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I hate my teammate…

…but my coach says we have to be friends.

Not true, says our elder. She’s like a work colleague — treat her with respect, but you certainly don’t have to be her friend.

Dear EWC

So I am in a predicament here. I am on a college tennis team and I don’t really get along with one of my teammates. It seems as though she is in her own world and will say uncalled-for, hurtful things to everyone and she doesn’t seem to care. She will have her moments where she will be very nice and it’s great; which makes it hard for me to let her go. But she will definitely have her moments where she will say very hurtful things to me especially when we are with a group of people. I have had people warn me before going to the school that she can be very on and off with people and she is in her own little world. I have been in countless situations with her where if she was in the wrong and needed my help, I would always have her side. But she has proven to me that she will avoid the drama and not help me out if I was in the same predicament as her. I truly don’t know what to do in this situation because she is my teammate and it is half my job according to my coach to be friends with her because it helps our team “bond” and that is very important to our coach. I have talked to this girl countless times about how she hurts my feelings and how I truly don’t think she respects me as a person. I don’t know if it’s a jealous thing or not but why would she act this way towards me when all I have been was nice and cordial? I have come to the conclusion that there is no getting through to this girl. Please help me I feel very lost and I don’t know what to do 🙁

Ketchman replies

Thanks for contacting us. For the situation you’ve described I have to disagree with your coach. You don’t “have” to be friends with everyone you work with and it’s unreasonable to expect that. It’s reasonable to expect that all members of an organization will work together and support each other in the furtherance of the goals of the organization, but that doesn’t imply that everyone is going to be friends — or should be. History is full of examples of very successful partnerships of people who truly detested each other but still managed to do great things as a team.

The key, I think, is to recognize the skills of each other as they relate to your joint endeavor. What’s important is not your off-court relationship but your ability to support each other towards building a winning team. During my working life, I’ve had a number of occasions when I’ve had to work very closely with someone whom, to put it mildly, I wasn’t going to have an after-work beer with but who was so good at his or her job that I was forever grateful to have them on my team.

My suggestion is to work on not feeling guilty about your overtures of friendship being unreciprocated. Every friendship requires a certain spark that converts acquaintances into friends and, if that spark isn’t present or doesn’t develop, you’ll remain, at best, working acquaintances. There’s nothing wrong with that and, in fact, most of the people you’ll work with over your life will be acquaintances rather than friends. A friendship is a precious relationship and what makes it precious, for each of us, is that it’s conferred on a relatively small number of acquaintances.

It might be useful to treat her “on and off” attitude as her handicap and continue being as kind and as respectful as you would towards other handicapped individuals. In time, her treatment of you might improve, or not, but at the very least you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you were the adult in the room.

Letter #: 441934
Category: Friendship

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