Teenage Problems/Insecure Friend
QUESTION: So basically, I've been friends with this girl since the second grade. We had a lot in common when we were younger. We were both overweight, immature, spoiled brats. As we got older, I lost weight, my family built a nice house, and my dad became the owner of the family business. Some not so good stuff happened, and I really matured a lot so now I'm not ungrateful, and I think a lot about my reputation and my future. I also have a lot of self confidence. I've never been a bad girl. I'm really girly and preppy and am sort of an overachiever. My friend has just pretty much remained the same. She does competitive cheer, and she's great at it, but she's very overweight. She lives in an average house, has average grades, and is just average. She's really immature especially about boys, and she can be very negative at times almost like she wants people to feel sorry for her. There are lots of other details I could share, but I don't want this to be too long, and I don't want to sound like I'm trying to be snooty and brag. I feel like she's jealous of me. A lot of people, including adults, have told me this too. It seems like she's always trying to show me up. I don't feel like I need to be better than anyone, but I tend to always try and show her up. The reason is because whenever she feels confident, she is snobby and rude towards me. My closest friends are all gorgeous, do dance, cheer, or volleyball, and all have good bodies. I don't have the best body, and I don't do sports, but I still feel good about myself, and I think I'm pretty. Even though I feel like they're better than me, I don't feel threatened because they're really nice and they're comfortable with themselves so I guess they don't feel the need to try and show me up just like I don't feel the need to show them up. But I think my rude friend is just very self conscious and wants to feel confident so she takes everything out on me. I want her to feel good about herself, but I know how she gets when she feels like she's better than me, and I can't stand her like that. This probably sounds horrible, but my favorite time with her was a few years ago when we were getting ready to go somewhere and she just broke down crying and was telling me what she didn't like about herself. It's not that I enjoyed her being upset, I just really like that she was being real and honest with me. It seems like she tries to put up this front that she's this confident, happy girl, but in reality, she's not. I just want to know how to let her know that no one is better than anyone and help her to be confident, but without being rude and snobby. Oh, and by the way, we're sophomores in high school now. Thank you so much for your time! If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. (:
ANSWER: Hi Amanda,
I had a friend like this not too long ago, although we are not friends now. We connected because we both ride horses. I worked my ass off to get my horse, and to the level of riding that I've achieved, but she has had EVERYTHING handed to her, from the $20,000 show horses to taking lessons with some of the top trainers in Northern CA. She made some poor priority decisions about her future, turned down 4 full ride scholarships, all to Ivy League colleges, and has now found herself with no job, no money of her own, 4 month old baby, 1 income family (she is married), and no horse. She gave up her lavish lifestyle to get married and have a baby. She began to put down my riding skills and CONSTANTLY remind me how much training she had and how much her horses were worth. She had no problem being rude and putting me down. My theory, she was jealous that, although I wasn't as financially set as I'd like to be, I'm accomplishing everything I have set out to do, and she didn't. I also felt that she was very insecure about it as well.
Sounds like your friend is insecure because you've changed some things about yourself, and things were working out a little more for your family. She's not happy about that change with you and not happy with herself. Your friend is putting on a front. Everyone does, but her front is to mask pain. She may not only be insecure, but maybe a little jealous as well. As her friend, try to get her to talk about it openly and honestly. Let her know how you feel about the situation, and ask her about her opinion. Then ask her how you could help her, if you could at all. You don't want that type of negative behavior around you though, so add to the conversation that if she is going to continue to act the way she does, that it could put your friendship in jeopardy. If she values your friendship, it may be enough to snap her out of her front long enough to talk about it.
Hope this helps,
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: First off, thank you SO much for answering this! I'm so sorry about the girl you told me about. Keep following your dreams, girl! I do have a quick question though. How do I start the conversation with her? I've tried talking to her before with the whole "I think we both act a little snobby, etc." so it doesn't seem like I'm accusing her of stuff. That way I could tell her ways to act better without making her mad at me. She's been a lot more negative lately because of some stuff going on in her life. And she's coming up with little things to complain about. I try and tell her to be positive, but nothing really works. She just wants to have a pity party for herself. Something she does that aggravates me, is that she tries to sound smarter than me when it comes to medical stuff. Her mom is a nurse practitioner and she wants to be some special doctor so she thinks she knows everything about that. My mom was a nurse and I have common sense so it's not like I can't figure out stuff. The main thing she does that bothers me, is when she says little stuff to try and put me down. She'll just say stuff about how badly I do something or how weird I look doing something. It's just unnecessary comments like that that make me frustrated with her. How do I just start the conversation where I can tell her that I'm really tired of her putting me down and her being so negative. She says something everytime we hangout or talk so should I just wait until she says something and then tell her? That way it won't be so out of the blue. Should I start with something like "I love you to death, but I feel like our friendship isn't like it use to be. With (my other close friends) it's really easy to be around them and have a good time, but with you, I always feel like I need to have my guard up because I feel like you're judging me and trying to bring me down. I think the reason I get along with them is because we're all really positive and very confident in ourselves. You rarely ever compliment me, but you point out my flaws, and you are always saying negative things. You just have to be positive about stuff and let things roll off your back." Is that good? How do I mention her self confidence without really making her mad? Thank you!
This example that you gave of a conversation starter is PERFECT!
"I feel like our friendship isn't like it use to be. With (my other close friends) it's really easy to be around them and have a good time, but with you, I always feel like I need to have my guard up because I feel like you're judging me and trying to bring me down. I think the reason I get along with them is because we're all really positive and very confident in ourselves. You rarely ever compliment me, but you point out my flaws, and you are always saying negative things. You just have to be positive about stuff and let things roll off your back."
Make sure she's in a good place emotionally at that point in time, and when you're sure, tell her what you have been noticing, and let her know how it affects you.
When it comes to mentioning her self confidence, I wouldn't point it out as a statement. Ask her how SHE feels about herself, and if she treats you and others poorly because of a lack of confidence in herself. Then she can't really get mad and say that you attacked her confidence level. You are giving her a chance to explain what it is that is making her act the way she does, and allowing her to answer whether or not she feels that self confidence is a part of it.
She may not want to answer it, or she might become defensive. Either way, don't try to push it too much or she will shut down and won't answer at all. If she appears to change the subject, ask her for a direct answer. If she still evades it, back off. She may not be ready.
Hope this can help out a little more. Feel free to email back if you need to.