• Resolving Problems

Unnecessary drama with friends at my gym

Published: March 17, 2016 | By | 14 Replies Continue Reading
A woman in her 50’s feels sucked into a friendship drama at her gym.



Where to start? I work out at a gym each morning and three years ago I became friendly with two women that were already friends. One woman (Jody) is very cheerful and we have spent time chatting on the phone several times per week and occasionally getting together. The other woman (Pat) and her husband have dined at my home with my husband but she has become increasingly negative and prone to crying fits at the gym over the mess she’s making of her life. She’s married but looking for men to have affairs with, drinks too much, has emotional issues, etc.)

Last year I decided that I couldn’t continue to ruin my morning workouts with her drama any longer. Little by little I tried to pull away from Pat. When she didn’t take the hint I started to avoid her and I went to the gym two hours earlier thinking that this would be the kinder way to ease out of the friendship.

I did not discuss this with Jody because I did not want to put her in an awkward position, although there had been times when Jody and I discussed how reckless Pat’s behavior had become. Eventually, seven months ago, Jody told me that Pat was upset that I wasn’t available to her and I admitted that Pat’s outbursts were disrupting my gym time, that I no longer could endure the rants, the rude remarks, the meltdowns. Although Jody wanted me to ‘kiss and make up’ with Pat, she understood why I would feel this way, and Jody and Pat continued their friendship.

Pat and I continue to go to the gym five days a week at different hours while Jody goes to the gym once or twice per week. Several months ago Pat pointedly asked Jody whether Jody and I were still friends and Jody lied and said not really. Pat is very jealous of anyone taking Jody’s time so she continued to ask about the status of Jody’s friendship with me. Throughout this time, whenever I bumped into Pat, I would be pleasant, ask after her family and leave before she had an opportunity to start complaining about her life.

Unfortunately Jody continued to deny our friendship and two months ago Pat saw Jody and I give each other a hug as I was leaving the gym resulting in the biggest meltdown to date. Jody told Pat that I no longer wanted to be Pat’s friend and now Pat’s tears have turned to hostility. Pat will not so much as acknowledge my presence when she sees me and goes out of her way to greet people that I’m in conversation with.

The icing on the cake is that now Jody is avoiding the gym altogether until last week when she and Pat came out of the locker room together, walked by me and Jody did not even acknowledge me. Much later that day (12 hours later) Jody left a message on my phone saying that she had planned to come over and say hello but well, it was awkward.

I find this ridiculous. We are all in our fifties, Jody has had her fair share of frustrations with Pat and yet I’m getting iced out. I applaud that she is resilient enough to tolerate Pat’s bad behavior but I feel very hurt that I’m being treated like a dirty secret. Would appreciate some suggestions as to how to deal with this.

Thanks. Emma


Hi Emma,

It’s understandable that you would want to distance yourself from Pat if you haven’t been comfortable spending time with her. Changing your gym routine was a gracious way to dilute the relationship without confronting her about behavior that isn’t likely to change in the near term. It was also honorable of you to not badmouth her unnecessarily to Jody.

However, Jody was wrong in outright lying to Pat about her relationship with you. Although she may have done this because, like you, she didn’t want to incur Pat’s wrath, she placed you and herself in an untenable situation.

If you still want to maintain a friendship with Jody, tell her you are uncomfortable having a clandestine relationship with her. This leaves the ball is in her court in terms of whether she wants to maintain friendships with you both or wants to choose one friendship over another. You might also want to seek out other gym rats that are easier to deal with.

Hope this helps!

Best, Irene

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Category: RESOLVING PROBLEMS, Toxic friends

Comments (14)

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  1. Emma says:

    Emma here. I want to thank Irene and everyone that commented on this. It’s been a couple of months now and unfortunately I’m still dealing with drama at the gym. I initially had a word with Jody (in February) and was very clear that I’d had enough of her rudeness and her bad behavior and after many apologies from her opted to continue our ‘phone’ friendship.

    For her part, she avoided the gym for several months so the issue resolved itself to a certain extent. Unfortunately, as soon as she returned to the gym (last week) it was back to the same old games. Leotards don’t change their spots so I wish her luck in dealing with Pat and the drama…I’m finished.

