This is my latest Madame Noire post. Worth reposting here, I’d say.
Iâ€™ve met a lot of people who have touched my life in my line of work as a blogger. When youâ€™re online as much as I am, you can get attached to people whom youâ€™ve never met. You get close. You share things. You begin to feel for them. However, the new media we use doesnâ€™t protect us against an old fashioned backstabbing.
So nothing hurts more than when a person whom youâ€™ve trustedâ€“and even helped and done favors for, turns out to be a complete Judas. So here I am, broken and a little bit bloody, trying my best to figure out how to move forward. Iâ€™ve always had a motto: Everyone is a friend until proven otherwise. The problem with that is sometimes â€œfriendsâ€ ingratiate themselves for a period of time until an attachment is formed, and it hurts more when you discover they werenâ€™t friends, they wereâ€¦well, â€œotherwise.â€
But Iâ€™m no special snowflake. Friendship betrayal happens every minute of everyday. The key to winning is to know how to deal with the Judas once you see that snake in your freshly-mown grass.
Got something great going on in your life? Then get ready. Most turncoats react when the Green-Eyed Monster comes. â€œThere are people in everyoneâ€™s life who get jealous of a friendâ€™s success or happiness and retaliate,â€ says Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D, (aka â€œDr. Romanceâ€) psychotherapist and author of It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction. â€œSometimes friends who feel unsuccessful will drift away or cut you off when you have the success theyâ€™re longing for. Most jealousy arises when someone feels insecure or threatened â€” that someone will get the attention she wants. The most important thing you can do is to remember that when you handle jealousy properly, it does not have to be a disaster.â€
Dr. Tessina gave me some specific advice, but Iâ€™ll have to admit that some of it will be a hard pill to swallow for some:
People who react this way are usually in a lot of emotional pain about their own lives. Be as understanding as you can, be willing to listen to your friendâ€™s feelings to a reasonable degree, but donâ€™t let their struggle ruin your good feelings about yourself. If you can, offer the friend time alone with you, to help her feel special and important. Often, publicly thanking her for nice things sheâ€™s done can help keep her pacified.
People who have always felt competitive toward you are likely to misbehave so they can get attention in that way. If someoneâ€™s behavior becomes a problem, set some limits. Tell the friend directly what actions are unacceptable (like making nasty remarks when youâ€™re around other friends), and let her know you canâ€™t be her friend if her behavior doesnâ€™t improve.
Figure out what you both think a good friend actually is
Donâ€™t be afraid to talk to friends about what friendship means to youâ€“is it okay to cancel a date with a girlfriend (or her with you) because you get a better offer from a man? Because of family illness or problems? What does â€œbeing thereâ€ mean to each of you? How much loyalty do you expect in the friendship, and what does that mean?
Lying to your friend about whether you have broken an agreement does more damage than breaking the agreement. If you do something with another friend, tell the truthâ€“donâ€™t protect the jealous friend. It gives her a false impression.
If your so-called â€œfriendâ€ isnâ€™t returning your calls, says no to any invitations, and doesnâ€™t make any moves in your direction, youâ€™ve probably been dumped. The best way to find out is to stop making any contact, and see if the friend contacts you. Donâ€™t turn into a stalker. Your friend might be newly in love, have an illness, or just have some really deep issues going on that you sadly wonâ€™t know about unless you hear through gossip. If sheâ€™s angry at you, she should have told you, but some folks just prefer to act childish and disappear.
If you have a real, identifiable reason to break up your friendship, get your thoughts about it in order, and tell your soon to be ex-friend what the problem is. If itâ€™s some kind of bad behavior that could possibly be fixed, let her know what she could do: â€œ___, I am very uncomfortable with your drinking and the behavior you exhibit when youâ€™re drunk. I just donâ€™t want to be around it. If you ever decide to quit drinking, let me know.â€ If youâ€™ve just grown apart, or your life has become too busy (new baby; traveling for work; caring for invalid) for this friendship, donâ€™t be afraid to tell your friend about your time constraints: â€œ___, Iâ€™m sorry, but my life has changed, and I just canâ€™t manage our usual get-togethers.â€ If sheâ€™s insulted you, tell her your feelings are hurt, and you donâ€™t want to take the risk of being hurt again. Let her know what kind of contact, if any, youâ€™d be willing to have. If none, then block her off your phone, Facebook, etc.
If and when you meet accidentally, just be polite and cool. You donâ€™t want to cause any scenes in public. If you have friends in common, itâ€™s more difficult. You can ask your friends to let you know if the ex-friend will be at a gathering, but donâ€™t ask them not to invite her. Instead, make your own decision on whether you want to be there or not. If you do go, once again, be polite and cool. But just remember to keep your distance.