What to do when a friend resents your helping them

adriannaar asks: I helped a friend with an important problem, and all our friends that were involved became mean to me. What should I do? They are all giving me the cold shoulder.

(Note: This is actually a conversation, because I wasn’t clear enough at first about what the problem was)


Hi adriannaar –

Wow, it sounds like something is really off here.  Normally, when friends get together to help someone, it improves their relationship.  They’ve felt a kinship in their cause, and no matter what happens afterward, they’ll always have some love for each other from that bond.  We see this most clearly in battle, where soldiers who wouldn’t otherwise like each other at all develop a deep connection and devotion for each other that lasts through their lifetime, through their shared devotion.

So, yeah, something is off.  I can only imagine two possible scenarios here.  The first is that these people had something against you before any of you started to help that friend, but they didn’t show it until after your ‘project’ with that friend ended.  But that seems really unlikely.  Especially since they weren’t treating you badly till afterwards.

The more likely answer is that there’s something you did, or that they think you did, that has made them angry or mistrustful.  And, clever a dog as I am, I have no way of guessing what that might be.

The only solution is for you to find out what’s going on from one of them.  So my suggestion is for you to just hang back and act normal, but watch how each of them treat you.  And try to figure out which one seems the nicest, and treats you with the least “cold shoulder.”  And when you can, try to get that person alone.  Maybe on the phone, but in person might be better.  And ask them what in the world is going on!

Make sure that you don’t sound accusing, though, when you do it.  What you’re saying is that you like and trust that person, and that you’re hoping that they can tell you what it is that has turned the group against you.

Now here’s the toughest part.  Let’s say that person (I’ll call them Fido) says that another one of the group of friends (I’ll call that person Rover) said something really bad about you.  Should you then get angry at Fido, and say “You’re lying, that’s a total lie, I never did that thing, I hate you, go jump in the lake!”?  No, that would be a very bad idea!

Instead, if that’s the case, try staying really calm, and saying “There must be some mistake.  I never did what Rover said.  Rover must be mistaken.”  It’s not Fido’s fault, so don’t make Fido’s life difficult.  But then you have to do the gutsier thing, which is to talk to Rover about it.

Now, if Rover is nice and understanding, and can explain that it was a mistake, you can become friends with all of them again, and all is fine.  But if Rover is rude and mean to you, then it’s probably clear that Rover made this up on purpose.  THEN you have some tough decisions to make!  Like whether to confront Rover about it in front of the other friends, or just to call the friends and tell them Rover was lying, or… (well, I’d want to bite Rover’s leg, but that’s probably not a good suggestion at all!).

In any case, your job is simply to find out what the mistake was, and get it rectified.  And for that, I wish you the very best of luck!



(At this point adriannaar wrote me back and explained that she had helped out her friends by telling someone something, and now they’re all furious with her for it and ignoring her)



This just gets odder and odder, adriannaar!  But one thought I have – did they not want you to do what you did to help them?  Maybe they resent what you did, even though it had that effect.

For example, sometimes I’ll see a cat across the street and lunge to run at it and catch it, but Handsome grabs me by the collar and won’t let me do it.  I am SOOOOO MAD at him when he does that!  All I wanted was to catch that cat!  I don’t care that a car was heading down the street and might have hit me!  All I care about is that cat!!!

Well later, of course, I think about it and realize that he just saved me from getting turned into a pancake.  But at the moment, I was just angry.

Is it possible that these friends are angry that you didn’t “let them run across the street to chase the cat,” or that maybe they don’t even realize what a good thing you did?  Maybe they really didn’t want that person to be told?

If so, it’s possible that you still did the right thing.  Maybe you did the BEST thing possible.  Or maybe, there was a way you didn’t think of, where you could have helped them without doing whatever it was that angered them.

If that’s the case, it’s very sad that they’re holding onto that anger at you.  Because you were really just trying to help them – and you succeeded.

If this is the case, I’d suggest you just give them some time, and some space.  Let them get over their anger.  And when you can, talk with one of them, one who seems more understanding than the others, and explain why you did what you did.  Hopefully this will all blow over soon.

In the meantime, just know that your heart was in the right place, and that someday, I’m sure at least some of them will learn to appreciate it.

But for now, I understand, it feels very bad.  And for that I am truly deeply sorry.  It stinks to not be appreciated for doing your best, and for being loving.  It’s not fair at all.

Here’s hoping it gets a lot better very, very soon!


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