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OK, Max level bitchiness reached. How to deal with it?
August 27, 2014 11:18 PM   Subscribe

I'm dealing with varying levels of resentment and bitchiness from people over my husband's job - the fact that to outsiders it seems glamorous/high status, and is well paid enough so I don't HAVE to work. It's getting me down because we move around all the time for his job so I don't really have a support network, just 'friends' who make sly nasty comments in emails/on my FB wall about my life. Any tips on dealing with the emotional/practical aspects of this welcome.

My husband works in the film industry as an FX TD. He is fairly well paid (4 times more than I ever was, as a literacy teacher in prisons) and works on big budget films like Pirates of the Carribean/Narnia etc. I'm catching flack for this.

The last time I met up with my childhood best friend in my hometown, it was an hour of her telling me how great her life was going (good! I'm glad!) while saying it 'didn't seem like you've been up to much' (despite the fact I got married, moved continents and travelled around Asia that year) while making sly comments about how she's 'a strong woman', 'I've always been independent, I don't need to rely on anybody' and 'I can look after myself' - as she thinks I'm sponging off my husband. It was hard for us to make this decision and I've given up a LOT (my home, my friends in London, anything that might resemble a middle class career) so we can make the best choices for us as a couple. He works 12-14hrs a day plus weekends so I do the flat hunting, furniture buying, food shopping, bill paying etc. I know it's not work but I'm not at the salon getting my nails done. It doesn't help that I'm unable to have children so my friend sees me as someone who doesn't need to be at home. I should mention here I've been dealing with untreated, excruciating endometriosis (now under control), cancer and depression so I've not always been able to work, but I don't want to disclose these things to her and am uncomfortable at being put in the position of explaining/defending my life to her.

Recently another hometown friend got in contact. I'd stopped speaking to her at 17 when she became bitchy towards me and aforementioned friend, but figured, they'd made up and it's been 15 years, people change. Initially she was pleasant, but now every other week I wake up to find myself tagged in a bitchy conversation on facebook. Today was another. She mentioned a Courtney Love song and I lamented that she'd actually played at the venue not 50 metres from my house the previous week but I couldn't get tickets and it was a bummer. That sparked off a discussion about how I was being 'an obnoxious director's wife' and 'oh totes hilar, like you forgot he was famous and does all the effects for big films. Completely, Everydayanewday'. Let me stress he's one of 400 people working on FX and is IN NO WAY famous. Then it just degenerated into 'jokey' comments like 'you gave me ebola' (??)

I've also had this with another friend of mine last year who was upset when I got married and also feels weird about his job but couldn't tell me that. I feel like my friends are dropping off, my friends are not happy when things go right for me - I spent the last couple of years with an abusive idiot doing good but breadline-paid work with disabled children. I have sat on the pavement and cried outside the bank. I have been scraping pennies together for 'value' bread my whole life, until I was 29. I didn't get a Mrs Degree. My parents are not rich. I feel like my friends are only my friends because they needed to feel better than me, who was barely getting by, with my shitty ex boyfriend. Now things are finally becoming more manageable (apart from my health) and it's like I've personally spited them. I feel like it's my fault because I don't know how to tell when someone genuinely likes me. I also have trouble with actually verbally responding to this stuff. I don't think I'm being obnoxious, but maybe I am? I never mention money/trips to anyone. They bring it up and imply nasty stuff and I am very polite and don't react to their digs because what else can I do? They work hard and don't earn as much money. How would you deal with this, practically and emotionally?
posted by everydayanewday to Human Relations (39 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Well, I'll take at face value that you're perceiving things right and that these people are being envious and spiteful. Assuming that's the case, you do what everyone does when life trajectories move away from our old friends' trajectories. You get new friends. You meet people in your husband's industry with whom you have more in common, basically, and see how much better that feels.
posted by fingersandtoes at 11:28 PM on August 27 [32 favorites]


The middle person sounds like a nasty piece of work and you should just remove her from your FB 'friends'!
The other two, well, is it possible you could be reading resentment where there isn't any? Perhaps you are so wary about seeming like you are boasting that you no longer share your life with anyone, giving rise to comments like 'you don't seem to have done much'?
You say you don't have a support network but do you want one? How can people offer support if they don't know you need it? Perhaps you should try sharing some of your problems with one of the better friends? If they actually feel needed then you might get a warmer welcome.
posted by KateViolet at 11:32 PM on August 27 [4 favorites]


Look up "trailing spouse" on expat forums. It's hard because you don't have a built-in community the way military families do. Most of the expat spouses I know who don't have young children find community through: shopping & fashion - works if you're a girly-girl person who enjoys shopping, through travel, sports & learning - where they are always taking classes in something, exploring a new place nearby, or through a side-job or heavy volunteering, some kind of work that's flexible and can be carried over to a new place, like an etsy shop or volunteering in editorial when they used to be a journalist.

