• Resolving Problems

How do you handle a pushy friend?

Published: April 6, 2014 | By | 5 Replies Continue Reading
When you’re dealing with a pushy friend, you need to set some boundaries.


Hi Irene,

Help, I have a sister-in-law who is also somewhat of a friend. She tends to monopolize everything and always has to run the show. When she is with my friends and me, she monopolizes the conversation and I can’t get a word in edgewise.

She always invites herself and I’m having difficulties dealing with her overbearingness and pushiness. Any good pointers? Help, I’m having difficulties dealing with this situation.

Signed, Melissa


Hi Melissa,

Granted it isn’t easy to make a pushy friend less pushy—and it’s worse when that person is a relative whom you can’t risk alienating.

But relationships always involve two people. Every person with a pushy personality is enabled by a withdrawing person who allows her to go too far—more than is comfortable.

A few suggestions:

You may need to set limits on how often you invite your sister-in-law with your friends, especially if they aren’t mutual friends. If she asks why she wasn’t included, just say you hadn’t seen X for a long time and wanted to catch up.

Hopefully, when she’s in a group, other people will be the ones to interrupt and curb her pushiness. Try not to be the one who takes on handling this problem in mixed company.

Given her overbearing personality, you may need to leave your own comfort zone and simply interrupt her by saying something like, “I want to say something”…and then proceed to say it.

Although you are sort of friends and relatives by marriage, you may need to back off the relationship a bit because she isn’t the type of friend you would choose on your own.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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Comments (5)

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  1. Jill says:

    I have one of these SILS. I wholeheartedly agree that boundaries need to be set and employing the “I” messages Irene recommends would certainly work when you have no alternative but to be around her. And definitely I agree that you should limit your exposure to SIL, as I, myself, have, to necessary family functions only. However, declaring to the family that you plan to have nothing further to do with her, as someone suggested, seems unnecessarily excessive in this instance and the fallout that would result would be destructive to all relationships in the family. You have to consider other members of the family and how your decision would affect them and the hard feelings of such an action. It just doesn’t sound like it’s come to that point for you. I believe you simply need to curtail SIL’s involvement with YOUR friends and social activities and set boundaries with her for family gatherings as Irene suggested.

  2. caraK says:

    unless your SIL is an exceptional person, and all signs point to the fact that she is not an exceptional person but rather just a very selfish pushy person, she will not change. I take a different view from Irene. I believe your SIL who must be a conscious thinking adult is 100 percent responsible for her behavior, and you do not “enable” her pushy selfish behavior. At worst you put up with her or tolerate her for the ” sake of family relations”. Likely it will always be a battle for you to get your share when you’re around her. If you are a kind and caring and gentle person, her behaviors will serve only to belittle you.. By treating her decently you will never teach her to treat you decently. It’s likely a no-win situation for you. Do not blame yourself for how she herself decides to treat you. The better you treat her, the more she will take from you. Also, the more you stand up for yourself, the more she will push back, possibly she will resort to verbally belittling you. I have struggled with this type of situation,and am only after decades am i beginning to learn these are 100 percent no-win situations for a kind giving sort of person. This past year when i had to fight for my life given CA diagnosis, ALL the ppl in my life who are like your SIL turned their backs on dh and me, all of them, all, with no exceptipns. I also came to realize these types of people drain life from us,hence the are not simply unpleadant, rather they are litetally toxic to us. Knowing what i know now, i would suggest for your consideration simply standing up for yourself once and for all, and making a clear simple declaration, that you choose not to associate with her for personal reasons that are important to you. no explanations. no accusations. if you make accusations or complaints, you will have to explain them. a simple statement that you have decided not to associate with her for reasons that are vitally important to you, this is enough. likely this involves standing up to your husband also, since this is his sister. some very wise person once said, “begin the way you mean to go on”. stand up for yourself, and you can never go wrong. if you ever made a mistake, and she turns out to be the loveliest person in the world, you will find that out as time goes on. but I really doubt that is the case. best wishes and God bless to you.

    • Mary94949 says:

      caraK, you are so right. Take care of yourself first. People who are on an ego trip don’t require additional support, nor should you make concessions. Let them express their selfish, narcissistic needs but don’t give in. Case in point – person who wants all relatives to travel to East Coast next Xmas to be at her house. No, we don’t have the $ to do that and I have an old, sick relative who would be left home alone at Xmas – of course, ms. narcissist doesn’t give a thought to whether her wish is unrealistic, and said elderly person would be left alone. Just take care of you.

  3. Amy F says:

    I like Irene’s suggestions about boundaries. Sometimes practicing assertive comments can make them easier to use in difficult situations.
    Phrases like “I wasn’t finished yet” and “Can I please finish my story” and “I asked for Mary’s opinion and would really like to hear what she has to say” are good statements that can remind a talkative person to let others speak.
    Use “I” statements, and avoid sounding accusatory. Avoid phrases like “you always” or “you never” and focus on the immediate situation.
    I know for me, the longer I let behavior that drives me crazy go, the more resentful I feel. Since your SIL will likely be a permanent petson in your life, it’s best to address this before you grow to truly dislike her. For me, focusing in the person’s positive attributes helps me remember why I do care about her.

    • Tracy says:

      I like Amy’s suggestions. Because pushy people will always be around, we have to learn how to handle them. I get bone weary in groups where one person holds court the entire time. When we don’t handle them, we are enabling them. Polite but firm redirection should at the least make each situation bearable and the pushy person will be forced to be either incredibly rude or realize that the
      ir monopoly is being confronted. Good luck!

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