Saturday, March 9, 2019

When Your Friend Becomes a Devil

It probably takes a warped mind to decipher these clues. But, if you are looking for a warped mind, you’ve come to the right place.

The letter writer is a woman. She wrote to the Washington Post’s Carolyn Hax about a problem. She went on a week-long vacation with a friend. During the vacation, the friend became nasty, mean, and dismissive. Seemingly for no good reason:

I went on a week-long trip abroad with a friend of mine. We are 27. On the trip I saw a different side of her: She was mean and at the very least insensitive, and I can't figure out why she acted this way toward me when I hadn't seen this from her before. She commented on my hair being a mess, how I eat the same food every day, and when she looked at a picture of us, she commented how she didn't realize how much taller she is. She complained there were flies at night and I agreed, then she told me, "Well, maybe you should shower at night" — I shower every day.

I could list more, but you probably get the point. Am I being overly sensitive and just need to let it go, or is there a good way to confront her?

— Friend or Foe

Hax does not address the root cause of the problem. Wisely, so. If I had to venture a guess, I would say that the “friend” is neither friend nor foe. She acted like a spurned lover. 

Apparently, the friend’s expectations for the trip were wildly discordant with the letter writer’s. It seems that the letter writer simply missed the signals. I could be wrong, but when your friend starts envisioning you in the shower, does that refer to hygiene or does it subtly suggest that the two of them might shower together at night?

Anyway, if I am right-- and God knows why that should be-- addressing the issues one at a time would be futile.  Unless the letter writer wants to say something about the unrequited affections. 

Hax offers some suggestions, but I will spare you the content.

I will however offer one Hax remark that makes eminently good sense. Every advice columnist, real or pretend, should write it down and frame it. Hax said:

… “confronting” people is climbing rapidly up my list of ideas that make me flinch.

Good. It should make everyone flinch. Encouraging people to confront each other is about as bad as encouraging women to lean in. It invites conflict and drama. And, didn’t the letter writer have enough of it during her so-called vacation with her sometime friend.

As for the answer to the letter, if the letter writer does not see the relationship as her friend does, she should either walk away from it or reconsider her affections.


Ares Olympus said...

---> “confronting” people is climbing rapidly up my list of ideas that make me flinch.

idk, I can see both sides. Certainly confronting people can make things worse, but Minnesota Nice is perfectly designed around the idea of never directly confronting anyone, and so you only have a chance to hear people's gripes about you from other friends or family members who felt compelled to listen.

So the full rule ought to be, never say anything about anyone behind their back that you don't want repeated back to them. And that's also good advice to remind someone when they're complaining about someone else to you. It might help to say "Don't repeat this to anyone", although people usually only say that when they REALLY REALLY want their gossip repeated.

Sam L. said...

Walk Away, Rene'. (Couldn't resist.)

Anonymous said...

In this case of this wierd vacation, I would never talk to the person again with no explanation. What's the point of hashing it out. The person has burned their bridges.

whitney said...

I agree with anonymous. The only reason to confront someone is if you plan on having a meaningful relationship in the future. If someone pisses you off but you're not going to have anything more than a superficial relationship with them then just deal with it on your own

Anonymous said...

Kills me when people say "Am I being too sensitive" (just like it always killed me when I was in the workforce and someone I had to deal with was constantly rude. Occasionally, I'd ask them about it, and they'd tell me I was "too sensitive."

Guess society's at the point now where people are not quite sure if someone insulting them is actually rude -- or if it's their own fault.

Naw. They're rude.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of "modern courtship".

The idea occurred that instead of "moving in" or "shacking up", going on a weeklong foreign trip with a prospective spouse would uncover whether or not you had found a problem or a problem solving partner.