Are you trying to hurt my feelings?
February 14, 2015 7:56 AM   Subscribe

Am I being overly sensitive or is my new friend mean?

I am in my early forties, female. I have a newish friend who can rub me the wrong way. I’m not sure if I’m being overly sensitive or if this friend doesn't know how she's coming off.

I have known the friend for about a year. She is 14 years older than me. We share a common hobby and meet up weekly for our hobby. She is a teacher of middle-schoolers and highschoolers. I mention that she's a teacher because I have known a couple teachers to be bossy or motherly, although the fact that she's a teacher probably has nothing to do with her behavior. Here are some scenarios:

1. I told my friend that my middle schooler was sick and stayed home from school. She told me that he was probably not getting enough rest because he’s been so busy. I didn’t say anything and ignored that comment because, 1. How would she know about my kid's sleeping schedule? 2. He was busy a couple weekends ago but still got adequate rest, and 3. He gets 9-10 hours of sleep per night. I chose not to respond because I’m not putting my parenting up for critique when she doesn’t know my habits at home.

2. I told my friend and other friends while we were seated at restaurant that I needed a new hair product and wasn’t able to buy it, and she asked, jokingly I assume, is that why my hair looks so bad? I said nothing and moved on.

3. Friend is kind of pushy and needy and if I say no to something, she will devote some time into talking me into it instead of allowing me to say no. I know it is up to me to set boundaries and say no and follow through, but it annoys me when people keep pushing something. Friend gets upset when I can’t do something. This has happened twice and wasn’t horrible but she wasn’t letting me off the hook easily. We are busy people with busy lives and need to be let off the hook and not be pressured. Her kids are grown. It's just her and her spouse and she has more free time. I have kids in school, a husband, other friends, and work full-time.

4. Friend gets sort of jealous when other people beat her at our shared hobby. If someone is doing better she will make a comment such as, “oh look at her, well aren’t you special.” She says this in a kidding way (I think?) but I can’t help to feel she is a little jealous. At this time in our lives (forties and fifties) I feel like we shouldn’t be competing or jealous of others and just do our own thing and be happy with our performance. I've always done my own thing and don't dwell on other people's performance.

5. Our mutual friend posted a very attractive photo of herself and her spouse on Facebook and instead of saying something nice or nothing at all, she commented…"Where was this and when?" This is probably not worth mentioning but I felt it was a strange comment. Maybe she was truly curious when and where the photo was taken, but I got the feeling she thought it may be an older photo when our friend was younger because our friend was looking particularly gorgeous but she is gorgeous and it was a nice photo.

6. Once, I arrived early for our hobby and I was sitting in my car. She arrived early too and sat in my passenger seat. I had to clear a few things off of the passenger seat --- some cosmetics --- and she asked if I put these on when I was driving? I said, "Yeah, sometimes I do at the light or the parking lot in the mornings." She said she felt like she was talking to one of her kids and jeez, couldn't I wake up a little earlier to do that?

There are other times when she has said hurtful/strange things. She has good qualities and I think she is mostly nice but I'm not sure. Is she intentionally being mean/intrusive/pushy? I don't know. I wish I knew how to read people better. Once, I waved my hand at her dismissively when she said something rude and she told me she was just kidding. Other than that, I've never said anything.

I'm in a conundrum because I can't do the slow fade. I agreed to fly out to another city for four days this summer to participate in our shared hobby. Another friend is going with us. We will be on the same airplane. I already paid for my flight and agreed to stay with her and our other friend at her family member's house. I also really like my hobby and my group and I don't want to quit the group.

What do you make of this person's comments and behavior? Am I being too sensitive? I was mostly upset about the sick kid comment. She texted me this comment about him not getting enough rest and I wanted to text back, "nah, he gets plenty of sleep" but I chose to ignore it and texted nothing at all. What would you have done? Also, I’m not the type to say insulting things to people, because to me, it's not funny or kind. I pretty much hate when people do this, but I know some people do and I don't know how to read it and I question if I should have a thicker skin or if I'm being a baby.

Thanks for any general advice or comments and any tips on how I can get this friend to stop with her comments. Or, tell me if I'm being too sensitive. I am easy-going, avoid confrontation, and not apt to tell people they are being jerks, but will instead stay clear of them. I can't do that in this situation.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (56 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
In general, there's no such thing as being "overly sensitive." Your feelings are your feelings. Sure, sometimes you want to know if you are reacting in a way that might be be seen as being more sensitive than how other people, in your shoes, might react-- or you want to know if "by most standards, this person's behavior is x y z," but at the end of the day, your feelings are your feelings, and you are the one standing where you are standing. No need to rationalize and defend your perceptions. You characterize yourself as conflict and confrontation-averse-- speaking as somebody who is similarly conflict and confrontation-averse, and has dealt with people who sound a lot like the friend you are describing here, I can say that you will feel better if you don't internalize and agonize over her behavior and instead focus on spending your valuable time with people who make you happy and feel truly valued, and don't make you question your feelings in the way you are now.

To answer your question, though, yes, your friend sounds like she may have certain insecurities that manifest in the way that she phrases things. It sounds like she needs to reassure herself that she is "superior" in some way to others to maintain her self-confidence. She may very well not be aware of what she's doing. But either way, her insecurities should not be your problem. If her remarks continue to bother you, I would limit the amount of time you spend with her. Life is too short to spend all that much time with people who "have good qualities and are mostly nice, BUT."
posted by gemutlichkeit at 8:11 AM on February 14, 2015 [17 favorites]

I don't understand why you're calling her your friend. She doesn't act like a friend at all and in this entire universe of people, I don't understand why you can't cut her out of your life. Just drop her already.

But let's assume that for whatever reason you really can't cut her from your life. You can then tell her to stop with the comments:

She told me that he was probably not getting enough rest because he’s been so busy. You reply, "That's such a boneheaded thing to say."

she asked, jokingly I assume, is that why my hair looks so bad? You reply, "That's such a boneheaded thing to say."

She said she felt like she was talking to one of her kids and jeez, couldn't I wake up a little earlier to do that? You reply, "That's such a boneheaded thing to say."

if I say no to something, she will devote some time into talking me into it instead of allowing me to say no. You reply, "I said NO. Drop it already."
posted by kinetic at 8:12 AM on February 14, 2015 [17 favorites]

I don't think she is intentionally being mean or pushy. That doesn't mean she isn't being mean and pushy.

I wouldn't really be bothered by many of the things you mention but if you are bothered you are probably correctly picking up on some slightly unhealthy dynamic between the two of you.

