Dear Straight Talk: I wrote my friend a bad note, cussing her out for the way she hurts my feelings. I regret it deeply, as I almost lost a good friend. After much apologizing, she finally forgave me. The problem is, now I’m walking on eggshells. I want to bring up the way she hurts my feelings, like looking at me like I’m stupid when I ask or say things, and taking a rude, uncaring attitude toward me, but I don’t want to blow up again and lose her over a dumb action. When I approach her nicely about these things, she either gets an attitude, or sometimes listens nicely but doesn’t change. What can I do? — Age 15 in Falling Waters, West Virginia
Brandon, 22, Mapleton, Maine: This kind of thing happened to me a LOT. “Friend” bullying is a huge issue right now. Some people make a friendship only about themselves and have no problem belittling their friends. Their friends’ suffering makes some of them feel great. You’ll be in bed crying over their rudeness and they act like nothing happened and have no remorse. These people have psychological problems. Do yourself a favor and remove such negativity from your life. It may hurt initially, but you’ll feel better in the long run. Or take a break. Time may mend the problem, or you learn it’s unfixable.
Moriah, 17, Rutland, Vermont.: In eighth grade, I wrote a friend about all the ways she wasn’t perfect. Although I took the wrong approach, I was trying to explain how her behavior was offending me. We lost touch for awhile and when we met again, we never spoke about it. She hadn’t changed and we lost touch again. I would keep bringing up the problem. If the letter didn’t ruin things, your friendship can maybe handle truth.
Breele, 20, Dana Point: Your letter should have made your friend say, “Wow, look how I’m acting.” Instead, you were blamed. Some friends from high school actually seemed to LIKE putting me down. If I did anything supposedly “wrong,” this one friend would never shut up about it. Something as simple as posting three pictures on Facebook, would get, “Isn’t that excessive?” Playing her game back didn’t work. She manipulated everything her way. These people are insecure and can’t let you shine more than the do. (Not that they will ever hear this, so don’t bother explaining.) It took a long time to leave her because she was a good friend, she had my back, but I got tired of the daggers. I found new friends and you will, too. My life is now drama free and so much happier!
Ochatre, 24, Kampala, Uganda: You really like your friend, while she takes you for granted. You live in fear of upsetting her. I’ve gone through similar treatment and realized life is too short to chase after people who don’t care. It just leads to self-pity, pain and hatred. True friendships are based on acceptance and there is always space for mistakes. You sound like a wonderful lady who deserves better.
Dear 15: I hope the panel was helpful. This is not a healthy relationship. Your friend is insecure and probably jealous of you. That said, being “codependent” to such a friend (meaning, you stick around despite the mistreatment) is also a sign of insecurity or you wouldn’t put up with it. I recommend taking a class like dance, swimming, martial arts, yoga, horseback riding, etc. Not only will that make you “too busy” to see her, learning a skill and getting exercise will raise your self-esteem — which is the best cure for codependence. Plus, you will meet new friends. — Lauren
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