• Keeping Friends

My friend is like an FBI interrogator…asking so many questions

June 29, 2011 | By | 9 Replies Continue Reading

Some people ask so many questions that they make us feel violated.

QUESTION

Hi,

I have a friend who constantly asks where I’m going, what I’m doing, and who I’m with, etc. She is a great friend otherwise, but I feel like I’m being interrogated!

If I say I’m busy or don’t want to go out, she’ll ask why and doesn’t take “no” for an answer. She has other friends so it’s not like I’m her only friend. But she is very clingy and I feel like I’m being suffocated. When I try to reinforce boundaries, she gets mad and upset.

I don’t like how she bosses me around and demands all this information from me, when she is highly secretive herself. She doesn’t tell me what she does yet constantly invades my space with her questions. When I answer her, it’s almost as if she’s looking to prove me wrong or she doesn’t believe me. I’m very straightforward and honest. Isn’t trust a part of friendship? How do I deal with her? How do I deal with us?

Signed, Cindy

ANSWER

Hi Cindy,

It sounds like you have two major problems with your friend:

1) She is invasive of your privacy and aggressively probes for information. Some people collect excessive information because it gives them a sense of control. While it may be their style, it can be uncomfortable and put others on the spot. Good friends should be able to have an easy dialogue with one another, without one person always grilling the other.

2) She is extremely private and withholds information about herself. She may be a very insecure person, who is using this confrontational approach so others can’t find out about her perceived shortcomings.

From what you’ve described, you’ve failed to convince me that she’s a “great friend.” It has to be difficult to sustain a long-term relationship with anyone with this combination of traits.

The only hope of saving this friendship is to have a frank discussion. Tell her how frustrating it feels to be asked so many questions and for her to share so little about her life in return.

See if your friend has any insight into her behavior, which would suggest that she is capable of change. If she doesn’t, your only recourse is to change the subject when she asks too many questions and/or to limit the time you spend together to small and infrequent doses.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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Category: KEEPING FRIENDS

Comments (9)

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  1. Irene says:

    I often find myself in relationships with people who needlessly interrogate me. Relatives, spouses, employers. I’m honest and open and answer them to a degree. What I’ve learned is that these folks are typically insecure and feel the need to control others through excessive questioning. And….because I don’t immediately cut them off…they keep after me. It’s as though I satisfy their need and they like it…as twisted as that is. Now, I find my extroverted self retreating a bit and not reaching out…not trusting people anymore. This makes me sad.

  2. Julie says:

    I had a friend like that…turned out she was extremely needy and judgemental and jealous of me…I FINALLY ended that friendship after many many years! (We had known one another since she was in 4th grade and I was in fifth)!! I ended it (on the phone uncomfortably before I was about to leave for the eastern seaboard..and to live there permanently) and I also tried to end it before that..I was NOT that great at doing that..she had a hold on me..in a LOT of ways. I finally did this at the request of my hubby to be at that time..and I called her work the second time I called her to end the friendship…and she was at work.. she could NOT manipulate me on the phone and cry into the phone like she did the first time! UGH!!

    It was one of the MOST painful times in my life!!

  3. Anonymoususer says:

    Thanks so much!

  4. Anonymous3 says:

    I think it is a shame that your friend didnt realize what a good friend you are! I agree that even with a bad ending to a friendship, I will not divulge any personal or embarrassing info about ex-friends in ANY way that would embarrass them. Even though my frenemy is gossiping about me at work, I decided from the start that I would not gossip about her in ANY way at work. (I have confided to a couple close friends about the ways she upset me, but these friends dont work with her or even know her directly, so even her terrible behavior is not something I’m divulging in any way that would embarrass her.) It definitely seems best to take the high road. In my case, she will ultimately expose herself for the troublemaker that she is – she has already done so with other colleagues. I NEVER discuss her in any negative way at work; for the occasions where I must comment on her actual work I only provide my professional view. Otherwise, I also continue to guard any of her secrets she shared with me. I hope your friend will respect your personal info too; I think she doesnt realize what a good friend she lost!