You don't need to do a slow fade if you generally enjoy this persons company and it would be inconvenient for you to do so. Keep your plans. But allow yourself to react in an appropriate way. It's ok to wave dismissively when she says something critical, to indicate that you're not pleased by it. It's ok to text back that your kid gets enough rest. It's ok to say, 'that's really more your thing, I'm not into it this time' when she pressures you to do something.

Start setting your boundaries firmly and politely and your relationship may settle down into a good place.
posted by bq at 8:13 AM on February 14, 2015 [6 favorites]

I'm like you in a lot of ways, I think. I'm pretty chill most of the time, and for the most part chalk other people's weird/rude behavior up to them just having a bad day, and it not having anything to do with me. But I notice, and if someone is consistently being a jerk, I'll stop spending time with them. For people I'm going to have to be around, I'm not above saying something like, "dude, why do you always have to be such an asshole?" Does this accomplish anything? I don't know. But it makes me feel better about the situation.

One thing you could start doing is when your friend starts in on one of these fusses of hers, say something like, "why do you always have to joke in such a mean way?" or simply, "that was rude."

Being just a little assertive here, enough to take the wind out of your friend's sails when she's being nasty, will go along way I think. If nothing else, you'll feel better about giving yourself a voice.
posted by phunniemee at 8:14 AM on February 14, 2015 [17 favorites]

She sounds kind of sad, really. The things she does in jest or in jealousy make me think she's probably not all that happy with herself, so she lashes out (in humor or not) at others. That doesn't mean you have to put up with it, or stay friends with her.
posted by xingcat at 8:14 AM on February 14, 2015 [34 favorites]

She sounds insecure and kind of critical, and I read her as trying to be funny and not being very good at it; I'd probably find her a little annoying. She is likely not intentionally mean, but it kind of doesn't matter.

"I'm not sure how to take that," is something you can say in a calm voice that will let her know that either 1) her joke isn't working or 2) her mean streak is showing, whichever is true. Looking into her eyes with an air of faint confusion could also get the point across.

For people who give unsolicited advice, I tend to hold back on the level of detail I share with them. When they do give advice anyway, and they do, I say "Hmm" or "I'm sure I'll figure it out."

On preview, there are more assertive answers above that might work better for you. Good luck!
posted by bunderful at 8:15 AM on February 14, 2015 [28 favorites]

It's not you, she sounds like a bit of a jerk. Even though she'll push back, enforcing your boundaries is all you can do if you can't slow fade. Be less available and try your best to ignore her bad behavior. Don't respond to petty and unkind comments or respond in a way that closes the subject. She's unlikely to change at this point in her life and I doubt she'd respond well to you pointing out her jerky behaviors.
posted by quince at 8:16 AM on February 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sounds judgy and pushy, the age gap may be making it harder for both of you to treat each other as equals.

If one of my friends made the comment about waking up earlier and feeling like she was talking to her kids, I'd give her a strange look and say "Thanks for your input!" in a suitably sarcastic tone. If it was an infrequent thing, I'd then let slide. But if it was common, I'd stop hanging out. You're allowed to not like people for trivial reasons (not that these are necessarily trivial, I'd be quite annoyed).
posted by skewed at 8:16 AM on February 14, 2015 [5 favorites]

The text thing is actually the least bothersome item to me of your list -- she teaches middle school, knows how busy those students can be, and may have been trying to be comforting ('it's not serious, he's just tired, there there'). Texts are notorious for lacking all nuance and being misinterpreted; texting is a poor communication tool beyond confirming dates/times, letting someone know you're running late, etc.

#5 might have been honest curiosity, #4 might be Dana Carvey/Church Lady riffing, but the rest is pretty jerk-y behavior. If you really can't cut ties, you may have to push back a little for your own well-being. You're not being overly sensitive.
posted by Iris Gambol at 8:18 AM on February 14, 2015 [4 favorites]

Agreed with xingcat - she sounds like a very unhappy person who expresses it by saying mean and passive-aggressive things to other people. (What on earth was that comment #2 about?!) It's not your job to be a mean person's friend just because they're unhappy. And it's not your job to explain to the person why you are no longer available to be their doormat. Politely and cheerfully let them know that you just can't make XYZ activity with them until they get the hint.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 8:19 AM on February 14, 2015 [4 favorites]

The sick kid comment wouldn't have upset me... BUT ALL THAT OTHER STUFF!?!? She sounds really unpleasant to be around...
posted by catspajammies at 8:26 AM on February 14, 2015 [10 favorites]

Man, staying at her house sounds like a super bad idea. I think that while she definitely is annoying, you've gotten to the stage of seeing everything she says in the worst light. Every interaction is therefore going to annoy you. Who needs that kind of aggravation? Is there no way to back out of that?
That said, push back.
"No means no." If she goes on arguing, continue making it about her inability to accept a no.
"That was a mean thing to say." (Wait for defensive reply.) "Uh-huh." (Move on as if she'd never said anything.)
"That was uncalled for."
"What a strange thing to say."
"Yes mom."
"You sound jealous! Haha, just kidding."
posted by Omnomnom at 8:28 AM on February 14, 2015 [6 favorites]

Some of those things don't seem mean per se; some people consider throwing suggestions as helpful or it often relates to their own life (just go through an ask meta health question...). I also think that the person may have a more sarcastic sense of humor, but does not know that you don't share that sense of humor. It is hard to know in the beginning of a friendship if someone shares your sense of humor or not.

I think that I understand how you are feeling OP, and my suggestion is to put up a limit/provide feedback, but in a gentle way.

For example, for the “oh look at her, well aren’t you special" comments, you can respond immediately "Great job Bob!" (or whatever would be an appropriate comment for your hobby and then say "At time in our we lives, we should be happy doing our own thing and celebrate how others do [or something to take out the jealous/compete comment]" I suspect if you do this a few times, she might stop doing it around you.

For the being pushy/asking you do things several times, in an email you could just say -"I know that you are excited to do X, and I appreciate your enthusiasm, but please know that I am busy and don't ask me more than once. If I could go, I would go." But at the moment, she doesn't know that you have a limit and what that limit is.

But I honestly think that she needs a small amount of feedback to know where to push/not push. I'm saying this as a nonconfrontational person.

It might also be that your senses of humor do not mesh, and that is okay because there are many other potential friends in the sea. Cutting back on the time that you spend with her might also help (or spending the time around other hobby friends, etc.).
posted by Wolfster at 8:42 AM on February 14, 2015 [5 favorites]

I came in here to suggest "yes mum," only to find that Omnomnom beat me to the punch, and added a bunch of other good lines as well.

