Nice person, nasty friends
February 15, 2016 1:46 PM   Subscribe

When I lived in City I wanted to be friends with the members of Group. I tried but I find making friends really hard so I ran into troubles - got bullied by one and the others were indifferent to me, except for one who was my friend. I have lived abroad for the last few years and not really kept in touch (except for Facebook with a couple of them) . Now I am looking at jobs near to City...

I'm not sure what to do about the one I liked - I would like to have her as a friend but I'm worried that if I tell her stuff about me she will tell the others because they are her friends, but because of the bully I don't want the others knowing things about me - I would feel exposed. Should I still have her as a friend? How can I separate this one nice person from her nasty friends?
posted by EatMyHat to Human Relations (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Who a person hangs around with says a lot about them. It doesn't say very good things about her if she's friends with nasty bullies. Either she is like them in some way or she is pleased to have their approval thereby quietly condoning their nastiness. I would start fresh. These are not people you want in your life.
posted by cecic at 1:54 PM on February 15, 2016 [27 favorites]

If you haven't kept in touch for several years, there's every good chance this nice person isn't friends with the nasty people anymore, or they at least don't make up her primary friend group. She may welcome your return to her life.

You can always put out a feeler and see if she wants to get coffee or lunch with you one day to catch up. If all goes well and the nasty people are no longer big part of her life, awesome. And if they are, well, most friendships don't really pick back up after a several-year break, either, and you can go on and make new friends without her.
posted by phunniemee at 1:59 PM on February 15, 2016 [16 favorites]

If it's been a while it may be worth it to meet up with the one person to catch up. If this person is still friends with assholes...say it's been lovely and move on. If she's grown up and is no longer close with those people then you can see if reconnecting is the right answer.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:03 PM on February 15, 2016 [3 favorites]

When you were in this city before, even with this one person as your "friend" you were ill-at-ease with that group. Start fresh. Even a small town has more than one group of friends. Connect with new people who do things you enjoy and who display the kind of attitude that appeals to you. Befriend people who are also befriending you. No bullying, no indifference. Don't settle for anything less than mutually positive friendships.
posted by headnsouth at 2:06 PM on February 15, 2016 [3 favorites]

I left a toxic social group recently after a person I thought was my friend latched on with a woman that was after my head for reasons beyond me. After I discussed it with said friend and her partner they took her side. Eventually an entire group wanted me out. I eventually rolled my eyes and laughed at how juvenile and ridiculous everything was so I have no real interest in reconnecting now. Then again the true nature of folks and that scene was becoming clearer by the day, so it was probably inevitable.

Bullies suck. If it helps, people who are bullied are typically threatening to frauds and idiots, as they want you out of the picture. There are healthy environments out there, and you won't endure this behavior when you find them.
posted by Young Kullervo at 2:27 PM on February 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

You can't separate someone from their friends; they have the right to make their own decisions about who they are friends with. Even if those decisions are bad.

If you mean, how can you mentally separate her from her friends - be friends with her and forget about the others ... I don't know that this is a worthwhile goal. It can't hurt to put out a feeler and catch up, but you should also plan on seeking out other friends.

Good luck, I've moved a few times and finding a new circle of friends is always one of the most challenging aspects for me. I hope it goes well for you.
posted by bunderful at 3:58 PM on February 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you do end up moving there, I say why not try to meet up for coffee one-on-one and just see what happens, like others have suggested. However, I'd also hope for the best but prepare for the worst. She may be warm but she also may be indifferent or even negative, and it's likely to open old wounds again. I've been in your shoes before in one way or the other and it's such a painful experience. I wish it weren't taking up so much of your emotional energy right now but it's hard not to when you've felt this way for so long. Sometimes we need to have that experience for closure. Not because we "need" it but because it's one more chance to see with our own eyes that it's time to move on. Perhaps things will work out well and you can start over again but probably not; had that been the case, she would have likely reached out to you already to connect outside the old paradigm. Perhaps she's different now but is so ashamed of her involvement with the negative people before that she wants a completely fresh start herself. As much as I love social media, I can attest to people's relationships online and off being often quite different than they seem to the outside observer.

The good news is that you will have many chances to meet tons of new people! You'll be coming back wiser and more worldly, and good folks with recognize that. It can take awhile to really connect with new people when moving to a new place: it was the case for me when I returned from abroad at least. However, now I have many circles of friends and acquaintances: old friends, friends from abroad, new local friends and beyond. Best of luck!
posted by smorgasbord at 6:38 PM on February 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

One more suggestion: if you do decide to move back and have some things set in stone (job lined up, etc.), you could always post on your social media that you'll be moving back and looking forward to seeing old friends. If she or the others don't comment at all, then you see that they're probably not interested or at least not worth the energy. You'll probably have other acquaintances pop out of the woodwork and respond positively, and those are the ones I'd focus on connecting with first. They may not end up becoming good friends but they're thoughtful enough to reach out and that counts for a lot!
posted by smorgasbord at 6:41 PM on February 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

I wouldn't be quick to declare that your friend has bad intentions because they at one point were friends with your bullies: they could have felt trapped or coerced I that friendship and not know a way out. When I was in your position with a particular arts scene a lot of my friends wouldn't stand up for me because they didn't want their careers ruined either.

If you feel up to it, reach out personally, see what she thinks. And seconding the comment about acquaintances being the most helpful.
posted by divabat at 5:27 AM on February 16, 2016

Response by poster: Thanks, lots of good answers here! I will reach out once or twice and see how involved she is with them, keeping in mind that there are plenty more fish in the sea (even for me)
posted by EatMyHat at 11:10 PM on February 17, 2016

« Older Name my new kittens [nerdy-edition]   |   Short Visit to Toronto-where should I nom? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.