How to handle friends who listen to mean liars

sarah asks: This is going to be my second year in college. My college is very small. There’s this one girl who is very outspoken but evil. She works her way through people, and makes them believe whatever she says. She has caused a lot of people that were once my friends to turn against me. How do I let people see the real me, and be attracted to me and not her?

Hi sarah –

I usually hear about girls doing this at younger ages – this behavior’s very common around 14 years old – so it disturbs me to hear about it happening in a college. Not that I don’t know of adults who do such things, but just that I’d have hoped the other students wouldn’t be as susceptible to her manipulations.

But I then have to think – oh, that just means she’s reeeeeeally good at it.

And frankly, if she’s that talented, I don’t know that I can give you a great answer on how to beat her at this game. Eventually, we can be sure, she’ll alienate enough people that they start to see her the way you do. And when that happens, she’ll move from being liked and trusted to being despised and shunned.

But that’s later, and up to the hands of fate; not now, in any way you can control.

So my invitation to you is to try to look at this in a very different way – as a

wonderfully positive technique for you to find out who your real friends are.

I know a man who was very popular at his college, and he had one rule: to never date any other students there, as it might cause trouble for him if he did. And it went great – until he broke that rule. He got involved with a woman who seemed like the nicest person he’d ever known… until things started to turn downhill. Eventually he broke things off from her, right before he took a semester off to work on some things. When he went back, he was shocked to find that half the people he’d considered his friends would barely talk to him. They were so furious that he had been so cruel and cold to that woman! He tried to explain that she had exaggerated, or lied, about their relationship, but those people just wouldn’t listen.

It hurt like blazes. It largely ruined his experience for the rest of his time there. But after a while, he began to realize – these people were not very good friends. How could they believe such mean things about him? How could they take her word so unquestioningly? How could they turn on him so easily?

And then, after some time, he began to notice something. A lot of those “friends” started having issues with each other. And they didn’t seem to be hanging out with that woman anymore. And the friends who’d stuck by him, who believed him, who trusted in him – those people kept on being friends of his forever.

So when this girl at school does these things, you’re right to try to convince others that you’re good, and that she’s lying to them. But if they don’t listen to you, if they insist that she must be telling the truth, let them go. There are better friends out there.

They’re making a choice. A very deep one. They’re picking the person who creates drama, and is a self-centered liar, over the person who is caring and honest. Whatever their reasons for doing so, this quality in them isn’t something you really need more of in your life. So wish them well, and split.

Whenever Handsome takes me to the dog park, I have a really great time playing with all the pooches there. And sometimes, two of them will get into a big fight – a real one, not the play-tussling I like. And most of the dogs run to look at it, or get into it themselves. But I don’t. I turn around and walk away from it, and look to see what else interesting is happening. It’s not that I’m above fighting (I’m not – and I’m quite good at it!); it’s just that I don’t find that kind of drama interesting.

You can make that same choice, sarah. And if you do, while that mean girl might seem to be winning everyone over today, I can promise you that, over time, you’ll find yourself with a great bunch of friends. Great friends. The sort you really want.

Still, sorry you have to deal with all this garbage!

All my best,

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