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I accidentally "took" my friends job.
March 25, 2014 11:45 PM   Subscribe

My good friend and I applied and were interviewed for the same job at a prestigious organization in our field. I got the job. She didn't. I start Monday. My friend is really mad at me. I haven't felt this awkward and upset about something good happening to me since high school senior year awards night. HELP.

Background Info: We are both in our late twenties and have been friends for the past thirteen years. We met in high school and bonded over our fierce love of and desire to work in the same field/discipline (marketing, public relations, advancement, and communications for social justice organizations). Although we attended different universities for our undergraduate and graduate degrees, we have always maintained contact over the years. We communicate daily via text messages and phone, and meet for dinner around once or twice a month. Overall, we are pretty close friends, and have been for years.

Okay, so here's the current situation: recently, a mid-level position opened up at a very prestigious organization in our field. I've been dreaming of working at this particular organization pretty much since high school, so I was elated when I learned the position opened, and I applied to it right away. I was not aware at the time, but my friend also applied to the position. We were both selected for phone interviews, and then we both moved on to face-to-face interview. Although I had spoken to my friend about the interview process for this position and how excited I was to be interviewing at the organization, she never once mentioned to me that she was the other candidate for the position that I was up against. I just knew that she was ALSO interviewing somewhere in the state we live in.

As you can likely tell from the title, I was offered and accepted the position a few weeks ago. I announced the new position on my social media accounts (I am REALLY excited), and later that evening, received a very awkward and stilted phone call from my friend letting me know that she had been the other candidate for the position, and that she was very mad at me for "taking" this job opportunity away from her. During the face-to-face interview, the hiring manager let both of us know that there was only one other candidate for the position, so she is working under the assumption that if I were to refuse the offer, she would be offered the position. I really want this job, and have decided to take it, and I've told her that, and now my friend is REALLY mad at me.

There are some additional factors at play here, of course. Friend lives in our hometown three hours away from the major city where the organization is located. I moved here eight years ago for college and have lived in the same city as the HQ of the organization ever since. Something that is also important to note is that she is in a very serious long distance relationship, and that her boyfriend lives in the same city as me. Currently, they are taking turns traveling to see one another every weekend, and she was hoping to relocate here so that they could live together. Her not getting this job means that she cannot move to major city as quickly, and that is apparently a set back in their relationship.

I think this also stings for her because we have been friendly competitors for so many years, and she is taking this hiring decision personally as an indicator that I am "better" at our field than her. But this seems more serious and prickly than our competition over who would be editor-in-chief of the high school newspaper. All I have said to her about this is that we were both obviously good candidates on paper or else we wouldn't have both been invited to the face-to-face interview stage. I am pretty sure that I was hired because I was a better cultural fit for the organization - I got along well with the people on the team that I will be working with. In the few communications that I have had with my friend this past week, she has expressed the feeling that I "do not deserve" the job because I don't "need it to move my personal life forward" in the same way that she does. My own SO does live right down the street from me, so I guess she's right in a way, but I do think that I deserve the job and that she's acting a little crazy.

Knowing that I will be starting this job on Monday come rain or shine, how do I repair this friendship? Should I just let her go? Is there a way to be good friends with someone in your field without things like this happening?
posted by SkylitDrawl to Human Relations (67 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
You didn't go behind her back to apply for this position or sabotage her chances at landing it so you have done nothing wrong. This job is yours. You deserve it. It would be understandable for your friend to be jealous but being personally angry at you is out of line. I think you should start your exciting new career with a happy heart and guilt free soul.

If you happen to be in a position to help your friend through a recommendation in the future, do so. Give her some space to calm down but this is too big of an opportunity to give up.
posted by saradarlin at 11:51 PM on March 25 [95 favorites]


The organisation chose the person they thought would be a better fit and that person was you. It's got nothing to do with who 'deserves' the job.

Your friend is probably angry at herself for not being 'good enough' to get the position and is taking it out on you. Be kind to both her and yourself; try not to burn bridges with her but accept that she may not want to be so much of a friend in future and that you may not be able to discuss your job (especially any issues you have) with her.

Good luck!
posted by eloeth-starr at 11:58 PM on March 25 [13 favorites]


I think you should be completely unapologetic (in your own mind and to her) in taking the job. Don't indulge in any more discussions of whether you were or were not right to take it, whether this means you're better than her, and why the company chose you. That just makes her think more about it, and creates new ways for her to keep feeling bad about it. Tell her, "I'm taking the job, and I don't think I did anything wrong. But I value our friendship. The ball is in your court, and I won't contact you until you contact me first. I hope we can resume our friendship." Then give her space.

Her behavior sounds so irrational that I wonder if she's going through pain that we don't know about. Maybe she's thinking something like, "My relationship is on the brink of breaking down if I don't move to the same city as him. I can't stand to lose him. I have to move there in the next month, or else he's gone forever, and I'll never find another person as great as him." Then the job becomes not just a job but the difference between happiness forever or misery forever, and she becomes irrational about losing it.

