Am I being overly harsh on my friend?
November 25, 2021 4:28 AM   Subscribe

I'm finding the way my friends speaks about people in a different social class to her really grating and it's bringing tension to our friendship. I can feel myself trying to change her way of seeing things but not sure if this is appropriate, and whether this is something worth reconsidering our friendship over. Would appreciate your thoughts.

I have a friend (j). She was going out with a lovely guy (R) for a couple of months but ended up dropping him. She called him 'stupid' (only to me but still) and told him he had to change the way he talked because it wasn't 'proper english' when they were going out, so he was trying to change his accent etc.

When she broke up with him she told him she couldn't believe he didn't have savings and that they could never go on the types of holidays she wanted to go on (he has a decent living, but he isn't money driven and also has a daughter who he supports financially. She was also incredulous he hadn't been to London before etc, and I think left him feeling a bit crap.

Fast forward six months and she decided she wanted to go him a go again because she's realised he's actually a really nice person compared to most people she dates and maybe the money thing doesn't matter (she is independently wealthy, has a big trust fund and also owns her house outright etc so can afford to pay more if they have a kid together). So they started seeing eachother, but he was initially reluctant because he said he felt he didn't have enough money for her. Instead of trying to reassure him she said he was being 'stupid' and took it as a big rejection even though she had initially given him this idea?

Anyway, eventually they get it together and spend a weekend together, but he ends it at the end saying they were too different. She's inconsolable, and sends me a ten minute crying voice note about. In the voice note, she says he said he was worried about her ever meeting his family, and she doesn't understand it, but at the same time says she heard his mum on the phone who 'sounded AWFUL - wasn't speaking proper English, was REALLY CHAVVY' etc, and also said that she just 'can't bring herself to like the kind of people that shop in B&M (!)' (even though she shops in B&M?), but that she would have comprimised for him etc. She said they'd had a conversation about their favourite pubs, and she said her favourite was a Raymond Blanc one and his was a carvery - she'd been incredulous and said 'what? those canteen things?'. She'd also called a garden ornament he'd said he liked 'cheap, plasticky and chavvy'. But she totally didn't get why he would come away feeling crap from that interaction.

I actually had to stop the voicenote halfway through as I just found it really hard to listen to. I hate snobbery in and of itself. It's just so lazy and reeks of insecurity. And on a personal note, I went to Oxford uni and sound posh but I grew up on a council estate and have a 'chavvy' family, as she'd put it. I felt she was speaking to the wrong audience.

I told her I found it hard to listen to and that I can see why he came away feeling like they weren't right together, and that I know she is a kind person but this kind of chat doesn't align with that for me. I've been quite gentle and kind about it, as much as I can, but she's turning it into a massive drama and saying 'why can't I have an opinion about a cheap plasticky garden ornament' and 'but I don't like chavs!' and she just won't see my perspective at all.

I've only known her a year but we've become quite close during that time. She is a good friend to me.

I have noticed she's unnecessarily harsh about people, and often to their faces. She has also fallen out with pretty much all of her friends and she doesn't really have any. I'm now thinking I can see why, as I'm starting to feel her anger turn on me but I couldn't just sit there and listen to this stuff. I get she's upset that they've broken up and I want to support her but she won't stop spouting this crap and they'd only been together again a week.

She's also so angry and upset with me I'm now thinking of just apologising. I didn't mean to make her feel judged but I couldn't sit there and listen to it over and over. We had a massive long debate about it and she wouldn't back down asking me to justify why I thought it was rude and disagreeing with me etc. I'm exhausted and not sure I want to lose her friendship over this, but also I'm starting to think maybe she's just not a nice person. Am I being overly harsh?
posted by starstarstar to Human Relations (53 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
She sounds cartoonishly awful. I would just let this relationship go for now. Don’t apologize, wait for her to wake the eff up (she probably won’t).
posted by mskyle at 4:38 AM on November 25 [22 favorites]


I would ghost this person. The way our friends treat others in front of us often tells us what words cannot.
posted by mdonley at 4:39 AM on November 25 [24 favorites]


I would find this exhausting. I don’t think you’re in the wrong.
posted by eirias at 4:40 AM on November 25 [6 favorites]


Sounds painful, I wouldn't bother giving this person any more of my time other than maybe to explain why.
posted by knapah at 4:43 AM on November 25 [6 favorites]


Just coming back to add: imagine your friend were a character in a romcom - she’d clearly be the villain! The one the hero/heroine has to cast off before they can find true love/open the artisanal chocolate shop/argue the big case in front of the high court.

Like, she’s not even in the “Emma” category where she talks shit about people but not to their faces. She’s awful.
posted by mskyle at 4:45 AM on November 25 [16 favorites]


She sounds toxic, I'm sorry. The only reason I would suggest you stick around is if you had been friends for decades or she had given you a kidney or something, but even then I'd be advising that you cool it off. But it's only been a year? Nah, not worth it.

