the friendship that you want to work through this conflict?

If you want to save the friendship, my suggestions would be twofold:

  • Try to be more self-aware of how you are coming across when you speak to her. Even though she expressed it bluntly, her point of view may be valid.
  • If you feel like you haven’t been as negative as she suggests, let your friend know how harsh her comments came across to you. Hopefully, this will lead to a constructive conversation.

If you can’t resolve this problem, it may be that you and your friend are simply a bad mix.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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Comments (27)

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  1. Justin Brackett says:

    It is interesting to me how many people deal with this. I too have dealt with something like this in the last season of life. So much so that I sat and wrote about it.

  2. lua says:

    Late on this, but that’s a bit harsh. If someone said that to me, they would be dropped. I don’t have the tolerance, nor the energy to spend with people whom say such hurtful things. To me, there is a difference between being blunt and downright rude. Imo, this “friend” sounds like a frenemy. Good luck with your decision. Make room for those whom make you feel good.

  3. JB says:

    a similar thing happened to me a few years ago when a close friend told be i “wasn’t fun anymore” after a day skiing where i just wasn’t up to par.

    i confronted her on the comment a few weeks later, she denied it.

    she wouldn’t agree to disagree.

    that ended our friendship of 7+ yrs.

    it turned out that i was actually suffering from a severe internal illness, which i needed extensive surgery for, that’s why my skiing wasn’t “up to par”. and this friend was an ER Nurse, so much for Compassion.

    you never know what someone else is going through until you ask. try asking questions, before judging.

  4. Sarah T says:

    I think this depends on a lot of factors. Dorie, you have a right to feel how you feel.

    Honesty is a good thing to have in a relationship. It is important to note that honesty has to be “packaged” well (i.e. how you say something).

    A couple of things strike me is why is this person friends with you if you are boring and negative not to mention how hard it is for them to be friends with you? I don’t get this.

    Second, I do understand from personal experience that being ill is quite a challenge (I have a blood condition too!). It does make a person negative. How could it not? It is depressing sometimes with the doctors visits, scans, potential surgery/recoup time, dealing with your medical insurance, etc. Most people don’t know how to really support someone so they pull away. A real friend doesn’t disappear when life gets difficult.

    On the flip side to that: Hearing someone frequently complain about their medical problems isn’t good either (called poor me syndrome). Some people don’t get help because it stops the gravy train of sympathy from others and therefore they take no ownership on how they choose to handle things. Friends are also not therapists. We all need a professionally trained person to help us navigate life when it kicks us in the teeth.

    Just being a devils advocate here but perhaps she was trying to set a boundary with you about what she is willing/not willing to hear about your problems. Her delivery if that is indeed the case, is awful.

    Starting off a conversation (over the phone no less) by her saying “it was hard to be friends with you” is not okay. These types of conversations should be conducted in person for one and with tact of course.

    Some people open a conversation with fake concern only as a cover to say crappy things to you. Like saying something offensive and ending it with “No offense” as if what they said has magically turned unoffensive. In addition, saying things like “don’t be so sensitive”(or something along those lines) if you call them out on their behavior is called Gaslighting which is manipulative among other things.

    If she has said hurtful comments to you have set a boundary with her and she keeps continuing her antics, she does not respect you..

  5. Lucy says:

    She sounds like an insensitive clod to me. I would steer clear of her. I’ve had it with people with no filter like that!

  6. ReMai says:

    This sure strikes close to home for me.

    The words boring and negative, super ouch. So sorry you experienced this.
    It rather takes one’s breath away.

    But you know what, I wonder if it might be that you are somewhat fortunate for her poor delivery of words . . in that, I mean. . . I am sure you are not all boring and negative and nothing else.

    I agree with the poster who said that people are fluid. With that in mind, negative and boring is what we all can be at times. So I think it is just part of living and of life.

    Tap into yourself, just be yourself. Try to think that this is a positive development, an aha moment, only a snapshot in time. Tap into the positive energy that is inside, and be yourself. Contact her if you want, or wait, but I would try to approach any contact with positivity.

    Hope this helps!

    • Mary says:


      I note you said she didnt know you very well, and that would indicate, she is not been a close friend thinking she were ::doing you a favor.::

      You stated, you have only known her 1 year. You also states She– started off the conversation with bla bla. Um, if she was a great friend trying to do you a favor she wouldnt do it when you were ill!

      Sounds like she called you . You of course being unwell, as explained, and suffering with that not of been feeling perky.

      So i assume the conversation may have gone something like this– ring ring- Hello ( this woman) how are you.