I think there's a good chance that if you leave her alone for a while, and she cools down, she'll see that she was being unfair. Then she'll either apologize, or just bury this issue and resume your friendship.
posted by cheesecake at 12:08 AM on March 26 [28 favorites]


Give her some time to cool down. When we feel strong emotions, we're not always precise about directing the expression of those emotions at their real causes or at effective targets.

If you want to assuage your guilt (and I personally would), you can make a serious effort to help her find another position in your city.

Forgive her. She's only human. (Don't tell her, though).
posted by amtho at 12:18 AM on March 26 [6 favorites]


You had every right to apply for this job, you were quite open and above board about it (unlike your friend) and she is being wildly unreasonable, petulant and inexcusable.
posted by Decani at 12:19 AM on March 26 [54 favorites]


give her time and space to get over it, and before too long she may realize that she now has a friend working where she might still like to have a job some day. you didn't do anything wrong, and nobody deserves a particular job because it will move along their personal life.
posted by jimw at 12:20 AM on March 26 [7 favorites]


She's obviously really disappointed and has suffered a big loss, but it doesn't excuse her behavior. I wouldn't reach out to her. If you really want to let her know that you're open to maintaining a friendship despite this, you could send her a short note letting her know that you really care about her, are sorry she's feeling the way that she is, and that you would be willing to help her find work in your city if she wants help. If she's really a friend worth having she will eventually come to her senses and apologize. How you address that apology is up to you; unless you left something major out she's really acting out of school here. I'd watch my back around her if you do work things out. Someone with a misplaced sense of entitlement that large is not necessarily one you want too close.
posted by pazazygeek at 12:26 AM on March 26 [12 favorites]


You didn't accidentally take anything, and there is nothing for you to apologize for. Look out for other opportunities that she can apply for, perhaps, but you're certainly not obliged to do it out a misplaced sense of guilt. She's being presumptuous - it wasn't her job for you to steal.

Let her simmer down. Telegraph tht you're still on friendly terms with her, and no more. The ball is now in her court.
posted by cendawanita at 12:29 AM on March 26 [2 favorites]


I think they way she handled this situation was odd from the beginning. It sounds like she withheld the info that she was the other interviewee from the start even though she new you were her competition.

After some time if she doesn't apologize for her irrational response I would seriously consider whether or not you really want to be involved in her professional life by helping her find a job.

You have done nothing wrong and owe her nothing. But, maybe a shoulder to cry on for a bit will help her get over the disappointment.
posted by cairnoflore at 12:33 AM on March 26 [6 favorites]


It sounds like she withheld the info that she was the other interviewee from the start even though she new you were her competition.

This is true. She's a really confident, competitive person, and any time that we have gone head to head for anything, she's always believed that she would be the person awarded whatever thing we are competing for. Knowing that about her, I assume that she probably didn't tell me because she thought she would receive the position and didn't want me to feel too awkward about it. She is very invested in achievements, publications, awards, and job offers, and has been since we were kids.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 12:40 AM on March 26 [4 favorites]


There are some additional factors at play here, of course. Friend lives in our hometown three hours away from the major city where the organization is located. I moved here eight years ago for college and have lived in the same city as the HQ of the organization ever since. Something that is also important to note is that she is in a very serious long distance relationship, and that her boyfriend lives in the same city as me. Currently, they are taking turns traveling to see one another every weekend, and she was hoping to relocate here so that they could live together. Her not getting this job means that she cannot move to major city as quickly, and that is apparently a set back in their relationship.

This is all irrelevant.

There was a job in your field, you saw the ad, you applied, you interviewed, you got it. That's it. There's no betrayal there. Had she told you about the job after she had started interviewing and THEN you decided to interview as well, ok yeah, that would have been a bit shitty on your part. But that's not what happened.

Don't let her make you feel guilty for success, since you did nothing underhanded. Agree with others - give it space and time and she'll probably come around.
posted by modernnomad at 1:22 AM on March 26 [27 favorites]


It wasn't her job in the first place, so it would be difficult for you for have "stolen" it from her. I know that she is extremely upset and it looks like she had a lot of plans hinged on getting it but you both went through the same interview process and the organisation chose the person they felt was the best fit. Do not apologise (to her or yourself) for that fact - it's not like you parachuted in at the last moment and whipped out from under her.

I would let her calm down without contacting her for a bit because right now, she's lashing out and you are the irrational target but I'd also keep in mind that someone who thought that you should give up a job offer so that she could have it (and without you even knowing she was in the running) is someone I wouldn't want to be vastly close to myself.

Congrats on the job though! :)
posted by halcyonday at 2:00 AM on March 26 [3 favorites]


You didn't do anything wrong. You have nothing to apologise for.

Although I had spoken to my friend about the interview process for this position and how excited I was to be interviewing at the organization, she never once mentioned to me that she was the other candidate for the position that I was up against.

Then how could you 'take it from her'? Your friend is being a jerk.

Give your friend some time and space. If they don't come around, you could try telling them how you feel - present your position to them (ie, you didn't know they were the other applicant, even if you did, you didn't take anything from them - it was given to you, you've done nothing wrong, and you feel that they are being unfair). You could do this in person or, if you feel that would be too hard on you, maybe in writing, where you could organise your thoughts.