This woman sounds unhappy and insecure. She has probably been making these kinds of comments to people her whole life, wondering why her friendships never seem to last. But that doesn't mean you have to put up with it. Whenever someone accuses me of being "too sensitive," my response is usually along the lines of "yep, I am too sensitive to be treated that way." You are under no obligation to spend time with someone who treats you badly.
posted by rpfields at 8:46 AM on February 14, 2015 [8 favorites]

This is a great opportunity for you to stretch yourself a little by actually telling her what you told us. Next time she says something like the makeup thing (that one was the most egregious in my mind) you can say to her: "Maybe you're trying to be funny, but I’m not the type to say insulting things to people, because to me, it's not funny or kind. I pretty much hate when people do this to me." She will pass it off as a joke, but she likely won't do it again. And if she does, you can say, "Hey, we talked about this. I don't find those kind of things funny or friendly."

I would also do a few other things:
- Don't tell her personal stuff or stuff about your kids. Keep the conversation focused on the hobby when possible.
- Don't read any emotion into texts or social media posts.
- Try not to sweat the small stuff. So you don't love or even like this lady all that much. Whatever. Try to spend more time with other people that share your hobby, too.
- When she makes weird remarks that aren't directed at you, or she does stuff that is just annoying, try to have a little mantra: "That's just her."

Good luck.
posted by sockermom at 8:49 AM on February 14, 2015 [9 favorites]

Nthing that this woman sounds fairly insecure and passive-aggressive and you should feel no qualms about minimizing contact with her.

I also agree that she gets away with being a bit mean to people because no one pushes back when she lets forth the snark. I find that "wow" is a great, low-aggression response to uncalled-for remarks:

"That must be why your hair looks so bad!"

So is being intensely, blithely earnest:

"Well, aren't you special."
"Carol really has a gift for [insert task here], doesn't she?"
posted by Owlcat at 8:54 AM on February 14, 2015 [11 favorites]

Something else to consider: what if EVERYONE here said you were being overly sensitive? So what? What matters is there's this person and you don't like how they treat you. You're 100% entitled to feel that way, period. You're allowed to recognize that someone bugs you and that you don't want to be around them.
posted by kinetic at 8:58 AM on February 14, 2015 [6 favorites]

Limits, limits, limits. You have to enforce yours, you haven't been doing so, and that's why you feel bad.

Many people are concerned about doing or saying the right thing, like you and I, and are sensitive to others limits. When everyone tries to be considerate, everyone's limits are respected, and things stay peaceful. Limits are sensed or recognized before they get crossed.

Your friend doesn't have that ability. It sounds like she's got too much going on inside to be able to notice what's going on outside, with other people.

This is actually great for you - you need this ability, to be able to firmly express your boundaries and feelings, and to confront people when they say stuff you wouldn't say.

Don't think of it in terms of her being a bitch, or you being mean back. Focus on getting practice establishing your limits and growing. You can respond to all of these awkward situations with a agreeable and confident tone of voice. Using your sense of humor will help a lot.

"Well, my child actually does get enough rest, so that can't be the problem, is that a common problem for your students?"

"(Big smile, looking at friends) That's a horrible thing to say! I'll have you know I worked extra hard on my hair today!"

"Lol, well, I don't know about your kids, but I don't want to get up earlier! "

I hope that right under her weird Facebook comment you wrote something like "What a fantastic photo! You are such a lovely couple!"

"You know, every time I say no to you, you put a lot of effort into trying to convince me to say yes, and I feel uncomfortable when you do that. I wish you would just take a no for a no, and leave it at that." (Matter of fact/concerned tone of voice)

You see, her being pushy or saying inappropriate things is all about her. You, feeling hurt and stepped upon is all about you. Once you learn how to establish and maintain your limits, by deflecting, humor or just plain honesty, you won't feel bad anymore. She may not change, but it won't affect you.
posted by Locochona at 9:06 AM on February 14, 2015 [10 favorites]

It could be that she's a mix of hostile-defensive and thoughtless. Some people like that, if they're more on the thoughtless side and have a sense of humour, can check themselves if they get a little gentle rubbing in return. I have a friend like that (who I strongly suspect has ADHD and fwiw is a teacher, lol) - she settles down when she gets as good as she gives. I don't treat the more barbed things that come out of her mouth sometimes with any seriousness, and I mostly keep her at arm's length, but only because she's also fun to hang out with and can be really kind when people are in a tough spot. If she weren't lovely quite so often, though, I wouldn't be motivated to bother. Also, small doses.

I have also known people more on the hostile and mean and snaky side and have no issue dropping those people like hot, poisonous little potatoes.
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:07 AM on February 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

She sounds negative and moving quickly on toward set in her ways. If you don't like how she speaks to you and aren't willing to give as good as you get (which really only works if somebody has a good sense of humor about themselves, and even then it can wear thin over time if that's the sole dynamic in the relationship), then I'd suggest just creating distance and sticking only to discussion of your hobby when you do see her. I'd start being unavailable more often for things like rides and one on one hanging out after or before Hobby. In my experience, even people who are a little clueless as to how they come off still get it when you stop allowing for really personal exchanges and private time and can be trained to keep the tone of conversation light and inconsequential. And if they don't get the hint? You just cut them off.

Anecdotally, I have a neighbor whom I know doesn't really like me but she needs me to be available to her in case she has a childcare emergency. So, she tolerates me and I sit by, tolerated, and am tolerant of her. It's fine. Our kids really like each other so c'est la vie.

I also have two mom friends who tend to gang up on me when we socialize, and like to talk crap about other moms behind their backs. They think they're hilarious; I just think they're both a little threatened by me and tend to feed off of each other when together. So, I don't hang out with them together and I don't allow for more than "So, how is Baby sleeping/pooping/talking/whatever?" talk when I see them individually, very occasionally. They know the score with me now and don't push. Set a good boundary. You don't have to be confrontational in order to do it; you just need to be clear on your limit and enforce it diligently.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 9:30 AM on February 14, 2015 [4 favorites]

I used to be like her a few years ago. It was because I had gone through a rough patch and was getting back in the world and went back to college but not really knowing how to do it. Thankfully, this website saved me and I dropped those annoying habits. Maybe she doesn't know? I wish someone had told me, but thankfully I discovered Metafilter!
posted by eq21 at 9:31 AM on February 14, 2015 [5 favorites]

What would happen if you asked her, "I don't really like sarcastic jokey humor. Could we find a way to interact that doesn't include that?"
posted by jaguar at 9:35 AM on February 14, 2015 [8 favorites]

Her comments to you remind me of those made by one of my acquaintances who is mildly affected with Asperger's. Much of the time you wouldn't notice it, but occasionally she makes comments that are inappropriate. At those times it seems as if she doesn't have an internal "social filter" to warn her what comments might offend others. It's possible your friend is similarly affected. Whether or not something like this is the cause, if you are uncomfortable around her I would look for ways to be around her less. Maybe look for another group you can join? Or drop out for awhile and then start up another, separate group?
posted by summerstorm at 9:42 AM on February 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

I already paid for my flight and agreed to stay with her and our other friend at her family member's house.

