• Resolving Problems

Should I keep my friend at a distance or just let go?

Published: July 5, 2013 | Last Updated: July 5, 2013 By | 6 Replies Continue Reading
When someone begins to consistently grate on you, keeping the friend at at a distance may not be enough.


Hi Irene,

I met one of my friends almost 16 years ago. As time has progressed, I’ve noticed things that she does things to me and others that aren’t  right. The biggest thing that she does to me is take my ideas, never giving me credit, eventually turns them into her own, and acting as though she is teaching me a lesson with the very ideas I came up with for myself. She especially loves doing this in front of others.

Whenever she goes into a group or takes a class, she always puts down the other participants or teachers. For example, any time she has taken a position, even as a volunteer, she immediately starts putting down the prior person who did the job. It’s obvious to me that she’s just trying to make herself look superior because she certainly does have an authoritarian attitude. The thing is, she’s wrong about a whole lot!  She’s also the type of person that will give others an answer, even if the answer is wrong, just to “shine.”

This friend has always been very competitive and likes to “kick” me when I’m up and “kick” me when I’m down (I don’t mean physically of course.) I’ve put her at arm’s length over the past year but she still continues to call.

To be honest, during the 16 years that I have known her, especially in the last several years, I’ve noticed that I’m not comfortable speaking to her about the issues I have mentioned to you. I’ve asked myself “why” and I can only come up with a couple of things:

Number 1: I figure she isn’t going to hear me anyway; after all, she knows everything and doesn’t listen to anyone about anything.

Number 2:  If I do confront her she’s probably going to put me in my place, become argumentative, and talk about me to whoever will listen, just as she does everyone else.

Often times I feel as though this friend is trying to steal my identity. There are things she does that just aren’t normal. For example, One day I happened to mention casually to her that I was reading a couple of books and asked her if she knew the author? She responded, “No.”  A couple of months later she went to take something out of her bag and out falls these books. I noticed her trying to hide them and of course, I said nothing because I didn’t want to embarrass her or make an already uncomfortable situation for myself even more uncomfortable.  I couldn’t understand, however, why she just didn’t say that she was reading the books I suggested.

Recently, this friend even went as far as to color her hair the same color as mine and has went into the same field I am in (I have been transitioning my career for several years now.) Of course, she once again has all the answers, none of which I listen to because I don’t trust her opinions.

So you must be wondering, why the heck would I give this person the time of day? Well, if she never called me, we wouldn’t be friends because I no longer initiate calls to her. I have wondered myself what’s wrong with me that I would allow someone like this to continue to hang around. The other part to this is that I see a Christian base in her that is somehow lost. She does have good qualities but those good qualities are disappearing more and more.

Any advice? BTW, we’re both in our mid 40’s.

Signed, Pat


Hi Pat,

It sounds as if your friend is insecure about herself and about her relationship with you. She obviously emulates and admires your taste in many ways—from books to career choice to hair-dos. While they say, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” this amount of imitation seems to make you feel creepy and uncomfortable because your friend does it unconsciously without ever giving you any credit.

I can understand why you wouldn’t want to try to change her personality since you feel she is unwilling to listen and lacks insight, particularly if you suspect she will turn on you if you point out any of these issues.

If these traits really grate on you and you lack confidence that they could be addressed directly, you are probably wise to keep the friend at a distance. Although you have stopped initiating contacts, you may want to limit your connection to her even more and concentrate on nurturing other friendships.

As you describe the relationship now, it appears to have more downsides than upsides but could it be that, to some extent, she also boosts your ego? Or perhaps, that was true in the past but you have moved beyond needing such strokes?

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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Comments (6)

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  1. Anjali Gonuguntla says:

    Hi Irene:

    I am 12 years old, and I have an question that nobody I know seems to have the answer to:

    I have a really good friend, but she keeps on taking “Half the credit” for something that I did, and she didn’t even know about! She does this a lot- and whenever I make an accomplishment, she always jumps up saying that “We” did all of it… I did all of the work- and she didn’t have a part in it at all! Can you please help me? I don’t know how to tell her to stop… She is a very good friend, aside from that one trait, and I really do not want to lose her. She has always been by my side, but this one thing really makes me angry because I don’t like her taking credit for something I did! Thank you!

