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How do I deal with this negative friend?


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Old 5th May 2011, 2:16 AM   #1
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How do I deal with this negative friend?

I used to be a very negative person and thus most of my friends were negative as well. Over the past couple of years I have become a much happier and positve-minded person. As a consequence, I don't talk to any of my negative friends anymore except for one, and I don't even talk to him that much anymore because I just can't stand to be around him sometimes.

Sometimes when we talk I'll remember why we've been friends for over 5 years; he is a good person, he can be funny, and smart, and so on. But he is very jealous, negative, bitter. I could probably deal with that if he weren't starting to take it out on me.

He can sometimes be rude or sarcastic with me, but it's never when it's just me and him. It's always when we're out with a group of people that he'll attack me and he knows I can't really fight back without causing a scene. If he's drinking, he becomes rude to the point that I want to punch him in the face. When I try and bring it up with him afterwards, he changes the subject immediately.

The other issue is that whenever something bad happens for me, he is all ears. But if I mention something fun or positive that I am working towards or that is happening for me, he'll change the subject right away. This pisses me off because he'll talk about things that don't interest me completely but I know it's important to him so I try to understand what is happening in his life. But with me, he doesn't want to know the good stuff. For example, when I finally worked up the nerve to go back to school, he never wanted to talk about it. Every time I brought it up, he would act disinterested and change the subject.

I am sure that he does this on purpose because he sometimes will say weird things during conversations like "yeah I like the change the subject when I don't like what we're talking about." He is a very passive aggressive person so I think this might be his way of trying to tell me that he doesn't want to hear about subject x, y or z.

I can sympathize with him because I know how it feels to be an angry, negative person. But I can't handle this anymore. And of course talking about it is difficult because whenever I manage to swing the topic towards an issue I want to talk about, he'll change it back. I don't think he likes confrontation.

I'm not sure if it's even worth it anymore. I guess I'm just writing here to get this off my chest. What I want right now is to just not talk to him anymore but I feel guilty over it. Probably because I've been where he's been and I wouldn't have wanted to lose friends. I (and other people) have tried to help him because he's clearly unhappy but he refuses to make any changes in his life and instead wants to wallow in self-pity. I think I owe it to him to tell him that his attitude and rudeness is pushing people away. I am not sure if he would even listen though.

This weekend it's his birthday and I agreed to go out and I am dreading it. He'll probably drink too much and be rude again. Maybe I should cancel. I don't know.
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Old 5th May 2011, 5:06 AM   #2
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I know you're dreading it, but it is his birthday. Consider going out to be a gift to him -- maybe one last gift, if he continues to be his same negative self. Although it doesn't sound like he'll change, and it seems like you already want out of this "friendship".

After birthday stuff is over (at least several days over), then it would be good to talk to him and tell him what you've said here: you understand where he's coming from because you've been there, but his rudeness and sarcastic attacks are unacceptable and you're not going to put up with it anymore. He'll probably try to change the subject, but insist that he hear you out. If he refuses to listen, then say "I'm done". Leave it at that and walk away.
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Old 5th May 2011, 5:17 AM   #3
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I'll tell you why his nasty attitude has escalated.
It's because he's bitter, jealous and resentful.
he sees you happy, and can't understand how you got there.
he wants a piece of that, but can't see a way of doing it (or resents the effort and changes he would have to make) so it's easier to pull you to pieces, than for him to effect a change.

I'd walk away now.
And put the old No Contact technique into action.

You don't need to do this to yourself for any longer than you want to.
You are teaching him, with your continued contact, that it's ok to treat you this way, because you stick around and take it.

If you feel you must go to the party, make sure you leave yourself room to walk out, unnoticed, quietly and without fuss, if you see that he's getting drunk and losing the plot.
Just make a quiet, undramatic exit, and never talk to him again.

Easy to say, hard to do.

But not impossible.

It will take effort and determination on your part, but you can do it.
I've done it.
It gets easy once you decline the first contact, because you realise how much freer you feel without them.
Shedding the negative flaky friend is extremely liberating.
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Old 5th May 2011, 5:29 AM   #4
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It's a tricky situation, to be sure. On one hand you want to be friendly, but on the other, he isn't being friendly back. As others have said, change the situation yourself if you want it to change.

Dave, I feel for you, but there are things about you that annoy me. The public humiliations, the sarcasm, the efforts you make to stop me talking about things I like, it all makes me feel down. It's not very friendly, so either you change these things or I'm off. Friendship is supposed to be fun.
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Old 5th May 2011, 5:39 AM   #5
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bd, usually you're on the button, but honestly, I can hear him laughing this off in a derisory manner from here.

Spiral mentions that whenever they try to talk it out, he just blanks it off....