Any way you could book a hotel room instead?
posted by seawallrunner at 10:12 AM on February 14, 2015 [11 favorites]

1. Speaking as the father of two college kids, I totally do not understand why this bothers you much. I'm guessing she was trying to be helpful from her perspective as a teacher. Teens do need a lot of sleep. And my experience - and maybe hers too - is that just because they said goodnight and went to their room at 9pm, they might be awake until 3am texting and gaming. In any event, to answer your question: you're too sensitive.

2. I think she was attempting a joke. She failed. If this is a one-off thing, let it go.

3. Insufficient information. It would help to know what she asked of you, and just how the conversation went. It's not uncommon for people to sometimes push a little bit ("Wanna go get an ice cream cone?" "No, thanks" "C'mon, let's go grab some ice cream!" "Really, I'm not up for it" "Aww. Okay, maybe next time") - this is not a big deal. But if she is simply not accepting your "no" - ie, you're saying "no" three or more times - then this is an Issue. And possibly a deal-breaker for the friendship.

4. This is a difference of opinion where she's allowed to have her own opinion and you are allowed to have yours, and neither you nor her are being outrageous. If her actions bug you - it's up to you to decide if they bug you badly enough dump her. To be blunt: she should not have to change this for you, and you have no right to judge her on this. But you don't have to be her friend, either.

5. I agree this is not worth mentioning. Your suspicion that she was trying to comment on the friend using an old picture makes me wonder if you aren't projecting a bit - note that you mention matters of appearance at least three times in your text.

6. It sounds like she was expressing shock and concern that you would apply make-up while driving. And she did not do a good job of it. If you truly never apply make-up while the car is in motion, then you have some justification for being miffed.

All-in-all: it doesn't sound like you two are a particularly good match. To answer your question, I do feel that you are overly sensitive on some of the items you mention. To me #3 is probably the most important issue on your list. But without details it's impossible for me to tell how toxic this might be.
posted by doctor tough love at 10:38 AM on February 14, 2015 [9 favorites]

she asked, jokingly I assume, is that why my hair looks so bad? I said nothing and moved on.

texted me this comment about him not getting enough rest and I wanted to text back, "nah, he gets plenty of sleep" but I chose to ignore it and texted nothing at all. What would you have done?

In general, I would be doing exactly what you're doing, along with finding more supportive and gentle company. But it sounds like circumstances make that awkward, so I think you could consider pushing back. If you do this, consistency will be important.

For comments about your parenting or your front seat, I think your best option is to say, at an unrelated moment, a little speech about the idea of judgment and advice. E.g., now that you're spending more time together you want to ask her something that you request from all your friends, that she refrain from offering judgment or advice. Make this all about you (you're sensitive to it, it took you a long time in life to find your own preferences and so it's valuable that your friends respect them, or something like that).

Then, whenever she says something judgy or advice-giving, remind her consistently. She sounds like the type to test you, honestly.

For the competitive one, I'd react to it as the request for reassurance it is. "Bob's quilt is special, look at those hexagons! But yours is special, too. I really like the way the purple matches the red."

For the friend Facebook pic, I'd stay out of it. When she inappropriately demands info from you, I'd consistently ignore it.

For subtle put downs, I'd start with "hey, that doesn't feel good" and escalate to "could we talk seriously for just a minute? What you said just then kind of felt like a put down..."

In addition to what everyone else has said, I think she's used to being a little bit domineering. Confidently standing up for yourself and teaching her how you'd prefer to be treated is a kind thing to do.
posted by salvia at 10:44 AM on February 14, 2015 [4 favorites]

Oh yeah, for the pushing, just never change your mind in response, and start pointing that out. "Have I ever given in once I said I didn't want to do something? No? Can we move on then?"
posted by salvia at 10:46 AM on February 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

You guys just sound incompatible. It doesn't really matter all that much how you choose to assign the blame for the caustic vs. sensitive imbalance. It's just there. You don't need to cast her as the villain or armchair diagnose her with anything to arrive at the conclusion that you guys aren't going to be besties.

Go ahead and follow through with your plans if you don't have a suitable alternative, stand up for yourself when you feel the need to, and then just keep her at the distance you're comfortable with.

I read through your incidents and I honestly didn't understand what some the implications were supposed to be until you explained. The thing with the mutual friend's picture and the thing about your kid being tired particularly. I mean, I get what you're saying now, but to my ear at least, they're far from obvious implications.

And I have a peeve about people not taking no for an answer, too, so I just explain to people clearly that I don't like being coerced and cajoled after I've told them no. Most people understand and try to avoid doing that to me after I've explained that. It's a pretty normal social behavior for a lot of people, though, so it is on you to be clear that you object to it.
posted by ernielundquist at 10:50 AM on February 14, 2015 [3 favorites]

There's a bit in one of John Gottman's books on communication (and I'm paraphrasing from memory, so I may be paraphrasing poorly) that talks about setting up emotional context when asking a question or making a statement and not assuming emotional context when hearing a statement or question. I think the example he gives is a husband asking his wife, "Is that a new sweater?" and the wife jumping all over him for complaining that she's spent money on a new sweater. The husband didn't set up any emotional context (e.g., "I really like that sweater! Is it new?") and she assumed emotional context ("He's upset with me for spending so much money and he's trying to point out yet another thing I spent money on").