Also I think you should consider the fact that if she's acting like this to you about other people, she's almost certainly acting like this about you behind your back. The fact that she doesn't have any other close friends is a huge red flag. Don't let yourself be steamrolled by her awful attitudes. Back out of the friendship now before she turns on you even more.
posted by fight or flight at 4:53 AM on November 25 [28 favorites]


Now you’re finding out why she doesn’t have any friends. It’s not even that she doesn’t know why no one want to hang out with her; she does, you told her and so did her ex. She just doesn’t care, so she’s not about to change now. If you can handle being around someone so vile, sure, keep doing it but I don’t know why you’d want to.
posted by Jubey at 5:21 AM on November 25 [11 favorites]


She sounds absolutely awful. I don't think you should have any qualms about ending the friendship and good on you for pushing back on her awful opinions.

I'd also be tempted to post her a copy of Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Classes as a parting gift, but I don't suppose she'd read it or grasp it.
posted by penguin pie at 5:28 AM on November 25 [13 favorites]


I think the kindest way to break up with her would be simply to say that you're not posh enough to hang out with her, and suggest she hangs out with her ‘equals’.

Because that might be something that actually makes it click for her how awful she is. But no, you don't owe her anything, and you certainly don't owe her friendship.
posted by ambrosen at 5:34 AM on November 25 [6 favorites]


Response by poster: Hahaha. Penguin pie that's brilliant. We got into a debate where I said there was no such thing as 'proper English' and it's an ever-evolving thing with many different dialects, none of them more or less valid, and it was pretty arbitrary that for whatever reason at some point someone decided that the London / received pronunciation version was 'the best'.

When she scoffed at this I almost told her I'd spent three years at Oxford University learning from the world's leading academic expert on lexicography on this very thing and it's something I feel really passionately about for many reasons that relate not only to my core values but also an interest in how we have a symbiotic relationship with language - it shapes us whilst we are simultaneously shaping it.

I just about stopped myself, because I realised I was just trying to outsnob her - it's the only thing that works - and it makes me feel dirty.
posted by starstarstar at 5:40 AM on November 25 [37 favorites]


Wow, as an American living here for a few years but almost never hearing the word "chav" once, I assumed that after the '00s everyone had agreed that the term was out of bounds, as a dickish part of class oppression after the Owen Jones book came out that penguin pie links to.

I say drop your arrogant toff friend, as a way of giving her realistic feedback about acting awful that she will need in the world. Your intention to change her way of thinking is good, but based on my experiences with the depths of arrogance among certain types of rich British people--and I don't know if your friend belongs to them--I feel like nothing could dislodge the massive, school-ingrained sense of superiority some of these folks have over the poor, short of undergoing a years-long riches to rags downfall like in Great Expectations or something.
posted by johngoren at 5:41 AM on November 25 [8 favorites]


I wish you had spoken up. Regardless of her educational background, it sounds like you have received a better education than she did. She really needs to know what you know about dialects and about other ways of viewing people.

Look, I'm with you on not judging people based on their backgrounds and ways of speaking. However, it sounds like you're not really ever showing how strongly you feel about this, and you haven't done anything that would penetrate or even upset her. Upset her. Especially if you're thinking about ending the friendship anyway.

Otherwise, I think it's unfair to judge her if you've never really shown her how much this affects you.
posted by amtho at 5:47 AM on November 25 [5 favorites]


Response by poster: Johngoren, you're right. I always want to believe the best in people and find it really hard to believe that they have these attitudes, as I do think innately we are mostly good and they come from ignorance and insecurity and maybe if we could get underneath that we would change. But yeah, maybe that's not the case for some people. It's just a shame as I do think she is intelligent and could probably grasp things if she tried. It's just such a blind spot for someone who can otherwise be really kind to me!

But then I have a habit of then being loyal to people that other people have given up on long ago, so I find posting things here for an objective view really useful. I do want to protect my energy from this stuff as my day job is about making the world a better place - I probably don't need it in my personal life as well.
posted by starstarstar at 5:48 AM on November 25 [3 favorites]


I feel sorry for the ex boyfriend. I’m glad he as able to draw some boundaries. Maybe you could too? And if she can’t respect them well “Ta ta old chum”
posted by BAKERSFIELD! at 5:50 AM on November 25 [4 favorites]


Response by poster: amtho, I did then end up speaking quite strongly about this to her. I started of gently but then got stronger as she kept kicking back and disagreeing / saying she was entitled to an opinion / running rings around me. I basically told her I couldn't listen to her snobbery and she needed to rethink her attitudes if we were going to carry on speaking. Or at least have more self awareness so she could at least censor it. I also said it was a good move on that guy's part to protect his own self esteem and if I were him I'd have done the same. So I feel I was strong enough... but yeah, the final straw might be ending the friendship.
posted by starstarstar at 5:51 AM on November 25 [5 favorites]


I have a friend who's somewhat snobby-ish and frankly, it doesn't do much good to say anything about it. I tolerate it, but I also accept this one may not be in my life for ever, either. She also talks about everyone behind their backs and I am sure I know exactly what she says about me behind mine :P But I'm a fairly tolerant person. I just don't say much on the topic or try to keep it neutral rather than get into a fight. Whether or not that's worth it, I don't know, but that's what I'm doing for now.