  5. Anonymoususer says:

    Thanks so much for your encouraging email message!

    I am very sorry to hear that your ex-friend used personal information to gossip about you at work. While I’m upset that my ex-friend is no longer my friend, I am still guarding her secrets. It is not right for me to share her very personal information with other colleagues. I hope that she does the same for me.

    All the best.

  6. Anonymous3 says:

    I can definitely appreciate your view about this, but I would say that many things sound very different for you than with my ‘friend’. First, you mention that you ‘interrogated’ your friend after she started distancing – I think that is completely understandable. It doesnt sound as if you ‘interrogated’ her otherwise (my friend used to constantly question me about who I spent time with when not with her, how I spent my time, probed into very personal details about my life – and then later, ended up using certain things I had reluctantly shared to gossip about me at work). At one point, this friend once spied on me going home, then later admitted it, and could not understand why I would be angry about this. When I had enough (the spying was the last straw), I was very direct that I did not want to spend time with her, and why. If your friend was indirect, I can completely understand your questioning of her about it – and, I have been in those shoes too. My toxic ‘friend’ who I cut myself away from has turned out to be really troubled and causing problems for a couple other people at work too. Very different from what you describe – I think you were right to ask your friend about her behaviors if she wasnt giving you any explanation, and I’m glad for you that you did that – I believe it is best to be direct when friendships start to be confusing, difficult or even toxic. Best of luck in your other friendships!

  7. Anonymous says:

    When I read your entry, I sympathized with you (and not your toxic friend) yet in my life, I am in your friend’s shoes, in some ways. I approached my friend awhile back about her distancing. I, perhaps, did interrogate her, but only to try to make sense of her increasing distance from an otherwise close friendship. She was reluctant to talk about the issue but when I broached the subject, she answered. I didn’t like the answer (she said she didn’t want to be close friends anymore) but at least I got an answer. I don’t know that I would have gotten the answer had I not “interrogated” her. In contrast to your friend, I did not gossip about the situation at work (we work together too) yet I did share it with one close friend, who was also at work. I still miss our once close friendship and do try to maintain some friendly contact with my ex-friend in case she changes her mind and decides to be friendly again. In writing this entry, I realize that I am like your friend in some ways but not in other ways. Thanks for letting me talk this out. All the best to you.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Ugh – this can be an awful situation and I have been in it. The thing I found is that it isnt possible to try to ‘downgrade’ the friendship with them, because when you try to get some distance from them, they will endlessly quiz and interrogate you as to why you dont spend more time with them. I found in my situation that I had to completely cut it off and be very direct about it – it was a huge relief for the most part, but I also still see this person quite regularly (unfortunately we work at the same place). she has gossiped about me at work a lot and generally tried to make it pretty toxic – extremely difficult, but I have continued to just do my work, be friendly to other people, and I NEVER bad-mouth her – people are catching on that SHE is the toxic one and that helps me find it even easier to ‘ignore’ her. It bothers me that she is STILL trying to intrude in my life, but I am so relieved not to have to ‘be a friend’ to her anymore. Cut the tie with this intrusive interrogator – she is not your friend! And she is probably rather troubled, but that has to be HER problem, not yours.

  9. Liz says:

    I went through this with a friend – it is hard!! She used to come to my house and play my phone messages, quiz me about why I was in a certain part of town -and even would call a mutual friend when I was there.
    Couldn’t have a rational talk about it with her as she saw everything as a personal slight to her.
    Eventually we ended our friendship, I still have to see her as we live nearby but it is actually a relief to me that we are so distant. There is a lot of jealousy and domineering in some people. Years later she still gets as many digs in as she can – but I’ve come to expect them and even can usually foresee the next one. What is funny is that I usually look like the bad guy, so I’ve just found that complete avoidance is my best bet.
    Liz

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