I think you're doing a lot of assuming context here. It may be totally justified, given your friend's past behaviors, but I suspect you'd be happier if you just took what she said at face value rather than assuming she's being judgmental. If she is being judgmental, it will at the very least force her into actively stating her judgments rather than being passive-aggressive about them, which will provide a much easier and more straightforward opportunity to have a discussion about why she's judging everyone so much.
posted by jaguar at 10:51 AM on February 14, 2015 [8 favorites]

3. is something that I find unfailingly annoying, but overall it sounds like you're just not connecting. Most likely she is not being malicious, just joking or trying and failing to be playful at any given moment. Any one of the things you've mentioned might irritate me or amuse me depending on the tone and who was saying them, and my inclination to give them the benefit of the doubt in that moment.
posted by wrabbit at 10:54 AM on February 14, 2015

Well, first off, she is not your friend. She is an acquaintance who you share a hobby with. You don't like her and it doesn't sound like she likes you all that much either. Keep your emotional distance. Her snide comments and your reactions to them are common in these situations. You are not being too sensitive, you are just stuck being with someone that you don't get along with. It doesn't sound like it's either of your faults, it sounds like a personality clash.
posted by myselfasme at 10:55 AM on February 14, 2015 [4 favorites]

I suspect you'd be happier if you just took what she said at face value rather than assuming she's being judgmental.

That is to say:

1. "Oh, I think he's getting enough rest" and drop it.
2. "Oh, I think my hair looks fine even without that product" and drop it.
3. "Nope, I really can't" and drop it.
4. "Yes, that is a really special project! It looks great!" and drop it.
5. Think, "Oh, she really just wants to know where they were going that they were so dressed up," and drop it.
6. "Oh, it works for me," and drop it.

You can choose not to let her comments create some big story in your head about how she feels about you or other people, basically.
posted by jaguar at 10:55 AM on February 14, 2015 [6 favorites]

I don't think you're being overly sensitive. The only example you've given here that I don't think is a big deal is the one regarding her comment on your mutual friend's photo. (If a friend posts a new photo and there's no description but it looks like they're on vacation or whatever, I'll ask because I want to know what's new.)

Otherwise, fuck that noise. I hate it when people give unsolicited advice about things they know nothing about. How does she know how busy your son is, or how much she sleeps? Why did she feel her input was valuable? I also think that people commenting on someone's appearance is fucking rude. If you asked for input, great. But her "joke" about your hair? She may just have stuck her foot in her mouth- and who knows, maybe she beat herself up about it and thought "shit, that joke wasn't funny, it was just mean" later, but given your other anecdotes, I think she might just be rude. When I've had "friends" who made totally out-of-line comments, I've told them that I didn't appreciate it. If it doesn't stop, I cut them out. I do not regret them not being in my life one bit.
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper at 11:06 AM on February 14, 2015 [4 favorites]

Just slowly withdraw. She doesn't make you feel good, she's makes cutting remarks. What is the point of letting her negativity infect your life and day?

You might be sensitive, there's nothing wrong with it. You should always take care of yourself first.
posted by discopolo at 11:11 AM on February 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

You are entitled to dislike this person. She sounds like a total jerk.

Often times, people like that have no idea the extent to which their behavior is inappropriate. They also have no idea why they have no real friends. For whatever reason(s), they're hurting on the inside and therefore must hurt those around them (why they think that helps, is beyond me).
Regardless, you don't have to be the sacrificial lamb to put up with that. It's neither your problem nor your fault that she has poor social skills. At her age, it's unlikely she'll see the light of her ways. And just because she's older doesn't mean you have to put up with her BS.

If she claims your kid isn't getting enough rest: "Nah, my kid gets plenty of rest" and change the subject. You don't have to justify anything to her.
She gets jealous someone is doing better work, give that person a sincere compliment. Don't allow jerk's negativity to set the tone in your hobby group's get together.

She makes a remark about your cosmetics & waking up early, say: "no, I like how I do things". If it makes her unhappy how you live your life, haha!

Best defense against a bully is to not give them the power to hurt you or the power to ruin your mood. In your upcoming trip, vow to have a good time regardless of what jerk does or says. Your desire to be happy needs to trump her desire to hurt you.
posted by Neekee at 11:33 AM on February 14, 2015 [4 favorites]

[This is a followup from the asker.]
Thank you for all of the comments and advice. I do not want this person's comments to mess with my mind and enjoyment of my hobby. It is as simple as letting it go and limiting contact. Thank you for pointing that out. A few things I forgot to mention that may or may not be relevant: 1. My child has a class with her at school. I don't want to make things awkward. 2. I think she likes me because she seems to want to spend time with me because when I mention that I played cards over the weekend or went to the gym, she asks me to invite her next time. (I don't want to invite her to my house.) We have gone to the gym a few times and she kind of planned for us to meet up once a week. So I'll see her once a week at our hobby group and once a week at the gym. 3. She can be nice and says nice things about others. 4. She does have hyper and loud behavior at times 5. She seems to take a leader role and will often give speeches to our group to thank an organizer for putting together a certain activity or whatever.

I am probably guilty of reading too much into her behavior (and I just listed more of her behaviors!) so thank you to the person who pointed this out. I think I'm listing more behaviors to see if changes anyone's opinion but ultimately, if I don't enjoy her company, that's ok and I don't have to justify it to myself or try to read into too much.

I don't want to quit my hobby group, since I live in a small town and these groups are hard to come by. I can limit my contact and try to give it right back. I think it's hard for me to give it back because I'm caught off guard and sarcasm directed toward a person right in front of me is not how I operate. The cosmetics thing was weird as hell and really rubbed me the wrong way. I was probably defensive about my kid and that's why it upset me the most but the makeup in the car thing really was strange. I am thinking 1. We're not that close for you to say such a thing. 2. I'm not your daughter. 3. Judge me behind my back, not to my face. That's rude.

I can enjoy sarcasm, but not at the expense of others. Thank you again for your answers. I appreciate the suggestions and people's differing points of view.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:23 PM on February 14, 2015

I think something worth doing to keep your sanity is to call her on it when she does it.

"Wow, that's harsh."
"That hurts my feelings."
"Did you mean to imply that I'm not looking after my child properly?"