Good luck.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:04 AM on March 26 [1 favorite]


I am hoping for both of you that she at some point very soon considers how things would be if your positions were reversed. Treating others as one would like to be treated is a good guiding principle. She needs to employ it. I'm sorry for the damper to your good news, but congrats!
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 2:17 AM on March 26 [2 favorites]


If anyone went behind anyone's back here it was her. Especially if as you suspect she was expecting to get the job then you would have not only had to deal with your disappointment in not getting the job but also the shock news that the person you lost out to is a supposedly good friend who hadn't had the courtesy to let you know she had applied for it.

Her career and relationship issues are not yours to fix and the idea that you should give up a job that you really want in order to further her relationship is childish at best.
posted by *becca* at 2:18 AM on March 26 [22 favorites]


She is not your friend. This is not how a friend behaves. A friend would be happy that you have landed your dream job. You were offered a job, you did not take it from her, it was not ever hers. She has no right to be mad at you.

I could understand her being (a little) mad if she'd told you about the job she was interviewing for and you also decided to apply and were offered the job, or if you had known she was the other candidate and you actively sabotaged her - none of that is true though. You applied and interviewed for a job and were offered it, at no point did she even tell you that she was the other candidate.

I wouldn't bother trying to repair this "friendship", you did nothing wrong, she's just being selfish and childish. Let her come to you when she's ready to apologise.
posted by missmagenta at 2:21 AM on March 26 [29 favorites]


Yeah, you definitely did nothing wrong at all! What really bothers me and sticks out to me is:

"received a very awkward and stilted phone call from my friend letting me know that she had been the other candidate for the position, and that she was very mad at me for "taking" this job opportunity away from her."

Talk about manipulative. She's trying to take your happiness away from you, making you feel guilty for getting your well-deserved job, and being very petty. A true friend would say something like "I admit I'm a bit disappointed I wasn't chosen for the position, but you truly deserve the job opportunity, and I wish you the best!" AND continue the friendship as normal.

I hope I did not offend you at all. Your friend may not intend to come across this way, but, unfortunately, she has hurt you and done the wrong thing. I'd recommend giving it a week, then dropping her a quick note asking if you guys could talk this out, and let it go from that point. The ball's in her court. If she doesn't come around, well, her loss, and I'd say it's a good thing you would then be exposed to her real personality before the friendship had advanced any further.
posted by dubious_dude at 2:33 AM on March 26 [7 favorites]


If this had all happened in the last week or so, I'd give her a little time to simmer down. If she really really really wanted the job, then I think some hurt feelings are understandable. If she can't at least be civil with you about it, though, then that might turn out to be a sticking point long term. But it's been a few weeks - has she behaved any differently? Is she continuing with the fuss and drama? If she is, then I'd suggest telling her that you don't want to know her until she can deal with the fact of this situation. The longer things go on where she "gets away" with being off with you about your job, the more poisonous it's going to be for your friendship.

She can't control feeling jealousy or other emotions about the job. What she can control is the things she says and the way she behaves. It reads like she's implied to you that you should turn the position down, so that she can get it, which is a pretty awful thing to say. If she can't be nice, decide whether you want someone not nice in your life.

Good luck in the new position. I hope it works out well for you.
posted by Solomon at 2:34 AM on March 26 [4 favorites]


Re her saying you "do not deserve" this job, or feeling that you should turn it down so she could have it: hoo boy is she ever wrong.

You OBVIOUSLY 'deserve' this job more than she does --- if she 'deserved' it she'd have been the person they hired.

And even if you were to turn around and refuse the job right now, that is NO guarentee that they'd hire her: there's some real reason they turned her down (her qualifications, her personality, the delay while she moves to your city, etc.).

Enjoy your great new job! Just give her time; whether or not she comes around and acts like an adult is entirely up to her.
posted by easily confused at 2:50 AM on March 26 [1 favorite]


All the personal stuff doesn't matter. It's unfortunate for her, but you should not feel awkward about that at all. You shouldn't even feel awkward about taking the job, but I can at least understand why you might.

It is definitely really odd that she never disclosed she was the other candidate, but I think you should be glad she made that choice, since you had no head games going on while you were interviewing, but she sure did. You won it "fair and square," so enjoy the job.

I think it's up to her to repair the friendship, not you. As far as you know, you were just living your life, had something good happen in it, and then she drops a bombshell on you and makes a giant fuss. I feel like what you told her was very diplomatic and that it's probably a good idea to just continue in that vein, with no gloating or unprompted mention of job. She'll come to you when she's ready.
posted by madonna of the unloved at 2:51 AM on March 26 [3 favorites]


I have been in this situation in stage work. And if you thought YOUR profession was bitter...

Thing is: you were never competing against each other. You were both competing against the image in the interviewers' heads of what they thought they wanted. This time it was you who they picked; on the same day, from the same interview, a similar-but-different group might have picked her. You have no control over whether someone gives you a job; you can only do your best. You didn't deny her the opportunity; they did.

