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Author Topic: "Friend" issues.
Roxie102
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I've been feeling really frustrated and lonely for a while now, and recently it's been getting worse...

I've been going out with my boyfriend for about a year now, and we're very happy, but none of my "friends" (the people I hang out with at school) respect him or our relationship. they say snide and rude comments about us, make
fun of him, and just generally are disrespectful. once my roommate even attempted to give me relationship advice when she's never even been in a real relationship herself. they don't understand how much he means to me, and
most of them don't even know him at all. some have met him once or twice, but still. and none of them are
in relationships, much less serious ones, so I've been feeling really alienated when I'm with them. I feel more mature than them, and it feels horrible.

my boyfriend is starting to resent my friends because he knows of the things they say about him. all of that makes me feel even worse.

I feel like I only have one real friend besides him, and I don't see her that often because she's moved 3 hours away and is starting college in January. she's been in a relationship for a little less than a year, so we have that in common as well. I call her whenever I'm feeling frustrated about my "friends" or my relationship, and she's always compassionate and understanding. I really do miss her a lot.

well, I just wanted to vent, and ask what I should do. I kind of feel like sticking it out for the next five months until graduation because then I'll never have to see these friends again, but the feeling won't go away. it just makes me dislike being at school and makes me miss my boyfriend and best friend so much more.

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Heather
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Have you considered that perhaps you've outgrown these friends and it might be time to try and make some new ones and distance yourself from these folks making you and your boyfriend feel so bad?

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Roxie102
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I know that'd probably be a really simple solution, but my school is really small and I'm also not that great at making friends, as I'm kind of shy. I have a good many casual acquaintances, but almost everyone already has their "clique" by now, so finding new friends so close to graduation might be difficult.
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Heather
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Well, I don't know that making new friends is ever simple for anyone, so I didn't assume it would be for you.

But I do know that outgrowing groups of friends is something that happens, particularly in the teens and twenties when people tend to change a whole lot and social dynamics can be really tricky.

But if the friends you have now don't feel like friends at all, I think that sticking around them when they make you feel so terrible doesn't sound more pleasant than trying to make some new friends, you know? And I'd not think abut this as something with a deadline: it's not like your friendships have to end or automatically will with graduation.

What do you think?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Roxie102
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Sorry for not clarifying, the whole graduation thing was based in the fact that I've outgrown my friends and that they're kind of lousy - I feel pretty okay with totally leaving them behind and making new ones at college. But if I had some I really cared about, I'd stay in contact with them, no doubt.

I don't really know how to go about with any of this. I really just wish I could pick up everything and move to the lower part of the state to be with my best friend and boyfriend, or just fast forward to May. It's really frustrating.

[ 12-23-2011, 04:21 PM: Message edited by: Roxie102 ]

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Heather
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It sounds pretty awful, and I'm so sorry you're going through this.

You say you have some acquaintances you like: can you maybe think of even just one or two who you could reach out to a little more and pursue spending some more time with?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Roxie102
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I guess I could try that, but it'll still be hard to really distance myself from my old friends since I have classes with them and pretty much see them everyday. I know they'll say something about it too, because they got upset when I started dating my boyfriend and thus spending less time with them.

My boyfriend kind of has a similar problem - he has a lot of acquaintances, but no one he really cares about. He says I'm the only person he really likes and actually cares about. I know that's not healthy, but it's a pit we've fallen into.

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Heather
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How about if for now, you focus on reaching ut more to those one or two new people and just see what happens? If you do develop a bit more closeness with them, that distance may happen a bit more organically, if you follow me.

Sounds like you're also having a hard time with how these friends talk to you, period. Should we perhaps brainstorm some things you can say to them to set limits when they are saying things about your or your boyfriend that are mean or judgy? Have you tried setting firm limits yet?

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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Roxie102
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I'm pretty much a "grin and bear it" kind of person, but I have told them that their comments aren't cool and that they should keep out of my relationship unless I ask for their opinions, and it works for a bit - they'll pretty much just respectfully ignore my relationship/stop talking about it - but then a few weeks later, it'll start back up.

Another thing, sometimes I get upset at them and tell my boyfriend about it. He's really confrontational and feels the need to protect me, so he'll sometimes end up calling or texting the friend who's said something and pretty much tells them respectfully just to stop. He'll do this without asking, and I really don't mind much, but then my friends will start acting weird toward me when I really wasn't even involved in the confrontation in the first place. They tell me he's being disrespectful with them when in reality, he's not. One even told me once that I shouldn't be with him because he's a "bad person", which isn't true either.

[ 12-23-2011, 04:42 PM: Message edited by: Roxie102 ]

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Heather
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Want my advice on those last bits?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Roxie102
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I'd appreciate it, yes.
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Heather
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Okay.

So, I think the first thing, and it's a biggie, is to start trying to get outside your comfort zone when it comes to the grin-and-bear dynamic. That's just not a way of coping that really creates quality relationships or is likely to create good stuff in your life.

With little things that don't upset you much, so are not even worth saying anything about, that's one thing. Like, you know, if I'm out and someone at the grocery store assumes I'm straight when I'm not. Who is checking out my groceries and what orientation they think I am just has very little real bearing on my life mostly since it has zip to do with my groceries. Know what I mean?

But, if say, one of my parents did that, both of whom have known I'm queer for decades, and whose acceptance of who I am does really matter to me kept doing that, that would be something else entirely.

Things like people putting you or someone you love down all the time isn't a little thing, is very upsetting and, as you know, does have a real impact on your life. So, with something like that, you need to try and learn to set hard limits and keep on repeating them as needed. If you don't set those limits, or pushy people feel like you won't hold them, they'll keep pressing them. But once people get the picture, and get that you will not tolerate that, they will usually stop.

