How to call out your 'mean girl' friend
Confrontation is tough. The idea of actually telling someone how you feel about them is enough to bring most of us out in a nervous sweat.
As women, we’ve been taught to be likeable and polite above all else (and beautiful, too, while we’re at it). We’ve been socially conditioned to believe that decorum and sweetness are more appropriate than candour.
Telling someone you cherish that you don’t like their behaviour might make you want to wretch and scream and hide under the duvet – but sometimes people are idiots, even our beloved friends. And they deserve to know when they’re being stupid or rude. Honestly, if I was being a t**t, I’d hope my friends would pull me up on it.
I rely on them to be the arbiters of my behaviour, as well as my support crew, brunch dates and confidantes and consider it their hallowed duty to tell me if and when I’m being a sub-par human being. I would also like to extend to them the very same courtesy.
Truly, if you’re out and about in this world being a dickhead, wouldn’t you rather have the sort of mates who are quietly going to pull you aside and let you know?
Women are notoriously bad at having these sorts of conversations. It’s easier to indulge in a little passive aggression than it is to come out and say what you really think. I’ve heard of women who would sooner cut someone out of their life altogether than be real with them about what they’re doing wrong.
Maybe it’s time we thought about being honest with the people we love? Not nasty or cutting or abusive, but thoughtfully candid in times of bad behaviour.
Let’s run through a few of those scenarios now – and talk about how you might handle it.
When you know she has been bitching about you
If you’ve heard that a friend of yours has been saying nasty things about you behind your back, you need to confront her about it. That kind of thing is not on – but rather than retaliating and putting into motion an endless bitching cycle, confront your girl straight up and ask her what it’s about.
Tell her: ‘Listen, I’ve heard you’ve been saying mean things about me and it’s really upset me. I thought we were friends and I’m genuinely shocked that you would do that. If you have a problem with me, can we please at least pay each other the courtesy of speaking about it directly?’
You may need to actually have an argument about it and see if you can salvage the friendship. Stand up for yourself here, even if it feels unnatural.
When she’s always flaking on you
First you have to establish the severity of the offense.
If it’s almost impossible to get your friend to turn up to a social engagement, try and suss out why.
She may have a legit reason for cancelling – and every so often, that reason may simply be that she needs to get into her pajamas and curl up in front of Love Island instead of venturing into the real world to socialise with other people. Check in on her and see if she’s alright, mental health-wise.
If she’s socially anxious or depressed, or going through a whole thing right now, have a gentle conversation about how to address it.
If, however, she’s being a bit of a diva and not making time for you in her oh-so-important schedule, you can afford to approach the conversation a little differently. In order to maintain a friendship you need to actually hang out with that person, so if they’re being impossible to pin down, send them a little reminder text.
Just say: ‘listen, babes, we haven’t seen each other properly in ages and I’m starting to feel a bit excluded from your life’.
Or, ‘I don’t know if you’ve noticed how many times you’ve cancelled on me recently, but it’s hurting my feelings’.
Hopefully she will just apologise and get a dinner date in the diary pronto. If not, you may need to escalate the conversation.
When she is just being mean
If your friend is being a bit of a bitch, then you should probably have a little chat.
Maybe she’s being shallow or cruel or rude or disrespectful.
Maybe she’s permanently in a bad mood.
If you’ve noticed a change in her behaviour and she’s no longer pleasant to be around, or if you don’t recognise the friend you fell in love with through all the meanness, then try and wrangle the courage to say something.
Say, ‘hey, I’ve just noticed recently that you’ve been saying some pretty unpleasant things about other people and I have to say I’m not keen on it’.
Say, ‘is everything alright with you? I feel like you’re not your usual self and I wanted to check in’.
A lingering case of the grumps could be a sign that something’s not quite right in your friend’s life, so you could choose to lead with empathy and give her a chance to talk to you about it. If everything’s OK and she’s just being cruel or rude for the fun of it, raise it with her.
She may not realise that she’s picked up a bad habit.
Look, really, it’s quite simple.
If your friend is in any way being a bit of a t**t, find a way to address it. You can start out with a gentle text. You can ask if everything’s OK, in case her behaviour is a symptom of something else going on. You can actually try being honest about how she makes you feel.
Your friendship – and for that matter, your sense of self – could be better for it.
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