I mean, if she's too snobby to have most people around, that's her choice, as is bitching that everyone around her is chavvy. Clearly if most people aren't good enough for her, perhaps she should be alone?
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:53 AM on November 25 [1 favorite]


I'm American, so I can't really discuss the class specifics of your culture with any authority.

I will say your friend is being judgy and superficial.

She doesn't have to see this guy as the perfect guy for her, for any reason she chooses, but she could stand to be much more kind about it.

When called on it, she retreats to the warm bosom of, "just my opinion why can't I have an OPINION goodness gracious why are people so mean!"

It's a juvenile response. It dodges accountability.

It's possible she felt put on the spot and will reassess with time. It's also possible life will bludgeon the flaws out of her (I'm a reformed judgy person, myself).

It's not your job to reform her or painstakingly explain her faults. You're both adults, and you are each responsible for your own behavior and emotional growth.

The only question is whether you want to hang around while she sorts herself.

What do you get out of this relationship?
posted by champers at 5:54 AM on November 25 [4 favorites]


as I do think innately we are mostly good


Ditto, it's good to favor a Good Eye that sees the potential for redemption in people instead of an Evil Eye that sees the evil. But on the other hand...old friends can go decades without changing for the better... :_(
posted by johngoren at 6:11 AM on November 25


Anyway, in terms of what she offers me - she is a really consistent friend. We talk A LOT. She's kind of been like my platonic partner we've gotten so close.

Just to reframe this slightly: maybe she's able to do this because she doesn't have anyone else, because she's driven them away. Not to say that you're not a valuable friend to her too in legitimate ways or she doesn't have a good side that might have attracted you, but I would not ignore the fact that she may be glomming on to you because she knows you're a safe bet and won't drop her when she's being awful.

I am wondering whether I can somehow keep the friendship without it touching on this stuff but I don't know if it's possible

This depends on how much you're willing to ignore or discard your personal values. Do you really want a friendship where you're constantly biting your tongue or letting the other person believe that you agree with the shitty things she's saying about people?
posted by fight or flight at 6:23 AM on November 25 [9 favorites]


The only hope for her to want to change is if people stop tolerating her. Continuing this friendship will not serve you or her.
posted by waving at 6:29 AM on November 25 [3 favorites]


Tell her you're not really comfortable with people 'of her sort' and that 'perhaps due to upbringing' she just can't or won't learn to experience the world the way you do.

I suppose if she takes any/all this to heart you could give her another chance, but I'm doubtful she will.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:34 AM on November 25 [2 favorites]


Mod note: Hey starstarstar, just a note, AskMe isn't set up for posters to have a back-and-forth ongoing conversation with commenters or to respond to each comment in thread; instead, once you've asked your question, now you just read people's answers and take what you find useful. Thanks.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 6:43 AM on November 25 [4 favorites]


I agree with the earlier commenter: She sounds cartoonishly awful. She's ignorant, mean, and a class snob - and also hysterically incapable of self-reflection. She seems like someone invented to be the villain in a teen drama.

Why would you want to be friends with her anyway? Dump her. Tell her why.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 6:57 AM on November 25 [6 favorites]


This all seems really sad. It sounds very painful for her. (And of course for her ex, but he sounds much more self-actualized and together.) I dunno, if this were a friend I cared about, I might write them a letter saying that I cared about them and I noticed that the way they talk about people doesn't align with the rest of their values and is clearly making them unhappy, and that I'd be glad to talk more about it but that it might be good to unpack with a therapist (since she has money for one). Assuming she isn't just rotten to the core, I feel like this kind of attitude must come from stunted personal experience - it's sad when a grown adult can only look at the world through a scrim of snobbery even when dealing with people she actually likes.
posted by Frowner at 7:10 AM on November 25 [6 favorites]


I had to look up “chav.” Council House-associated vermin. Oooh!
All the posters up^there telling you to drop this snobbish friend? I say the same, and I’m a snob.
I feel the same about bad speakers of English, but your friend vocalizing her disdain is beyond the pale. Poor fella! I hope he finds someone worthy of him.
posted by BostonTerrier at 7:12 AM on November 25 [2 favorites]