You have to work hard to keep friendships going when you're moving a lot. Extrovert expats seem to pick up new friendships and integrate with current networks pretty well, but very few of them form longterm friendships. It's more like they keep a couple of longterm friends and maybe pick up another longterm friend in each location, but they may or may not have a pool of casual friends to hang out with who they don't expect to stay in touch with when either one moves.

Also, it's partly opening up about vulnerabilities in a way that isn't a humblebrag. Saying that you're lonely and nervous about a new place invites friendship, while saying "We've got to move to Paris and I simply don't know what to do once I've decorated our penthouse overlooking the Seine" doesn't.
posted by viggorlijah at 11:39 PM on August 27 [28 favorites]


First, I would try and make sure that these people really were sniping at me, and that I wasn't just having a sensitive day where I read criticism and backstabbing into innocent comments. Then, if I did think they were really sniping, I would quit hanging out with them. Who needs that shit? Friends are happy when a good thing comes your way. The people you describe may just be acquaintances. And being a mere mortal, you have finite time and probably shouldn't waste it with people who don't have your best interests at heart.
posted by feets at 11:40 PM on August 27 [4 favorites]


You don't sound obnoxious at all. Obnoxious people don't worry about this kind of thing.

You've outgrown your childhood friend, move on. The friend who you cut ties with at 17 hasn't changed, move on.

Also: People who are not supportive of your current life and/or happy to hear the details of your life (and celebrate your successes with you) don't get to be your friends. They may be downgraded to acquaintances if you prefer (they don't get the inner circle/emotional investment) or you can remove them all together.

I know the go-to answer around here tends to be therapy, but really, you could use someone in your corner to support your decisions, let you know that you have every right to be content with your new life, and tell you that it's okay to move on from people who are being jerks to you (or alternatively to help you learn how to confront these people and change the relationship). That someone might just be a therapist.

And have you thought about doing some volunteer work in the cities you land in? Even short term volunteering might make you feel more connected/grounded in your community, less alone and unmoored when you move, and I'm sure your skills could be incredibly useful in the right place.
posted by GoLikeHellMachine at 11:45 PM on August 27 [17 favorites]


How would I deal with it? Find new friends and remove the old ones. Life is too short. Whether you do the slow fade or defriend them from Facebook just get rid of them either way. If you really want to make your feelings known, the next time bitchy FB friend makes a nasty public online remark, call her out on it, during the thread. "And so the true Xxx comes out. Nice to know how you really feel. After these comments, it's obvious you're no friend, Facebook or otherwise, so this is where we go our separate ways. Please don't contact me again." Then block, block, block. Who cares about the fallout, you don't need people like that.

It's sad to realise the people you thought were your friends actually aren't but hey, you're in a new location, perfect place to reinvent yourself and start again with those who know where you're coming from.
posted by Jubey at 12:03 AM on August 28 [5 favorites]


Not to threadsit - just to answer a few questions -

Friend from para 1 was definitely digging at me, it's hard to convey tone over the internet but it was pretty unambiguous, unfortunately. She knew I'd got married, moved and my honeymoon was in Asia. (I allowed myself pics of the honeymoon as they're fairly common).

I don't do gross humblebragging! (I hope!)

I was doing some volunteering at the rape crisis centre & animal sanctuary at the last place we lived. I intend to do some more soon here.

Thank you for the info on trailing spouses - I'd never heard of this before and am going to look it up now.

Thank you to everyone so far!
posted by everydayanewday at 12:09 AM on August 28 [1 favorite]


get off of facebook, and implement whitelisting on your emails.
posted by bruce at 12:22 AM on August 28 [16 favorites]


One thing I've discovered as an ill-paid underling in the film industry is that people will hear the field that you work in and assume that equals stratospheric wealth. It's... strange, to say the least. Even being a well compensated department head on major films is much more bourgie than people imagine, but people tend to imagine that everyone in the entertainment industry gets paid like Hollywood stars.

Meanwhile I have a college friend who followed her tech-startup husband overseas, in a country where she can't legally work, and AFAIK mostly takes courses in the local language and decorates their flat. I know that just living in an unfamiliar country is a HUGE thing, and yeah, she is probably the one who domestic things and errands and runs their lives outside of his job. And she's far from home and family and friends and even people to talk to. It can't be easy. But on days where I'm wondering what the fuck I did with my life, when she posts something about studying noun cases, my thoughts sometimes are not very nice. Because fuck, I'd love to have some supporting me while I had fun studying verb tenses all day. Even though deep down I know it's not like that.