Trust me, she's probably WAY more sensitive than anyone you know.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:28 PM on February 14, 2015 [7 favorites]

This person is not your friend. She is someone who can only feel good after putting you down in some way. She's secretly jealous of you. I know some middleschool & kindergarden teachers that are like this with their "friends". I don't know why it is and it's really weird. Perhaps with some of them being a teacher over small children that can't defend themselves is the reason why they became teachers in the first place, but in the real world they don't have that power over others and so their insecurities make them give cutting remarks to those who are around them alot. Should you confront them with this they will probably pretend they didn't realize what they were doing making those remarks, but as soon as you have your guard down again it will start again. I say withdraw completely from this person if you can.
posted by rancher at 12:39 PM on February 14, 2015 [8 favorites]

She is a false friend who is not protective of your heart. Even though you have a clear instinct about this truth which made you write this Ask in the first place, here you are trying to talk yourself out of it. This was all I needed to hear: "2. I told my friend and other friends while we were seated at restaurant that I needed a new hair product and wasn’t able to buy it, and she asked, jokingly I assume, is that why my hair looks so bad? I said nothing and moved on." That was way harsh of her. Calculated to embarrass you and lower your social status vis-à-vis the group. And she never apologized for it. She socially undermined you in front of your crew. That was a micro aggression and you should file that in the back of your mind: don't trust this person. Coupled with this: "6. .. She said she felt like she was talking to one of her kids and jeez, couldn't I wake up a little earlier to do that?" Nope. Not ok. Not the behavior of a real and true friend around whom you can be vulnerable. All of the other examples you gave are consistent with this - she is not protective of your heart.

"1. My child has a class with her at school. I don't want to make things awkward."

"I don't want to quit my hobby group, since I live in a small town and these groups are hard to come by."

She's one of your kid's teachers?! Whoa. Crap. And you live in a Small Town, which provides its own special set of friendship challenges (ask me how I know). My answer before I saw your update was going to be: start the good ol' MeFi recommended slow fade immediately following your already-booked summer hobby trip. Remain in the group for now, but do not respond to her texts, be perpetually unavailable when she asks to do things beyond the scope of the immediate hobby, used closed-off body language but be super polite when you meet. Share no more facts with her about your personal life. And start the long process of finding another hobby group.

But these facts in your update have completely changed my answer, sorry.

You are going to have to continue to make nice with this woman until the time when it is no longer possible for any of your kids to have her as a teacher anymore. Then, the moment your kids have aged-out of her classroom, slow fade her.
posted by hush at 12:49 PM on February 14, 2015 [7 favorites]

There's a clear pattern here to me:

-She is older, you are younger. Very, very rarely (almost never) does this not affect relationships in a one-down way, unless the older individual is exceedingly, unusually kind and goes out of their way to be understanding. It is natural for the more experienced to boss the less around a little bit, unconsciously or otherwise.
-You are busy, she is bored. I am getting an overwhelming sense here that you are too busy to put on makeup or do your hair; too busy to go out with friends all the time. Your kid is busy too. I totally am on your side here and see this as natural and good, but she is judging your busyness. To her, a person simply must sleep properly and get up early enough and put on makeup and make time for friends and be measured and orderly with everything. Less busy people often feel this way until they actually experience a large amount of stress themselves.
3. Similarly, less busy people have more time to think. They often think self-pitying and mopey things. They wonder if the world has passed them by and they aren't a priority anymore. This probably explains her insecurity.

Those are my thoughts. This is sort of a classic "empty nester needs something to do and someone to boss around" type deal.
posted by quincunx at 1:15 PM on February 14, 2015 [10 favorites]

A lot of this actually sounds to me like she thinks you have a closer relationship than you feel like you have with her. Some things can be gentle ribbing or razzing between friends -- "Haha your hair looks like you spent the night in a tornado, no wonder!" -- but awful if they come from someone you aren't close to, right? And the stuff about the makeup and the tired child sound to me like they come from a place of concern and helpfulness.

But hey, if it's not working for you, it's not working for you, and that's OK. It doesn't matter why this bothers you, it just matters that you feel uncomfortable, and you have a right to try to resolve that.
posted by Andrhia at 1:17 PM on February 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

She's a jerk, continually putting you down. Tell her that she needs to stop saying these things to you. She'll get huffy and defensive. Stick to your guns.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:21 PM on February 14, 2015 [4 favorites]

It sounds like you may be the target of her bitchiness. Yes this is a thing. Maybe she's insecure or feels competitive, who knows. What I can say is do not give her any personal information about yourself, as others have advised. It's scary what can happen if the woman is a vindictive gossip. I say 'women' because that's how women typically engage in aggressive behavior. Also I recommend you draw a clear line in the sand that she understands she can't step over, otherwise you risk being her punching bag--maybe you already are. You should also be aware that she may gossip about you in your circle of friends, another typical tactic (see linked articles). Others have come up with great suggestions.

Here's what I say (I take the pedantic approach). First I look directly at her and very slowly and calmly ask her to repeat exactly what she said. "Excuse me, what did you say? I want to make sure I didn't misunderstand you. Repeat it, please?" That way you can be sure of what you heard because people can mishear things. Also, bullies hate to be asked to repeat themselves because now you've potentially put them in a chess game. Then you can repeat what she said, "So you are saying that my hair looks bad today?" Let that sink in. Then say, "I thought that's what you said." Pause and look concerned. "Why would you say that? Because that is an unkind thing to say to somebody. What exactly are you hoping to achieve by telling me that my hair looks bad? Are you trying to hurt my feelings?"

You can really get Socratic about it, dragging out the insult until it is totally zapped of its strength. The idea is to make insulting you so unpleasant for her that she doesn't do it again.

Also, if you've been the target of this kind of behavior in the past, ask yourself why.
posted by lillian.elmtree at 1:22 PM on February 14, 2015 [11 favorites]

I think the point jaguar is getting at is immensely helpful to remember when dealing with these feelings.

For myself personally, there are times when I can get caught up in the feeling that something is being directed at me personally. Intellectually I usually know this isn't true. But damn, it just *feels* so intentional. Poor me why is this person picking on me? And to go down that road is to expend a lot of unneccesary energy. And poisons the relationship by projecting assumed bad intentions on the other person. Working through that is hard. Like really hard. It doesn't mean you can't set/maintain boundaries. Any functioning relationship requires those.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 1:26 PM on February 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

The cosmetics thing is a little weird, but less so if you consider that it sounds like she was initially concerned about distracted driving. People do all kinds of crazy and dangerous stuff in their cars even while driving, and it is the sort of thing that people should call their friends and acquaintances out on, and her response could have just been a playful "Oh you!" when you confirmed you weren't doing anything dangerous. I totally would have asked you the same thing. I probably would have told you why after you said you weren't putting on makeup while you were driving, but maybe a little bit of the teacher leaked out there. That's her job, and code switching can be difficult sometimes.