Talking sense to someone like this unfortunately either has no effect, or has the opposite intended effect.
I've dealt with two people like him, in my life, and honestly, the only cure ("kill!") is to remain positive, and shut off their 'mock' supply.
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Old 5th May 2011, 6:07 AM   #6
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That's fine. He most probably will. That's his choice. In which case, SpiralOut gave him a clear chance, keeps his word, and moves on.

The words will remain with him. It will be a gift from SpiralOut to him, showing him one can be precise, clear and non-judgmental about things that bug him and take affirmative action to change things for the better. A simple lesson in assertiveness for misery guts to perhaps learn from.
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Old 5th May 2011, 6:18 AM   #7
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Yes, it really is a learning curve...

But "Tis part of the cure to wish to be cured"....

Unfortunately, many people in such a deep negative state somehow manage to convince themselves, through cynicism and jaded experience, that this is by far the best way to be.

SpiralOut obviously had a wake-up call, and something triggered a turn-around in their outlook.
Were that it was like that for all people in a negative mind-set....

I wish her friend a similar turn-around, but I wish SpiralOut all the best in maintaining a positive attitude, and the strength to do what ultimately, they feel it's best to do.....
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Old 5th May 2011, 6:21 AM   #8
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Agreed. What matters is what we say to ourselves. If she wishes to say anything to him, that's her choice. She owes him nothing.
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Old 6th May 2011, 9:29 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NoMagicBullet View Post
I know you're dreading it, but it is his birthday. Consider going out to be a gift to him -- maybe one last gift, if he continues to be his same negative self. Although it doesn't sound like he'll change, and it seems like you already want out of this "friendship".
Yeah it would hurt his feelings too much if I bail on him, especially when I said yes already.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TaraMaiden View Post
I'll tell you why his nasty attitude has escalated.
It's because he's bitter, jealous and resentful.
he sees you happy, and can't understand how you got there.
he wants a piece of that, but can't see a way of doing it (or resents the effort and changes he would have to make) so it's easier to pull you to pieces, than for him to effect a change.
Yes I think you are right. When I started getting back into baking, he started talking about how he is going to bake cakes and muffins. Which he has NEVER done or even talked about before ever. When I was with my ex (who wrote a book) my friend would talk about how he is going to write a book and he hopes that (my ex) doesn't feel like his thunder is being stolen. When I start blogging, he says he has always wanted to start a blog. When another friend talks about wanting to work in the music industry, he butts in and starts talking about how much he loves music. Which is weird because he hardly ever goes to concerts or talks about bands, songs, etc. Then after saying all that stuff, he doesn't DO ANY OF IT. Yeah you get the idea. I am just venting at this point I think.

I think he knows what he needs to do to change, he just for some reason doesn't want to. Whenever he complains about something, I'll mention how I used to have this problem, and I tried [solution a, b, c] for it and maybe he could try it to. He'll either say "yeah maybe" and never do it, or he'll make up excuses for why he can't do that, or sometimes he'll even roll his eyes and change the subject. I think it angers him when people want to help him. He thinks he doesn't need help, in spite of all his complaining.

Actually we have mutual aquaintences that hardly ever talk to him anymore and I suspect that he has been nasty to them too. He certainly has rude things to say about them behind their backs, which makes me wonder what he says about me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TaraMaiden View Post
Talking sense to someone like this unfortunately either has no effect, or has the opposite intended effect.
I've dealt with two people like him, in my life, and honestly, the only cure ("kill!") is to remain positive, and shut off their 'mock' supply.
Quote:
Originally Posted by betterdeal View Post
The words will remain with him. It will be a gift from SpiralOut to him, showing him one can be precise, clear and non-judgmental about things that bug him and take affirmative action to change things for the better. A simple lesson in assertiveness for misery guts to perhaps learn from.
This is exactly the dilemma, because you are both right. He is very defensive and won't react well to a confrontation. On the other hand, he might not ever change if nobody is ever straight with him.

At this point I am deciding how to deal with him tomorrow if he becomes rude while we are out with other people. I hate how he is manipulative in that way. Do I call him out on his behaviour in front of everyone? Do I just get up and leave?

My plan right now is to go out for an hour or two and then leave. I'll be gradually cutting off contact after that.

Geez, writing all this is making me angry. Maybe I should say something to him just for my own peace of mind.
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Old 7th May 2011, 2:42 AM   #10
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Don't make yourself angry.
keep calm, rise above it, and when he begins, remain absolutely silent, and just look at him for a second or two, roll your eyes, and ignore it.

If he becomes indignant, and protests, just say "yeah, whatever" and refuse to make eye contact. Focus immediately on something else, and change the subject entirely.

The other factor about negative people is that they are 'drama queens' who love the attention.
You need to deprive him of that.