TL;DR, I would just ignore the hometown folks and not worry about it. Whatever is going on there has much more to do with them than you.
posted by Sara C. at 12:42 AM on August 28 [20 favorites]


WOW.

You inadvertently cleared something up for me, and I think it will help you, too.

I have someone like those people in my periphery, someone who used to be closer. She's really snarky with me now in super subtle ways when we run into each other. I just couldn't understand it!

She's doing well in the Entertainment Industry and landed a who is (was at one point, especially) a famous(ish) husband. Life is good. Why put me down?
-----

Pettiness and Jealousy are signs of Bad Character, and you should disengage from folks who habitually go there.

I do think you've grown apart from, or outgrown, these folks. It's just fine, and you're still a good person! This is normal.

Anyway. You sound great, like a very interesting, grounded, and experienced person. Similar people will like you! Too bad you don't live in my city. I know lots of transplants who would enjoy your company, and vice versa.

It's really weird when your life changes abruptly. Facebook has made life changes much more difficult, because the natural barrier of distance (both time/space) between the worlds we inhabit or move into are neutralized. In another era, you would never be privvy to this snarking about your new adventure in life.

I don't think you "failed to see anything" about these friends.


This is exactly how you notice when folks around you aren't maturing at your pace. You're doing it right.

Maybe one day they'll catch up and become more genuine. For now, move on.

Enjoy you new life, and congratulations on being in love!!!!
posted by jbenben at 1:16 AM on August 28 [10 favorites]


Make better friends.
posted by Jacqueline at 1:25 AM on August 28 [3 favorites]


If people aren't making you feel good, whether they're doing it deliberately or not, then you need to set a boundary. That boundary might be "I am going to change the topic of conversation when Person #1 starts in on her self-aggrandising". It might be "I am going to block Person #2 on social media and email because seeing that stuff doesn't bring me joy (and life is too short)". "Person #2 is going to stop doing this" is not a boundary. That's attempting to be controlling of another person's behaviour, which is generally futile. Decide what is OK with you, then decide what kind of actions you're going to take when someone kicks off with some bullshit.

It's completely OK to just cut someone off. The fact that you want to do it is reason enough.

For me at least, though, there does seem to be a marked difference between Person #1's and Person #2's behaviour. #1 seems like she's proud of her achievements and where she is in life and wants to share that with a friend. #2 does seem legitimately off kilter and has been for a while. I wasn't present for these conversations, obviously, and I don't know these individuals like you do, so it's entirely possible that I'm completely wrong about this. But I have been in conversations that went rapidly downhill, occasionally over something as trivial as which restaurant to visit, because myself and the other person were coming from very different points of view and hadn't met in the middle.

If this sort of thing is happening a lot with the people around you, I think there might be a few things going on, possibly simultaneously:

1] You're friends with a bunch of jerks. Drop them like hot potatoes and spend some time mulling over why you were friends with those people and what made them attractive to you.
2] You're not on the same page with these people when you're conversing with them. You can check this by mirroring. Say back to them what your understanding of what they're saying is, and see how they respond. A bonus is that if #1 is trying to needle you, it will really annoy her when you say "it sounds like you're a really strong woman". If she's really jealous of you and is trying to get you to feel like you're not a strong woman by comparison to her, the barb won't have landed. "I am better than you" is a very powerful drug. Some people spend their entire lives chasing it. If you're not the sort of person to crave it (which it sounds like you aren't, OP), it can be difficult to spot from the outside.
3] They might be explaining badly, you might be misunderstanding, or even both of those things are happening. Do what you can to sort this out and make things better for yourself and then just let people drop if they're unworkable.

On preview: mentioning your work in shelters will absolutely trigger obnoxious behaviour in the kind of person I mention in 2] above. There's not much you can do about that.
posted by Solomon at 2:28 AM on August 28 [3 favorites]


Geez, what rude assholes these people are! Block them on Facebook, send their emails straight to trash, make some new friends.

I think your read of the situation is absolutely correct, you were supposed to be "Cousin Worsoff". Cousin Worsoff is a character from the Perishers cartoons. He is the someone worsoff that's always than yourself. These people don't like it when things go right for you. They are not your friends.

