Dear Worn Out
Disclaimer: The Everyday Diplomat is not a therapist and gives tactful, practical advice on the basis of life experience. This column is written for entertainment purposes only.
I have a friend who runs hot and cold. When invited to his home, he is a most gracious host and lots of fun. In other settings he can be fun but also intrusive and even inappropriate. And sometimes he can be aggressive in actively seeking to bully and undermine me and others.
Lately I’ve realized that this friendship seems to be transactionally-based; that is, if he does something for me then I must reciprocate in a comparable way within a certain amount of time or he will be mad at me. We see each other socially on a regular basis. I feel like I am walking on eggshells around him. What can I do to make this relationship better?
Dear Worn Out,
You need a good stiff dose of “distance.” Your friend may have issues that are beyond fixing by anyone other than a professional. It is not healthy behavior for someone to actively engage in undermining a “friend” no matter what the circumstances.
In the future, try to ensure that there is always a third party with you when interacting with this person, that will keep him on his best behavior. “Walking on eggshells” is a tell-tale sign that this relationship is not actually working for you. Since you are in charge of yourself, all you need to do is walk away.
In social situations with this person, you will have many choices. If the person is engaged in aggressive bullying behavior then you must decide between confrontation, appeasement, distraction or simply walk away. Decide which path best suits your needs.
Someday, you may decide you have had enough, that the benefits of the friendship no longer outweigh the burden of dealing with these unhealthy behaviors. At that point you will likely create a healthy boundary and move forward to enjoy more time with your other friends!
Repeat advice: You are in charge of yourself. Be kind to yourself by choosing not to become immersed in someone else’s hot mess. Go ahead and crack those egg shells, you will walk happier and the yolk will be on him.
The Everyday Diplomat
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