• Few or No Friends

How can I handle a friend who is angry and hostile?

Published: February 19, 2013 | By | 6 Replies Continue Reading
It’s not easy being supportive to a friend who is angry and hostile. Sometimes, small doses can make it more bearable.


Hi Irene,

I have a friend who lost her husband about a year ago. She has also lost most of her friends through her hostile behavior toward them and doesn’t have a good relationship with her family. She is and has been strong-minded and opinionated.

However, I feel that I would like to help her even though she rebuffs any offers of help that we try to give her. (I am one of several friends that are trying to stick with her.)

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Signed, Victoria


Hi Victoria,

It’s understandable that a woman who is widowed may be angry or hostile after such a trauma. Sometimes, anger can be an outward manifestation of depression. But it sounds like you are describing someone who has a long pattern of behavior that is alienating and irritating to others.

It’s nice that you and several other friends want to offer her support even though it may be unpleasant to be around her. Just doing this is probably a very big help although she may not admit that, or be able to express appreciation for your support.

You might make the suggestion (gingerly) that she speak to a counselor to work through her feelings of unresolved grief—if you feel her hostility has been exacerbated by her husband’s passing. If you think she may be depressed, you can ask her if she is still feeling very sad and suggest that talking to someone might help. Unfortunately, since she is so strong-minded, it’s likely she’ll vote down any such suggestions.

It’s extremely difficult to change someone’s personality or the ways they perceive the world around them. To continue to provide support, you may want to see your friend in “small doses,” making it a point not to spend long periods of time with her. Also, she may be easier to handle in a small group rather than one-on-one.

I hope this is somewhat helpful to you.

Best, Irene

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Category: Personality and friendship

Comments (6)

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  1. LaTrice says:

    I can’t imagine how difficult it is to lose someone you loved so dearly, as well as dealing with their hostile behavior-which can be such a challenge to deal with. It’s understandable that your friend is grieving for the death of her husband, but her actions shouldn’t be justified.

    I think it’s best that you could continue to support your friend, but at a safe distance. You can’t force her to get the help that she needs, and it’s up to her to want to have the help, as well as utilizing the resources. Everyone does grieve differently, but pushing away those that love and care about her, well, that’s going to be her fault.

  2. Marisa says:

    You are a good person Victoria.

  3. Lauren says:

    Hi Victoria,
    You sound very kind and very supportive. It sad that you have been having a difficult time with this rather hostile friend. Many people loose loved ones , but they don’t act rudely to their friends. Perhaps she needs some “time out”. I always say we can try to help our friends, but as we are not therapists, and we do not prescribe medication, we cannot cure them, unfortunately. Best of luck to you,Lauren

  4. Lauren says:

    Hi Victoria,
    She seems to have a history of hostile, aggressive behavior and she doesn’t seem to care who she hurts and/or offends. It is sad for her that she is a widow now, but many people loose loved ones, and do not become rude or hostile to their old friends. You have to think about your own peace of mind and perhaps let her think things out for herself. We are not psychiatrists, and even if we were, we still might not be able to “cure” her negative traits. You have tried to help her, and she does not seem to care, so now you have to start thinking about your own happiness and quality of life.

  5. karah perez says:

    how to deal with a friend talking to in a hostile way.

  6. Grace Pamer says:

    I went through a similar thing with a friend of mine. She was devastated after a break up with the love of her life. No amount of consoling could help. She pushes everyone away time and time again. In the end we had to make clear, as a group, we were there for her when she needed but that we would give her time to figure that out for herself. She just needed time to heal in her own way and after a few months we gradually reconnected with short bits of contact, a coffee here, a walk with her dog there, and eventually she was able to open up again. It was all very hard and she remains to this day heart broken but I think she realizes life goes on.

    I hope your friend finds a way through the pain too. Just be patient and know she does need your support but sometimes you have to take a step back to take a step forward.


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