A frenemy across the street is too close for comfort

Published: November 9, 2009 | Last Updated: November 9, 2009 By | 4 Replies Continue Reading


Dear Irene:

I have been friends with the most needy, self absorbed, delusional person for nearly eight years. This woman can be absolutely toxic to the point that I have panic attacks when I feel trapped into interacting with her lately. Ours has never been a 50/50 sort of relationship.


I tend to be a loner by choice and I’m quite content to be with my husband and three kids with minimal, if any, social interaction. My friend knows this but doesn’t understand that it also applies to her. Of course, as these things go, I am her ONLY friend.


This is the "balls to the walls" bizarre part that has thrown this relationship into Crazy Town. She just moved from three states away and bought a house DIRECTLY across the street from me three months ago. Yes, she’s 20 steps from my front door!


My life has become a nightmare. I’m completely trapped in this beyond ridiculous situation with a woman who treats me passive-aggressively and is intensely critical. She is completely obsessed with me and I feel stalked. I hardly, if ever, initiate contact but she’s always calling to say she’s hungry, tired or bored or whatever else meaningless B.S. is going on with her. She is completely uninterested in how I feel or what I think about anything. Oh, except for fashion: That we can discuss ad nausea, during my forced weekly Project Runway viewing.


After three months as neighbors, my "friend" knows my daily schedule and injects herself into my basic errands like shopping trips and jogging, rudely and forcefully. She’ll decide that WE MUST make such and such for dinner and won’t take no for an answer. I eventually give in though sometimes it takes days for her to wear me down to a particular commitment. I’m strong but with this woman, I don’t stand a chance. She’ll persist and become hostile when I don’t comply.


I have yet to erect any meaningful or lasting boundaries in this relationship because she’s unbelievably mean and evil when things don’t go her way. She’s known for sending her military husband out like a rabid dog to crew out anyone who crosses her (of course, he’s a victim too—quite a delightful man actually, poor guy). I felt trapped before when she called me everyday from across the country now I don’t know what to do. She calls sometimes 5-10 times a day and sends upwards of 20 texts.


I love the life that my family and I had built here at our home of two years. She has nothing here but me and I need to get away from her. I can’t just up and move away from my life, my family, my husband’s job, kids school, everything. She may just follow me wherever we go anyway so the effort may be completely futile.


I feel absolutely helpless. Please, if you took the time to read this, take a moment to send a prayer or a positive thought my way. I could certainly use it.



Dear Helpless,

You are as helpless as you make yourself feel. Such an extremely noxious situation calls for blunt and decisive action. Obviously, your "friend" is extremely intrusive and oblivious to your feelings and to any subtle social cues. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that she has no other friends. 


This woman is not a "friend" in any sense of the word. If you are feeling so uncomfortable that you are having panic attacks, you need to be firm and make a clean cut. Your emotional health and that of your family is at stake. In an extreme case like this, my thoughts are as follows:

  • Tell her point-blank that you can’t maintain the relationship any longer. Take responsibility for the decision and don’t allow her to make the conversation about her. This is about the way you are feeling.
  • Explain your needs and those of your family for privacy without going into specifics that she’ll poke holes in.
  • Don’t shroud your words in kindness. She’ll misinterpret it as you leaving a door open to further negotiation.
  • If she calls, emails or texts you, tell her that you can’t really handle a relationship with her at this time. You’ll let her know if things change. If she continues, don’t answer or hang up.
  • If you see her in the street or in a neighborhood spot, just nod and say hello and keep walking.
  • Stop watching Project Runway.


My guess is that once she sees that you are unambivalent about cutting off the friendship, she’ll quickly find another easier target, maybe her next-door neighbor. Stay strong.


I’m so sorry that she lives across the street. I know this won’t be easy at first but you’ll start reaping the rewards of getting rid of a very toxic friendship and your life will become more normal over time. Hopefully, she’ll move on to greener pastures.



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  1. Anonymous says:

