• Making Friends

Making friends: Leery right from the start

Published: November 24, 2014 | By | 9 Replies Continue Reading
If you are leery about a friendship from the start, there is probably a good reason.


Hi Irene,

I moved to my current residence about eight months ago and really jumped in head first to meet people and make friends. At first it seemed great, lots of casual friends and acquaintances, and the one woman I was leery of right from the start was the only one who seemed to reach out and try to be a real friend.

She is about 14 years older than me but in a similar place in life so we do have a lot in common. After a while I gave up on trying to keep her away and found some really great qualities in her but I find myself always apologizing for her actions and words to other people, I am starting to realize she really doesn’t have many friends in the area despite living here over 20 years.

She is really negative and always talking badly about other people and creates a lot of drama. On the other hand, any time I have needed help, she is the first to stand up and help me out no questions asked.

I feel like being her friend is keeping me from keep making other friends the longer I remain associated with her, but want to do the right thing as a person. What do I do here?

Signed, Allie


Hi Allie,

When people first move, they can be so eager to make friends that they become less discerning. Your feeling “leery” of this particular friendship from the start suggests that something made you uncomfortable. However, the combination of her friendliness and your eagerness to make friends may have allowed you to gloss over these red flags in the relationship.

No individual is all bad or all good. This woman has some traits that you appreciate and admire—and she tries to be a good friend, although with some worrisome limitations. It sounds like she can be too forthright and opinionated, often blurting out the wrong things in mixed company. If this is the case, you are probably correct in assuming that she may prevent you from making other friends who wouldn’t be comfortable with her demeanor.

Perhaps, you could limit your friendship with this woman to a one-on-one relationship and see her more occasionally. Do things with each other but don’t include her in activities with other friends.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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Comments (9)

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  1. Dionne says:

    So she’s got your back, but she’s also rude, obnoxious, mean, chaos-creating and embarrassing? Oh dear. I can see why she’s left alone. My first thought was I wonder how long until she starts directing that side at you the same way she does with everyone else. I’ve had friends who sounded a lot like her before. Their antics were somewhat tolerabe and even somewhat interesting for a while. But it didn’t take long until I couldn’t take any more. They may have suffered from some kind of mental illness so it’s sad, but still too much for me to take on.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I have no friends and I’m fine with it. I feel that friendships are fake and a waste of time. I am in my late thitries and I’m tired. I’m even tired of my own family. I’m just emotionally exhausted from people. I am also very sick so that has a lot to do wth my attitude toward people. But then again I’m not sure my attitude would b that much different if I was well. Is this normal for my age? To not be interested in friendships?

  3. Lalita says:

    Allie (original poster): many people who want friends but have negative personality traits, such as the person you describe, often think that because they put themselves out, the receiving party is *obliged* to be their friend; therefore, sometimes it’s not out of altruism that these people give but it’s an emotional quid-pro-quo. They may have a personality disorder or are on the autistic spectrum and are clueless about how they come across people.

    One thing to keep in mind: if you ask her why she seems to only have you as a friend, see if she fesses up. Also, point out to her a specific incident where you were uncomfortable as well as others to something to said and see what her reaction is. If she is truly clueless, then I would suspect a psychological issue; if she takes offense, then that’s your clue to limit the friendship and do not take her up on offers of help nor ask her for help for anything that you can do yourself.

    Another thing to remember: friendships are voluntary. Apart from humanitarian help, there is no moral obligation to be someone’s buddy. Do not put upon yourself the responsibility of putting up with someone who refuses to take into account people’s feelings. One cannot expect the privilege of friendships without the responsibility of civility and consideration of others’ feelings.

  4. GraceW says:

    When did being polite start to equal fake? I have many friends who are both polite and very genuine. The opposite of polite is rude, and the rudest people I’ve met also tended to be the biggest gossips and drama queens. Talking about other people behind their back is not honesty. Polite does not always equal fake. Rude does not always equal honest.

    I’ve been in your situation, where I started a friendship with a woman who was funny and great about things like showing up on time, but who was, over the long run, very unpleasant to be around. Also, her willingness to “be a good friend” very quickly came with a lot of expectations. Among them, I was expected to show up to a weekly pub event with her other friends, where getting drunk and complaining about the service seemed to be the main attractions. It was not my scene. After I excused myself from the weekly thing, the friendship went downhill. Eventually I failed to respond to a text of hers and she never followed up, and that was that.