Next time you're in southeast England, memail me and we can hang out. I've always liked you.
posted by tel3path at 2:32 AM on August 28 [11 favorites]


I agree with all the comments above. DTMFF, try to find a new social circle/trailing spouse group, find someone to talk to. But, if there are any old friends who you do want to hang on to, who aren't nasty and judgmental to you but instead just don't seem to understand, you might want to open up a little about the difficulties in your seemingly "perfect" life. Like "What have you been up to," "Adjusting to life in a new place; I'm still getting used to being on my own all day and not knowing anybody."
posted by chickenmagazine at 3:05 AM on August 28 [3 favorites]


Your "friends" have done you a favor. Real friends don't do this, no matter what situation you're in.

Sorry that you have to deal with this. It's not fun, but moving on is the right thing to do.
posted by learnsome at 3:11 AM on August 28 [2 favorites]


It's getting me down because we move around all the time for his job so I don't really have a support network, just 'friends' who make sly nasty comments in emails/on my FB wall about my life.

This is a problem with Facebook, I think, partly. If a relationship is more than a certain percentage Facebook, there is a huge chance that it's going to go wrong in the ways you describe. If a relationship is not important or sustaining enough to go one on one in email, phone calls or whatever, consider just forgetting it.

A lot of complaints about Facebook center around the effects of comparing one's insides with other people's outsides. You're experiencing the variation where people respond to your outsides and not your insides, and it's awful.
posted by BibiRose at 4:37 AM on August 28 [10 favorites]


These are terrible people and you should never speak to them again. Unfriend/block and avoid your home town forever.

Ok, no. If you're all in your early 30s, they might be feeling that they're locked into their life and maybe frustrated about where that path has taken them. And so seeing you so far away (literally) is stirring up jealousy and resentment. It's not kind or gracious, but it does happen.

If they are actually kind and gracious in other ways, a gentle course correction is necessary. "When you say that, it makes me feel disrespected and that hurts. Can you tone it down?" Followed by slow fade if they persist or get defensive.

If they are not otherwise kind people, commence with the shunning. Life is too short to spend with unkind people.
posted by snickerdoodle at 5:02 AM on August 28 [4 favorites]


I don't want to disclose these things to her and am uncomfortable at being put in the position of explaining/defending my life to her.

There is a significant mismatch here. You don't consider these people close enough to share really anything significant about your life that is genuinely personal to you, so they only hear the highlighted snippets that are all positive and it brings out the bitch/snark/horrible in them. They're not the nicest people and they see someone whose life has nothing at all wrong with it (because you hide it from them). So they show their jealousy. If you don't care enough about them or consider them worthy of full disclosure, why do you care so much what they think?

People are very literal and unhappy/mean people go very much on face value - if they don't see something to contradict their initial impression they just jump to conclusions: "her life is 100% awesome and I am jealous of it/she doesn't do anything all day because I see she hasn't posted anything about it so it can't exist". You've inadvertently portrayed yourself to a lower character person as someone whose life is awesome by the edited highlights and so they've used them to slap their own inadequacies/judgement onto. Why do you even care? You've already established them in your mind as 'not a proper friend' so just assess according to their displayed personality.

Cut them off. They are not your friend. Especially the person who you didn't like (and cut off) at 17 - clearly they haven't changed. It doesn't deserve room in your head. Cut them off. Only showing people what is right about your life does, however, make you a bit of a target for this kind of thing. Just as much as people don't like the friends on facebook who complain all the time, the ones that post only the best of their lives get jealousy too. You may be setting yourself up to be more likely to bring out that unpleasantness because you only post good/great things in your life. However it is NOT because those things are great (and you shouldn't feel guilty for how your life has improved), but the complete lack of anything to balance it (in their minds). They don't know anything bad about you. Does that make sense?

I feel like it's my fault because I don't know how to tell when someone genuinely likes me.

I don't think you're being obnoxious, but reading between the lines I do wonder if you are pretty insecure and so factor or 'control' what you share and say to people to the more positive stuff or the stuff you want people to be approving/pleased for you about. You maybe are looking for a little bit of validation and going about it the wrong way - in a way that brings out the worst in some types of people. I have seen insecure people who openly display all kinds of awesome things and overstate everything in their life to a positive spin. Trying to show people just the positive stuff to try and gain approval in some way (which you rationalise as something you deserve - probably rightly - and 'not that big a deal' which it may or may not be) could well mean you don't come across as well as you think you do, because you're trying too hard to come across better than you feel about yourself?

That paragraph was much clearer in my head and please don't see it as any attack. If you have self esteem issues (which I suspect is the case, or at the very least some lesser strain of 'survivor's guilt' maybe at your life improving so much?) then deal with that and only keep the friends that you want to involve completely and who support you while you work on that. If you don't want them to see your difficulties as well as your successes, they are not true friends.
posted by Brockles at 5:20 AM on August 28 [11 favorites]


These 'friends' sound like jealous, petty, thoughtless assholes.

