What to do when your friend alienates other friends

rachel asks: I have this friend. She is pretty nice, but she can get really mean and get into a lot of fights with other girls. She’s never mean to me though. And when she’s in fights with people she expects me to support her. I don’t want to get involved in it! Other people are starting to hate me because I hang out with her. Should I drop her as a friend? I don’t know what to do.

Hi rachael –

This is a really tough situation.  Your friend is a good friend to you, but is clearly expecting you to have a lot of loyalty to her, even when you think what she’s doing is wrong.  And now others are associating you with her bad side.  There is no right answer for what to do with that!

Or maybe there is.  You see, rachel, I think this all comes down to self-esteem.  Take me.   Let’s say I’m with Handsome and he does something I think is really stupid.  For example, once I was in the car with him and he was driving the speed limit, but it was faster than he felt comfortable, and sure enough, at one point the car spun out.  Luckily no one was hurt (or killed!), but it sure scared the daylights out of me!  Now I would have loved to, before that happened, told him “Hey idiot, if you’re feeling like you’re driving too fast, then slow down a little!  We’ll still get there!”  But I couldn’t.  Why?  Because I’m a dog.  And my mouth couldn’t say a single word.

But why can’t you tell your friend that she shouldn’t be so mean?  You have lots more verbal dexterity than I do (even if I do know big words like “dexterity!”).  I think you don’t feel you have the right to talk that way to her.  And that’s where I’d like to raise your self-esteem.  You see, rachel, you absolutely do have that right!

Now I tend to argue that everyone has the right to speak their mind all the time, as long as the situation is appropriate and they’re aware of others’ feelings.  But you have two extra-special reasons that you can speak up.  First, because her actions are affecting you and your life away from her.  But second, because she is losing friends, which means that your friendship is more and more valuable to her every day!

You don’t want to lose her friendship, but neither does she want to lose yours!  And if you make it clear that you really don’t approve of the stuff she’s doing, she’s extremely likely to pay lots of attention to what you say!

And there’s a third reason, too.  Nice people like your friend don’t normally act mean and pick fights any more than nice dogs do.  Most likely, there’s something going on in your friend’s life that she’s not talking about, and she’s ‘acting out’ on it with this fighting.  If you can, in a really friendly way, let her know that you don’t like her behavior, but that also you’d really like her to tell you why she’s feeling so bad, you could be the best friend EVER!

So to answer your question, I’d say to not dump her as a friend.  Instead, stand up for yourself, speak up to her, and become a better friend than you’ve ever known how to be before.  And just see how popular the two of you get after that!



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