I keep bumping into a former friend at parties. What do I say?
May 17, 2013 7:50 AM   Subscribe

I quite conclusively ended the friendship. Now I'm seeing her at social events all over town, and she doesn't seem willing to play my 'you don't exist and I can't see you' game. What do I do next?

I became friends with M at my old job. She's super cool, a bit mysterious, and I really looked up to her, and tried my best to be a good friend. When she lost her job at the company I spent days helping her organise the going away party that was important to her. When she got into a fight with her boyfriend I'd drop all my plans to talk her through it. So when my contract ended and I needed to find a new job, I turned to her for advice. She offered to bring me to a party with some of her friends in the same industry.

I went and had a good enough time, but on the way out my friend cornered me and said I'd been negative and complainy and had really embarassed her in front of my friends. I was mortified, accepted responsiiblity and apologised profusely. At that time she was starting a new business, and I'd volunteered to build her website, so she was coming over to my house a lot. I'd cook her dinner and work on her website, but every time she came over after the party she'd dissect my behaviour more and more, in the guise of giving advice. She felt I was too negative, too attention-seeking, too irritating. I took all of her advice on board because I looked up to her, and tried to do the best job I could on her website to make it up to her.

But, still, deep down I was really hurt. Everyone has their share of insecurities; my biggest is that I'm unlikeable, and M was hitting that particular spot every time we spent time together.

She moved to another city and we kept in touch via email, and I looked forward to seeing her when I was in town. It was the middle of winter and I came down with a vicious, miserable cold, but I still dragged myself out to see her for dinner because I wanted to. At that time I was still job hunting, and quite depressed about my prospects.* As soon as I sat down she started in on my flaws, and she explained that she'd concluded I just shouldn't work in that industry because you needed to be 'nice to be around' to succeed and I just wasn't nice to be around. My reserves were incredibly low and I just meekly agreed, because I wanted to be a good friend.

But afterwards I was furious. After talking it through with my boyfriend, I concluded that while not everyone will like me, I prefer it if my friends do. A long time ago a therapist told me that you put effort into relationships you intend to keep, and I decided it was time to cut ties with M. I did this by not responding to any of her messages. She kept emailing with requests for updates to her website, and finally asked what was wrong.

I explained that the conversation over dinner was really hurtful, and that I was re-assessing whether I wanted to spend time with her. She responded with an 'I'm sorry you're so sensitive and can't take criticism' non-apology, and I thought nope, shut it down. She can think I'm overly sensitive as much as she likes, but in my books when a friend says you hurt them you apologise unreservedly.

Here is the actual question. At first the 'break up' was easy because she lived in another city, but she's since moved back, and we move in some of the same circles. The first time I saw her out I froze and pointedly began talking to other people, and she pulled my boyfriend aside to ask if I still hated her. The next few times she seemed to play along with my 'you're not here' game, but recently she's been trying to talk to me, and I have no idea what to do or say.

This question is prompted by an incident that happened last weekend. I was at a gallery opening waiting for a friend outside, when M cruises up with a group of people I genuinely like. I made small talk and went inside, and M came chasing after me, calling my name and trying to grab my arm. I panicked, literally wriggled away, and left the gallery opening. My biggest concern is that if I did speak to her I'd just lash out for all the hurt and humiliation, and that will do nothing but make me feel like a crazy person. I also know that she thinks I'm an unpleasant, whining loser, and I just don't want to be around that kind of energy. I know my avoidant behaviour is immature, but I seriously don't know what to say to this woman when I next bump into her.

What would the hivemind do?

*I have a job I love now, and I'm actually working with a number of people who were at that party, all of whom I have great working relationships with.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (32 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Before you run into her again, you need to tell her straight out that you're not interested in being friends with her, and you don't want to talk to her when you see each other in social situations. If she asks why, you don't have to explain - in fact, I would say that very thing. "I don't have to explain my decision to you, but you do have to respect it." You cut off contact and that's great but you need to tell her that in no uncertain terms. Do it by email if you have to, since she intimidates in personal conversation, but you're going to have to tell her in a way that leaves no doubt or chance of misinterpretation.

and then mentally prepare for seeing her again and tell yourself she's a stranger, that she's just someone you've seen before and you behave as perfunctorily polite to her as you would to any stranger you have no interest in. If she talks to you - why is a stranger talking to you like she knows you? Sad and weird, and that's something to get away from as quickly as possible, with an apologetic and "isn't this awkward, this poor lady" smile at the people who are around.
posted by lemniskate at 7:57 AM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

