• Keeping Friends

Jealous friends who put you down

Published: December 26, 2016 | Last Updated: February 10, 2017 By | 21 Replies Continue Reading
How do you handle a best friend who always tries to put you down?



I will be 70 years old the last day of this year. Can you believe that I have friendship problems?

My best friend finds ways to put down my professional career. I retired to this area from a big career in another city as a licensed ASID professional designer. She knows this. I taught in Russia and then moved back to my home state to teach interior design at the local community college.

STILL, she and a second friend enjoy needling me about “interior designers” here in our town – and hold others UP compared to my status.

I am so disappointed in her actions. My career was wonderful and I rose to the top but neither woman will acknowledge that. Both treat me poorly about that. Is it because they are JEALOUS and if SO – what in the heck do I do about it. I just can’t stand the remarks.

When I lived in Texas I had my mother and other design professionals as friends so this was never a problem. I would like to smash her little face in but I am too civilized to do that. How do I WIN? Will I ever win?? I think I should just move on. We both sing in the choir at Church and she is nasty to me there. She says rude things to me about my voice.

Signed, Marie


Hi Marie,

Don’t be embarrassed. Friendship problems seem to crop up at every age and stage of life. When a good friend needs to constantly “put you down,” as you suggest in your letter—it often means the friend may be insecure and feel threatened by you. It may have nothing to do with what you say or do, per se.

There is also the possibility that you may be talking about your past career too much. Could that be the case? When someone retires, it often takes time to get comfortable with the status of being retired. If these other women weren’t career-oriented, for example, this could be a factor causing them to behave this way.

When these women make needling remarks or put you down, do you respond defensively? It may be that your best friend feels closer to this other woman than she does to you, and that the two of them derive some perverse pleasure from evoking a response from you.

Your “best friend” doesn’t sound like a very good friend. Perhaps, you could relegate the status of your friendship to a more distant but cordial relationship. You don’t have to cut off all contact but could limit your relationship to choir practice. The friendship may be less grating on you that way and give you more time to seek out other friends.

I know finding new friends at any age may not be easy but given your background and interests in interior design and teaching, perhaps you could find others who appreciate your passions through Meetup.com, senior groups, or volunteer work. There might also be other potential friends in your choir group.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

Other posts that may be of interest…

On the Friendship Forums: Dealing with a Friend’s Insecurities

On The Huffington Post: Handling an Insecure Friend

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Category: Dealing with difficult friends, KEEPING FRIENDS

Comments (21)

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  1. Christal says:

    She doesn’t sound like a real friend, a REAL friend would support you in everything you do, and be there when need help.. Stick with the people who do care for you and don’t let her get to you.. I have learned this myself through experience..I hope this helps!!!

    • Gustavo Woltmann says:

      I agree with you Christal. But let me correct you, real friend would support you in good things only.

      gustavo woltmann

      • Irene (the other one) :) says:

        gustavo – I think you’re wrong there. A true friend will support you at all times, particularly when times are difficult. That’s how one knows who ones real friends are! If I turned my back on a friend going through bad times I would be what we say in the UK, just ‘a fairweather friend’. As far as I’m concerned, people like that van go and jump in the sea – they are selfish and uncaring towards the friend who is hurting.

  2. ThatGirl says:

    Last year I finally lost my cool-years of little jabs, remarks, demands, comments from my now former narcissistic best friend, mind you, we are women in our mid 40’s.
    I called her out on ALL. OF. IT.

    She talks endlessly/gossips about everyone, friends, her own family, her husbands family, how they live, how they raise their children, if their house is clean or messy, a fun night for her is to troll thru Facebook and make remarks on peoples lives…
    The list goes on and on and on.

    Can you imagine? What a sad person.

    Not only that, she has a very high profile, high paying job
    Beautiful children, married to her teenage sweetheart, beautiful home. The world is her oyster. I just don’t get it.

    I do know on a psychological level it stems from her childhood.
    Her husband and children walk on eggshells around her.
    Her husband is the nicest guy. We all went to school together.

    Thing is, I am self aware-I work with a great therapist who told me that this was a toxic friendship and that it was serving me no good.

    Our circle of friends now has a kink in it because they still choose to be around “The Queen Bee”…I see them on occasion but it’s not what it was…I avoid her at all costs, which means I bow out on going to parties/functions when I know she will be there.

    I am a happy go lucky fun to be with bubbly person with a fantastic sense of humor.

    I think this is where her jealousy reared it’s ugly head.

    She is cold, condescending, bossy and thinks she is above everyone.

    There are many people I know that say that about her so I know it’s not just me.

    The only loss here for me is that I loved her family.
    Her husband, kids, in-laws, her family, but they have to remain loyal to her.