I think that her behavior shows a really pronounced lack of empathy and I would distance myself from her as hard as that may be. She seems to have trouble understanding others points of view and that combined with a doubling down and willingness to be blunt to a hurtful degree wouldn’t be something I’d want in a friend. I’d worry that when you aren’t giving her what she needs she may end up being cruel or unsupportive of you, and you sound kind and thoughtful.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 7:14 AM on November 25 [2 favorites]


What I meant was that I wish you had/would go ahead and tell her about the academics/high status/reasoned experts who support the "don't be classist about language" perspective. These kinds of arguments don't necessarily yield results in the moment they're delivered, but they do carry more weight than yet another experience of someone being mad at her. By giving her this information, there's a much greater chance that you could actually affect her views, or at least her behaviour, in the future. Even if you decide not to be friends with her going forward, you have this opportunity, while you still have her ear, to reduce the world's aggregate amount of classism and thoughtless hurting of people.
posted by amtho at 7:17 AM on November 25 [3 favorites]


My opinion: it's totally natural if serious class differences keep people apart - it's actually makes way more sense than many other things couples fight about. I mean this guy is what - mid 20s and already has a kid he's supporting financially. Lots of people would 'nope' out of that situation.

Also, (nearly) everyone has a line in what they will support so hers is a bit more harsh, but I wouldn't date anyone who had a "keep honking I'm reloading' or a 'F*** Joe Biden' flag in their yard (these are both real things in the US). Maybe cheesy plastic thing in the yard is her line, which may be harsh but it's her line.

What I meant was that I wish you had/would go ahead and tell her about the academics/high status/reasoned experts who support the "don't be classist about language" perspective.

There is a 'normal' way of doing nearly everything, from eating ribs to riding a bicycle, and saying that academics declare it fine is not the case that proves anything. And do 'academics' constantly break the rules of grammar or proper English, no matter how arbitrary they are? No they do not, or they wouldn't be where they are.

That being said she does sound a bit rude, and probably needs to work on that. She could feel this is totally the wrong guy for her (it doesn't matter the reasoning - if he was too short, his junk too small, bad skin, whatever) but also feel lonely, so she goes back to the most available. You need to talk to her about that - tell her to move on. Deal with her loneliness.

You don't need to support her and this guy being together, as he can find someone better for him who likes the things he likes and he will be happier. If he broke it off with her, he probably already knows he can do better.

Also you should tell her that 'chav' is classist/racist and to stop saying it. People insulated from their consequences by wealth hear racist and classist things all the time so you have to tell her it's not appropriate.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:33 AM on November 25 [3 favorites]


I think most people are a mix of wonderful, terrible, and a lot in between, though hopefully for most of us the terrible is greatly outweighed by the rest.

I think she's probably pretty sore now so this might not be the best time for any kind of conversation. But I'd tell her "You're right - you do have the right to have any opinion you want. And opinions usually feel right to us, even when they're not. But you have to decide how attached you are to those opinions and if they're worth losing out on good relationships, and being blinded to the good in people because you keep being distracted by things like accents and garden ornaments. And you have to recognize the effects that your opinions have on the people around you, even people you wouldn't guess. For example, hearing the things you said about this guy and how you judged him makes me wonder what you'd think about my family and how you'd judge them. You can decide to try to change your opinions, if you want to, the way that someone who hates olives can decide to explore lots of incredible olive-y foods to learn to get over it. I think you should definitely understand that there's nothing objectively right about your opinions and that they sound childish [*being nice here] to a lot of people, like hating olives does. And you can keep holding them if you want - just realize that this is going to keep happening for you again and again in the future. And think about whether you want that and if it's worth it."

And then stop there and expect no miracles (an extremely slow transformation is probably the best possible outcome).
posted by trig at 8:32 AM on November 25 [9 favorites]


I grew up on a council estate and have a 'chavvy' family, as she'd put it.

If you haven't told her this yet, I would let her know (whether you end the friendship or not). It might not radically change her, but it might be a small step to her reconsidering some of her assumptions around class. I agree with Frowner that I find her story kinda sad - sure, she doesn't have to worry about material comforts, but it sounds like she's so out of touch that she's isolated herself. Her lack of self-awareness does make her sounds like a good candidate for therapy. All of this doesn't mean you have to be her friend - but I wouldn't ghost her - I'd explain why you're ending the friendship.

How often does she say classist rubbish like this? It it's not often, you could try and make a rule with her that you'll be her friend, but only if she keeps her class politics to herself. It might not work, but people of different political viewpoints make rules about avoiding certain topics all the time.
posted by coffeecat at 8:43 AM on November 25 [3 favorites]


I'm exhausted and not sure I want to lose her friendship over this, but also I'm starting to think maybe she's just not a nice person. Am I being overly harsh?

No.

Her present misery is entirely derived from attitudes that are entirely within her power to change. If she'd rather keep her snobbery than learn how to be happy, well, sucks to be her.