Tell her she's just not nice to be around.
posted by dywypi at 7:58 AM on May 17, 2013 [36 favorites]

Normally I would say: treat her like a casual acquaintance, like a former coworker you weren't friends with, or someone you knew in school who you didn't keep in touch with (and don't really feel the need to reconnect with). Do talk to her if the situation warrants it, but don't go out of your way. When you do talk to her, keep the topics light, fluffy, and vague: the weather, the scenery, the food, whatever kind of chitchat would be appropriate for someone you didn't really need to know. It's okay if you have to duck out of the conversation prematurely but try to have a convenient excuse ("oh, there's Joe! I haven't seen him in awhile, do you mind?") and try not to visibly scurry.

But calling your name and trying to grab your arm is totally out of line. I agree with lemniskate, you might need to lay it out for her again, and then proceed with the strategy above.
posted by epanalepsis at 7:59 AM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

"I don't want to talk to you. I don't want to be friends with you. Leave me alone and stop harassing me".

In an email, if neccessary.
posted by windykites at 7:59 AM on May 17, 2013 [5 favorites]

It's exhausting to pretend someone doesn't exist at party after party. Either stop moving in the same crowd as she does or learn to give her a minimal greeting. It's not for her, it's so you can enjoy your other friends without stress.
posted by 26.2 at 8:06 AM on May 17, 2013 [31 favorites]

"Please don't touch me" is an appropriate thing to say when someone is literally grabbing at you. That behavior of hers is completely inappropriate and shutting it down with a clear, concise sentence should address that issue. If it continues, follow up with "I've asked you not to touch me, so please stop". (Saying this in front of her friends might be extra effective.)

Beyond that, you need to decide whether even the small talk is desirable (in order to still interact with mutual friends/acquaintances comfortably). If not, then you should be clear with her that you're not looking to be involved with her at all. I'd say something like, "I'm really not interested in talking with you. As we discussed, I don't think it's good for me. Please leave me alone." If so, that's tougher -- you might try to develop some conversation-ending strategies. Something like "I'd like to look at this artwork alone. See you later!" would let you remain in the same space while also being clear that you'd like her to go away.

Clarity is key. Good luck.
posted by cranberry_nut at 8:06 AM on May 17, 2013 [5 favorites]

You move in the same social and work circles. I'd lose the drama, and be politely distant. If she pursues any of the drama, just tell her the friendship ran its course, and you just don't want to pursue it. You have nothing to gain by discussing the reasons for ending the friendship; it just stirs up drama.
posted by theora55 at 8:09 AM on May 17, 2013 [23 favorites]

I also know that she thinks I'm an unpleasant, whining loser, and I just don't want to be around that kind of energy.

No, she thinks you're a scapegoat and a punching bag that she can feel superior around. When you walked away, you took away one of *her* ways of coping. Think well enough of yourself to not want to play that role for her. And don't use that kind of language about yourself, even if you think it's someone else's impression of you.

I know my avoidant behaviour is immature, but I seriously don't know what to say to this woman when I next bump into her.

It is immature, but it's also self-preserving. She took advantage of you. You let her do so, in a big way, but even if we make it easy for other people to behave badly, it doesn't justify their doing so. She behaved badly with you, repeatedly. The best, healthiest thing you did for yourself was to walk away.

Lashing out won't improve *your* life in any way. Remembering that will help you keep from doing it. Deep down that's just another way of you trying to convince her to treat you better, or to apologize. Don't bother. She won't change and you are vulnerable to getting sucked into that dynamic again. So just don't engage. You don't need to explain yourself, just say hello when you see her, chat about the weather or the painting in front of you, but don't let it get past the surface. Treat her like a client. If she probes, just say "oh that's ancient history" and change the subject.
posted by headnsouth at 8:11 AM on May 17, 2013 [13 favorites]

You don't want to be her friend, fine. But is there no middle ground between "friends" and "let's completely ignore each other"? Be an adult, stay cool, speak to her when appropriate in social settings, and just move on.
posted by Vindaloo at 8:18 AM on May 17, 2013 [13 favorites]

I quite conclusively ended the friendship.

No, you didn't. You stopped responding to her messages for a while, which wasn't a conclusive ending. Then you finally did respond, to say you were re-assessing whether you wanted to spend time with her, which also, most certainly, was not a conclusive ending. I think you bolted at the gallery opening because you were too afraid to say the thing you haven't yet said to her, which is that you don't want to be her friend. That's what you need to say to her.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 8:20 AM on May 17, 2013 [25 favorites]

I'd lose the drama, and be politely distant.