If he tackles you about it later, just tell him his attitude sucks, and you find being with him an almighty pain in the assets. So really, you're not going to be hanging around with him if you can help it, because he's such a party pooper.
"yeah, good luck with that.
I see your social circle is diminishing by the day, by the way...."

Don't be drawn down. Rise above it.
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Old 7th May 2011, 3:08 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpiralOut View Post
Geez, writing all this is making me angry. Maybe I should say something to him just for my own peace of mind.
That's the very best reason to say something! It's not easy to decide what to say to someone you're having difficulties with and you don't want to hurt. However, for this situation to change something has to, erm, change and he's not changing in the right way, so you are going to have do it.

You can be gentle in calling him up on his sarcasm and put downs. Just saying "don't be mean" when his is mean, expresses your dislike of it and may be gentle enough for him to reflect on without clamming up and going into some screwed up coping mechanism.
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Old 7th May 2011, 3:48 AM   #12
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I'm a trained massage therapist and had arranged to do massage swaps with another massage therapist who I met via my psychotherapist (small town).

Anyway, said massage therapist (I'll call her Eve from now on) has been having some trouble with a recent short-term boyfriend, fallen out with my psychotherapist, and another friend of mine (another massage therapist and yoga teacher).

Eve has been talking to me about falling out with the other two. She also wants to come out for drinks with me and yet another friend (not a therapist! - a French teacher this time) who sees her for facials and nail treatments. She's also made a tentative pass at me.

Initially, I sided with her and tried to give advice. However, each meeting, she'd raise the issues again and get more forceful in the way she spoke about it. Eventually, I felt I could not get a word in edgeways.

I don't like conflict and this is supposed to be a mutual arrangement. Given massage is quite physically demanding and receiving a massage is good to counter the tension it can build in you. It's also nice to have someone outside of my inner social group to have as a trusted safe haven, someone to get away from it all if you will.

So I've backed out of this quietly. I'm sure she may think I am passive aggressive or just as bad as the others, who also walked away without trying to shout over her to get their side heard. That's okay. I am just as bad as the others and I was passive aggressive, if you like to think of it that way. Or I was walking on eggshells and don't like drama or conflict, much like the others.

She can think what she likes. We operate on different wavelengths, at different paces, with different nuances, wants and needs. It all depends on what works for you. For me, disengaging and not acting on a sense of guilt early on with her was a significant improvement on how I used to react to this sort of thing.

What matters is that I have been honest with myself. You are doing the same here, so I think it will all be fine in the end. He isn't your boyfriend, you aren't his mum, you can choose to be verbally abused and to get upset by it, or you can choose not to. I like consistency, fun, affection, and occasional surprises. If someone I know doesn't doesn't deliver that, I let go.

Last edited by betterdeal; 7th May 2011 at 3:50 AM..
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Old 8th May 2011, 1:32 AM   #13
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So I went out and ended up having a really good time. He interrupted me whenever I tried to tell a story but I dealt with it by just letting him get his attention fix, and then continuing on with my story when he was done. He always does that when we're with a group; hell interrupt other people who are trying to talk to other people.

It ended up being just me, him, and this other girl (his ex-girlfriend-now-friend??). I got along really well with the other girl, which is what made the night fun. He wasn't rude with me, aside from the interrupting thing. But with the other girl, my god. He rolled his eyes at her pretty much the whole night. I am not sure why he even invited her out. Then he kept bitching about his other friends that didn't show up. I mostly said nothing in response to that, or I would say something positive. No way am I feeding into his negativity.

He was talking about wanting to get together with me again some other time and I didn't really say yes or no to it. It makes me feel guilty now. He IS a good person deep down. He complaiend about wishing he was doing more with his life and that me and this other girl have had more experiences than him. It makes me feel bad for him, but he'll never do anything about it. So yeah. Cutting off contact will be hard.

I'm still going to do it though.

Last edited by SpiralOut; 8th May 2011 at 1:36 AM..
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Old 8th May 2011, 2:24 AM   #14
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He womnt change as long as you dont give him a reason to change. Dont feel guilt that you have improved and he hasnt.

Now the time for you to be a man and back off from him. When he brings up why, you tell him EXACTLY as you described him here. Hes negative, disrespectful, and just a drag to be around because of that. He will probably call you a bunch of names, but he knows the deal and will have to ask for help at some point. Only when he asks do you help him, not before. Tell him hes bringing you down when everything is going so well with you. '

realize you cant deal with your guilt, but do you want to help him for real or just be afraid of your guilt? Theres no reason for you to feel guilty. he CHOOSES to stay the way he is, youre not his keeper.The only way you can help him is by leaving him to figure it out.
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Old 8th May 2011, 3:21 AM   #15
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Yes good points.

But for the record, I am not a man
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