      You– answering honestly — not to well i am afraid dear– then u explain why — I had a operation a few months ago but bla bla..

      There is nothing in what you wrote to indicate you deserved to be spoken to in that manner, and she certainly was Not trying to do you a favor in my opinion, by what you wrote.

      Perhaps next time if someone calls and your sick- just say sorry but this isn’t a good time- can i call you back.

      I am sorry you were hurt and hope your health improves .

      Maybe just stick to your older friends — as you said she doesn’t really know you — and nor does anybody else on this forum.

      Why do some woman like to put the boot in when others are feeling down.

      Dorie, you sound like a nice person , sensitive and really hurt .
      So sorry this happened but my advise is do not call her — and IF she contacts you , just say sorry i am busy.

      Yes dump her!

      • QueenNefereti says:

        Thanks Mary for the great insight and a partial construction of the incident. I have dealt with this kind of friend before, even sticked around after she said many awful things to me. In the long run, i found out that she needed to work on her insensitivity and bipolar disorder and we ended up really bad.

        A friend who is ill or in distress needs a helping hand, right? Are we there to make her feel even more low? She could have spoken to Dorie in a nicest manner/tone if she meant to do her a favour.

        The best option is to steer clear of people with such bad demeanor.
        Dorie, i so much wish you a quick recovery and hope you will live the life you deserve soon ????????

  7. Katharine Di Cerbo says:

    Many people would just start to avoid a person with whom they were starting to find fault. In many ways, a friend who has to courage to share this opinion is really worth having! At least you’ll always know where you stand with them, and you have a chance to correct something in yourself to which you may have been completely oblivious.

    OP – Please be honest with yourself! Were you giving your friend a share her own problems or have you been accidentally hyper-focusing on your own during your conversations? Have you been overdoing it with complaining about an unsolvable problem over and over again? Either of these things can be alienating to others, even if we are truly good people and didn’t mean at all to be difficult to deal with!

  8. Maddie says:

    This friend feels you are negative. I don’t find that yo be blunt. If you are rattling on about your health and illnesses as a main topic of conversation, she is right. I would want a friend to call me on that.

    Boring is harsh, bc we all enjoy different things. Boring is subjective, but being constantly negative is a turn off. I would look to myself in this respect and let this friendship go, as she is stating she doesn’t really like you.

    Good luck. All we can do is learn and grow.

  9. Susan says:

    I love the different responses and points of view.
    It’s nice to take a dab of each one and create a balance if one chooses to do so.
    My line of thought is more of ‘It’s not what you say, but how you say it.’ Example…if someone asks you for your opinion on how a shirt, dress, pants, etc. looks on them, and it doesn’t look good (they look fat, dorky, etc.), instead of being blunt by being too honest to where it may hurt their feelings, maybe an answer such as, “I don’t think it’s becoming on you” would be more tactful and not so hurtful. You’re still getting the message/point across.

    I dumped an ex-boyfriend out of my life after he continued to be so hurtful with his bluntness despite sharing my feelings about it. He simply didn’t care and would reply with, “Don’t get your panties in a bunch.” I don’t want this in my life and am not going to put up with it.

  10. lottie says:

    Hi Dorie,

    Sorry to hear your so called friend spoke so rudely towards you. Drop her like a ton of muck,that is how she has treated you. Respect yourself by not making any contact to her first.Think is she worth your kindness. No, from the sounds of it.Treat yourself Dorie, to making some decent friends who value you. Take care you sound like a lovely person. Lottie

    • Susan says:

      I agree with you, Lotti, I dumped an ex-boyfriend because of his rude, unkind bluntness. He’s now out of my life and I don’t miss HIM one bit.

  11. Susan M. says:

    She may have felt that since you are sharing so much personal stuff with her, that she could do the same with you. She may not have perceived the difference in the types is revelations.

  12. tanja says:

    That hurts. I guess it is just me, but usually if that were to happen to me, I would just not call her or make that much of an effort anymore. I never cut people out of my life. Not in my nature. But, some friendships, you nourish and make an effort and spend time on, much love a romantic relationship. So, this has happened to me. There may have been a bit of truth in there but those lines are blurry and in between. No one is one way all the time. People are fluid, fickle, we always change and friends are there for us through what ever moment we are experiencing at the time. Of course, trick may be not to use one friend for one purpose all the time, but mix it up a bit, so all friends see the many diverse sides.