Standard stage-artist practice: let her sulk till she's ready to call you (and hopefully, apologise for some of what she said.)
posted by Pallas Athena at 3:05 AM on March 26 [12 favorites]


A true friend would say something like "I admit I'm a bit disappointed I wasn't chosen for the position, but you truly deserve the job opportunity, and I wish you the best!" AND continue the friendship as normal.

The same thing happened to me. I took a deep breath. Called my friend. And congratulated him heartily. Wished him the best with all sincerity. Because what else is there to do? It's my friend and he did nothing wrong and good for him and that's the way the cookie crumbles. Afterwards, I felt a whole lot better about not getting the job and genuinely happy for my friend. This was 15 years ago and I am still friends with that person and our families are friends and we enjoy each other's company and trust each other and support each other and have lots of good laughs. And that's nice to have in your life. Worth more than any crummy job. Jobs come and go. Friends you want to have for life require a bit more of a commitment. And this should be bloody obvious to anyone who has a friend.

So you might want to consider if this person is really a friend or really someone you want to have as a friend.

OTOH, maybe your friend has some serious being a grown-up issues and you might give her a pass - put your own feelings to the side - and see if you can help her through them. Commitment is a two-way street and if you're not prepared to take a few undeserved punches now and then, you might not be the friend you could be.
posted by three blind mice at 3:10 AM on March 26 [9 favorites]


You are being extraordinarily generous to someone who doesn't deserve it.

She is behaving appallingly and I'd drop the friendship for a while until she apologizes wholeheartedly.
posted by humph at 3:45 AM on March 26 [9 favorites]


Unless there's a huge issue here that you haven't disclosed, her reaction is completely irrational and based on emotion.

And I gotta say, if she can't handle this situation more diplomatically than this, she's not cut out to be doing marketing and communications for a social justice organization, which will call for a hell of a lot more thick skin, good judgment, relationship building and preservation, and cool-headedness than the simple matter of someone else being hired for a job you wanted. And I feel confident that if the organization knew she were behaving like this, it would make them regret they ever considered her seriously and cause a lot of "we dodged a bullet" reactions.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 3:56 AM on March 26 [42 favorites]


I think you need to move on dot org from this 'friendship'.
I'm using those quotes because she really isn't acting like a friend.

A friend would genuinely be glad for you and suck it up, buttercup and continue being your friend.

Put her in time out until she begins acting like a friend again (hint: this may never happen) and go on with your wonderful new life and job.
posted by John Kennedy Toole Box at 4:10 AM on March 26 [4 favorites]


You are three hours closer to the position's HQ! If I were the boss, and had to make a decision between two competent candidates, guess who I would pick?

Nobody should feel sorry about themselves for being competent. You were in the right place at the right time, and she wasn't. That's life sometimes and you've gotta roll with it.
posted by oceanjesse at 4:22 AM on March 26 [5 favorites]


Yeah, don't offer to "help" her find a job, she'll see it as condescension.
posted by Omnomnom at 4:34 AM on March 26


I don't think you're friends in the way that friends should really be. I mean who the hell interviews for a job, knowing that their friend is interviewing for the same job, doesn't tell their friend, and then gets pissed at their friend for "taking it away" from them? I would do a slow fade with her because who really needs this in their life? This is toxic.
posted by heyjude at 5:00 AM on March 26 [11 favorites]


To stress - US job openings are public. Even if an organization creates a specific job with a specific person in mind, not having open applications for that job can put the organization on thin ice.

Job was available. You applied. She applied. Other people applied. They picked you. Congratulations. End of story.

Friend should see this as a sign she is now a little better connected in social justice circles. Let's hope she comes around to that view soon.,
posted by Lesser Shrew at 5:04 AM on March 26


she's always believed that she would be the person awarded whatever thing we are competing for.

It sounds like she's not used to not getting what she wants, and hasn't learned the skill of being a gracious loser. And it sounds like not getting this job was a huge blow to her - or perhaps losing to you, specifically, is difficult for her? Regardless, this is difficult for her and she is not handling it well.

She's being inappropriate, though she may not realize that yet. It's on her, not you, to make the repair, and before she can do that she needs time for her emotions to settle and to get some perspective. Take a step back, give her that time to recover. If you run into her at work be polite but don't pursue (i.e., say hello and how are you but beyond that wait for her to make a move). If your "friendly competition" friendship only works when she wins, this is a friendship you can't keep. Wait for her to show you she can grow up a bit and accept losing to you.

At your new job, be enthusiastic and professional, just as you would if you had any other troubling issue in your personal life. Good luck!
posted by bunderful at 5:18 AM on March 26 [10 favorites]


Just for fun: Let's pretend for a second that her I Will Get This Because I Deserve This philosophy is actually mature and sound.

Especially if she thought she was a sure thing: Shouldn't she have let you know about her candidate status early in the interview process, so that you could drop out of the competition and spare yourself the time, effort, and ultimately, the heartache of losing the opportunity to her?

She didn't, though. Which, even in that ridiculous scenario, leads back to straight up crybaby behavior...and therefore, not your problem.
posted by gnomeloaf at 5:21 AM on March 26 [6 favorites]


Is there a way you can use your new job to help her?