  2. ms, D says:

    End that friendship, she is in essence competing with you. I experienced the same exact thing and this girl was a wack job( she still tries to compete with me via facebook, it is hilarious to see her do it). You don’t want credit for introducing her to things that she now knows through you, you want her to stop acting like she thought up everything before she knew you, when in fact she learned it from you (it’s ok you just want a lil credit). I had this same exact problem and what I learned to some degree is that these people are not secure with themselves and feel that they are behind or have missed out on ‘something” or that they lack something and feel that by watching you will bring them up to speed and make them equal to you so that they don’t feel stupid or feel like others look at them as if they are stupid or dumb, except when they learn something they go overboard with things and then make you feel like YOU ARE THE ONE that don’t know anything (don’t be fooled because you know the truth). That’s why when she volunteers she takes “leadership” positions so that she appears to know it all so that she can prove to herself that she deserves the position where she is (which is above you), but she really has no clue. She wants power but doesn’t know how to get it. She does it with everyone she comes in contact with, not only that but she is probably very competitive and if you engage in activities with her you are going to be in for a battle of your life. One thing I did when dealing with my person, I stopped telling her things about my life, what i was doing, what I achieved, because I learned whenever I did something, here she comes trying to do the same thing, or she tried to out do me with it. That is not a friend, that is a rival and you are not competing. If you do mention what you’re doing, don’t say anything until you are done with it and have moved on to the next goal in your life. You want to be this person’s friend but because of the way they act you don’t want to be bothered with them and that’s understandable. it is not that your perception is skewed, you know exactly what you’re dealing with, you just don’t know how to get passed it, I know I’ve been there. You have to go on with your life and enjoy the TRUE friends that you have and do NEW things outside of the realm of which you know the person that you talked about. I know this works because I had to do it. I stopped calling this person and stopped running in the same circles. I started working on my bachelors degrees and finished, to my understanding she is still working on hers how do I know, because we have a mutual friend, who I also keep at bay to keep from relaying information. I’ve completed my masters degree and she made a status on facebook about wishing to finish her bachelors so she could do her masters. I bought a truck and she made a comment about trading her car in for something bigger. I made a status about buying a chocolate lab, then she starts posting that she wants a golden retriever because research shows they are smarter than Labradors (really??). I’ve been a member of a running society for decades, now all of a sudden she’s joins one and says that her running society is the better than the rest (realy??). What she’s doing is not a coincidence. You have permission to move on with you life without her, but just be mindful that everything she does she will compete with you on it.

  3. jacqueline says:

    Your friend is very insecure and does not like herself. She has decided that she admires YOU and wants to be a carbon copy of YOU! I understand how uncomfortable and creepy this makes you feel.

    Someone who knows everything and does not let your talk, is not listening. So, I can understand your frustration. Why not send her an email, explaining how you feel, and why you are ending this so-called friendship. If this would make YOU feel better, then do it. If not, forget about her, put a period to this relationship and move on.

    • ms, D says:

      Hi Jacqueline,
      I agree with what you said about people wanting to be carbon copy, but I’m gonna take it a step further, I always feel that they want to be a BETTER Copy of the person they are emulating.

  4. Denise says:

    Whenever there’s a problem between friends, they should be able to discuss it openly and fairly. If, over a long period of time, one person is evasive, doesn’t want to talk, or denies there’s a problem, I could no longer consider this person a friend. Friends share and are open, not closed off. Surely you will find someone who treats you better than this. I wouldn’t want to spend time with her.

  5. Amy says:

    From your letter, it seems to like you’ve been letting things that bother you build up so much, you’re perhaps bothered by most everything she does now and you no longer desire a friendship with her. You seem to be assuming the worst possible scenario, without bothering to communicate. That tells me you’re possibly done trying, or perhaps your communication skills could use some improvement so that you can assertive, while not overly picky about your friend.

    For instance, have you considered that your friend hasn’t heard of the writer, but upon your recommendation picked up the books and that she simply didn’t mention it to you? That would have been my first assumption and I would have enjoyed the opportunity to discuss the books.

    Irene suggested your friend might be insecure, but I also wonder if you are less confident than you should be also.It’s quite possible that she’s not actually stealing your ideas and using them in discussions with you, but that those themes in conversations have become part of her vernacular and she doesn’t view them as “yours”. What I’m trying to say is that if you are making assumptions and not having discussions, you see your assumptions as realities.

    Maybe you’re no longer compatible as friends. The only thing “wrong” to me is that you’ve key things built up without communicating, and that while you naturally see your POV as being factual and but interpretation, so that perhaps you’re viewing things from a skewed perspective. Your perspective is the one that matters to you, as it should, and it sounds like you might be looking for validation that it’s ok to walk away, which of course it always is.
    Good luck.

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