Hi, Carolyn: My pushy friend is driving me bonkers. I have to tell her "no" at least three times before she backs off. From food to music to travel and beyond. I don't think it's ever occurred to her that not everyone has the same tastes she does.
Examples: Telling me repeatedly to get sauce on my taco because it's included in the price, no matter how many times I say the sauce is too spicy for me. Asking me repeatedly to go to a jazz concert after my telling her I'm not into jazz. Asking me to travel at least once every time we speak, despite knowing that my mom has three surgeries coming up and I can't travel anytime soon. Trying to physically wrap a shawl around my shoulders after I told her six times (no exaggeration) that I wasn't cold. Hovering while I cook and checking each step of the recipe to make sure I'm doing it right.
I feel like a toddler saying, "No, no, no!" because I don't want to eat the sauce or wear the shawl.
I used to consider her the nicest person I've ever met. She's pregnant and under a lot of stress, and I wonder if this has something to do with it. Maybe it's anxiety? This all started before the pregnancy but has definitely gotten worse. It also feels like she just wants to push her tastes on me and doesn't care what mine are. It's exhausting, and I'm pretty much done with this friendship.
Or should I wait and see how things go post-baby? Maybe set limits on how often I see her and avoid eating with her? But then she'll ask me to dinner nine times and I'll have to keep saying no.
Bonkers: If I’m reading this correctly, then you haven’t said to her explicitly, in response to the third no-sauce-please or sixth time you’ve said you aren’t cold: “What. Is. Going. On? Are you okay?” Followed by a kind, gentle, plain accounting of the change you have witnessed in her and your frustration with her pressing you repeatedly.
After that, you can respond once to a first intrusion, and from there say, “I said ‘no,’ ” to a second, and give no response at all to a third/fourth/nth. And in time, if you haven’t run through a wall a la Wile E. Coyote, you can skip all of these responses and just look at her the first time with eyebrow(s) raised and be done with it.
Meaning, of course, you stop accommodating. Short version.
When you have the what’s-going-on conversation, please ask whether she has considered getting screened for anxiety and/or talking to a pro about the stress she is under.
There is a fine line between showing concern and telling someone they’re doing life wrong and need to fix it to your liking — irony alert — but friends are often our best mirrors when we’ve undergone a concerning personality change. This sounds like one of those cases.
If you really just want out of the friendship, then that’s your prerogative, but having had the “Whyyyyyyyy are you telling me seven times how to order a taco?” conversation will save you a lot of splaining when that day finally comes.