The fact is, these aren’t really friendships in the first place. Respect yourself, and move on.
Almost two years ago, the situation came to a head. It was late spring. The “friend” in question and myself were communicating by email in the wee hours of the morning. Apparently he was already having one of his less than pleasant days. The email exchange we were engaged in discussed a mutual female acquaintance we both knew.
Over time, he had developed less than admirable feelings about this person. To this day, no one knows quite why. His sudden dislike of her was blatantly expressed in his emails. Me, being the good natured person (at least most of the time) that I tend to be, suggested that he take a step back, think about the situation, and make an effort to see if there was any common ground between he and the woman in question that could be approached. Well, as it turned out, this was the WRONG response as he went into this 500 word plus tirade about how I was being “insensitive,” “disrespectful,” “arrogant” etc… the list went on. I did not hear from the guy for several days.
A little over a week later, I received a more detailed email from him that went into specifics and listed my supposed shortcomings, yet it concluded that he still thought of me as a nice, yet somewhat misguided person. Talk about backhanded compliments. To add insult to injury, he made the point that he gave me what he saw as advice on how to be a real friend. Yes, you read that correctly.
The fact is that Tim (not his real name), was already one of the most socially awkward people I had ever associated with. He, the woman in question, myself, and a few other people, including another professor who teaches at the same institution as I, were part of a motley group of people who, at the time, frequently hung out with one another at one of the local coffeehouses in town. In fact, at this point, I had known Tim for almost a decade.
Like many social circles, as time has progressed, the group has gotten smaller. A number of people have moved away. Marriage and children have became priorities for others. Others wanted a change of scenery. A desire for a different social experience. The list goes on.
Back to the advice letter. To me, it was the pompous arrogance that was the last straw for me. I was angry as hell. I consulted with some other people in the group about what had transpired between the two of us. Interestingly, no one was surprised as they had all made it clear to me previously that Tim was arrogant, narcissistic, snide, combative, spiteful etc… the list goes on. More troubling and perhaps the most disturbing thing about Tim was that it later came to light that he was not above lying if he felt it served his own agenda. Oddly and embarrassingly enough, I was the person who often made excuses for his behavior and defended him when others said I was naive and foolish to do so. As it turned out that they were correct. In fact, they informed me that he badmouthed me to them while he was instructing me on how to be a “better” person. Talk about hypocrisy!
A few of us let Tim have it and he stayed away from the coffeeshop for much of that summer. To my knowledge he only corresponded with one person in the group during this time and it was sporadic and minimal. Things were pretty serene for most part.
When I actually saw him again later that summer, he made an effort to befriend me. By this point, I decided after all the nonsense and foolishness that had taken place over the past several years, that enough was enough and there was no benefit in keeping a relationship fraught with such passive/aggressiveness, pettiness and negativity. When it came right down to it, the guy was an emotional and psychological bully. Over the next few times that our paths crossed, I kept my interactions with him to a brief “hello” “good bye” and kept on going. A few other people followed suit. It is safe to say that he got the message.
Many people associate this type of behavior primarily with women. However, the fact is that a number of men who engage in this sort of behavior as well. For men, such relationships fall into the following categories:
The Houdini – The guy who’s always around only when things are going well or when they need something from you etc… Otherwise they are missing in action. You are always a backup friend or afterthought.
The Hothead – We can all lose our cool at times. Nonetheless, these are the guys who take anger to an entire new level. They expose their anger through venomous emails, by yelling, at you and in some cases, threatening physical confrontation. This attitude continues until you walk away.
The Competitive Friend – While there is nothing wrong with a degree of friendly competition, in fact it can be a little healthy. These are the guys that competition to an entire new level. They are always finding ways to compete whether it is for the affections of another woman, the approval of other friends, job related etc… He is always comparing his accomplishments with yours and is engaging in one upmanship.
The Promise Breaker – This is they guy who you are always loyal and reliable to but he never reciprocates. He expects your support but never reciprocates. He is largely worthless.
The Criticizer – You can never do anything right with this type of guys. You are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Everything from the clothes you wear, your height, your love life, your accent and so on. These guy often attack you under the guise of jokes but overtime such relationships become more daunting and you increasingly find yourself on the defensive against his attacks.
The Friend Who Seems To Enjoy Misery – These are the guys who subscribe to the old saying “misery loves company.” These are the sort of men who love seeing others, in particular, their “buddies” go through hard times. These are also the sorts of friendships that tend to be one sided. They make piercing comments about your bad luck under the guise of joking. Schadenfreude is their stock and trade
The Malcontent – Also referred to as drama kings. There are a number of men who fall into his category. Everyone is at fault but him. The world is always fu*ked up! He often creates drama when there is none. Whenever you try to make him see the truth in things, he accuses you of being the problem and turns against you accusing you of being the problem. They often try to provoke you into reacting negatively.
While Tim did not fall into all these categories, he certainly epitomized many of them. In fact, for many of you guys out there you probably have met or had to deal with a Tim at some point in your life. The fact is that when confronted with toxic friendships/relationships there is often only thing to do – SEVER ALL TIES! Drop these guys like a bad habit. The fact is that relationships are psychologically abusive, emotionally draining and in the long run deserve no one any good, including the abuser. Nothing good can come of such relationships. Men who are real friends SUPPORT, DEFEND AND ADVOCATE for one another through thick and thin. They do not undermine berate and conspire against one another. On the contrary, they are always there for you. And that’s the truth!
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