• Resolving Problems

Friends we can count on

Published: March 1, 2015 | By | 10 Replies Continue Reading
When we’re having problems, it’s understandable that we may be less forgiving of friends we can’t count on.


Hi Irene,

I have been friends with a woman for over 12 years. Over that time, we have experienced deaths, births, divorce, moving away, accidents, etc. During the course of this friendship, I have accepted demeaning behavior from her repeatedly. I overlooked a lot because I would remember her kindness and get through it.

But my emotions have built up inside due to the fact that I have personal and health issues going on, and have expressed to her that I need support. She was there for me but didn’t stop expressing demeaning comments.

A few days ago I had enough and I told her I did and I needed to hang up the phone. A couple hours later, I called to apologize but spoke to her answering machine. I received a text from her that she doesn’t accept my apology and that she is done with me. I was crushed and now I am hurt.

I did receive another text from her about something she saw that reminded her of me. I responded and said I liked what she was showing me. Since then neither of us have made an attempt to deal with the issue at hand, our longtime friendship.

Yet, I feel calmness that I haven’t had to deal with the ridicule. Part of me would like to let this friendship go and the other part misses the friendship, the good times, we shared. FYI, we are in our 60’s and I am a caregiver to my husband who is disabled. Any advice would be appreciated.

Signed, Laurie


Hi Laurie,

Although you’ve known this woman for a long time and have shared many experiences, you say you’ve overlooked a lot to sustain this friendship.

While no friendship is perfect, it has to be tough to remain friends with someone whom you feel looks down upon you and consistently makes demeaning remarks.

It sounds like you are in an especially tough situation now. In addition to caregiving responsibilities, which can be very stressful and overwhelming, you have had to deal with your own health and personal issues. At times, like this we need more not less support from our friends.

I’m not sure what your friend said that led to the recent blowup. If the things she said were mean-spirited, I don’t understand why you felt the need to apologize to her rather than vice versa.

You are going to have to decide whether this friendship is really satisfying to you overall—with all its warts. If so, you need to have an honest discussion with your friend about what has been upsetting to you over a long time. You may also decide that it’s prudent to spend less time with her and to lower your expectations.

Another option: You may want to use the limited amount of time and energy you have to cultivate other friendships that you can count on more reliably. A caregiver support group might be a good place to meet new acquaintances that could understand the challenges you are facing.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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Category: Disappointing friends, RESOLVING PROBLEMS

Comments (10)

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  1. Lauren says:

    Hi Laurie,

    I’m sorry to hear about the way that this “friend” has been treating you. Her behavior and her remarks to you are inexcusable and mean-spirited.

    She knows full well what effect her mean comments have on you. She enjoys this type of one-sided, mean-spirited “friendship ” that she brings to the table. Telling her that her comments are mean-spirited and hurtful would not change anything. People like her are masters of transference of aggression, and they know so well who to pick for a victim.

    If you told her that her comments are hurtful, she would probably say that she is so sorry and stop for a little while, then boom …back to the nasty comments. That is her style, and she is not about to change into a sweet, caring altruistic person.

    It’s also the style of that type of person to be “nice” sometimes, to do the occasional favor, and then of course to go right back into primary mode, and then out come the insults, etc. This keeps their “friends”/ victims in a state of wondering confusion.

    Also, never apologize to someone who has dissed you. She is the one who should be apologizing, but her type never or seldom do. Be very aware of that.

    I agree with Irene, to lower your expectations of this “friend”; take a bit of a back seat with her, be aware of what she really is and be cooler with her. Irene’s advice about joining a caretaker support group and finding other friends and acquaintances is a great idea.

    Best to you,

  2. madalyn ariah says:

    Well I have been having problems with my so called friend and she has always been jealous I don’t know why she is beautiful but she is always mean to me and I want her to stop and now we are in an argument and she is bringing people into this who have nothing to do with it and I am not sure how to handle it and I know this is just typical teenage drama but its been 3 years

  3. Tracy says:

    Demeaning remarks are a deal breaker for me. Life is too short. She’s got a problem.

  4. Maddie says:

    I think thus story needs more detail about what the OP considers demeaning or inappropriate. Why did she apologize if she was in the right? I think more is going on here. I wish we could hear her friend’s version of the events.

  5. LaTrice says:

    I agree with what Irene is saying about lowering your expectations with your friend, Laurie. In my opinion, I think it’s best that you should end your friendship, and it’s obvious that it’s toxic. The fact that your friend is constantly bringing you down, says a lot about her actions-and that includes competition, emotional blackmail, and arrogance. If your friend really cared about you, she wouldn’t continue to keep doing that.

    There’s no need for you to excuse or analyze her behavior, and you shouldn’t allow this woman to destroy your self-esteem. No one should allow disrespectful behavior to continue.

  6. Amy F says:

    Sounds to me like your friend’s upsides aren’t as strong as her downsides. I wonder why you never told her when she said something that you felt as demeaning. The way I see it, if we don’t tell others when something is bothering us, they won’t know to change. I’d say something like, “When you told me XYZ, I felt hurt, like like you were looking down on me.”
    If you want to give her another chance, I’d recommend telling her what’s bothering you, and what you need from her. “At this point, I don’t want to hear how much better you would have done something. If we’re going to continue to be friends, I really need this from you.”
    I’d also take Irene’s suggestion about seeking out others to fill and balance your friendship needs.

  7. Laura says:

    Love the caregiver group suggestion, Irene. Some new friends are definitely in order.

    I, too, didn’t understand why and what she was apologizing for. The friend should have been doing the apologizing. This dynamic has been in place a long time. so if the relationship continues it’s going to take a lot to change it. New friends will take the focus off this person.

  8. Anna G says:

    I think everyone can relate to this post. Along these lines, I have a similar situation with a longtime friend who’s also an in-law/relative. This woman is an overbearing person to begin with — an emotional bully and blackmailer who tends to be competitive as well. She often shoots little barbs at me, or likes to challenge my opinions and choices — especially when she’s feeling low or insecure. I actually LIKE her, most of the time. But she’s generally a force to be reckoned with. Since she’s a relative, I have to make the best of it.

    I remind myself that this friend of mine is insecure. I think that’s often the case with people who demean their friends in order to feel better about themselves.

    Dr. Irene says it best in her answer: “You may also decide that it’s prudent to spend less time with her and to lower your expectations.” That’s the best way, I found, to cope with my similar situation.

    • LaTrice says:

      I understand that you’re trying to find ways to deal with your in-law’s negative attitude, but her insecurity issues isn’t a problem that you have to deal with. Dealing with someone who’s competitive, opinionated, and again, insecure, is not only a pain in the rear, but challenging.

      You need to talk to your in-law, and be honest with her. If she gets angry with you, allow her to be angry, and someone needs to call her out on her actions. Also, set some boundaries. You shouldn’t allow anyone to bring you down-just because they’re feeling horrible about themselves.

      I apologize for being so frank about this, Anna G. I’m NOT very fond of what’s going on between you and your in-law.

  9. Lovey says:

    Hi Laurie,

    I’m sorry you have had to go through this with a so-called friend. Please take Irene’s advice and seek out new, healthier friendships.

    If you are constantly excusing or analyzing her demeaning comments, then no doubt it has also taken a toll on your self esteem too. Nobody’s perfect and we all say things we don’t mean once in a while, but a pattern of disrespectful behaviour should not have to be tolerated long-term. You deserve much better than that.

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