Seconding this. Since you're going about in the same circles, you don't want to have to force your mutual friends to choose sides. And if those friends are eventually forced to choose sides, you want to be golden, and not be the one who only brings their Problems to the friendship.

You can be polite. Being polite can be its own shield. And not one bad word about her, and give everyone else no reason to complain about you.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:31 AM on May 17, 2013 [4 favorites]

I'd lose the drama, and be politely distant.

n-thing this. It agrees with Miss Manners, your source for definitive advice on difficult social situations.

If you are not done with your emotions about your former friend's treatment of you, remember that the best revenge is living well.
posted by Mad_Carew at 8:44 AM on May 17, 2013 [4 favorites]

It's almost like she was negging you to get you to bend over backwards to do website stuff for her. You were right to cut her off, and I think treating her like a stranger that you have no interest in is the way to go, since she seems to like things her way.
posted by SillyShepherd at 8:48 AM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

yea I think the people have it right who are saying you have to still talk to her, but not let her touch you. The "reassessing" email was not strong enough. I have had to do this with people, and they do not understand what you are trying to do unless you are VERY clear. Don't say you're mad, don't tell her why, just say you're moving on from this relationship but would like to stay cordial in social situations because of the work connections involved.
posted by sweetkid at 8:55 AM on May 17, 2013

right now, you're using distance as a shield. but as you've seen, that's too vulnerable because she can corner or chase you. you need to create a new shield inside yourself, physically located somewhere in between your icy smile and your warm heart.
posted by salvia at 8:59 AM on May 17, 2013 [6 favorites]

You stopped responding to her messages for a while, which wasn't a conclusive ending. Then you finally did respond, to say you were re-assessing whether you wanted to spend time with her, which also, most certainly, was not a conclusive ending.

Yeah, this. To you, this would mean a friendship was over, but to her - a person who repeatedly, blatantly dissed you to your face as if it was the most normal manner of communication in the world - this is just...whatever. I think she still thinks you're her little punching bag and everything can go back to how it was.

As for what to do now, I would probably just treat her like any old acquaintance I didn't particularly like, and be polite* in public when I had to but try to deal with her as little as possible.

*Though you don't have to let her grab you. If she does something like that again, you could glance at her with mild disdain and say something like "Calm down, Muffy."
posted by DestinationUnknown at 9:17 AM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

I'm sorry that you had such a rough year, and that your "friend" contributed to it. But I agree with others that your current approach is likely to cause you more stress and anxiety than the situation merits.

Next time she tries to engage you, tell her calmly that you do not stay friends with people who treat you poorly. That's it. If she protests, blusters, etc., tell her that it's not up for discussion, and leave. If she tries to grab you, tell her to stop touching you and making a scene.

Pretending she is not there when you are in such intimate circles professionally and socially is just going to cause more drama, and sooner or later, people will talk. Better to be civil, polite, and distant.
posted by snickerdoodle at 9:24 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

You really have to be an adult about this and be politely distant. Learning to manage your emotions is very important as is asserting boundaries. People will think you're childish if you just ignore her and it will make everyone uncomfortable.
posted by discopolo at 9:31 AM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

I have a very similar situation with neighbor. I haven't participated in any kind of friendship with him for going on two years - but he acts oblivious and always tries to engage me in conversation.

My mother gave me the advice to simply not speak to him. So, if he greets me or whatever I just look at him at don't say anything. To be honest, I do say hello back, then whatever stand-and-chat attempts he makes are answered with my blank stare, as I walk past him.

That works remarkably well... !

I haven't been cornered yet in a social situation by him, but I have rehearsed saying "I'm not interested in being your friend, or talking to you at all." so many times I think I will have no problem getting it out.

So, 1) don't interact at all and if she keeps insisting 2) be really direct and honest, then do 1 again.
posted by Locochona at 9:44 AM on May 17, 2013

There's a certain way of avoiding/ignoring someone that takes up at least as much psychic energy as engaging with them - it always reads to me as the same kind of forced nonchalance you see in a cat that has just done something embarrassing and is now practically vibrating with the effort of acting like nothing happened. Even though your sentiment is understandable and I 100% agree with your decision to cut this person off, it sounds like you're simultaneously pretending she doesn't exist while internally focusing a whole lot of attention on her.

