This letter writer has a friend who embarrassed her in public. Should she still speak to her?
Not if you don’t want to, says our elder. Her behavior was inexcusable.
I have had a friendship with a girl that I will call “Carol” for eight years. Carol has a polarizing personality – people either love her or hate her, but we usually got along pretty well. She met my mom a few years ago, and while my mom also finds her to be loud and rude at times, she generally thinks she is a good person and they follow each other on Facebook. During a recent get-together of about 15 people, most of whom I didn’t know, Carol tells my mother for all to hear “I really want to invite you to a trip I am planning with a few friends to Cabo this summer – you are so much fun and we will have a great time!” Right after she says this, she turns to me and says for all to hear, “But not you – you aren’t invited.”
I was very taken aback and very embarrassed, and said, “I wouldn’t go anyways!” Privately, my mom said that she would never go on a trip with her, and thought Carol behaved rudely. The more I thought about the incident, the angrier I became. I decided to cut her off and not text or interact with her. She has sent me texts since then, and I waited quite a while to reply, and when I did it was just a few words. I think she is getting the hint that I don’t want to talk to her. I feel that I don’t owe her the courtesy of an explanation after the way she treated me. And am I wrong to handle the situation this way?
Mr. Bill replies
Thanks for writing to us. I’m Mr. Bill and I’d like to share a few thoughts with you about this situation and this friend. First, let me answer your question right away. At least from my standpoint, no, you are not wrong to handle this situation this way. For her to invite your mom, then directly tell you that you are not invited? In front of a gathering of 15 or so others? Inexcusable.
I noted that you realize Carol has a polarizing personality. Yet, you have remained friends with her for eight years. There must be something about her, and the relationship, that you find helpful and satisfying. Or, at least, acceptable.
I do know that all relationships exist on a continuum scale. Best Friends are at one end, people you know but don’t see often and don’t have much feeling for at the other. And every relationship slides on that scale, sometimes becoming closer friends, other times less so. That seems to be the case with you and Carol. Sometimes you get along, though not too far on the Best Friends end; sometimes you don’t. Love or hate. Given the situation you describe, I clearly see that.
I don’t blame you for becoming angry at the way this person talked to you. After inviting everyone else to join her on a trip, she turned to you and addressed you that way? Of course, you were surprised and angry. I would be, too. Don’t worry or second guess yourself when you wonder if you should have cut her off. Her comments and behavior were unacceptable, unless…
Given the Jekyll and Hyde nature of the situation with the trip, and that you write that she is polarizing, I had to wonder if you can help her see what she does. Does she know how she comes across? Does she care? Might she want to change? Can she? Those are questions that occurred to me as I read this very obvious insult coming in the midst of a pleasant gathering of friends, though ones you did not know well.
No, I don’t think you reacted poorly or mishandled your response by reducing and/or eliminating contact with Carol. Depending on how you view the relationship or whether you want to continue, or care, there is one thing you might consider.
You could talk with her and explain how you felt when she made clear that you were not invited. Tell her you don’t care if you go or not, but the way she informed you in front of everyone was very off-putting. You could also reflect for her some of her other behaviors that polarize people.
Either she will accept what you say, maybe even show some concern about the way she interacts, and you two could have a frank, honest, and binding conversation; or she will become defensive and/or dismissive.
- If she is accepting, you might suggest, if you feel comfortable doing so, that she talk with someone about these behaviors or find a counselor that could give her some reactions. And maybe help her develop other, more friendly, ways to interact.
- If she rejects or becomes dismissive, then you could take some comfort knowing you attempted to save and build the relationship, but it didn’t work. And continue your gradual withdrawal from the relationship. With no feelings of regret or guilt.
Those are my thoughts. Were it me, I would have reacted just as you did. And though I included an alternative way to respond, I doubt I would do that. I’d continue to remove myself.
That help at all? If you have questions or reactions, don’t hesitate to write back. We can share a few more interactions on this or any other topic. Good luck, and don’t feel bad or wonder if you did the right thing. Take care. I’ll be thinking about you.
Article #: 491290