Most friends and acquaintances are limited purpose. You know, work friend, hobby friend, person you talk about Topic X or share a specific subset of interests or experiences with. That's OK. Everyone is annoying in their own ways, and we naturally limit our interactions with others based in part on which behaviors and personal qualities attract or repel us. The notion that you have to cast her in some villain role by constructing an elaborate backstory is unnecessary and needlessly hostile. I mean, her communication style is too abrasive for your comfort levels obviously, but constructing an elaborate backstory where she is horrible, damaged, or mentally ill is more abrasive and mean spirited than anything I'm seeing in your question or followup. (And to be clear, I don't think you're doing this, but I know it can be tempting.)

PS I absolutely say super-mean things like the hair product one to some of my closest friends, and they reciprocate. It only works, though, when you have a close enough relationship and both know that it's actually a back-handed insult, in that you comically insult someone for something everyone knows isn't true. My best friend has gorgeous, perfect, shiny, beautiful hair, and she and everyone else knows it, so if I were to call it a big old ratnest, she'd absolutely understand it as an affectionate joke and a compliment.
posted by ernielundquist at 1:29 PM on February 14, 2015 [4 favorites]

I'm not sure why I'm coming back into this; I still have the same opinion even with your additional feedback.

One small thought is that some of what she is saying or acting out might come from here work place. It is very common to see high school age kids and/or university students falling asleep in class; it doesn't mean that they all do, but you see it. Sarcasm is at its height in high school age students. The make up stuff you also see all the time. I could see making a comment like that - oh look, an object in the car. What is it? Oh, just like school. There is no judgment, it is an observation.

But for whatever reason, both of you don't mesh on humor and I don't think she even sees it. As another poster stated, this is the behavior that one does with close friends.

But if you want it to stop, one simple sentence (ie, what Jaguar said above - you don't like sarcasm) can stop this.

You can also dial back how much time you spend together. If you are busy, just switch gym times. Also, I know hobby groups are hard to come by, but ...let's pretend this is cycling. It is easy to find people you do get along with and break away into a smaller group. Or work one weekend with Bob for speed, another weekend with Jane for hills, whatever. One-on-one time or small groups still gives you social time/hobby time/and the entire experience is not flavored by one person.

For your future plane trip, get a hotel room with the statement about not wanting to impose on others.

But if you make the one statement about sarcasm and spend less time with her? I suspect she will dial it back.

But I don't think anyone, let alone an acquaintance, is worth this much time and energy. Before you were imaging motivations. Now you have 5 other making up stories based on their pasts. Is this really worth it?

You can both be wonderful people and just not mesh as friends. It's okay to be that way. You don't need to understand and be friends with everyone in the world.
posted by Wolfster at 2:20 PM on February 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

This person sounds tactless and bossy. I have known teachers who have a hard time separating directive behavior in the classroom from bossy behavior outside it. But it doesn't matter why. I would limit this person to a friendship within the hobby, and try to have a compassionate view of her.

1. middle schooler was sick and stayed home from school. Ignore it and change the subject.

2. is that why my hair looks so bad? Ouch, that stings.

3. if I say no to something, she will devote some time into talking me into it I said I couldn't go. I'm busy. and change the subject or say I have to get off the phone now. If you need to, add The water is boiling for tea/ I have to walk the dog/ I'm going to go spend time with my kid/ spouse/ pet. or other innocuous need, and Get Off the Phone. Nope, time for me to get off the phone, Bye. Your friend sounds lonely, but you are giving her the time you have available, and you can't solve her loneliness.

4. Friend gets sort of jealous when other people beat her at our shared hobby. Ignore all nasty comments, changing the subject or just saying Yes, Jane is really talented/ I wish I could master that move, too, etc. Yes, she's jealous and can't cope. We all have flaws, and you can be compassionate towards hers.

5. Our mutual friend posted a very attractive photo Jealousy again, and ignore it.

6. She said she felt like she was talking to one of her kids and jeez, couldn't I wake up a little earlier to do that? Try to master a pointed, pained look, 'throwing shade', perhaps a slight eyeroll.

Is she intentionally being mean/intrusive/pushy? Maybe, doesn't matter.
Once, I waved my hand at her dismissively when she said something rude Excellent response.
I wanted to text back, "nah, he gets plenty of sleep" but I chose to ignore it and texted nothing at all. Excellent (lack of) response.
I’m not the type to say insulting things to people, because to me, it's not funny or kind. You're right. It's mild bullying. Never laugh at her meanness, ignore it if possible, or respond with honesty (as ruthless reckless bunny said) That was hurtful/ Wow, you must really feel strongly about that/ Gee, that's kind of nasty/not very pleasant.

how I can get this friend to stop with her comments. You can't. You can extinguish some of her bad behavior by not giving her attention or any positive response. Don't quit your group. Change your attitude towards her. I recommend compassion because she's probably kind of unhappy, and because it's a right-thinking response that is beneficial to you and her, and because it can help you stay centered in knowing that you're doing just fine, your sensitivity has accurately seen her unpleasant side, and your compassion and grace are a shield against even little arrows of hate.
posted by theora55 at 2:35 PM on February 14, 2015 [5 favorites]

I don't think she means to be a jerk, but still, she's being a jerk. You're not over-sensitive.

I'd try one of two things. If you mostly like her, or are willing to be earnest with her, I'd wait for a time when you're in a relaxed, quiet place alone, and tell her how you feel. Just something like "you know friend, sometimes I find the things that you say hurtful. I'm sure you don't mean to be unkind, but I'd like to talk about this. It would be great for me if we could change how we interact a little, so that I stop feeling criticised and put down."

If you don't think she's capable of having a sincere conversation about it, then I'd just express yourself in the moment, when she's saying the hurtful things. Don't be a jerk yourself, and model the behaviour you'd like to see in her. So I wouldn't use, like, oneupsmanship or snark or zingers, because that's exactly what you're trying to train her away from. Instead I'd just say things like "wow, that was sort of unkind" or "oh, hey, be nice!," or whatever. Be understated because your goal isn't to escalate hostilities -- it's the opposite. You want to gently nudge her into understanding she's causing pain, so that she can consider stopping.