If you're still afraid of lashing out with your pain and humiliation, you're giving this person WAY more space in your head than she deserves. The fact that she's asked your partner if you HATE her speaks a lot to her penchant for drama and need to cast herself in a central role in other people's lives; the more you can reframe her in your mind as an insignificant entity instead - an unpleasant odor you are occasionally exposed to, rather than potentially dangerous fumes, for instance - the better off you'll be. Moreover, if she's treated you so crappily, she's probably done (or will do) the same to others in your shared social circle, whether you're aware of it or not - but either way her mouth-farts can't hurt you any more.

You've done well in identifying her as a drain and distancing yourself; now, she should be no more significant to you than any other distant acquaintance. I wouldn't even rehash how she's mistreated you - talk with her about the weather if she's willing to act like an acquaintance, and if she goes back to stirring up drama give her a set, neutral phrase like "I don't think we're compatible as friends" that you can just keep on repeating until she goes away.
posted by DingoMutt at 9:46 AM on May 17, 2013 [4 favorites]

I know it's hard. You not only don't want to be her friend; you are also angry at her, and wish she weren't around, and resentful that she's back in your space. It's much more complicated than just "don't want to be her friend." You are anything but indifferent to her.

But. You need to act as if you are merely indifferent. Elsewise drama will follow.

Be "merely indifferent" in public the way you'd be to, say, someone's boring cousin that showed up to the party. You would still say hi to that stranger; if they made a remark to you you would at least be polite and noncommittal. Then you say "excuse me" and move out of physical proximity.
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:04 AM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

OP, in many ways I am just like you (if I feel that someone continuously attacks me, I end the friendship and in a similar manner), and that technique usually works.

I may be projecting, but my guess is that you want to avoid an all out confrontation, and just be left alone. Unfortunately, I think that your former friend lives in a different world. Perhaps in her world, you critique other people's personalities, and that is the sign of friendship. My guess would also be that she may not understand social cues.

So I think that the only way to really resolve and get what you want would be to draw a line for her and connect the dots.However, it does not need to be confrontational, GRAR GRAR, or telling her that she is behaving poorly or other personal attacks, because that may also lead to drama.

I would send an email (or say in person,but my guess is that you may have a hard time with this right now).

[Name of former friend]- As you noticed, I left during the last art gallery exhibit when you approached me. I should have spelled this out before. {Name of former friend},I do remember positive things about our friendship in the past, but as I mentioned, I do not feel comfortable with the comments about my personality [e.g. "not pleasant<>I would also try to find a way for you to let go of the anger that you have. Don't let the person take up residence in your head. Even though she was critical, my guess would be that there were things about you that she liked. I can't imagine that she would spend time with you, hang out, go out of her way to say hi to you if she didn't also like parts of you.
posted by Wolfster at 10:22 AM on May 17, 2013

I think there's a lot of good advice above. And, ordinarily, I'd be all about just simply saying "icy stare," "disengage," and maybe a little of when you see her coming just grit your teeth, do a mental eye roll, and then let yourself be entertained by her futile attempts to act like nothing's wrong.

However, I've had the displeasure of becoming "close" to manipulative people before. And she sounds manipulative. Her attacking your flaws was probably very deliberate. If, the first time she attacked you, you had laughed and said "Haha! Yeah, I can be kind of an asshole. But that's what my friends love about me...take it or leave it," (not that you are! or were!) she probably would have left it alone, but she saw right away you were sensitive to it so that's where she drilled away. She's gotten to know you, and she's aware of your insecurities and will likely go for the throat at the first sign that you're going to be polite, mature, distant...in control of yourself.

I think you've got to be really ready for that. And when it happens, and she's done something that triggers some crazy, emotional insecurity in you, you've got to swallow hard, ignore it, and think to yourself, "She is being cruel. I am worth so effing much more than how she's trying to make me feel." And then give her a look like, "Wow, I cannot believe you are acting like such a shitty person. This is soooo not worth my emotional energy." And THEN politely disengage.
posted by hannahelastic at 10:37 AM on May 17, 2013

You don't want to be her friend, fine. But is there no middle ground between "friends" and "let's completely ignore each other"? Be an adult, stay cool, speak to her when appropriate in social settings, and just move on.