    They know who she is but I was able to walk away.
    and to end my rant, one of the things I said to her and I say it to all of you.

    “Life is difficult enough”

    I feel like a weight was lifted from my shoulders.

    If you have to tell an adult how you should be treated there is something wrong.

    Happy New Year to all!

    • Denise says:

      How can someone who

      “talks endlessly/gossips about everyone, friends, her own family, her husbands family, how they live, how they raise their children, if their house is clean or messy, a fun night for her is to troll thru Facebook and make remarks on peoples lives…
      The list goes on and on and on.”

      still have friends? Why does the circle accept her and socialize with her?

      • ThatGirl says:

        I know it’s crazy!

        I am guessing numerous reasons: Reasons I stayed until I got the strength to get out
        However, one of our mutual friends said it happened because I was too nice, overlooked a lot of things without speaking up and I condoned her behavior
        Once they see they can do it and you don’t say anything it will continue.

        2)They have low self esteem issues
        3)She showers them with gifts (like she did with me)
        4) They love her kids

        They also did not spend the amount of time I spent with her
        They are targets too, I am sure they must know on some level
        Sometimes I want to tell them what she thinks of them but that would make me act like her

        I choose to mind my own business and go my own way, vent on here and to my therapist

        One of her sisters in law keeps her distance, that I do know.

        She is a grown up “Mean Girl”
        The circle of friends is not that big and I have seen people fade out, But I called her out on it.

      • Irene (the other one) :) says:

        …why does she still have friends…? Well…they may be afraid to leave – who knows what she may say about THEM behind their backs. Perhaps ‘better the devil you know than the one you don’t.’ Just a thought. It could of course be that these people like listening to gossip, providing it’s not about them. There’s nowt as funny as folk, as the British say.

  3. Ariane says:

    I say dump her and move on. Life’s too short to keep spinning your wheels on this. When someone shows you who he/she really IS believe him/her and don’t think for one moment that he/she will change or that things will change over time. Find people with similar interests, beliefs, etc. This friend isn’t in your league and she KNOWS it. That’s why she is cutting you down every chance she gets. People who feel good in their OWN skin don’t do this to other people. Pity her and do that without friendship. I spent 20 something years on a friendship…. waiting for this person to change….to be kinder to me…..to treat me with respect, etc. NEVER happened. We are here for such a short time on earth. Surround yourself with folks who are going to bring you joy and positivity. It’s unfortunate you have to see her in regards to your both being members of the same choir. Ugg!

  4. Laura says:

    I totally agree with (Both!) Irenes, and especially Ben (Ben, God bless you for your wisdom
    and insights-very comforting and true!).
    Jealousy and one-upmanship are definitely an ageless phenomenon. There have been years that have lasted in my life when I was younger and couldn’t recognize the jealous dynamics with me and when I witnessed it between other girls, but freedom and comfort from these negative vibes comes with maturity, and it’s truly liberating!
    I agree you should distance yourself from these individuals. Whether it’s jealousy, resentment or whatever, are they making you happy, or causing you angst? The answer’s pretty clear!
    We have people in our life that when we get together there’s always jealousy. My husband recently got a new job, and they didn’t even congratulate him. How they deal with things is that the wife remains silent and doesn’t make any effort to converse and the
    husband is the big talker. If we do ever mention anything about our kids’ successes or anything (trust me, we barely mention anything at all now, which is sad in itself), then he either changes the topic and speaks even louder about himself (we’ve heard his stories at least 3 times now), or he gets quiet for a second and changes the subject. How we’ve learned to deal with them now is we make sure we invite other people over to ensure enough mingling, etc., so it makes things easier. Another thing we’ve done is eliminated toxic relationships from our lives, and hang out with people who are genuine. Jealously will always exist, in every aspect of your life. I agree with Ben: you just be gracious, don’t engage in the petty behaviour, and move on!
    My mother always taught me to “kill them with kindness” and she’s right: it’s not about you, it’s their issue (especially if you know you haven’t done them wrong, of course), so smile and walk away; misery loves company, and people like that will always look for others to drag down because they aren’t happy themselves. Happy Birthday, and take the next year of your life to count your blessings and make connections with like-minded people. God Bless!

