• Keeping Friends

My friend criticizes me

Published: December 20, 2012 | Last Updated: December 20, 2012 By | 6 Replies Continue Reading
Unfortunately, there aren’t many options when a friend is rude and critical.


Hi Irene,

I have a friend I’ve known about 8 years. She’s 49. I’m 52. Four years ago we became neighbors and our friendship grew. But after a year, her true colors emerged. Most of the time she is fine. Tells me I’m funny. Enjoys my company. But she picks on me and always in front of others. It’s like she wants to belittle me.

The three years prior to my 50th birthday, she constantly reminded me of my age. It was like being poked in the arm and someone saying, “You’re going to be fifty,” over and over. It became a sore point and when I got angry. I didn’t shout. I just asked her what her point was, she looked away and changed the subject.

She doesn’t have any other friends. Other people find her rude. At parties she will go to a room where there’s no one else and watch TV if there is one. Everyone notices. She’s ten years older than her husband. He was her first ever relationship and they met when she was 38. No children.

Most of the time we get on well and she’s kind but I feel she could be jealous. I don’t work and my house is three times the size of hers but I have never brought this up or made her feel bad about having a smaller home. I’m not the sort of person to belittle others or make them feel inferior.

I’ve been with my husband 30 years. I find it confusing when most of the time she’s fine and suddenly out of the blue she will pick on me. It takes me by surprise and I dwell upon it. I don’t want to end the friendship but I haven’t the courage to confront her because I’m sure I will be the one who looks a fool. Can you please help?

Signed, Carmen


Hi Carmen,

I’m not sure whether your friend “changed her colors” or whether you just got to know each other better as your grew closer. You describe her as rude in social situations and as having no other friends but you. It sounds like your friend probably has bad social skills; she may feel jealous of you as well.

You only have two choices. 1) You can tolerate things the way they are (which doesn’t seem palatable), or 2) You can let her know you are unwilling to be humiliated in front of other people. Your friend may react defensively but you will feel better having broached the topic, and having been open and honest about your feelings. After this, she may tone herself down but, realistically, it will probably be difficult for her to change her nature. If this turns out to be the case, you might want to limit the amount of time you spend together, especially time spent with other people.

If this has been going on consistently for some time, you need to reflect on the reasons why you would be willing to tolerate a friendship like this.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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Category: Dealing with difficult friends, KEEPING FRIENDS

Comments (6)

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  1. Lynda says:

    Carmen, to me it sounds like your friend is on the passive-aggressive side. Taking cheap shots at you in front of others? She picks on you when you’re vulnerable and when you’d probably feel awkward defending yourself.
    Perhaps just a case of jealousy. I know you have known her for 8 years; but people do change, sometimes for the worse.
    I had a similar “friend”. When we were alone, we connected beautifully, so I thought. In hindsight, I feel she connected with me when the chips were down for me. This gave her the opportunity to sweep in and save the “wounded bird”. When things improved for me, she slowly pulled away. She would also try to embarrass me in social settings. I felt so taken off guard I would be speechless. Recently I went through a situation, which was rather public, and she crawled out of the wood-work trying to make small-talk. Wow. How transparent. She wants to dish and get the scoop. Thankfully I have woken up, smelled the coffee, and realize what a toxic person she was in my life. Now my life is open to healthy friendships! Good Luck Carmen!

  2. Bronwyn says:

    I just want to add, sorry if my initial response seems a bit harsh. It just seemed like there was a bit of score-keeping going on and maybe your friend engages in this dynamic in the only way she feels able. The behaviors you describe are not okay, but maybe she feels this is her only way to level the playing field, though again, it’s too bad it might be about that.

  3. Bronwyn says:

    It does sound as though she may be jealous of what you have and have poor social skills as well. And I have found that some people really enjoy doing put-downs when they have an audience to play to. I’ve also found them taking totally different stances on positions. I don’t like feeling blindsided or embarrassed in front of others (who does?) These are the sort of people (as Irene suggested)that I question myself about why I keep them in my life.

    On the other hand, are you sure you don’t feel subconsciously superior? “Her husband is ten years younger” (so what?); “She has no children” (does she want any?); “My house is three times bigger.” Really??? And you don’t feel superior to her? Look at your superiority list. “I don’t have to work.” Sorry, that just sounds like bragging in the current economy.

    I think Amy is right about communication being important. Does it only bother you when she makes these remarks in front of others? People like to think they have desirable qualities, too. Maybe this friend’s age is one of the few things she feels she has over you, although it’s too bad the friendship has to be about that. As for the younger husband, are you sure you’re not a bit envious?

  4. Sheryl says:

    I think it’s hard to tolerate this kind of behavior in a friend. It sounds to me like this friend might be jealous, or if she truly is joking, has a sarcastic sense of humor that doesn’t mesh well with Carmen’s. I think an honest talk is in order!

  5. Amy says:

    Sorry you’re having difficulty with your friend. To me this is a problem between the two of you, with both of you having responsibility in your communication.
    I question whether she’s actually “picking on” you, or maybe in her mind she’s joking, and you haven’t told her this is an area where you’re not finding humor. After all, she thinks you’re funny, so maybe this is her attempt at humor.
    Open communication, to me, is one of the most components in a relationship. If you felt sensitive about your age, telling her assertively, not aggressively, the first or second time, before you got to the point where you were angry might have helped the situation greatly. “Do you mind not mentioning this birthday, Ann. I’m feeling extra sensitive about turning half a century.” She might not be good at reading cues. If she ignores the boundaries you’ve set, that’s another matter. Rather than “confronting” her, which to me sounds very one sided, think about having a discussion about your sensitivities. Use “I” statements “My feelings are hurt when you ______” rather than “You hurt my feelings when you _______” The former sets the pace for a calmer, less defensive conversation.

    • Lily says:

      I agree that, that maybe this situation is not all because of the friend’s nature orbad qualities. There may be some other remarks you may have made that have “hurt” her and she is trying to let you know that.

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