Yeah, this. I am part of a very large, very broad, very old friend circle. There are a few people who move through the circle who are able to successfully pull of the "let's pretend you don't exist and I don't see you" thing at social events. They are:

1. The divorced couple whose relationship ended because he had an affair with her sister(!)
2. The friends whose last conversation ended in a physical fight, with the police called and an assault case that followed.(!!)
3. Friends who used to be heroin buddies together; one got completely sober, and avoids the other, who is still popping pills or something.(!!!)

I guess: in all those instances, the reason for the breakup is so egregious that both parties agree to the "invisibility shield," as it were, or at least acknowledge that forcing confrontation would probably lead to something really bad happening, like another assault charge. They are surrounded by friends who see the value in keeping them apart, as it is a true benefit (especially to the friend who is still in the process of maintaining sobriety). There is some sort of shared acknowledgement, somewhere, that completely ignoring the other can probably be counted as an objective positive, or at least, the most socially smooth option, because the alternatives are so, so much worse.

Your friend sounds like a jerk, but I don't think you are at that level for the deep-freeze. Either she, or others, won't get it. Without that social consensus, it'll be hard to maintain.

Consider some of the advice above that relates to dealing with her in a fashion that does not encourage engagement, but that also doesn't rely upon complete and total non-engagement, or pretending she doesn't exist. I am not so sure how long you can continue with that, without it becoming a stress.
posted by vivid postcard at 10:40 AM on May 17, 2013 [4 favorites]

I'd stop thinking of her as "toxic, ex-friend", and move her into a category of "annoying, former acquaintance." Reframe your relationship with her.

Since she's in town, and circulating within your friend/co-worker circle, you don't want to give off a 'cray-cray' vibe. Its okay to make small talk with people you don't like.

If you're in a gathering, you can limit your remarks to the weather and the people at the event. Then, move on.

You don't have to be unpleasant to her, nor do you have to avoid her. Just be neutral.

She may want to re-kindle your friendship. If so, perhaps you can drop her an email, or take her to a secluded part of the the gallery. "I'm sorry, that just won't be possible" or, if she's persistant, "I just don't think that we have a lot in common any more."

I also know that she thinks I'm an unpleasant, whining loser, and I just don't want to be around that kind of energy.

You actually don't know this. This is what you've extrapolated. She may be totally tone-deaf to what she said to you.

I don't think this relationship is worth re-visiting, but you do need to get over it. You need to get to a point where you can be dispassionate with her, and not actively still be angry with her.

I'll say this about that. There's no point in getting angry with the dog for chewing your shoes. The dog doesn't understand now, nor will he ever understand, why it's not okay to eat your Manolo Blahniks.

This lady is just a dumb dog. She'll never get it, and it's not your job to educate her.

Have a little mantra, "This broad doesn't run my life, this broad doesn't know me."
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:02 PM on May 17, 2013 [4 favorites]

I know I'm too blunt sometimes but if it was me, I'd tell her what the problem was, "I don't want to hang out with you because you criticize me so much and make me feel like shit. Please leave me alone." and then walk off. Practice using a deadpan voice. It's comes across as very serious and not open to discussion. If she tries to argue with you, just repeat "Please leave me alone."
posted by stray thoughts at 4:13 PM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Indifference. Be polite and courteous, smile and nod, etc. She'll eventually give up and find someone else to harass and criticize. It's normal to feel like you just want to go off on her, but people like her will never learn.
posted by lawgirl at 4:25 PM on May 17, 2013

There's a guy in my circle who is just totally passive-aggressive; unreal. He smiles at you, he's totally your friend as he's shoving a knife into you. Ugh. He's one of the best at it I've come across, and he does have lots of good characteristics, he's a guy that I'd want to be friends with, but he just will not allow it.

And I'm not good at the middle ground; I'm sometimes okay at "Hey, fuck you, scumbag, get the fuck outta here." and I'm real good at "I'm so glad we were able to work through this, that we've walked all the way through to peace, love, and understanding, and want to buy each other ice cream cones."

But the ability to stand there in my social milieu when this clown comes up to play his game -- and he does come up to play his game, and he will come up to play his game -- that's a difficult one for me.

A friend of mine -- Laura -- she's this real beauty, and sharp, and fast on her feet, and prickly if you get sideways with her. I watched how she dealt with this mope Steve, and it's revelatory to me -- she looked at him sharply, she spoke to him sharply, he backed off as if he'd stepped into a cactus. Which he pretty much had. Part of it is just pure Laura, it's who she is -- I smile, to think of her, I'm smiling now as I write about her -- but also I think that part of who Laura is has been shaped by being so beautiful and so desirable, and every mope in town coming after her, and coming onto her, and her having to learn to shut people down hard and fast and sharply if she's to have any peace.