    • lottie says:

      That is one to remember “misery loves company” so true and well said.The person I wrote about spends her days visiting anyone who will have her. Lottie

  5. Ben says:

    I used to be an aircrew man in the US Navy and on my crew was a guy who would be friends with you one minute and turn and tear you to shreds the next. It was like walking on egg shells around him. I was forced to be around him for a few years. We had a squadron reunion a few years ago and my time there dated back to the early 80’s. He didn’t show up but another fellow squadron mate did. I learned through that exchange I wasn’t the only one who observed this guy’s cruel behavior. You can call it the law of sowing and reaping or karma or whatever you want but as painful as it was to deal with him I am grateful I am not like that at all. It’s good to be nice and considerate regardless of who likes me back. I look at myself in the mirror and like the person staring back at me. I know when someone is mean to me (as long as I know I have done nothing to them) the problem does not reside in me. Life ain’t perfect, easy or fun sometimes but we all get what we practice. A counselor told me this years ago, “What I learn I practice, what I practice I become, what I become has consequences.” Just think how miserable it must be for those people caught up in negativity all the time. Many people think sarcasm is ok but I do not. Sarcasm is a form hostility disguised as humor. I try and stay away from it. Give me kind gentle affirming people every day of the week so I can deal with the occasional bad actor. As Ghandi said to his followers, “No one can abuse me without my permission.” Amen!!! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

    • Frances says:

      What positive and uplifting comments. Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year yourself.

    • Irene (the other one) :) says:

      Ben – I’m sorry you had to work with a person like this, and for several years at that. I’ve known people behaving like this in my working days, and many people were hurt by their attitudes. I’ve since realised that, in fact, they suffer with a form of personality disorder. Fortunately I learnt to keep a distance from such people early on in life.

      Usually these are the sort of people who almost ‘swamps’ one with friendly talk and gestures, giving the impression they want to be your ‘buddy.’ Don’t fall for it – good friendships take a long time to establish, many of these people are often shy and slow in coming forward. Spend time with them.

  6. lottie says:

    Hello Marie,
    Early birthday greetings to you.
    Only today from 1pm until 8pm the same thing has happened to me. I wrote earlier on Comfies 4. So I wont repeat here.
    I agree with most of what the others have said.I doubt you boast or bragg.
    I really feel for you,having achieved so much and done well for yourself.It has to be jealousy I cant see it being anything else.And yes it hurts like hell when put downs are shoved into your face.
    On this site we can say what we like about ourselves but in the real world to “friends” we or I dont say much about achievements. This sounds braggy and if it is, please pardon me.The reason is because I am known for what I have achieved,it is there for people to see,so I do not need to talk of my work.My husband has always said it is my lack of showing off that hits friends hard when they know what I have done.Also I have a regional accent which doesn’t gel with what I do.So again people get the wrong impression. I bet you do not bragg or boast. These nasty women I cant call them ladies probably haven’t done one iota of serious work in their lives. All they do is flower arranging and charity work which is good,they I suppose, are in demand. You are in a different league. They no doubt tittle tattle,whisper,gossip amongst themselves because they know no different.They might even wonder why you are there joining in,it is them who cant cope,so they get jealous.You are intruding in their little world.Just the mere mention of working in Russia will make them want to spew up. I bet when they go home they are the phone to oneanother discussing you,because in their shallow minds they haven’t got anything better to do than think of what flowers to put in church next week,and will they get to see the vicar!!
    My advice, do not volunteer any private information,be friendly,and mix with others as much as possible.Rise above them, and feel sorry for they know not what they miss in your company.Your life has been so interesting congratulations. Take care and go for it girl.Lottie

  7. Frances says:

    I agree with what was said. My mother years ago when I was younger, said to me, people who put you down are jealous of you. That’s true. I am friends with someone who went to college with my brother. We go up on Christmas Day to visit. She tells me that if people are not nice to me, it must be my fault. I must be misunderstanding them. When I ask how does driving 2 hrs to a place to meet up with them at 10 A.M, AND they don’t show up until 1 PM. Since I work midnights, I had to take time off and had only 3 hours sleep to get to the meeting at 10 A.M. I spent 3 hours waiting for them.

    When I mention this, they criticize me for my choice in friends. No support or consideration. They are always concerned what my brother does and says. I have come to the conclusion the conclusion that I am my brother’s transportation so they can get together. I get no support from my brother or the friend when something goes wrong. The brother alternates between being nice and not being nice when he visits. When I have considered not giving him transportation, I am told that I am not nice. Most of our family is gone and I should be nice to my brother. When he visits, the storm window is open, the locks on the wooden window are unlocked, the toilet keeps running. He only acts this way when he is at my place. When I questioned him once, he was appalled that I would say such nasty things about him. I’d confront him doing something and he would he is not and continue to do it.

    So yes there are insecure people out there and their devaluing of a person, is the only way that they can validate their life. A person has to limit themselves to these type of people who won’t celebrate your successes, but pull you down with comments….. I’ve seen bigger, I can do better that, it’s no big deal what you did.They take pride in cutting you down when you feel accomplished and enjoy pouring salt in the wound to make it sting more.

    The positive message you can get out of this, is that you are not married to them, therefore you can walk away or limit your association.