    However, in this case, if I did not like the comment, although it could have been true at the time of, I would not try to defend myself. I may grief alone for a bit but learn for the next time to not waste my time picking up the phone to call her. I may not put in so much effort anymore to nourish the friendship. If it works out, great and she calls me, I would talk but distance would be there and she put it there. It takes two to create the relationship you want. So, if she wants a formal and distant relationship but a relationship none the less, that is the one she would get from me. I just would not waste so much energy on her anymore. Let her call you, I would not call her to talk about your problems anymore at all. She is not that kind of friend….

  13. Amy F says:

    I would very much appreciate a friend who told me I’m boring and negative. I have a chronic illness and getting caught up in health issues is an easy trap to fall into, especially in the beginning stages of learning to live with a “new normal”. I lost friends when I became ill and I think that could have been avoided if someone cared enough to show me that I was becoming the type of person I don’t enjoy being around.

    Of course, delivery and empathy matter. I’d much rather have a friend who cares enough to be honest, than one who never said anything and just backed away or shut me out completely.

    Ironically, the experience came full circle for me when I was diagnosed with cancer and acutely aware that the last thing I wanted was to become a boring cancer patient who sucked up all the oxygen in the room by making every conversation all about my cancer/chemo etc. I felt sicker when relationships became all about cancer, and I think having a preexisting chronic illness helped with that.

    Only you can decide what you want out of your friendship and whether your friend’s honesty is something you want to use to help propel you forward, disregard, or end the friendship. I don’t think many friendships would survive if they were ended over an unappreciated conversation.

    A wise person once told me that the comments that evoke the most visceral reactions are often those that hit closest to home. Because if they were completely untrue, why would the words bother me. She was right. I notice this when I comment on threads. If a person responds outlandishly, even if it’s mean spirited I laugh, but I feel defensive if that person has hit a nerve.

  14. QueenNefereti says:

    Hi Dorie,

    Bluntness does hurt just as Irene noted!! I had been in the same situation where only few people had a little to no understanding (just a hint ; i lost mum and job in the same month of 2011)

    Nevertheless, the less you expect from friends the less likely you will get hurt. I learned it the hard way; talk less about your problem and maybe sugarcoat your real situation somehow. Blunt behavior or negative attitude from close friends even from my immediate family doesn’t seem to surprise me anymore. Try to be friend with yourself and be careful of who you are kind to. If I were in your shoes, i would cease any contact with this friend and never look back. Sadly, If you still want to remain friends with then you have to learn to deal with it,

    If she ever contacts you in the near future; tell her nicely how you felt and make it clear you don’t want to hang out with someone who cant stand you at your worst. I”m sure you do have a nice heart but don’t let anyone play with it. And Dorie don’t forget to tell yourself this; Am not the problem, they are the problem.

  15. Laura says:

    It’s hard when you or a family member has health issues because they literally take over your life. I went through that recently and although my friends asked constantly for updates, which meant the world to me, I still tried to steer the conversation to other things, for both our sakes!

  16. Mary says:

    I would just leave it alone. Let her call you if she wishes , dont under any circumstances be the one to make first contact. Of course take her comments onboard. I am sure your faithful with a good heart and some like to find those to use as a whipping post.

    Friends should be available to use as a sounding board and shoulder when we are down , as well as a laugh and a joke– i get you – you were not feeling well.

    You cant go to as shop and buy a kilo of empathy — people either have it- or not.

    for eg- Last Christmas, i was ill in bed and upset by a house mates poor manners. When i called my cousin to say hello there was no answer so i left a message.

    Months later no reply– So I called to say Hi did you get my message ( Just merry Christmas @ i was sick in bed.

    She screamed back at me YES I did and frankly i am not interested.

    Never heard or will hear from her again. Was a different story when she needed money numerous times to pay her rent- or for funeral expenses for her son.

    My message is dont let people use your kindness. Anybody treats you like that– forget them.

    • Whitby says:

      I don’t know about that … one of my friends once told me that I was boring and negative (or words to that effect). I was very hurt – but eventually, I realized that she was right. I was boring and negative. And there should be a limit to how much sounding off one should do. So I tried to be less boring and negative – and I discovered, surprisingly, that once I stopped talking so much about the things that I thought were making me feel boring and negative, I felt a lot less negative. I have become ambivalent about venting – it can be helpful, but engage in it for too long, and it just ends up deepening the rut of negative thinking (at least for me).

      My experience suggests that the truth value and ultimately helpfulness of the statement depends on the friend. if this friend is a decent human being, the comment could be a helpful one (as it was in my case – this was someone I had known for a few years, and though she could indeed be very blunt, she was also incredibly helpful). If this person is just critical and distant, then I would agree – dump ’em.

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