(Would serving as a reference help her get your old job?)

I had a similar situation, but in mine there were multiple friends and acquaintances vying for the same job (yay, academic labor market. sigh.). I got it, but I've also used to help my friends as much as possible. (Including one as a consultant in grant applications, for example.)
posted by oddman at 5:24 AM on March 26 [1 favorite]


Aside from everyone else's good advice, it sounds like she thinks she's better than you, she was so certain she'd get the job and that she deserves it. I'd consider how this dynamic plays out in the rest of your friendship when considering whether you want to continue being friends with her when/if she comes around. If she did get the job, how was she going to handle telling you, and explain why she didn't mention she was interviewing?
posted by catatethebird at 5:27 AM on March 26 [3 favorites]


If you want the friendship to recover, that's on her. You can wait until she gets over it, and then be willing to forgive and forget. Or, I guess, you could go ahead and tell her to get over it.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:30 AM on March 26


I think her response was understandable in secret, but horrible to have said out loud to you. You got an amazing job, and she's disappointed, so it's nice of you to be generous about this and not hold her response against her and wait for her to get over it. Either she will get over this and apologise or she won't, but neither of those choices is about you or is anything you can control.
posted by jeather at 5:33 AM on March 26 [9 favorites]


Knowing that I will be starting this job on Monday come rain or shine, how do I repair this friendship?

I think all you can do on that front is apologize (not for getting the job, because you don't owe anyone an apology for that, but simply for the fact that she's bummed out), give her space, and hope she realizes her errors and comes back to you on her own.

Should I just let her go?

I certainly would. She isn't behaving like a friend - she isn't happy for your success despite her own struggles, and she's trying to make you less happy - and doesn't seem worth your time.

Is there a way to be good friends with someone in your field without things like this happening?

Sure. The first step is to befriend people who aren't complete nutjobs.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 5:59 AM on March 26 [1 favorite]


Look, you did nothing wrong. But have a little empathy for your friend here: it was a job she ALSO really wanted (and it's likely she keeps those things quiet not out of confidence but out of a fear of being publicly humiliated when she fails), and that she was apparently counting on to be able to move back to her hometown, be with her boyfriend, and move towards engagement/marriage/living together/starting a family. So she's feeling humiliated, like she fell short in an important way professionally, has been set back in her plans with her partner, and she can't even bitch with her best industry friend about how these people suck so bad because her best industry friend is the one who got the job. She's being a jerk, but, dude, she's in a lot of emotional pain and she's flailing. The part where you don't "deserve" it because you don't need it to "move forward in your personal life" tells me this is less about professional jealousy and a lot more about her personal life being in a stuck position and you're getting emotional overflow from that.

Don't give her platitudes about how she's a great candidate and you were just a "better fit this time." That will only make her feel worse. Instead, sympathize with her about how difficult it is to be separated from her boyfriend. I'd be like, "I am really excited about this job, but I do feel bad because I know how much you want to be in Big City and you know how much both boyfriend and I want you here." Give her a little time and space to calm down and regroup (contacting her periodically but not about rubbing-it-in sorts of things) and, I assume if she's a good enough person that you've been friends this long, she will realize she's being crazy and eventually get those feelings of humiliation and jealousy swallowed and do a little introspection. I'm going to guess you won't hear about it from her -- she sound like a face-saving type -- but she will return to not being crazy and pretend this interlude of crazy never happened. (And that will be meant as a tacit apology for the crazy.)

Of course if she keeps up the crazy for a long time, or bitterly refers to this for years, well, drop her like a hot potato. But give her some time to get over this and master her feelings first. We all let our less-pleasant human feelings get the best of us sometimes.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:01 AM on March 26 [43 favorites]


Your friend has every right to be upset for not getting a job she wants, but you did absolutely nothing wrong. She will either get over it, or she never will. It's obviously not fair of her to place this on your shoulders, even if she is jealous. Her jealousy is not your fault.

Give her her space to see if she recovers, but do not apologize. You conducted yourself with honor and honesty, while she kept secret that she was competing against you. Of course she is stung, but she has no legitimate beef with you.

I hope she comes around and realizes her acting on these feelings is really immature. But if she doesn't, then you really dodged a bullet by losing this friend.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 6:02 AM on March 26 [2 favorites]


First and foremost, block her account from seeing any updates about work on social media now and forever. This is essential. She will fester and ooze for ages unless you do so. Don't talk to her about work even if she asks, too. Go 100% cold turkey on this and don't slip up. She sounds like the type of person who is vindictive enough to wish you ill at all times during surges of jealousy, and she can only bring negativity to your life now that she's gotten into the mode she's in.

Long term, let it go and stay out of her way. Do not engage with her for at least a few months, and if you MUST interact with her, set a boundary right away. "I know you're upset that I got the job, but you may not treat me poorly because of it. I care about you and I know you care about me. Please look past the hurt you're feeling and remember what good friends we are and that THAT'S what really matters."

If she bounces back, great. Otherwise, it's time to friend dump this person. She will hold you back for the rest of your life if you don't stand up to her now. It sounds like you know that, though.