Real friends are happy for you when things are going well for you.

If they can't be happy for you, then that's their problem. But there's no rule that you have to keep talking to them if they're going to be jerks. People come in and out of your life, friends can come and go. You can stop talking to them. It's OK.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:21 AM on August 28 [2 favorites]


Even if those "friends" are not bad people, it is clear that you and they have grown in separate directions and you should make whatever Facebook changes are necessary to never again be drawn into anything unpleasant there. Block them, defriend them, whatever it takes. And then of course fill in those spaces in your life with new friends and new interests.

Most of the expat spouses I know who don't have young children find community through: shopping & fashion - works if you're a girly-girl person who enjoys shopping, through travel, sports & learning - where they are always taking classes in something, exploring a new place nearby, or through a side-job or heavy volunteering, some kind of work that's flexible and can be carried over to a new place, like an etsy shop or volunteering in editorial when they used to be a journalist.

You have to work hard to keep friendships going when you're moving a lot. Extrovert expats seem to pick up new friendships and integrate with current networks pretty well, but very few of them form longterm friendships. It's more like they keep a couple of longterm friends and maybe pick up another longterm friend in each location, but they may or may not have a pool of casual friends to hang out with who they don't expect to stay in touch with when either one moves.


I agree with every word viggorlijah wrote. You are finding yourself in a very normal dynamic, shared by every embassy, aid worker, and expat trailing spouse out there. The advantage for the spouses of embassy people and those employed by huge multinationals in particular is at least being connected to an established community with social resources -- that doesn't exist for someone whose spouse's work is more peripatetic and is not connected to an existing community in the same way. It's been discussed before on AskMe, and I know I have seen memoirs and novels written from this perspective. (And it's not a new phenomenon -- A Passage To India is partly about this, for example, though with lots of sexy drama.)
posted by Dip Flash at 5:23 AM on August 28 [2 favorites]


Hello again, quick note:

I don't complain about stuff in my life on FB (publicly, through statuses etc) because I'm aware that my life is very very good by the standards of my family and hometown friends. I'm not struggling to put food on the table or having to bring up a kid alone because my husband just didn't feel like it, I'm not in threat of losing my house. My sister recently had to use a food bank despite having a full time job - the money just can't support her. So I feel like I have no right to complain in front of these people, just be grateful.

In the case of not divulging stuff to my friend, I actually did about my horrible ex, through email, and she was great - so it's not like she thinks I have a perfect life.... but when we met up she was very edgy with me (which was out of the blue) so I didn't divulge any of my problems as she was on the attack. From the way they've been with me I imagine any of my problems would delight them (?)

I'm not sure if it's validation I'm looking for as much as not being directly bitched at for my husband's job. I care somewhat about these people because they were my childhood friends (I wouldn't be OMG DEVASTATED if we fell out). I don't think it's strange to be affected by nasty jabs from those you don't expect it from.

Thank you everyone for your input, I have a lot to think about!
posted by everydayanewday at 6:02 AM on August 28


Well if you want to keep your friends, consider if your similarities used to be basis of the freindship. Were they also regualr breadline people? If they were, maybe they can't relate to your current life, but you can relate to their lives. Let them talk about their lives and problems to you an dlet them know you understand. They might be holding back thinking you don't understand, or be jealous, or both causing your interactions to be explosions of all of these interal conflicts in short unpleasant bursts.

Get off Facebook or only use it very very sparsely. Even if you yourself don't post drama, if other people post drama and you comment it can make more drama or you dont, they can feel "ignored".. its all just a crock of shit better avoided, or just restrict it to your family.

I think you should also look into things like "new money" guilt as it sounds liek you have a lot of it, and quite frankly expressing some kind of guilt over or deservedness of your new life, whether it be from your husband's job, the lottery, or a big salary jump you get, DOES come off as humblebrag or sorrynotsorry. Your new life is what it is, so take it in stride like it isn't a THING.
posted by WeekendJen at 6:18 AM on August 28 [2 favorites]


Your problems are your problems. They're real to you, and that's what matters.

Depression lies.

That said, Facebook is not the way to keep in touch with friends. It's a way to keep up with Major Life Events and see people's lives as they present them to the world. It's probably good to take a Facebook break.