She would clearly benefit from growing the zuck up and getting a clue, and until she does, she's just going to keep on ramming her head into its own interior cinderblocks and keep feeling like crap. You've given her the benefit of some excellent advice and guidance, and if she doesn't take it and continues to behave in a way that further alienates somebody who has absolutely been behaving like a true friend, then that's on her and not on you.

There's every likelihood she won't take your advice, by the way. People generally suck at taking advice, and the more we could use it the more we generally suck at taking it. Snobbery, in particular, is symptomatic of the kind of personal insecurity that instinctively doubles down on convincing itself that class is reflective of some kind of natural order and that some people are just inherently "quality" and others are not, so as not to have to undergo a painful process of self-examination.

Some people habitually treat others badly for no good reason, and your friend is one such, and until she learns to moderate and replace that habit it's going to continue bringing on the misery it always has, both to herself and to everybody she spends time with. Whether you're up to hanging about while she gets her shit together is up to you.
posted by flabdablet at 8:45 AM on November 25 [5 favorites]


(Like some others have said, it sounds very likely that her attitudes have come from her personal experience - probably things like growing up among people who think talking that way is both right and normal. So her expectation is that it's both right and normal, and it's going to be very disorienting for her to finally understand that the outside world is not the same as the world she grew up in, which might not be quite as good as she thought. If she ever changes on this point, hanging out with her family (or whoever) and realizing their own awfulness is probably going to raise a lot of pain points that it never did before. A lot of people will do a lot of things to avoid coming to that realization and dealing with that disorientation and pain.)
posted by trig at 8:56 AM on November 25 [5 favorites]


Honestly, it sounds like you have different values from her and that is good enough reason to not be as close friends as you are. You will probably find in the future that there are other things where her values mean that she and you have wildly different views on something that matters to one or both of you. Save yourself the time and effort and downgrade her to passing acquaintance.
posted by plonkee at 9:12 AM on November 25


If it were race instead of class, would you still worry that you were being overly harsh? People don't choose their class either.
posted by heatherlogan at 9:27 AM on November 25 [7 favorites]


I just about stopped myself, because I realised I was just trying to outsnob her - it's the only thing that works - and it makes me feel dirty.

I’m generally opposed to intellectual dick-waving/bullying too, but cases such as this are the allowable exception. (Allowable exceptions also include: people who think that others can budget their way out of poverty and that poor people just need to be taught better money management skills; men who think women are intellectually inferior (see also: mansplaining bores); white people who think nonwhite people are intellectually inferior (with the caveat that one should be particularly cautious of the risk of escalation to violence in these cases); and crypto- or tech-bros, Jordan Peterson acolytes, or Ayn Rand devotees who think that everyone is intellectually inferior to themselves.)
posted by eviemath at 9:31 AM on November 25 [11 favorites]


Also,

she'd send him an apology message to say sorry if she made him feel bad

“I’m sorry if I made you feel bad” is not an apology.
posted by eviemath at 9:34 AM on November 25 [16 favorites]


Your narrative gives us only a sketch of who she is. We have no real idea what life experiences have contributed to what appears to be snobbish behavior. Consider how the conversation might go if one of your friends tried to tell you that it's wrong to like cats. Same thing. Logic doesn't apply. It's not your job to mess with her core values, but, indeed, you don't have to associate yourself with her, and by extension, her values.

The kindest thing you can do for her is to have a short conversation--face to face is best, but the telephone works too. No texting. Tell her that you don't think your friendship will work, and you are calling it quits. You don't need to give out chapters and verses or defend yourself. Ghosting is possible, but it's a cheap way to end a relationship. This is like pulling a tooth. It's painful now, but you'll feel better after you do it.
posted by mule98J at 9:36 AM on November 25 [2 favorites]


I’d only consider keeping in touch with her if I wasn’t going to avoid the subject at all. And then she might likely ghost me! And it might not be worth it to you, depends on how arguing with her feels. But squashing your moral and intellectual beliefs and actual background doesn’t seem right at all.

Possibly she’ll only learn to not say anything like that to you, which is a tiny victory but a real one.
posted by clew at 9:40 AM on November 25 [2 favorites]


I think some of the motivation behind people making classist, racist or misogynist remarks is an effort to bond with the listener. They assume you agree with their viewpoint and want to share a moment of condescending agreement. I instantly lose respect for people who make these sorts of remarks, so it might be effective to point out to your friend or realize that her views are creating a chasm between you, and you are losing respect for her. In situations where I have to tolerate the person, I may remain silent, but I begin to distance myself from them. It might be effective to point out to her that others who she may want to impress may be distancing themselves for the same loss of respect without forcing a confrontation with her.
posted by effluvia at 9:44 AM on November 25 [4 favorites]


You are not being too harsh with this friend. I want to get that out of the way.