Congrats on your job. I'm excited for you. She will find her next dream job eventually too.
posted by Hermione Granger at 6:30 AM on March 26 [2 favorites]


Several people are encouraging you to offer your friend recommendations for other jobs in the city. I think you should carefully consider whether you really want to jeopardize your professional reputation by recommending this complete nut job for anything.
posted by txmon at 6:40 AM on March 26 [32 favorites]


You mentioned that your friend has been really competitive in the past, regarding awards/recognition, and you think she may consider herself more skilled than you. How has she handled it when she's gotten something that you haven't? Is she a gracious winner? Is this the first time she hasn't "won" between the two of you, or is it just that this was really important to her?

I think DTMFA responses are over the top; your friendship is taking a hit, but just allow her to be emotional about this for a couple of months, and don't take anything she says too seriously. Consider that with an ego the size of hers, she doesn't have much practice dealing with failure, and so this, one of her early attempts at it, is going badly; that doesn't mean she's a bad person, just that gracious losing is a skill she's never developed, bless her little heart. There's no reason to say anything you don't mean just to smooth things over, or to take any actions you don't want to take, (i.e. you should take the job with no apologies), but there's no need to write her out of your life, either. Give it time.
posted by aimedwander at 6:40 AM on March 26 [3 favorites]


This is such an old human situation - see Sportsmanship. As such, there are standard behaviors that are expected from each party, and those who don't follow the behaviors are considered "sore losers" and "bad winners". Here's the list:

Sore loser behavior includes blaming others for the loss, not accepting responsibility for personal actions that contributed to the defeat, reacting to the loss in an immature or improper fashion, making excuses for the defeat, and citing unfavorable conditions or other petty issues as reasons for the defeat. A bad winner acts in a shallow fashion after his or her victory, such as by gloating about his or her win, rubbing the win in the face(s) of the opponent(s), and lowering the opponent(s)'s self-esteem by constantly reminding the opponent(s) of "poor" performance in comparison (even if the opponent(s) competed well).

She's already been way overdoing it as a sore loser. Your only obligation is to not be a bad winner. By the way, posting your success on Facebook does not count as rubbing it in her face, though she may think it does.
posted by CathyG at 6:40 AM on March 26 [3 favorites]


I think you should tell her the following:

I am sad that you are unable to share my excitement over my new job, but I understand how disappointed you must be. I also know that it will take some time for you to deal with this awkward new dynamic between us, and I fully support whatever actions you need to take, even if that means you need to step back for a while. I miss our close friendship, and I'm looking forward to renewing it when you are ready.
posted by raisingsand at 6:50 AM on March 26 [5 favorites]


Perhaps the best line from the short-lived TV series Life was in a scene where a person who lost her job says something about it to the person who replaced her. The guy who took the job (who didn't even know her at the time), said:

"I didn't take your job; I took a job."

You might want to recite this to yourself a few times in the mirror, because it's even more true in your case. Your post title may be tongue-in-cheek, but you didn't take your friend's job. You both applied. You won. She lost. I can understand why she's unhappy, but to direct that anger at you is juvenile.

She'll either get over it, or not. If she doesn't, it doesn't sound like you're out much.
posted by randomkeystrike at 6:52 AM on March 26 [4 favorites]


Wow, your friend is a jerk.

You didn't steal a job from her, you earned this job based upon your experience and qualifications. Too bad you're a better fit for the position better than she is, the fact that they chose you reinforces that.

Let her nurse her wounds and leave her be. Do NOT apologize, you did nothing wrong.

Savor this, you EARNED it!

As for your friend, if she realizes that she's been an ass, she'll contact you as soon as the sting wears off. If she doesn't ever recognize this and continues to hold a grudge, well, too bad, but you have bigger fish to fry.

Congratulations!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:19 AM on March 26 [2 favorites]


The fact that she is willing to ask you to give up the job makes it pretty clear that she would not give up the job if situations were reversed. That's all you need to know

It might be different if this was a job outside your field that you were just applying for on a lark, whereas it was her dream job. Even then though, asking a friend to give up their own career advancement for you is beyond the pale.
posted by 256 at 7:35 AM on March 26 [8 favorites]


Yeah, I would not suggest recommending her for other jobs because she's behaving badly right now.

Whatever that it hurts her ego that you got the job and she didn't. That was bound to happen, anybody would feel a bit bad in the circumstances but that was no excuse for saying so.

If she was that upset, what she should have done was raise a quavery glass of champagne to your success while discreetly yet observably fighting back tears.

I'm not saying you should DTMFA, but don't recommend a badly behaved person for jobs and don't start thinking of her as your child that you have to raise and teach grownup values to, because you don't.
posted by tel3path at 8:04 AM on March 26 [3 favorites]


I have been in your friend's position, and I even work in the same field as you. Actually, in my case it was even worse, because the friend who got the position over me heard about it from me (and applied with my blessing). AND I was in a situation where I really needed to get out my current job so it really sucked not to get it.