Unless you're as fast on your feet as Laura is, slashing at the Steves of this world is going to backfire on you, as a real sicko like this has been playing the game all their life and they've got it down. Laura is used to thinking fast on her feet, and loves it, it's not something she has to think about, at least not anymore; it's so close to her as to appear natural, or perhaps it even just is natural, perhaps it just totally is Laura. But I can't go out there pretending to be as she is, I'll get gutted like a fish on a dock. For me, it's to stand there, not at all engaging him, not giving him anything to get a hold onto, and be with my friends, who sure do love me.

Over time, it's also really helped me is to find out that his crazy-making jive gets shot out at everyone, and that I'm not the only one standing there who is politely looking at Steve, not at all playing the game, aware of his shenanigans in real time. It really is too bad, he really could have tons of friends, but he can't allow that. His loss. Anyways, don't be surprised to find out that you're not the only one getting slashed at.

Last. Here's a handy trick, helpful if you can remember it in real time, a tool given to me by a therapist long years gone by. We can get caught by our eyes. No kidding. So if it's an outdoor thing, you can wear sunglasses, and not look the person in the eyes. Bang -- you're free. But say it's indoors -- now what? Here's the trick -- look at their forehead, directly above their eyes. There is no way that they can tell that they've not riveted you as they're accustomed to, but you're free as a bird, enjoying your own company and the company of your real friends, a company which this woman definitely welcomed, or included in.

I hope her legs grow together.

Good luck.
posted by dancestoblue at 5:11 PM on May 17, 2013

... a company in which this woman is definitely not welcomed, or included in. ...

Sometimes even a five minute edit window isn't enough for me.

posted by dancestoblue at 5:20 PM on May 17, 2013

Lots of good advice here. The one thing I'd like to chime in and add is that you are giving this woman way too much power over you.

You broke off the friendship because of how she treated you, but you're still allowing her to ruin your day. Don't let her do that. Don't allow her to drive you out of a room because you're that uncomfortable around her. She isn't worth that. You are coming from a very powerless place in your interactions with her, and you need to stop giving her the upper hand.

As far as how to act around her, just be be polite, but distant. If she starts asking personal questions, brush them off. You set the terms of engagement, not her.

Whatever you chose to say to M is ultimately less important than how you deal with her in your own head. Reframe your relationship with her, as others have suggested.
posted by Broseph at 5:53 PM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

It comes off as a little crazy to pretend not to know her. Ex-girlfriends of two of my close friends have actually done this to me, and I'm not even the one they broke up with. I found it extremely childish.

Instead, as others have suggested, just be politely cool. It's not especially hard, and it keeps your problems from becoming everyone's problems. I had a falling out years ago with someone I still see occasionally in social/professional circles, but other people have no clue there's bad history between us since we are both mature enough to keep up our social graces.

Since she's being fairly aggressive about trying to talk to you, it sounds like you will also need to have a conversation/email about not wanting to rekindle your friendship.
posted by ktkt at 9:40 PM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Okay, look. M is obviously the worst possible friend and you are 100% right to want to end the friendship.

However, to hear you tell it, M doesn't actually know that you ended the friendship, because you didn't tell her. At best, you left her hanging.

The cut direct, which you have been giving M, is the worst of all possible social punishments. It's the kind of thing you do towards someone who raped you or who killed your cat or who slandered you at work and got you fired. Verbally abusing you may be bad and a friendship-ender, but it doesn't warrant pretending that your former friend doesn't exist.

So I'm sorry, but it's not surprising M demanded an explanation when you treated her that way in public. Pursuing you, calling out after you, and grabbing your arm are very definite violations of your personal space, so her way of seeking an explanation was bad. However, the fact of seeking an explanation was not. Anybody in the same position, whether or not they deserved to be in that position, would be puzzled and hurt by being treated that way. Not everybody would demand an explanation, but apparently M is very confrontational and handled it in an M-like way.

It's dramatic and embarrassing to so pointedly ignore someone in public that way, ktkt explains it very well. So I would suggest that you tell M that you're sorry for any confusion and that you've decided to end the friendship because, as dywypi suggested, she's just not nice to be around. Then be polite but distant and don't get dragged into any arguments or discussions.
posted by tel3path at 6:20 AM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

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