I know therapy is trotted out time and time again, but you sound anxious, insecure, and totally unsure of yourself. It might be time to talk to a therapist and see what you can do to make yourself feel better. Once you feel better, it's easier to ignore or cut out the toxic people in our lives. But it's hard when your problems don't feel like they're being taken seriously and the depression keeps lying.
posted by PearlRose at 6:22 AM on August 28 [2 favorites]


As a trailing spouse, with a husband in a high-powered job (right now I am an at-home mom not working, if it matters), I have found that some of my best female friends are women in similarly high-powered jobs, because they understand the toll that a job like that takes on home and family and how valuable having a "housewife" is to the career of someone like your husband or mine. We have made different choices in how to deal with that stress -- many of our friends are dual-career couples, who have much higher disposable income and are able to hire out household labor, have larger houses than we do, etc. And while I sometimes wish that was my life, I'm not jealous of it, because these are deliberate choices that we made as a family. And sometimes they wish they had my life, but again aren't jealous, because they also made deliberate choices about priorities.

It helps to have a sense of humor about it (I make jokes about my bon-bon eating lifestyle, which of course is the further thing from the truth, and my friends know that). I am also straightforward about expressing my gratitude that this was a choice for my family and that I know not everyone has that choice; when people come at you with jealousy and you respond, calmly, that you know you're lucky and you're grateful it was a matter of choice and not necessity, it defangs a lot of that stuff, because people don't know how to respond if you don't get defensive.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:02 AM on August 28 [13 favorites]


Oof. That sucks. Well first, I think you could benefit from a hobby, something creative. Do you do any art-stuff or write or like to read? I think it's a good thing to do when the spouse works more than usual. (I have a few of my own hobbies, memail me if you want ideas.) I do this because my spouse is in IT, and although I also have a full time job, he works longer hours so I needed something to keep me happy and have something productive. (Not to mention it's fun, it will help your depression and help with the medial issues - ask me how I know!)

Anyway, back on track. These are not your friends. Regardless of your current situation with jobs, spouse, moving, etc, these are just not good people. I think you could be doing the exact same jobs and have the exact same life as them and they would still be rude and horrible. This has much more to do with them than with you.

I agree, block them on Facebook and get better friends. (Again, if you have a hobby, you can find people that share that hobby to be friends with and you'll have a common interest!) Those comments and the Facebook stuff is childish and totally wackadoodle.
posted by Crystalinne at 7:43 AM on August 28 [3 favorites]


Someone above mentioned the culture around military families.
Once, when we lived in Düsseldorf, and my home-maker mum couldn't find local friends, she found friends among US military wives, and participated in their activities and events. They were really open and kind, and there is usually a sense that inclusion and manners are very important in the military family-community.
(My stepfather, who brought us there, was a businessman, but my father was a military person, which is probably why my mum knew where to go).

And yeah, de-friend those people, they are not your friends.
posted by mumimor at 7:50 AM on August 28 [2 favorites]


Jobs take up so much of people's lives that they get thrown for a loop when they talk to someone without paying work.

I recommend having something you can talk about as if it's your job; it could be volunteering or a hobby that you take seriously. I tell people I meet casually that I'm a writer, even though I haven't had anything published for over three years, because otherwise they just have nothing... to... say... to me, a full-time parent.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:50 AM on August 28 [3 favorites]


I don't want to disclose these things to her and am uncomfortable at being put in the position of explaining/defending my life to her.

They bring it up and imply nasty stuff and I am very polite and don't react to their digs because what else can I do?

In the case of not divulging stuff to my friend, I actually did about my horrible ex, through email, and she was great - so it's not like she thinks I have a perfect life....

Someone upthread mentioned this already, I think but what do you talk with these alleged friends? I have a couple of close friends and a bunch of acquaintances. I talk with my close friends about all kinds of things, personal, goofy, interesting, etc. There is no requirement to defend your life but if you want people to be your friend and you want them to understand your life, I think you need to be a little less closed.

There was a similar question here last week, I believe. Roughly, the asker was upset that her friends weren't sympathetic. But she never talked about things that were serious and/or important. I think the friends were kind of bitchy, too, but she didn't seem to even open up to them.

If you don't want to be friends with these people, that's perfectly fine. But if you want to maintain or develop a better friendship, I'd suggest at least trying to talk more openly. Tell them that yes, it's great that you don't have to work but there are downsides, too. If you never talk about your life, these people can guess at what it's like and it's not unreasonable for them to think that working in the film industry = glamorous perfect life because you haven't told them anything different.

Trying opening up with them. Trying being honest. If they still give you crap, tell them they are being naive and simplistic and bad friends and go find some new ones.

Good luck! (And good for you for volunteering - those aren't easy jobs!)
posted by Beti at 8:06 AM on August 28 [3 favorites]


I'm going to put a different perspective out there, just for an alternative point of view.
I had a look at your past questions and I see you are VERY free with telling complete strangers about your financial situation.

There are numerous posts about how much money you have saved up ($150k), how much money you spend on things, how much money you are looking to use as a down payment on a home ($50k) etc. etc.