Oh and also yes, of course you should absolutely limit contact or completely ditch her, if you want. You don't owe her friendship.
posted by Susan PG at 2:53 PM on February 14, 2015

Her behavior as you report it, strikes me as someone who doesn't like themselves much. I don't think you are being overly sensitive, I think she is rude and, yes, a little bit mean in most of those cases. I am like you, I usually let things go because other people's problems are just that, other people's problems. But once, here on MeFi, I read about this cool way to respond to someone who frequently does something you don't like. First you have to tell her what she is doing that upsets or annoys you (I know that can be hard but it will be worth it), maybe she will make an effort to improve her behavior (but probably not). The next time she behaves badly you say something like "Buzz!" or "Ding!" or whatever you want. You offer no explanation for this random word. If she asks you why you just said Buzz, say casually, "Oh that's what I do when you say something rude." Then just go on about your business. After a couple "Buzzes" she will get the message. The ball is in her court to either drop you as a friend or really work on changing her behavior. I guess she could just ignore your "Buzzes" but apparently that's really tough for people to do. I'm sorry I can't credit the person who posted this, and I can't say from experience that it works, I haven't had an opportunity to try it myself yet. Still, it sounded like a good option to me. Hope it might help you.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 2:55 PM on February 14, 2015

WW, that is Ding Training. Personally, I am of the opinion that if you are an adult that needs to train your friends you are better off expending that energy in getting new friends.
posted by saucysault at 3:05 PM on February 14, 2015 [9 favorites]

Oh and also, FWIW I totally disagree with the people who are saying this is how close friends interact, and is somehow a marker of intimacy. My friends and I don't talk like this, and I wouldn't want to be close with anyone who did. I mean yes, it's *common* for people to banter/joust/whatever, but there are also lots of people who don't do it and don't like it.
posted by Susan PG at 3:08 PM on February 14, 2015 [7 favorites]

She's your child's teacher and she's older than you. More than likely she's jealous that you're younger and possibly that you still have kids at home. Maybe it's an empty nester thing, maybe it's that she doesn't like her husband very much, it's most definitely that teaching is super stressful. It will be the fun combo of being stressed + being bored + feeling old (and maybe forgotten/irrelevant). None of this has anything to do with you and you can't change it so I'd minimize the time you spend with her to make things more pleasant when you do have to see her.
posted by heyjude at 4:13 PM on February 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Maybe it's a teacher thing, but many teachers I know [and I have been one, but now interview, mentor, supervise and assess teachers] have a competitive, child-like anxiety over 'what's mine' thing going on mentally. And since I watch and meet hundreds of teachers, I also notice that many of the personal struggles/ characteristics of teachers echo the age groups of those they teach. Over the years, I've seen so many teachers act out their stuff through their career, not separating themselves in a differentiated and secure way to really hold others in mind.

Your 'friend' sounds like she has personality aspects of an unregulated, petulant, demanding middle-schooler. She's territorial. She's petty. She's jealous of others in your sphere who seem pleasing to you.

In those situations I find myself using my teaching skills and respond to the archaic need that difficult person is presenting: eg The teaching persona of the warm, responsive adult says I like you; you are clever; I value you. But this is augmented by the teaching persona of the secure, authoritative adult: I will be treated with respect; I like myself; I am secure in my adult functioning; I don't need you to manage me but thank you for concern; I will be addressed with consideration. Warm, responsive, authoritative, adult is what I have seen in the most respected and enjoyed teachers I supervise.

You could use scripts as suggested above and you could also work on being the kind of person to whom these subtle putdowns [and not so subtle put downs] would be never be directed. When people act like petulant children around us in adulthood, it is so easy to be drawn into that manner of relating - as you are experiencing the sense of being subtly bullied and put in your place like you're in a middleschooler dynamic. The scripts are to aid your trip out of being back in childlike competition and re-assert your adult position.

'I don't agree' in a calm voice when she says something with which you don't agree. 'I see your point [child=not enough sleep] but I don't agree in this case.' Leave it.

To passive/outright aggression about your appearance or habits - don't collude with your critiqu-er by saying [eg] 'gah, my hair is a mess! I need product! Help!' and then feel like the person who agrees is hurting you. Not saying this is the presentation, but it might be. If she critiques you: 'I asked for advice, not criticism. Thanks!' Move on.

In your mind, start to notice when advice is criticism and resist her with as few words as possible.
posted by honey-barbara at 4:42 PM on February 14, 2015 [5 favorites]

I think she's simply a woman in her 50s who's used to being the leader - she's a teacher - and she's just being who she is - I doubt there's anything at all personal or put-down based in her comments to you.

I don't think she's insecure - most likely she's secure in her personality and used to communicating with younger people as an instructor and leader - and mother, of a sort. As for one-on-one with friends, she probably has friends who are similar in age and more outspoken than you - she's not used to being careful how she says something to avoid offense. If she told her friend that her hair looked bad, her friend would probably respond with something like, "so what's your excuse?" and go on without ever giving it a second thought. As a teacher, she's been heavily indoctrinated about the need for sleep in young people and she's seen the results first-hand of lack of sufficient sleep - her remark was probably just a cursory, impersonal thing that wasn't in any way meant to criticize you. As for the makeup on the car seat, the whole world knows how risky it is for people to be putting on makeup while driving, or texting, or talking on the phone, or reading a book (I rear-ended a car doing that one time) or looking into the back seat to get the kids brought back to order while driving forward - she's older than you and a teacher whose everyday life involves calling out risky behavior to kids; she shouldn't have put you in that same place, of course, but I think it was just a natural response and wasn't meant to really hammer on you - she obviously didn't slide into a long lecture about the evils of risky behavior, right? The fact that she is comfortable giving speeches also points to her leadership-type personality, I think.

I don't think you're very compatible as friends - there's too big an age difference and background experience - but you can certainly both enjoy the same hobby and just see each other when your group meets, can't you? Just stand up and be who you are and don't take things personally that come out in a group setting. Just enjoy your hobby and work on making friends with someone who's more like you. As for her wanting to come to your house, just be "too busy" for a few times and she'll get the idea.
posted by aryma at 7:15 PM on February 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Just because she wants to spend time with you does not mean she doesn't want to be hurtful. She might genuinely enjoy having you as an outlet for her passive aggressiveness.
posted by Neekee at 7:41 PM on February 14, 2015 [9 favorites]

I don't think this is a teacher thing. I think this is a your friend thing. I have friends who are teachers, and they are not the least bit bossy or motherly. I had a friend who was exactly like your friend, and she was simply a miserable person.

In my experience, the cutting remarks and petty comments are pretty much reflexive on your friend's part. Her first instinct will always be to knock you down, to assume the worst of you and others, to be jealous, and to take satisfaction and glee from your struggles and misfortunes. She's shown you who she is. By responding using the above scripts, you probably can get her to stop saying these things to you. But I bet it won't stop her from thinking them in her head, and I don't think you need a friend like that.
posted by keep it under cover at 8:25 AM on February 16, 2015 [3 favorites]

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