  8. Amy F says:

    Friendship isn’t supposed to be about winning or losing. Healthy friendship isn’t about right or wrong, These people doesn’t sound like good friends. Since you didn’t mention anything positive about these women, I wonder why you’re friends with them. You need to ask yourself if you have been a good friend to them. Have you been self centered, defensive or overly focused on proving to them that your career has merit? Sometimes when we don’t feel respected, we try to prove our self worth, which can have the opposite effect of what we’re seeking. Sometimes we befriend people out of convenience instead of mutual interests and admiration. These women don’t seem like your “people”. Perhaps you can find retired interior designers to befriend? Are there professional organizations in your field? Networking events? Do your friends from Texas have any contacts in your area who work in your area? Have you tried a different church to see if you might have more in common with those women? Volunteering is another avenue for meeting people.

    I think you ought not to waste your time with these two women, as you don’t speak of them with any more respect than they seem to be treating you. Being alone is less lonely then being with people who aren’t supportive of you as an individual.

  9. Denise says:

    Happy soon Birthday Marie!

    When they needle and compare and say interior designers are inferior compared to other professions, I would try my best to not engage. If they see you get defensive or too irritated, they’ll feel they’ve hit a button and feel “right” and smug and hit the right nerve. You can calmly say why you disagree and reiterate why you’re proud of your accomplishments, but don’t try to “sell them”. Don’t give them more fuel by debating. If changing the subject doesn’t work, either let them run out of steam or cut short the visit. Who needs that aggravation? Find peace and a good day somewhere else!

    Yes, they certainly sound jealous. Do you know whether they had good careers? Something is off with them for them to feel the need to needle you and make themselves feel less unhappy or level things. Unless you gloat and brag a lot or don’t show much interest in their careers, they want to pull you down because of something negative in their lives.

    I don’t think you can win with them if they don’t respect your profession or you or don’t resolve their resentment about something else. Being rude during church practice is also indicative that she’s trying to provoke you. Does the choir director like your voice? Maybe she/he could give you feedback about why she says what she says. Singing should be enjoyable and it’s sad that she could ruin it for you.

    I would start distancing myself from get togethers and definitely leave when the rudeness begins. There’s really no reason to subject yourself to that. And “best” friends don’t do these things. Find another best.

  10. Irene (the other one) :) says:

    Marie – I agree with Irene Levine – try and distance yourself from these destructive people. On the other hand, I don’t find it strange that you should have problems with people in the Church choir – I almost laughed when I read it! Nearly every church I’ve been to there’s been disagreements, either with the flower arrangers, the choir or musicians. The problem is PRIDE!

    Sadly, not all people who attend church follow the teachings of either Christ, Paul or any other prelate – they are there primarily to promote their own agenda. What the Christian faith is about, being humble and loving others, is of little interest to these people, as long as they can harness a little fame and glory for themselves. And the devil has a field day every time someone behaves contrary to the church’s teachings – regardless of denomination.

    However, take heart – forgive them, in fact pray God’s blessing on them. They’ll soon find out they’re not as important as they think.

  11. Ben says:

    Jealousy is a form of unhappiness. Real friends cheer you on and are happy for your successes. Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative. Carpe diem,,,

  12. Ben says:

    I have dealt with this a lot. Jealousy is an indication of unhappiness on the part of the person who is jealous. The question I would ask you is why hang around unhappy people? Real friends cheer your successes and are happy for your successes. Choose to be happy and excentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. Life is too short. Be happy. You have the right to be happy. Carpe diem….

  13. Sandra says:

    I’m just a few years “younger” than you are, Marie, but I can promise you that many of us have faced similar problems in friendship. Jealousy doesn’t go away later in in life, even though we all wish it did!

    I agree with Dr. Irene when she said: “Your “best friend” doesn’t sound like a very good friend. Perhaps, you could relegate the status of your friendship to a more distant but cordial relationship.” I find this to be the best advise when dealing with a friendship that you cannot end entirely, or don’t want to end entirely. You have to distance yourself a bit. Sometimes I take a vacation from difficult friendships and find that taking a break helps me deal with the problem more easily, or that it bothers me less.

    Funny thing is, I was going to write to Dr. Irene myself and ask her if she has advice for dealing with a friend or relative who always tries to “one up” you, or seems to be in constant competition with you. I have a friend/ sister-in-law who is always trying to top whatever I say, no matter what I talk about, and even though I do everything in my power to avoid appearing competitive with her. If I mention that I have been to a new restaurant, she jumps in and tells everyone that she’s been there TWICE already and she knows the owner — that sort sort of thing.

    Some people, it seems, have to be the alpha dog, always Number One in every situation. I learn to take those people in small doses, as I don’t think I can change them.

    Hope this helps you. Remember that you deserve better treatment from your friends. Don’t accept anything less.

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