Speaking as a VERY frigid English person who does not like talking about money in these very explicit terms with my friends, I would say that maybe, just maybe, some of the things you are posting on public forums may come across badly to other people who aren't used to sharing, or hearing about such personal information.

This will breed resentment, jealousy and snarkiness in some people. That doesn't make it right, but it IS human nature I guess. If any one of your friends is struggling to save any money, unfortunately, it's only natural that they may feel envious towards you.

This doesn't excuse their behavior but it might explain it.
posted by JenThePro at 8:20 AM on August 28 [2 favorites]


Erk, I put it here under a pseudonymn because I don't do it elsewhere. My financial situation is what it is. Plenty of people my age have houses, cars. They have children, which are expensive. I don't. I can't, because we move around so much. I have savings instead, and 50% of those are not mine, they are my husbands.

I certainly do not disclose wages, savings, or anything else of the sort on facebook or any other place attached to my real name.

I get it because I too am an English person, and one that grew up in a £6000 house.
posted by everydayanewday at 8:28 AM on August 28


I know it's not work but I'm not at the salon getting my nails done.

There's nothing wrong with going to the salon to get your nails done.

Two things:

1. You need to OWN your choices. Not apologize for them. You are PROUD of your husband. You are SECURE in your lifestyle. You are GRATEFUL for your life.

2. These people are not your friends. I have a friend who on fb is always at the salon or doing ladies' lunches and I am insanely jealous because I raised my kids on my own and am facing a retirement of living off cat food. But I am SO HAPPY FOR HER. And she is SO GRATEFUL that her husband's work allows her this lifestyle. That makes me even happier for her! She is sincere and lovely. And so am I. THAT is friendship.
posted by headnsouth at 9:28 AM on August 28 [5 favorites]


I'd like to suggest therapy, as a few others have done, partly because of this:

"I spent the last couple of years with an abusive idiot ... I feel like my friends are only my friends because they needed to feel better than me, who was barely getting by, with my shitty ex boyfriend... I feel like it's my fault because I don't know how to tell when someone genuinely likes me. I also have trouble with actually verbally responding to this stuff."

You've been through some really rough times, including time with someone who was actively undermining you. It wouldn't surprise me at all if that's leaking into your present day relationships.

As GoLikeHellMachine says,

"you could use someone in your corner to support your decisions, let you know that you have every right to be content with your new life, and tell you that it's okay to move on from people who are being jerks to you (or alternatively to help you learn how to confront these people and change the relationship). That someone might just be a therapist."

Just having someone to talk to for a bit who's on your side and who can help you come up with scripts to respond to unkind comments could help a lot.
posted by kristi at 9:44 AM on August 28 [1 favorite]


It sounds like you're in a difficult spot for several reasons. You have resources and opportunities that you didn't have until fairly recently, and your "leftover" friends from back in the day aren't doing as well as you are. You seem very aware of this, and it sounds like you're going out of your way not to be "obnoxious" about it. Going out on a limb, maybe you've got a bit of financial survivor's guilt? And maybe you also feel a bit awkward because you're not the one earning the money right now. For added difficulty, you move around all the time. In addition to not having a sense of "community", maybe you're also missing a sense of place-to-call-your-own.

The advice given upthread about developing hobbies and interests is really good advice. If you can do that, it'll give you a sense of identity beyond "trailing spouse". Now's your chance to pull the best parts of who you were into the now and make them a part of who you will be going forward. The strength that got you through the hard times will help you stand up for yourself (jettisoning "friends" whose company you don't enjoy and from whom you keep having defend yourself) and build a life around identities not conferred upon you by the job you hold.

Regarding a sense of place, if you can't have a permanent home right now, then maybe it'd help to have a "place to come back to". I moved around a lot as a kid, and my grandparents' cozy little family home was that place for me. As I aged, things stayed pretty much the same: the same garden, the same old 1970s gold carpeting, the same back steps with the wild mint that couldn't be contained (much less eradicated). My grandparents have both passed away, and the little home isn't in the family anymore, but that's okay. I've been an adult for a long time, and have found other places to come back to, other "happy places".

Yours could be a city, a park, a beach house you always rent when you visit your favorite vacation spot. It could be a library or museum. It could be anywhere, it doesn't matter, as long as it gives you a sense of having put down that one little root. Then, you have built a piece of an identity: you are someone who belongs to that place.

Lastly, it's okay to step away from old, "leftover" friends with whom you no longer have anything in common. Friends should be people whose company you really enjoy, from whom you don't need to constantly defend yourself, who can be happy for your happiness and sad for your sadness (without having to weigh whether or not you have earned the right to either feeling).
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 11:37 AM on August 28 [6 favorites]


Your friends don't sound like friends.