And you know what? I was bummed that she got the job and I didn't, and a little resentful too - but I certainly did not hold it against my friend, and I never took it out on her because why would I? We both applied, we were both qualified, and she just happened to be the one who got it.

She's a really confident, competitive person, and any time that we have gone head to head for anything, she's always believed that she would be the person awarded whatever thing we are competing for.

Ugh. This is a potential pitfall with old friendships - you two established a pattern long ago where she is the "winner" and now that you've (unwittingly) flipped that script, she's trying to punish you for it.

It also really rubs me the wrong way that she never told you she was applying. As others have said, what would have happened if she had gotten the job? How would you have felt to find out that not only did you not get the job, but that she had been letting you talk about the interview process all along without telling you that she was the other candidate? She was setting you up for an even nastier surprise, and yet you're the one who's supposed to feel bad?

Our field is really pretty small, and acting like your friend is over one job is really, really stupid. That said, I think that for the time being, your best bet is to treat her like a friendly colleague, not an old, dear friend. Don't tell her off, but don't try to appease her either, and don't feel like you need to justify your hiring to her. Let her cool off. Hopefully she'll come back in a while and apologize for behaving so horribly.

Though even if she does, I think it's best not to trust her in the future. Sorry.
posted by lunasol at 8:06 AM on March 26 [25 favorites]


I marked some best answers, but everyone has been really helpful. Thank you.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 8:18 AM on March 26


Wait, so if SHE knew that you were applying, but you DIDN'T know that she was applying, then she had every opportunity in the world to say "Hey Friend, this job is really super important to me because of XYZ, any chance you'd consider letting me go for it without competing with you?" Even that would be a huge thing to ask... but she had every chance to ask it.

The only diplomatic thing to say is "I'm sorry you're so upset about this". Because you can't be sorry for "taking" something that was never hers, and I hope you're not sorry for getting a job you got fair and square, so you can only pity the way she is feeling, which is petty and small.
posted by nakedmolerats at 8:33 AM on March 26 [2 favorites]


It's totally normal for her to be disappointed, jealous, upset, cranky, even irrationally angry at you about this.

It's not normal (or remotely acceptable) for her to tell you that she's angry, feel justified in her anger, and/or expect you to accept any kind of "blame". This is very bad behaviour on her part.

As far as repairing the friendship, I'd just take a break from it for a while and see how things are in a few weeks or even months. She's either totally crazypants or just going through a really rough time right now (which she might not want to share publicly) which tends to make people overly sensitive and irrational. Giving it time is the easiest way to tell which one it is.

I would not recommend attempting to repair the friendship without a genuine apology from her, because friendships are supposed to add value to your life, not make you miserable for no reason. If this is normal behaviour for her rather than a very unusual "meltdown", she's not going to be a net positive in your life.
posted by randomnity at 9:01 AM on March 26 [5 favorites]


I feel for your friend's position -- a career disappointment/rejection is hard enough on its own, and losing out to someone you know has to be a tough pill to swallow. So she was in a really awkward spot, but even so I think you're right to be disappointed in how she chose to handle the situation, especially the way she viewed herself as entitled to the job. Hopefully, after a little time has passed, she'll come to see that you're not at fault here and apologize to you.

If not, well then, as you say:

She is very invested in achievements, publications, awards, and job offers, and has been since we were kids.

If she doesn't come around and make amends, I think it would be fair to assume that she places more value on these things than on her relationships with other people (or at least her relationship with you), and proceed accordingly.
posted by Asparagus at 9:04 AM on March 26 [3 favorites]


I can't help but wondering how much of her outrage and hurt feelings over this is an attempt to ratchet up the pressure so that you will turn the job down and she can get into it, rather than being really about your friendship.
posted by corb at 9:38 AM on March 26 [5 favorites]


The way this person is treating you is the definition of "toxic". Lose this 'friend', as they will only be happy when you fail.

Also, think of it this way:

If your friend had gotten the job, would you have congratulated her...or gotten all salty because you didn't get it? I'm guessing the former...and this is why you don't need old girl in your life.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:15 AM on March 26 [2 favorites]


Echoing what others have said. It's understandable that she's sad and angry. It's wildly out of line for her to have told you so, or do anything but congratulate you.

She's the one who should be apologizing, not you.
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:18 AM on March 26


You have a straightforward attitude about this - you applied for a job, and got it, turns out a friend also applied, didn't get it. You aren't being unkind in any way, as far as I can tell. Your friend is bitter because something good happened to you instead of her. This isn't a very nice response. She feels bad because you were deemed a better candidate, she feels bad because she didn't get something she wanted. Her response is kind of childish.

Be gracious. Give her the space to get over it, to recognize she's behaving badly, and to behave like an actual friend. I have a friend who does stuff like this, and knowing it about her cooled the friendship but didn't end it, cause it turns out I'm not perfect either.
posted by theora55 at 10:48 AM on March 26 [2 favorites]


In the few communications that I have had with my friend this past week, she has expressed the feeling that I "do not deserve" the job because I don't "need it to move my personal life forward" in the same way that she does.