    This story is so much longer than I can put into words. Here is the shortest version I can think of.
    I had two best friends. They were engaged to be married, 4 months ago the man left the woman, turns out he had been cheating on her for 5 of the 7 year relationship. I don’t speak to the man- he doesn’t return my calls. And the woman now lives with me. I thought it was the right thing to do to offer up my home to her, so that she would have someplace to stay. Someplace safe, and loving. My husband is currently on the road and so I am alone (with my dog and cat)- I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for her to get back on her feet- start shedding her old life and begin again. I am not asking rent money from her, but I did mention that utilities would be appreciated. She has not talked to me since about paying any portion of those.
    She has lived with me for a month now, her and her 2 cats. Our animals get along…fine enough. But her cats puke everywhere- small gripe I know. But still nasty. And that is just the beginning.
    I must preface this with a few things, i have been friends with this woman for almost 8 years. She has let me down in the past, specifically when I was getting married, NONE of my friends (that are not from way back in the day) like her. She is hostile, snobby and actually mean to EVERYONE. She is currently unemployed and has been for over a year, and additionally she suffers from fibromyalgia. This translates as the following: She doesn’t sleep at night, stays in bed until 3 or 4pm during the day, doesn’t cook, clean or otherwise contribute to overall housework- including cleaning the cat boxes- if she doesn’t want to. Yes, she has done some of these items, but only if I ask her directly or to prove a point to me. For example she cleaned my bathroom and I was shocked and so grateful! I thanked her a dozen times over, and she responded with, “well I had to, I don’t know when the last time it was cleaned. It was so disgusting, I had to clean it with a toothbrush”.
    She is incredibly depressed, which I understand and relate to. I am severely depressed, but I can’t imagine what she is going through. But she never asks me about myself, and when she does its to criticize or give me advice on a percieved “problem” even when I haven’t asked for advice. She has the same conversations with me about how she can’t understand why this is happening to her, why some of our mutual friends can’t relate and then goes into a tirade about men, how everyone’s out to get her and so on and so on. While I don’t mind listening, I only respond with “yes”, “ok” or “I can understand that”. Because whenever I ask more detailed questions about her, she starts speaking in what I call “therapy talk” and says when ONE is going through a similar situation ONE does this, that or the other thing. She says hurtful or disrespectful things like “not a single of my friends is supporting me”, “no one cares about me or wants to listen to me”.
    All while I have put my entire life on hold for her. Does she not see that?
    This all came to a head last night, I had a long day, a long week at work and was cleaning up the kitchen when she came home from the bar-tipsy and a little belligerant. We proceeded to entertain our usual routine. She talked, I listened. Then after 2 hours, and work in the morning, I said I needed to go to sleep. She turned her face away from me. I asked her what was wrong and she answered “my whole life- what do you think?”. I asked her why suddenly she was acting as though she was upset with me. She started to cry, as a small child does when someone tells them they can’t have the thing them want. Small petulant big watery tears. I succombed and asked if she wanted me to make tea, and she said “well I’ll drink it, but I don’t want to keep you up” and I said nothing. I made the tea in silence, and she stopped crying. She continued to talk and I continued to listen. Then when she was done with her tea she stood up, turned out the lights, and we went upstairs to get ready for bed….when she was ready. I told her that I hoped she was able to sleep tonight and she said “me too”. I said “alright, I will see you in the morning” and she asked me what time I had to get up (it was almost 2am at this point) and I said I had to be to work at 8:45am and she responded with “well thats not too bad, I mean really”.
    I wanted to punch her in the face. I wanted to scream. I said goodnight and she didn’t respond.
    I went into my bedroom and wept for an hour. Because I don’t want to be friends with her anymore, becuase she manipulated me by crying to stay up way later than is healthy for me, because I was really waiting for her to get married, move far away and to slowly let this demented friendship end.
    But instead, here I am, letting her move into my home, letting her treat me this way. I realized last night that I am friends with the girl she was a long time ago, and that we have both changed. And I am scared to talk to her, scared not because our friendship is over, but scared because it means I am not a good friend.
    Scared because if I talk to her, she may tell me its all in my head and that I am the crazy one. And am I? And does it matter if I am? I have the power to tell her to leave. And I think that I should- but how do you break up with your “best friend” who is living with you? I have already lost one of my best friends, and now I will lose both? I just don’t know.

  2. Mina says:

    Yes, they can become dangerous. Not saying that to scare you. But you should have saved voicemails and texts that can prove what you’re saying is true. Cops and courts need proof, or they’ll look at it as a he/she said-she said domestic issue.

    I commented on the original page about these types of people. And add alcohol to someone who is already insecure or unstable…………..

    Unless, you’re leaving a 14 month old unattended, I’m not sure how she could ‘involve’ him/her. Unless you’re thinking this person might break into your home. Documentation is the best thing you can do, in case it escalates. Police usually don’t do anything until you’re hurt or dead, or they are a public nuisance. But you can talk to them if you think it’s that serious.

  3. Irene says:

    If you are worried about your friend harassing you or your family, you are talking about someone who really has problems and is more than a “needy friend.”

    Try to avoid her and have nothing to do with her any more. Be sure that your husband knows about how you feel. I hope that you are blowing this out of proportion but if she makes any threat or harasses you, be abundantly cautious and contact the police.


    *This is not intended as medical or legal advice.

  4. Anonymous says:

    …I’ve finally got rid of the needy friend. I told her over the phone that the friendship was over, and then when she sent twenty text messages fighting my decision, I sent her one final email telling her not to contact me ever again and then set up blocks so she can’t.

    The thing is, now I’m terrified. In her final texts she was actually starting to sound quite insane. I’m concerned now that she could become obsessed, or worse, bitter enough to come around to the house unannounced and start the fighting all over again. This woman is also a drunk, something that has grown steadily worse over time, and I am now sick with worry that she might involve my fourteen month old son when she has one of her drinking episodes and suddenly decides she needs to harass me.

    Am I worrying needlessly? Do these needy friends usually go away over time? Or am I doomed to live with one eye looking over my shoulder, waiting for her to yell at me in the street or come over to the house unannounced. While she doesn’t live as close as Helpless’s friend, she is barely a ten minute drive. I often wonder if moving might be the best option. Of course, she could probably find me.

    Do needy friends like these ever become dangerous?

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