Now, I feel as though I have a slightly different opinion than most of the posters so far. I see you saying that you value this friendship in a lot of ways, but you're not sure about what to do with this side of her. And I think I wonder what you are probably wondering: Is this just a side of her that is really gross, or is this who she is, and she's just revealing it now?

I don't think I would ghost her, not yet, but I do think I would put a kaboosh on discussions like this. Its okay to say "I want to support you, but I am struggling to do so because we don't see eye to eye on [X] and it becomes a fight between you and I."

You can also say when she is getting defensive "I feel as though you are getting defensive and I didn't mean what I said to be an attack. Let's talk about that later if you want." It's totally ok to say you don't want to continue a discussion topic or want to have it later because her response is making you uncomfortable. As long as you aren't using it regularly to silence her side. But boundaries are fine and normal, though if she's not used to it, could initially create more conflict.

She may also just be looking for support when she's feeling bad and surprised you'd take now to point out flaws. You may want to switch how you respond to more neutral "I'm sorry, that sucks," "I can see why you are hurting, I would feel bad dealing with rejection of someone I really liked too". I recognize you see how her attitudes probably lead to how she was rejected, but you're not her therapist and it isn't your job to fix her. She's likely looking more for emotional support and you're looking at it as wanting to help your friend who brought this on herself. You can have that conversation, but it sounds like now is not the right time. I suspect what she needs is affirmation she is awesome and the guy was trash - sisters before misters.

She also might be defensive in the conversation, but later reflect on what you said. I am like that (dammit), I hate it, but I'm more likely to immediately defend myself then later think on it and come back and say "hey, you were right." Its something I'm working on.

It also sounds like she really needs to be in therapy, and might be using you as much to be her informal therapist and her friend. It can be a fine line, but I suspect you're going to need to draw some boundaries on how and what she talks to you about. It may be something you point her to down the road, but again, not now. Its also not your job to convince her to get into therapy, but it could be something you suggest if she keeps struggling in the same way. I would go so far that I'm sure she's struggling with self-esteem and that's why she puts others, including the guy she dumped/was dumped by once they got close enough for her to be afraid her inadequacies would show.

I can't say whether or not this friendship is worth saving, its a "poop milkshake" vs "price of admission" question. Can you accept that she might be great in some ways, but has a really judgey, classist side of her? Its not your job to fix that. Can you accept that is who she is if it never changes?

But to reiterate, you are not being too harsh here. That I absolutely want to affirm. As always, boundaries are your friend here.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 9:56 AM on November 25 [4 favorites]


One antidote to this is work from Nancy Isenberg, she's an American historian, but since American and EU history often overlap, she is well educated for each subject.

One point she touches on is the dissonance between whites in class - how deference between whites boils down to no true physical/genetic/etc difference, just an insecure need to promote superiority while developing structure (obviously it's more complicated than this, this is just a short premise). (Other races involved as well, but mostly the focus is on groups of white people and inter-confliction).


..anyway, I'd just ghost her, after apologizing (sometimes it's easier to work with people in their perspective). It doesn't sound like she'd even read any references, and this sounds exhausting.
posted by firstdaffodils at 10:44 AM on November 25 [1 favorite]


I started typing this a couple times, but I also stopped couple times as this may come across as judgmental, then I thought F*** that. :)

Your friend, for lack of a better word, is acting incredibly shallow, entitled, and snobbish, like cartoonish "millennial".

In a certain way, it's sorta understandable that she had to find some fault in him to reject him. It can't possibly be her own fault, he's just not good enough for her! He speaks funny! He's not affluent like her and she can't possibly be "dating down" or "slumming!"

She doesn't realize that's her entitledness speaking., and she doesn't quite have enough introspection to see that, even when she decided to go back.

And good for you to not feed her ego with platitudes like "of course he wasn't good enough for you".

If anything, she's not good enough for him. She's too much of a spoiled brat, expecting people to say yes to her all the time.

She may be a good friend otherwise, but not when she's acting like an entitled brat expecting the world to kowtow to her.
posted by kschang at 11:27 AM on November 25 [1 favorite]


She sounds extremely unpleasant. She's got every right to "not like chavs" and have opinions about plastic ornaments, but you also have a right not to be friends with her. Forget the past; what would you get out of being friends with her in the future?
posted by tillsbury at 11:30 AM on November 25 [2 favorites]


I don’t know what you should do. I will say that a buddy of mine, who can be pretty challenging and has also been an amazing friend, once started making nasty comments about some fat people ahead of us on a sidewalk (not loud enough for them to hear).

This was shocking to me. I turned to her and said, “you can think whatever you want but you can’t share comments like that with me.” She instantly stopped. I said something on another topic and we moved on. We were able to remain friends because she never brought up that topic again (and has never spouted racist or other also unacceptable nonsense).

Most people are overly judgmental, myself included. Al-Anon has taught me to keep my personal bigotries to myself as much as possible and set boundaries when other people are too free with their opinions. When my kid starts spouting sexist nonsense about how I should have a girl haircut because I’m a girl, I speak up. If my kid keeps at it, I leave.

