Philippine Daily Inquirer / 01:36 AM July 09, 2011
I always love your column and I feel very inspired and happy after I read it. I have a problem I need advice on. I have a friend whom I’ve known for a long time. I consider her a close friend, but sometimes she competes with me (and I don’t do anything to her.) Sometimes she says mean things to hurt my feelings, but pretends it’s a joke.
Whenever something good happens to me, she always changes the subject and talks about herself. It’s really frustrating because I try to be supportive of her, but sometimes I feel like she’s not the same to me. What do I do? I feel like I want to be a good friend, but I also don’t like feeling like this. ~Anonymous, via Tumblr
Have you watched the movie “Mean Girls”? This really reminds me of that situation. Someone acts like a friend, only to put you down and make you feel insecure. It’s unfortunate we meet people like this, especially when you feel like you’re not doing anything “threatening” to them. Unwanted competition is so unnecessary.
But from what I’ve learned, hurting people hurt people. It’s important to look deeper into the sometimes unconscious things people do. Try to look beyond the actions and try to see the hurt experiences the person has gone through. Usually, mean actions cover unresolved feelings of pain and insecurity.
But as considerate as you can be, it’s also important to protect yourself. Ask yourself, “Is this what a good friend does and says? Is this the kind of friendship I really want?”
I know you want to be a great friend to her, but don’t you think she needs to be a great friend to you, too? Recognize the kinds of great friendships you want for yourself and invest in those.
When envy and insecurity enter friendship, it can become really draining. You shouldn’t have to feel like you have to watch your back when your friend is around. A great friendship is when you actually let your guard down and ease into each other’s presence.
Real friends support you and are happy when you succeed. They will listen to your success stories and applaud your progress. They will share their ups and downs, and lessons with each other to help one another in life’s journey.
I don’t think anyone should make you feel low, ever! I would hate to see an amazing young kid with so much potential grow up to limit herself because she believes someone else is better than her. It’s not true and shouldn’t affect your self-esteem. Here’s the truth: you are talented, intelligent and beautiful person in your own light. You deserve all the success that is coming to you, so shine!
Sounds like a classic case of “Misery loves company.” You have two choices: fix the misery, or fix the company.
Fixing the misery: This depends on how invested you are in your friendship, but if this is somebody that you care about enough to dedicate time, emotional support, and guidance to, then you might want to consider being patient enough to find the root or source of her unhappiness.
When Vicky showed me your question, the first thing that came out of my mouth was, “story of my life.” I’ve been in the same situation several times, and on different occasions, dealt with it in different ways. I cried, and wondered what I was doing to make people not like me.
I later found out many interesting things; a friend was going through problems at home, another one had an eating disorder and had pegged me as “competition,” and someone else (a straight A student) had come close to failing a class.
I have also unfortunately been in your friend’s shoes. In hindsight, I wish somebody had held up a mirror when I was taking my frustration out on other people, so I could see how ugly it looked.
Fixing the company: Sometimes you’re at the point in your life though where your priorities may not include nurturing this friendship. If this is the case, please allow yourself some space. You are allowed to distance yourself from negativity. If fixing the misery is too daunting of a task, or you’ve tried, and there is no progress, you can fix the company by stepping away and surrounding yourself with people that genuinely want you to succeed.
Ignoring the problem doesn’t make it go away, and the truth is, slight as the problem may seem, your friend is killing your spirit a little more every time she treats you this way.