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Difficult friend (very long, sorry)


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I have this friend, I've been very close with for the last 4-5 years. She has helped me and I have helped her through some very tough situations (divorce, work problems as we work at the same place, health issues). I would say she's a rock, a person you can always count on.


However, we have very different personalities. She's very honest and straight forward even when it means hurting someone's feelings. She's tough with herself, too. I, on the other hand, am more relaxed and hate hurting people. I'll tell a friend 'you may have put on some weight' if I'm asked...she'll say 'look, you're too fat and you need to lose weight'...without having been asked. You get the picture.

Anyway, we were out with some friends yesterday morning and she asked me to meet again in the evening, just the 2 of us, as she had 'something important to tell me'.


The important thing was a bunch of complaints. First, it was about a joke I've made several times in the past. She always laughed with it but she suddenly tells me she's always felt insulted by it and if I feel that way about her, I should let her know (it was a stupid joke, something like 'oh, come on, you know you're not normal', always said laughingly, never during a serious conversation and something I say about myself, too). I felt awful because if I knew how she felt, I wouldn't joke. I told her she should have told me the first 10 times but I apologised and said it won't happen again now that I know it upsets her...and I meant it. I still feel bad about that.


Then, it was about a story we had told our other friends in the morning. We had disagreed because we didn't remember it the same way. It was just a tiny detail (who said what 3 months ago during a minor argument) but she said I made her look like a liar. I said I can't lie to please you. If I remember something, I can't pretend I don't and why can't we agree to disagree. She seemed ok with that, eventually.


Then, she remembered an incident 2(!) years ago when we were visiting some friends and I had left early because I was sleepy but, then, she found out I didn't go to bed, I was online and why did I lie to her and why don't I stay out late and is she and our other friends boring and so on. According to her, when you go out with friends, you must stay out as long as they want (we've argued about this before), you can't just be someone who loves your friends but also like spending time at home or going to bed early or whatever. Let me say here that we go out at least twice a week and we see each other at work, too..plus she has many friends, it's not like she only goes out with me.


Then, another complaint about why I prefer using email instead of phone. This is something she had complained about years ago and, since then, I made sure to always call her when I wanted something. Still, she complains just because I do it with other friends and says it means I want to keep my distance and that even when we're on the phone, she feels like I'm in a hurry to hang up (the last call between us was just last week and it had lasted for over an hour, so, I don't know what else to do!).


I know that sometimes I joke too much (it was the only complaint that made sense to me, even though I'd rather she had told me much sooner) but the rest of it doesn't make sense to me. I don't understand why I have to stay out until midnight just because she does and why I have to apologise for what I do when I'm at home and why I prefer emailing instead of phoning. It feels like she's trying to change me into someone else. She constantly says she wants to help her friends 'be the best they can' (yes, she does it to other friends, too).


I love her but I feel very tired from all this. I don't know how to handle someone who is so judgemental but, at the same time, has a good heart and I know she would do anything to help me (and she has when I have needed help). Or, maybe, she has a point and I'm not a very good friend. I don't know. Please, tell me what you think about all this.

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Please, tell me what you think about all this.


What I think about all this is, she's a high maintenance person who will never be pleased.


You will always have to walk on eggshells around her, making sure you call instead of email, or stay out until she desires to go home, etc.


Then, you have to listen to her laundry list of complaints.


I'd gently walk away from this "friend". Scale back on the communications, be polite at work, and spend time with other friends.

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Both of you seem to have unhealthy ways of communicating with each other and have grown a bit too familiar. It seems as if that this has become a competition of sorts - how either one of you is better at communicating and competing styles. The abruptness or rudeness should stop in general. There's nothing becoming or pleasant about it. I wouldn't respond or reply to her accusations if you feel they are left field or petty. You don't have to be the one to teach her. Just make a mental note for your own self-growth and mingle around others who are more on your wavelength.

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I agree with LHGirl. And also the way you described it it sounds like she may find your jokes passive aggressive -she sees you don't want to be direct like she is but maybe she's taking some of your comments as indirect digs? I am more direct than my husband. When I point out something he said that wasn't clear at all -because it was indirect and more martyr-like -he'll sometimes say he thought it was "obvious" and I tell him it's not fair to expect me to read into stuff when being direct "I don't like when you said ____" would have resolved it quickly despite requiring his being assertive, more clear, etc.


The "you know you're not normal" is this kind of thing -you know how it's ok to make fun of your own family but if someone outside the family does it even though you do it it's not so ok? So sure you can be self-deprecating about your 'normalcy" but using the same joke on her isn't the same.


And having said all that I think it was way too intense and out of line how she brought this up and the thing about you leaving early and not going to sleep was just bizarre. I just wanted to raise those side issues but again I agree with LHGirl.

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