    Thx again Emma

    • Irene says:

      Thanks so much for coming back to provide feedback about what happened!
      Best, Irene

    • Sandra says:

      Glad for the update. I’d still find a new gym and invest my positive “energy” in healthy new friendships! Keep the faith!

  2. Tracy says:

    I think finding another gym sounds like the best thing too, but part of me also thinks you shouldn’t be put out by Pat’s ridiculous behavior and Jody’s too. Denying friendship in our 50’s!! Really? I think I would ice them both out and say to Jody that it was childish of her to protect Pat from your friendship with each other and you don’t intend to let their behavior mess with your gym time any more. They are welcome to each other. Good grief, lift weights, get fit and fabulous and let them be teens together.

  3. Maddie says:

    Just put ear buds on, turn on some music, and work out. Why get so involved with incidental people you meet at a gym??

  4. Salstarat says:

    Ditch both of them – visit the gym at a time when you know neither of them will be there and when your gym membership expires, join another gym. Who needs enemies when you have friends like this? Pat sounds like a self centred narcissist and Jody is one of those wishy washy, gutless type of characters who just want to sit on the fence … forget both of them, they are high maintenance and not worth the effort. Why surround yourself with negative, vindictive sociopaths and flighty, traitorous pseudo friends? Life is too short.

  5. Ariane says:

    OMG…………just end things with both of them. I swear some people never get past this high school girl mentality.

  6. Sou says:

    What an awful situation this turned out to be. If I were in your shoes, I’d look for another gym, and leave these two behind. I know you had a close relationship with Jodi but Pat does come first to her (unfortunately). Going to the gym should feel good, but every time you run into these ladies, it’ll be awkward and continue to be hurtful. Life’s too short to get caught up in all of this friendship drama.

  7. Amy F says:

    One good way to step out if the middle is to say, pointedly, “I don’t want to hear anything Pat has to say.”

    I see several issues in your letter. You wanted to distance yourself from Pat, yet continued to talk about her to Jody. Your decision to pull away put Jody in the middle, because you confided in her about your decisions, but not Pat. In hindsight, you can probably said that you contributed to the drama by not communicating with Pat directly. Still, Jody should have told Pat if she has an issue with you, to go directly to you. No one is forced to play middle (wo)man, but in an awkward triangulated relationship, nobody is communicating in a healthy way.
    I would be extremely hurt if a friend denied my friendship. That’s middle school behavior.

    Neither of these women sound like they have the skills to have a healthy friendship. You can only do your part. I’d probably find another gym to remove myself from the situation, but that may not be geographically or financially feasible.

    You don’t need to stop being Jody’s “friend”, but you can relegate her to friendly acquaintance so the gym is still a place you enjoy. Set boundaries not to discuss Pat. Period. Good communication can help you avoid burning bridges with Jody.

  8. Sandra says:

    Holy smoke! By the time we reach our 50s, ideally, we should reach some level of maturity. First, I don’t blame you for being totally baffled and upset by this weird drama. It sounds like you’ve handled it as gracefully and maturely as possible. But are these two women really worth all the drama? The physical gains you’re getting from the gym, in my view, are offset by the emotional turmoil you’re experiencing with these immature women. That’s not healthy for you. I’d find another place to work on your fitness level — and avoid these two troublemakers!

  9. LauraSL says:

    Change gyms and leave them both behind! Jody’s first loyalty will always be to Pat because they were friends before they knew you.

    • Shelby says:

      This was my thought too. They are a two pack. If you want to be friends with Jody you will have to figure out how to tolerate Pat because you will inevitably wind up in her company.

      • LauraSL says:

        I generally don’t believe in “running away” to solve problems. After all, it’s Emma’s gym too. However, her life seems geared to a morning workout, which should be a peaceful time, so I was thinking of her mental health when suggesting another gym. I also thought she might make some new friends (cautiously, lol) at another gym and she’d be much happier with a peaceful new location away from the drama. These 2 sound like they have too much time on their hands and neither friendship is worth salvaging. Who needs Jr. High drama in your 50s!

  10. IBikeNYC says:

    Oh, dear.

    I realize this is potentially WAY easier said than done, but were I you, I’d find another gym.

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