How to deal with someone who rejects your friendship.

JLL asks: I take a drama camp and there is this girl named Emerson. At first she was really nice to me but, one day my friend Bailey and I went up to her and asked, may we please look at your necklace? She said no! in a very rude way. The next day a girl named Sue was wearing a very similar necklace , I asked Emmerson, is Sue wearing your necklace? She said, don’t talk to me! in a very rude way. Later, I told the teacher and I asked Emmerson, what did I ever do to you? She simply said, your annoying. She also said that she didn’t want to be friends. And I’m fine with that but I have the feeling that she will still be mean to me and turn people against me. I don’t want to be friends but I still want to get along with her. What do I do?

Wow, JLL, this is a tough one.  I don’t know if you’re still in drama camp (Handsome left town for a while, and I wasn’t able to post anything while he was gone – sorry about that!).  But even if you’re not, this sort of problem will happen again – it happens to adults all the time.

What you’re dealing with is that you’re trying to “play by the rules” in a situation where you don’t know what the rules are!  I know this problem really well.  For example, Handsome has a really nice friend named Shirley.  She’s friendly, smart, everything you’d want a friend to be.  Except one thing.  She doesn’t like dogs.  Never has, never will.  She doesn’t wish any harm on us, she just doesn’t want to pet us, play with us, or especially to be jumped on or licked by us. So whenever she would come over, I would run out and greet her just the way I do everyone else, but she’d get annoyed and even angry.  The opposite of what I wanted.

Now of course, I think this means she’s totally bananas, but as I say, she’s always been a good friend to Handsome.  So Handsome has learned, when Shirley comes to our house, to hold me back, and to make her let me give her a sniff so I’m okay with her being there, but nothing more.  And that way she and I are both okay with the situation.

Well my friend, you have a Shirley on your hands!  So your job is to do for yourself what Handsome does for me.

Remember: You have done nothing wrong.  You’ve been friendly and nice.  But she has made it clear that she doesn’t want to be your friend.  So the first thing I’d say to do is to STEER CLEAR of her.  Avoid her like fleas!  If she was the sort of girl that would want to sit down and talk about whatever it was that bothered her, that’d be another story.  But as it is, she’s told you flat-out that she is of no use to you, so your job is to agree.

But now we move into the other part of your concern, which is far worse: Will Emerson turn other people against you?  I don’t have to deal with anything that bad; I mean, Shirley doesn’t tell people not to be friends with me!  But if she did, you know what I’d do?  I’d treat everyone exactly the same as I did before.  I’d be friendly and nice and playful, and by doing that I’d prove her wrong!

But you know what?  I think the best thing would be for you to keep yourself from worrying about that.  Most likely Emerson will be content with you just avoiding her.  And if she does get a few friends to avoid you just because she does, then most likely they’re people you don’t want to have for friends anyway.

I understand your pain – I’m a dog who wants to be friends with everybody.  But the fact is it’s a giant world, filled with people who might be great friends for you, as well as people who simply won’t.  And one of the biggest lessons in growing up is learning which people are which.

Good luck.  Please let me know how it goes.  And again, I’m really sorry for taking so long to respond.

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