Walking on eggshells

Published: January 23, 2009 | Last Updated: January 23, 2009 By | Reply Continue Reading


Hi Irene,

I have a nagging suspicion that my best friend Julia harbors some type of jealously or resentment toward me. We met five years ago when I moved to a new city to live with my boyfriend. She had known him casually for a few years. I didn’t know many people in town and Julia and I became inseparable.

I have never had a large quantity of friends but I am extremely close with the ones I have. I’m an identical twin and my relationship with my sister is strong. As Julia and I grew closer, my boyfriend became jealous and resentful of the relationship. He felt that Julia was occupying too much of my time. I don’t blame him. I spent more time with Julia than I did with him and our relationship ended about 6 months ago.

At the time, I didn’t see how spending so much time with Julia might be putting “all my eggs in one basket.” I want to expand my social circle because I think that our relationship may be too limiting. She can be extremely selfish and insensitive. For example, when I broke up with my boyfriend six months ago, I told her it was uncomfortable for me to frequent the local bar where we used to hang out. I suggested that I wanted to visit new places where I knew I wouldn’t see him. She responded, “Well you know where I’ll be, at the usual place.”

She flips out on me when I don’t say the right thing. I’m constantly walking on eggshells around her. She also makes little comments that get to me. My mom recently passed away and I came into a small inheritance. She’s made comments like “Well I don’t have money like you do…” This hurts my feelings since I’d give anything to have my mom back.

Since breaking up with my boyfriend, Julia views me as competition. She constantly talks about how “hot” she is and how we have the same level of attractiveness. She is many things, but “hot” isn’t one of them. She is fairly attractive but doesn’t take particularly good care of herself. That’s fine; physical appearance isn’t everything. It’s the fact that she has to toot her own horn. A few mutual male friends have confessed that they have had crushes on me for a while but since I had been involved they held off. When I told her this she said things like, “Oh, they don’t really mean it like that.” One guy friend told me that Julia had come onto him and he was not attracted to her.

No matter how much I give her, it is never enough. I am a private person and I don’t talk about absolutely everything that goes on in my life, especially mundane things. Julia has complained that she feels like she doesn’t know “all of me.” I told her that she knows the important stuff but I’m not like her, I don’t tell her about every little thing that happens in my life. Sometimes, I feel as if she wants to own me.  

Of course there are many things I adore about her. She can be extremely caring and considerate. When my mom was dying, she came to NYC to be with me. We talk about things that I’ve never shared with anybody (except my twin sister) and we get along great for the most part. We have a lot in common and share many of the same interests. But it’s the underlying tension that’s really bothering me. I hate confrontation and I know with her, she’ll deny everything I say. I also hate hiding all of this from her. I know she means well and I love and care deeply for her, but I don’t know if this is the healthiest relationship, what should I do?



Dear Michelle,

No friend or friendship is perfect: Each one has strengths and weaknesses. Although you like Julia, you seem to feel tense and uncomfortable around her. To my mind, that would be a deal-breaker but you need to ask yourself, “How important is this friendship to me?"

It’s hard to give up a friendship with someone who has been an important part of your life. Julia was your anchor in your new city. She was there for the death of your mother and the loss of your boyfriend. But now, do her negatives outweigh the positives? Only you know. Is she too self-centered and controlling? Can you trust her? Does being with her always make you feel tense and queasy? Could she be competing for your closeness with your twin sister?

You have several choices: 1) You can speak to Julia to try to resolve some of these issues; there’s not much to lose. You may be anticipating a worse reaction than you think because of your own discomfort in being honest but if you really can’t express yourself candidly to her, it says something about the friendship; 2) You can downgrade your friendship so it isn’t as close. Perhaps, you both need some distance from Julia and should make other friends so your relationship is less intense; 3) If all else fails, you can end it. You’ve made an investment in this relationship, but life is too short to have unsatisfying friendships. It’s only worthwhile to continue a close friendship if it is characterized by mutual trust and respect.

Best wishes,

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