I know it's irritating as hell, and can even feel dehumanizing, to have to keep setting a limit over and over. We all do. It really sucks. But sometimes we need to do that. So, maybe you and I can come up, together, with something in one-sentence you're going to say to these friends next time? Maybe something that also includes a consequence?

I don't think that if you have set limits and they've been squashed that someone else, like your boyfriend, going to bat for you is a bad thing or "disrespectful." But what I do think is that you're going to likely get more mileage out of fighting your own battles, and if he wants to say something, it's likely most productive and most powerful if he speaks for his own hurt feelings instead of yours. And I think doing it that way also creates more of a position of partnership than what can instead kind of seem like parenting, where he's speaking FOR you.

[ 12-23-2011, 05:05 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Roxie102
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Okay. I'd like help with something to say to them, but being assertive and setting limits is a little uncomfortable for me. I guess I feel like I'm asking too much, and it feels like people start walking on eggshells around me/acting differently because they don't want to do anything to upset me. I don't know, that just feels weird to me, and I know it shouldn't.
I guess to sum it up : I wonder if the person I'm setting a limit with will think "WTF is up with her?!", you know, since I've seemingly been "okay" with whatever they were doing, and "suddenly", I'm not.


I suppose I'd say something like, "I feel disrespected when you say these things. You don't know anything about my boyfriend or our relationship, so I don't think you have a right to be judging us. I'd appreciate it if you stopped."

[ 12-23-2011, 05:14 PM: Message edited by: Roxie102 ]

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Heather
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Sometimes I think it helps to put the shoe on the other foot in these situations. If you were saying the kinds of things your friends are to you, do you think it'd be fair for them to set a firm limit with you?

Setting limits when we need to isn't about asking people to walk on eggshells: it's asking people to just be considerate of you. Asking someone not to constantly diss someone you care about or make you feel like crap? That's just asking for common courtesy, where you shouldn't even have to be asking at all: people, even strangers, should already be extending that to you.

And sure, someone might wonder what's up with you. That's okay, though. Hopefully, they'll have the emotional maturity after they think that to go to "WTF has been up with ME?!?" You know? And chances are what they might eventually figure out is just that you tolerated their BS a lot longer than you should have and are now standing up for yourself. No bad there.

Can you maybe give me some examples of some things that they say that you'd be responding to?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Roxie102
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-One friend sometimes tells me that he's nasty/ugly/has STDs, which is all totally unfounded, btw.

-They'll criticize me for staying in my room to talk to him on the phone instead of hanging out with them.

-That he's a jerk/rude/disrespectful...someone I shouldn't be with.

-We were talking about Christmas presents and they asked me what I got him. (It was a Lego Star Wars alarm clock, and he totally loved it. [Smile] ) I told them and they laughed at me and criticized me, telling me it was a lame present.

-They joke about the fact that he's a year and a half younger than me. If we're talking about sex and stuff, they'll say I'm "robbing the cradle", being a pedophile, call me a cougar, etc.

-He was busy on my birthday and couldn't come see me, so he came to see me a week before. They called him a bad boyfriend for that since he wasn't spending my birthday with me.

-We took a break once and when I was telling them what happened they called him a douchbag and such.

-One friend was texting him once for some reason and ended up telling him that he had issues and didn't deserve to be living. (That one really upset us both because he's had a pretty rough past, which she knows nothing about, and I know it triggered some bad feelings in him.)


...ehh, that's just some off the top of my head. Writing all of that out really makes me see how horrible they're being. [Frown]

[ 12-23-2011, 05:42 PM: Message edited by: Roxie102 ]

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Heather
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Gadzooks! I agree, this all is hella horrible.

So, before we take the next step: are you sure these are people you want to stay friends with at all? I mean, I feel you about your concerns about you and your boyfriend winding up being each others' only friends, but I'm not sure that having friends who treat you like this is better than that.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Heather
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(Also? A Lego Star Wars alarm clock sounds like about the coolest thing ever. I'm envious!)

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Roxie102
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Yeah, they're all decent, funny, and fun to be around otherwise, but for whatever reason, they're so horrible about this, and I don't know why. [Frown] I used to chalk it up to jealousy, but I think it's something more than that.

It's already getting to the point that I'm spending more time alone than with them, so I guess going all the way wouldn't be that much worse. I don't know, it just really sucks.

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Heather
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It does really suck, agreed.

So, okay.

I think what you suggested sounds good:

"I feel disrespected when you say these things. You don't know anything about my boyfriend or our relationship, so I don't think you have a right to be judging us. I'd appreciate it if you stopped."

I'd personally adapt it to make it a clearer limit like this:

"I feel disrespected and hurt when you say these things and I am asking you to stop. I expect my friends to be supportive of me and my relationship, and I'm asking that of you. If we need to just agree that none of us will discuss my relationship, including me, for that result, let's do that. But if you can't change the way you talk to me about this, then I need to move away from our friendship so that I can do what I can to make it stop. I don't want to do that, but I also will not keep setting myself up to be hurt like this."

How do you feel about something like that? If that doesn't sound just right, what we're gong for is you setting a very clear limit and then making clear what your action will be if that limit is not respected. So, anything that does that should suffice.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Roxie102
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that sounds good. thanks so much for the help. I'll work on this in the coming weeks. [Smile]
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Heather
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Absolutely. And I'm happy to offer you some support throughout. It can be really hard for people who aren't used to setting hard limits and boundaries to learn to do that, and to feel okay doing that.

So this might also take more than weeks, and that's okay.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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WesLuck
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I give you my best wishes too. [Smile] It's totally fine to stick up for your rights as a human being! Friends don't say mean things about other people's close relationships if they are true friends.

Hang in there, and visit the Scarleteen web-site whenever you need it! [Smile]

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