The only person in a position to say who deserves any job is the one making the hiring decisions. Your friend's opinion on this matter is quite clearly so coloured by conflict of interest as to be completely meaningless.
posted by flabdablet at 11:03 AM on March 26


On the one hand, there's nothing wrong with your friend being very competitive and a bit of a poor loser. On the other, if their friendship is conditional on your always being second best, that's probably not a very good basis for a friendship. (I speak from experience.) You probably know which one it is, and I am hoping it is the first one!
posted by danteGideon at 11:08 AM on March 26 [3 favorites]


so she is working under the assumption that if I were to refuse the offer, she would be offered the position

There is zero reason to assume this. I have seen/heard about hiring processes that were down to two candidates, and when the first choice candidate turned down the position, the entire process had to start over again, because the second choice was just not going to work out. If they only in-person interviewed two people, I would guess this is even more likely to be true.

Congratulations on the job offer!
posted by freezer cake at 12:30 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


She's a really confident, competitive person, and any time that we have gone head to head for anything, she's always believed that she would be the person awarded whatever thing we are competing for.

This totally describes my ex-boyfriend. We were in grad school together, and a lot of what we did required some competition with each other: taking qualifying exams, applying for fellowships, etc. He believed he would beat me, hands down, at every one, and thus didn't really try. Not having this superiority simplex, I did try. And in the end, I was a better grad student, and I beat him at every turn. I didn't intend to compete with him -- just against the system. My efforts paid off.

Yours did too. I'm guessing that your friend's sense of entitlement has eroded her ability to actually compete (in the sense of being a better applicant, not in the sense of competing with you personally), and that you're being rewarded for taking yourself seriously and she's being left behind for taking her personal view of herself seriously.

So, yeah. What others have said: You deserved the job, not the grief, and it's going to have to be up to her to mend this friendship. I never could work through that with my bf, but we didn't have a long history of friendship (or much else in common, either). If your long history is important to you, this can be a learning experience, rather than The End.
posted by Capri at 1:04 PM on March 26 [3 favorites]


She's being childish. Her position is what? If she can't have the job, no one can?

She really owes you an apology for her behavior, though I would understand if you don't seek one out. Let her cool off. If she wants to be your friend again and be reasonable, great. If she wants to be childish and silly, find a better friend.
posted by cnc at 3:55 PM on March 26


A few years ago a friend and I in the same city and occupation were both in a situation where we had to get out of our jobs. We were competing head to head with very similar background, CV, etc. We shared leads and actually told each other about jobs and just agreed that we would both apply to everything. Who got hired was out of our hands. It's pretty arbitrary. Hiring committees make their choices and we don't know why. He got a tenured gig at that point and I didn't. Low and behold a few years later he was able to recommend me for a job at the same level he is at. This is the way it works. Your friend needs to grow up.
posted by Gotanda at 5:11 PM on March 26 [2 favorites]


You've marked all the great answers above--good for you!

One other thing that sticks out for me is this sentence:

Her not getting this job means that she cannot move to major city as quickly, and that is apparently a set back in their relationship.

So she's also blaming her boyfriend woes on you?

Ms. Drama Llama needs to re-read the Manual for Friends and Nice People.
posted by BlueHorse at 8:18 PM on March 26 [2 favorites]


If she calls you up angrily anymore, besides being sympathetic to her disappointment, I'd frequently remind her that "I didn't even know you were applying." It highlights who betrayed or unfairly competed with whom. Had she told you how much she wanted it early on, that would've been a different conversation -- not because you would've been obliged to stand aside, but because the two of you could've discussed how to handle the fact that you were competing in good faith, without knowledge of how it turned out. As it is, she's using this friend-guilt as her secret trump card to get this job by bringing it up -- not at a time when it could have inoculated your friendship from this damage -- but at a time when it can only benefit her.
posted by salvia at 8:40 PM on March 26 [3 favorites]


I would actually be very wary of being too nice and letting her dump her disappointment and anger on you. This runs the risk of being enabling and letting her think her behavior / blaming / self-pity is legitimate. Sometimes compassion is about helping people grow up.

I would offer the following advice:

If she calls you angrily, say sympathetically that she needs to stop dumping her anger on you; that the job did not belong to either of you - it was a job, not "her" job. You could say "I can hear that you are angry and upset. I imagine you are very disappointed. However you need to stop yelling at me, it not acceptable to talk to me this way." If she cannot stop, then tell her that you care for her, but its not good for either of you for her to treat you this way and you are getting off the phone.

Hang up on her if necessary.

If you want to be uber tough, you could respond by saying something like "Through out our friendship we have often competed for the same award/distinction and you often won. Why are you so upset that I can win a distinction? Should it only go one way?" Thus pushing her to explore her feelings of entitlement and superioirity.
posted by zia at 12:03 AM on March 28 [1 favorite]


Addendum: Of course you are not her therapist and it is not your obligation to fix her. You may decide she is too much work and do "the fade". This advice is suggested if you want to keep (and grow) the friendship.
posted by zia at 12:05 AM on March 28


She continues to be weirdly passive aggressive, so I have decided to just perform a slow fade on her. Sad, but likely for the best.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 5:19 PM on April 3 [7 favorites]


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