Eek! It’s my toxic ex friend

My boyfriend’s friend is dating an ex-friend of mine — and it still hurts when I’m forced to see her. How do I move past this?

She won’t change, says our elder. Smile a lot, say less, and it will pass in time.

Dear EWC

I am a 29 year old female and my boyfriend is 34. We have been together about a year and a half. He has a very close knit group of friends who have maintained their friendships since high school. Prior to our relationship I was friends with one of his friend’s girlfriends. I ended up ending the friendship and the result was pretty awful. I have forgiven her for everything that was said and done but I still have a hard time being around her. I haven’t voiced this to anyone except my boyfriend but I find myself feeling anxious and stressed when we are going to an event she will be at. When we do see her at events she makes a point to talk to me a lot and be around me. To others this looks like an effort on her part but to me it feels like she’s antagonizing me. I make sure that I am very nice to her. I want his friends to like me and I don’t want this to come between him and his friends. I do feel a bit sad though that I have to see her so often and that I’m expected to do so. I’ve contemplated not going to events but I know that will make me look bad and I don’t want to be in a relationship where we can’t go to friend events together. I’m not sure how to handle this going forward. I want to be considerate of everyone’s feelings, especially my boyfriend’s but I don’t want to ignore how I feel either. Everyone else has forgotten and moved on from what she did but it still hurts me and the feelings surface every time I’m around her and am forced to communicate with her. How do I move past this so that my relationship isn’t ruined?

Good-Listener replies

I completely understand what you’re going through, and it is a dilemma. I’ve been there with similar situations. You do seem to have a good idea of exactly what is going on — and how others perceive things. Here’s what you know. She is likely manipulative. You can forgive (but not forget — and you can’t be expected to) what happened, but you know who and what she is.

The choices are simple but not as easy to implement. You can break up with your boyfriend and likely never have to deal with her again (not a pleasant choice — and why allow her to truly dictate your life?) Or, you can try to detach mentally — not easy, but doable — from your obligatory communication with her. You know what she is, so do what you’re doing in terms of being pleasant, but try, politely, not to engage when you don’t have to. In other words, you’re just so busy if she wants to have lunch. You’ve got to run, because you have to get up early tomorrow. But always give her your excuses with a smile. The less power you give to her, the more you may even be able to develop a sense of humor about it at some point. OK, so a point a little further down the road.

She won’t change, so as I said above, you have to, unless you want to forfeit the relationship. Let her play her games, just give her as little to work with as possible. Smile a lot, say less. You can get through this — and it will get easier with time. Good luck.

Letter #: 441282
Category: Dating/Relationship

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