Amy Dickinson
Columnist

Ask Amy: Toxic friend needs to become former friend

DEAR AMY: My husband and I will be moving out of state in a few months. While I am very excited for this, there is one thing I am absolutely dreading: my friend who lives in that state.

We were friends for one year in middle school before she moved away and we reconnected on Facebook a few years ago.

Amy Dickinson

Amy Dickinson offers straightforward advice on relationships, family and life in her syndicated column, Ask Amy. Syndicated advice columns are run in their entirety on washingtonpost.com; versions published in the newspaper might differ due to space constraints.

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By now we are both long out of school and raising children, but I can’t help but feel she is still the same sixth-grader I knew. She texts me several times a day and will resend messages until I answer; she doesn’t care if I am at work, running after a toddler or sleeping. I have talked to her about this several times but it never stops.

When she came for my wedding a few months ago she was late and made a scene everywhere we went; including getting mad at me one day for not being excited enough that she was there. She pouted the whole time.

A few days ago I called her and she responded by telling me she was going to punch me in the face if I don’t get excited about living closer to her.

Frankly, I just absolutely dread living that close to her and wish I had never told her about the move. I don’t want to be mean, but after 20 minutes with this friend I am completely drained and irritated and just want to leave this relationship. -- Frustrated Friend

DEAR FRUSTRATED: If you don’t want to be “mean,” then how about getting angry?

This alleged “friend” of yours has handed you plenty of evidence that she is toxic. Now she has threatened to punch you in the face. Even if said in jest, this remark is enough for you to sever the relationship. I find it chilling.

I suggest you respond swiftly and with certitude: “When you suggested that you might punch me in the face, I decided that this friendship has run its course.” Do not soften your stance.

Your friend is not only toxic, she sounds dangerously intense, demanding and volatile. You can assume that her life is littered with former friendships.

DEAR AMY: My 18-year-old daughter “Shelly” recently spent a week with extended family at the lake house.

Her grandfather commented on her being a “chowhound” on a number of occasions throughout the week, which embarrassed her, but she just laughed it off.

Amy, she is 5 feet four inches tall and a very healthy weight — not overweight — but she was chubby as a child and is self-conscious about it.

Why would her grandfather pick a weak spot and joke about it? Should I speak to him? She is headed off to college and very scared of the “freshman 15.” She works out and has a healthy attitude at home, but I worry about her starting school with a bad body image from the week of jokes. -- Upset Mom

DEAR UPSET: Your daughter’s grandfather comes from a generation where joking, ribbing or insulting someone about her weight was more “acceptable.” These damaging comments didn’t hurt any less, mind you, but were more commonly made.

Tell your daughter that these remarks are unacceptable and untrue. Ask her to understand and forgive her grandfather.

Don’t let this overshadow the benefits of their time together, but tell him, “Shelly mentioned that you ribbed her about her eating and her weight. Maybe you were kidding, but she found that pretty embarrassing because she really cares about what you think. So it matters to her. It would be a good idea not to do that when she comes home for Thanksgiving.”

DEAR AMY: Just like your reader, “Angry,” I am a fellow sufferer of a “monster-in-law.”

I came to realize that since I can’t change my mother-in-law, I might as well find humor with my situation. I found myself looking forward to her saying insulting and insensitive comments so I could write them down to share with my friends. I had enough to write a book! -- Fellow Sufferer

DEAR SUFFERER: When you can’t change the dynamic, laughter definitely helps.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2012 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

 
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