    Your friend may not have friends because “no one has been a real friend to her,” or she may not have many friends because “she is really negative and always talking badly about other people and creates a lot of drama.” Frankly, I consider it impossible to be a “real friend” to someone who always talks badly about other people and creates drama. I have to be able to trust someone to be her friend, and I don’t trust people who gossip and create drama. As others say, listen to your gut.

  5. maddie says:

    Follow your gut.

  6. Amy F says:

    Irene is so right about glossing over things. Whenever I haven’t listened to my inner voice, friendships haven’t worked out long term. My insticts are usually spot on, much more so than the when I was younger. Some of the reasons I didn’t go with my gut were loneliness, admiration, lack of confidence, low self esteem.

    I’m never embarrassed over what my friends do (and one in particular dies quite a few embarrassing things). She is who she is and I am who I am. The fIrst time we were out and she did it, I did feel subconscious, but after that I was fine, though I still prefer when she doesn’t do it. I’m purposely not saying in case she would ever read it and know I’m writing about her.

    I disagree with some of what the others who posted before me have said. Just because she’s been a good friend doesn’t mean you have to keep being her friend or be friends with her on the same level. I’m always a bit leery about people who don’t have any long term friendships/relationships. There has to be a reason and she’s the common denominator. Maybe she cuts off relationships or doesn’t respect boundaries. Maybe she creates lot of drama, maybe she’s passive aggressive maybe she’s mentally ill, thus unable to participate in an equal relationship. The list could go on and on and on. Good friends don’t cure mental illness or poor social skills nor do they help others learn to communicate or have healthy relationships. Problems like those are usually life long.

    Friendships are voluntary, as Irene always says. After people enter a new relationship, friends or romantic, they often experience a “honeymoon” phase. They show their best sides because they’re still trying to cement a good appearance. Once the friends feel more comfortable, they are freer to be themselves and shoe who they really are.

    You don’t have to be formal and end the relationship, if that’s what you choose to do. You can ask for space and if she doesn’t abide by the limits that would be very telling. I have this friend whose been in and out of my life for a few decades. At times she’s disappeared and at times I’ve said I had to step back, I didn’t want to watch her abuse substances and she didn’t think she needed to stop. After about 5 years she found me on FB and sent a message saying she was clean and how much she wanted to reconnect. Everything in me screamed, “nooooooooooo”, but I figured she might be healthy after 30 days rehab and 9 months outpatient rehab. Two weeks into reconnecting I saw the same red flags from when she was using, I don’t think she actually was using, I think she was sober and hadn’t changed her behaviors or attitudes. She was doing better on a sliding scale, but no longer working to become. I avoided her for a few days while figuring out what I wanted to do. If she was a phone person, I’d have called her. The next time she emailed I wrote her back, told her that I needed to step back from the relationship by taking space and the reasons why. She wrote back saying she understood. She then have me s gift she knew how hard it must have been to write what I did and that I’d never hurt her. Then the next day she texted and said, “we can still talk, can’t we?” I didn’t reply. (Less vague here because she rarely logs into FB and she doesn’t have access to my wall). I haven’t closed the door permanently. Maybe she’ll get healthier and maybe I’ll have more energy. Maybe.

    The most important thing is to be true to yourself and your needs. If you don’t take care of yourself, others won’t either. Good luck figuring it out.

    • yes says:

      Good points were made in this response too and I agree. The key is keeping that dialogue open so the other person better understands what’s going on while being given that insight they need.

      “The most important thing is to be true to yourself and your needs. If you don’t take care of yourself, others won’t either.”

      Great advice, I also like your quote.

  7. Irene Covington says:

    I agree that there are no perfect people. Probably the reason she doesn’t have friends is because no one has been a real friend to her. A real friend does not exclude someone who has been there for them, no questions asked. A real friend would be honest with her and tell her what makes her uncomfortable. Anyone that is talking badly about someone, may just be in emotional pain, because everyone “rejects” her and she honestly may not be aware of how she is coming across. I’ve never been around anyone that has it all together..I certainly don’t. Honesty is an expensive gift…don’t expect it from cheap people.

    • yes says:

      This comment is absolutely perfect and exactly what I came here to say.

      Way too many people decide to be fake in the name of being polite. Then are hurt when it turns out they learn they have no true friends. It’s a sad thing and those who do have good intentions are turned away, much like the socially inept woman mentioned in this post. If people were more empathetic – and genuine – things like what happened to this woman would probably happen to people a lot less often.

      And to quote from above:
      “Honesty is an expensive gift…don’t expect it from cheap people.”

      Most importantly:
      “Probably the reason she doesn’t have friends is because no one has been a real friend to her.”


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