Also, it's time we stop looking at people who do housework as people who don't work. Especially women.

And depression is a serious health issue that a lot of people underestimate.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 1:15 PM on August 28 [2 favorites]


The likelihood that a friend from childhood will be a friend to you as an adult, with adult problems and adult perspective, seems quite low. I guess it happens frequently enough but I rarely hear of someone with more than one "long-time" friend.

I'm going to put myself in your friend's shoes and offer some possible perspectives.

1. They were there for you when you were down and out. They played the role of support, mentor, advice-giver, etc.. You were maybe "a mess" to them. Then you turned around and went beyond them. Now they don't know how to relate to you. You've changed the dynamic. They can't get their head around the new one. They were used to feeling sorry for you, superior to you and now they don't have that. But they're still trying...to feel sorry, to feel superior. It's not gonna work.

2. We really don't know anything about how anyone else lives. In general, people are too close-to-the-vest about employment, money, financial planning, etc.. When someone in my peer group gets something that I want (a nice house, a sweet vacation, whatever), I often get quick to trying to deduce how they did it. Did they save for it? Did they max out credit cards? Did someone give it to them? Do they have rich parents who just give them things? Like a downpayment on a house? How do I do it?! So, frankly, these friends maybe don't understand. They are fishing for the hook, the key, that explains your apparent stratospheric rise. I think this is partly just human nature and partly how taboo it is to really discuss these things. It's the not knowing that burns people up rather than the facts.

3. The life you're living, to an outsider, just sounds so amazing. Hollywood! Travel! Freedom! Fame! They don't have any idea about any of it. Why would they? One part jealousy, an equal dose of over-active imagination.

None of these positions are that defensible, really. If someone is taking out their internal bad juju on you, you absolutely should cut them out of your life. Or, you know, just move on to other people. You're at a different phase of your life, living a vastly different life from your childhood friends. Look into your community. Cultivate interests that bring you into a new sphere at each location so that you have an outlet wherever you go. Just remember that proverb going around, "Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die." Don't let that be you and recognize when those around you are doing the same thing - resenting you and trying to push that negative vibe on to you. You don't have to take that no matter your good fortune.
posted by amanda at 1:29 PM on August 28 [3 favorites]


FX is a tough industry right now, as evidenced by the hundreds of FX picketers outside the Oscars the past couple of years. The industry is in turmoil, and people are forced to move every year or two. Have you shared this with your friends? Maybe if they see the warts, they will be more sympathetic and less envious.

I suggest you ban more people and complain less. These two go hand-in-hand. Right now you are not banning the jerk who called you "obnoxious". If you block her on Facebook, you will never have to see her posts again, and ergo you also won't need to complain about her.

So my suggestion is: explain, ban, don't complain.
posted by vienna at 2:22 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


I actually had something like this relatively recently, and it was hugely upsetting to me. First and foremost, I want to say: you're not alone.

I was poor, and had an out-of-wedlock baby earlier than most of my friendset with a guy who later turned out to be absolutely awful. My friends really tried to be supportive, but it was always in a "distributing largesse" way.

In the last few years, I've gotten married to someone with a great job, and my own career has gotten more solid. And those friends started getting awful and snarky and one of them even friend-broke-up with me for it. These are friends who are not doing what they want to be in life, and I ultimately realized that for some of them, at least, they would tell themselves, "At least I'm not corb, she really has it hard." But now that I'm doing better, they don't have that - they have to confront their own choices.

The "I'm a strong woman, independent, not like you" conversation at least definitely sounds like someone struggling with her own choices and being defensive about it. The thing is, I'm not sure this is fixable. I back jacqueline - get new friends.
posted by corb at 2:54 PM on August 28 [4 favorites]


I know it's not work

The HELL it isn't work. Just because you are not paid for it doesn't make it "not work." Don't sell yourself short, "flat hunting, furniture buying, food shopping, bill paying etc" require actual skills and real effort. There are plenty of people who do these sorts of things for a living - they are called real estate agents, interior decorators, household managers, and daily money managers, and many of them are quite highly paid. You are doing them all. You have nothing to be ashamed of. Your husband could not do his job without you.

Not that you shouldn't be able to get your nails done, or read magazines and eat bonbons all day every day, if that's what you wanted to do. It's nobody's business and your "friends" are not real friends.
posted by caryatid at 3:01 PM on August 28 [7 favorites]


Don't call them friends. They are NOT your friends. Ignore them or cut them off. Do some volunteer work and involve yourself with other people.
posted by crw at 5:22 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


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