You get to set your boundaries where you want. Your friend gets to set hers. One buddy of mine was super cranky that I refused to talk politics with him but that was the price of admission. If he wanted to be friends, he had to stop trying to discuss fringe party (or any party) candidates with me because it made me miserable.

I want to have a good time with my friends. I don’t want to be in their presence and suffer because they are being insufferable (by my standards, anyway). And I don’t want people to be friends with me if they think I’m super annoying and unpleasant to be around. Where’s the fun in that?

I almost ghosted on my friend who was fixated on discussing politics with me but I decided that wasn’t fair. Instead, I told him what I needed and reminded him when he forgot. It only took a couple of times before he stopped talking about politics and we are friends to this day. Good friends, and I’m glad that I told him what I needed rather than ghosting him. And if he had decided to stop being friends, I would have understood completely. Good luck!
posted by Bella Donna at 12:35 PM on November 25 [13 favorites]


Setting aside all of my opinions about the content of what she's said (although I share your sentiments in every way) - it sounds to me like as a friend you don't share some important, fundamental values. Over time I have absolutely distanced myself from the friends I've had who consistently refuse to look inward and see the part that they are playing in their own struggles. We all are challenged by this, it's very human, but as you get older I think you start to find that some people surround themselves by people that will play along in their victim fantasy. Others prefer to have friends who will validate them but help them see things from a broader perspective and aren't afraid to challenge them, with kindness, as you've done.

From my read it looks like you've been a very good friend here, willing to listen but also generous enough to gently encourage her to see how she could see it from another view. That's quite difficult emotional labor and she's not able to see that. You deserve a friend who shares your values and is the same amount of emotionally mature and generous as you.
posted by pazazygeek at 12:38 PM on November 25 [1 favorite]


Don’t apologize to her and you’re not being overly harsh at all. Let her be angry and upset with you – you’re in the right here.

I didn't mean to make her feel judged
I wouldn’t worry about that. If she’s judgy of others, then you can be judgy of her being judgy. She NEEDS to be judged (though she may not realize that).

We had a massive long debate about it and she wouldn't back down asking me to justify why I thought it was rude and disagreeing with me etc.
No more debates. No more “JADE” – justify argue defend explain. You need boundaries (see Bella Donna’s comment). Something like, “I think you’re unnecessarily harsh to people, and you say rude things to people. You’re a great friend, but I need you to stop talking down to other people around me.” She’ll likely go on with something like, “So I can’t be myself around you?” blah blah. The answer is “yup. If that means you don’t want to be friends anymore, then maybe that’s what needs to happen.”

She has also fallen out with pretty much all of her friends and she doesn't really have any.
She needs a wakeup call, and since you’re so close to her, you’re in a great position to do it. IF you feel like it. “I’ve noticed that you’ve fallen out with a lot of your friends and you might want to think about why.” Something like that.

Either way, do what you need to do. You’re not obligated to stay friends with her, and if you want to end the friendship with a final conversation or not and ghost her, that’s totally ok too.
posted by foxjacket at 12:54 PM on November 25 [3 favorites]


I grew up in a predominantly rural, working class area. Lots of farmers, oil riggers and welders. Still to this day, my home province is the least elitist place I’ve ever been (with many values I share and cherish). However. I then grew up and went to a prestigious university. And WOW.

The kids there that came from money seemed to hail from a different planet. They went to schools that offered Mandarin as an elective and their families had third homes in France and they got jewelry for Christmas that cost a third of my mom’s annual income. To me, France was a place you went to on a class trip after you and your friends spent the school year holding bake sales and bottle drives. It was literally like talking to aliens for the first few months.

But I eventually discovered I had other things in common with the aliens - a love of books, history, art, things we bonded on. 14 years after graduation, the only person I’m still really close with was the most “Blair Waldorf” of the bunch.
Yeah, she was rich and could be entitled, but she was also a very loyal friend who was actually generous in a lot of ways. She flew across the country earlier this year to be with me during cancer treatment.

It is very, very hard to see the shortfalls in the way you were raised and very, very easy to see it as normal and therefore a net good. We all do this, and there’s no point in pretending we don’t.

If you feel your friend might be open to new perspectives and open up her worldview a bit, I think it could be worth sticking with her. This person probably isn’t a monster. Most of us are both our best and worst selves, all in the same day. And she seems loyal - I find that a rapidly diminishing commodity as I age and have gotten ill.

Just my perspective. Good luck to you!
posted by oywiththepoodles at 2:06 PM on November 25 [10 favorites]


Some close personal friends gave me thoughtful critiques of my behaviour when I was younger and didn't have metafilter. According to them, I:
Was an intellectual snob
Talked about myself almost exclusively
Used a form of humour (family-learned teasing, which was meant to affectionate) that was hurtful
Didn't take into consideration people's unknown personal history (I.e. you've got it better than me, but I don't know that you've had to use a stoma all your life, or that your severely disabled daughter died at a young age).

At the time, I was devastated by these critiques, and cut those friends off, but over time I reflected on what they said, changing my mind from "how could they be so mean to me" to "I can't believe I was so mean to them, and I'm grateful that they told me instead of just cutting me off".

Too many years passed, and we are all different people now. There is no point in contacting them and saying thanks, as our lives have moved on so far, that firstly it probably wouldn't be welcome, and secondly, the physical distance would exclude rebuilding a relationship, even if they were interested - which I severely doubt.

My point is, if you tell her the truth, gently and with examples, she may one day choose to use your advice to improve herself AND have a happier life, but it's very hard to deal with harsh criticism about yourself and you'd probably lose her as a friend. There's no moral obligation to teach her to be a better person, and I suspect that her personality at the moment will eventually be too toxic to continue a relationship. This friendship has an end-date - you get to decide when and why.
posted by b33j at 6:23 PM on November 25 [5 favorites]


You know that mildly tolerable posh comedian Jack Whitehall and his show travelling around with his insufferable posh dad, and the 'comedy' is watching this white toff go around running his mouth off because 'obviously' his opinion is correct but oh-so-shocking? That's your friend. That's her social milieu. That's my snap read of her.

So with that said, I'll say this: if she doesn't know your council estate history already, DON'T TELL HER. Maybe one day but not yet. Maybe not ever.

Basically, 'rudeness' is extremely contingent in that class. If you are as close as you are, forget middle class (and American) manners and be as arch as you like. Either in your kiss-off or in your regular conversations if you're maintaining the friendship. If you're witty all the better to be quite honest with you. It's being a boring nag that's the bigger faux pas.

Try to puncture the sense of class superiority at every turn. For example those plastic white things, one thing I can think off in the immediate term is scoff at her perceived superiority of her aesthetics (idk). Or that it's old-fashioned or outdated.

The thing is, it seems like her conversational style is of the "i know best" fighty style ala a standup comedian. It's not really much of a conversation than a performance of taste at every turn. IMO you won't be out of turn at all at taking her down a peg regularly.

Mind you, I'm extremely ready to get into sharp conversations but I know the more I'm ready to write it off the more I'm ready for it.
posted by cendawanita at 2:48 AM on November 26 [1 favorite]


I'd spent three years at Oxford University learning from the world's leading academic expert on lexicography on this very thing

Discussing a subject about which you have genuine expertise is... not snobbery?

As an American I'd never heard the word "chav" before and had no idea what it meant but WOW it is offensive. I wouldn't want to spend time with someone who used the word regularly any more than I'd be friends with someone who routinely described people as "white trash."
posted by jesourie at 2:39 PM on November 26 [1 favorite]


She sounds shallow and self-absorbed. She might be a person you'd go to a concert with, but this is not someone I'd feel close to. You can maintain a friendly relationship and not be a bad person; she is a human and needs friends, but I can't imagine her as someone to confide in or count on.
posted by theora55 at 8:34 PM on November 26


If she continues to show signs of actually being unhappy that R and many of her friends have dropped her, I think a crucial question is: is she at all confused or curious about why those people have decided to break it off with her? Or has she decided why they must have done so? And in general, does she show curiosity at all, about people or systems that she does not already know and understand?

If she does, someone could try to gently talk with her using that curiosity as a way in -- taking almost a detached anthropological attitude about it. Oh, isn't it interesting, some people react badly when they're criticized for what social class they seem to belong to, and it makes them want to avoid that person in the future.

Given that you've already demonstrated your opinions on this matter to her, you may not be able to carry this off, but if she still enjoys talking with you in general and if you keep up your friendship long enough that she forgets how much you clashed on this topic earlier, you could possibly reintroduce it that way and make some headway.

But if she fundamentally isn't curious about human experiences that are different from her own, that'll make this path practically impossible.
posted by brainwane at 1:57 PM on November 27 [1 favorite]


I have a friend, whom I am not particularly close to, but then I'm not really close to anyone. He has a spending problem, and practically EVERY other month he'd ask me to borrow a few hundred, just to make ends meet. And he still claims to be a frugal spender.

When I lost my job, I basically told him "no, I don't have money to lend you anymore". We're still friends, and I still occasionally get spending money from my writing and other residual income so we'd go out for lunch or a movie, but it's never quite the same since.

The experience has gotten me to consider how your friends may view you because you provide something to them... NOT necessarily money, but also a source of comfort, a place to vent, and so on. But is this a reciprocal relationship? Will they be there when you need them? And besides "we were friends", what else do you all really have in common?
posted by kschang at 11:06 AM on November 28 [2 favorites]


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