About three years ago, I had a close-knit friend group that I had a falling out with. I was close with all of those girls but one in particular, and she was the main cause of why I don’t speak to that group to this day.
Now I won’t bore you with the details of why I don’t speak or acknowledge her but essentially her choices, words, and actions could be summated into bullying, purposeful ostracizing of me from the group and horrid gossip. I can’t pinpoint how this all started, but I cut my losses after a year of the harassment and stopped talking to them (even the ones who acknowledged her abuse). It took me about a year with therapy to get over the loss of that friend group and the anger I felt for her turning them against me, but I picked myself up and started making new friends.
My friends now are beautiful and supportive; however, recently I have noticed that this “old friend” has begun hanging around my group. This is fine because for the last 3 years if we are at the same party, she and I are free to enjoy but I’m not going to converse with her. So here’s the issue. I noticed that one of our mutual friends said something along the lines of “don’t worry about Friends of Foe, she won’t do anything that would bother you” to her at one of these parties. I know this sounds like I’m jumping to conclusions (entirely possible), but this is the similar attack method she used last time. She made me out to be a bully and rallied our friends around her cause of taking me down…
Am I wrong to feel like she is up to her old tricks? Am I wrong for setting high boundaries and not letting her in my life even though its been 3 years and she and I have mutual friends? Should I just ignore her and continue on my way?
All in all, I’m worried that she is a bomb about to explode in my friend group. And if this concern is warranted, I’m unsure of what to do. I’m firmly against speaking to my friends about her because I don’t want to preach to my friends that she destroyed my reputation, while simultaneously doing that to hers. Her presence doesn’t give me anxiety the way it used to but I still have one line, I’m fine with having mutual friends but I can’t tolerate that kind of behavior again. Unsure what to do…
Friends of Foe
Um, FoF, I’m not entirely sure why you don’t want to talk to your friends about this person’s sh*tty behavior. If you don’t want to have a repeat of what happened to your previous social circles, you’re going to have to do things differently… and that means actually speaking up before she burrows in like a tick and starts playing whatever weird games she did last time. I mean, I guess there’s some perverse nobility to be had in not wanting to “stoop to her level” but honestly, moral victories only really count when people give a damn about morals. The people who do the most concern trolling about maintaining moral standards are the ones who want to cut off your ability to defend yourself effectively. If there’s anything we’ve learned in this, the year of our Lord 2018, it’s that when they go low, you kick them in the face.
Because honestly? If you don’t say anything, then you’re just going to watch history repeat itself. Again. You have a right to set boundaries and keep her from being a toxic drain on your life. If you want different results, then you have to do things differently. That means speaking up and getting proactive before she’s able to dig in and her lies can start getting traction.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you need to start a whisper campaign against her and, I dunno, tell your friends that she burned down an orphanage stuffed with golden retriever puppies and greenlit the Adam Sandler/Netflix deal. You don’t need to sit all your friends down and say that it’s you or her and they have to decide right the hell now. But you should talk to your friends about what she did last time. The more that you give the download of her behavior and tactics, the more you insulate yourself against her gossip and bullshit – especially if you can connect them with your other ex-friends who actually acknowledged what she did. It’s harder for her to divide and conquer if they already know that she’s so full of crap her eyes are brown.
So start with the friend you overheard at the party. Ask her about what this frenemy of your said and give her the lowdown about what happened last time, what it did to you and your friends and how much it hurt you. And then start working outward from there. Cultivate your allies. Make sure they know the truth before they’re given the gossipy, distorted version.
This isn’t destroying her reputation. It’s sharing what happened to you and – importantly – letting your friends know about a walking drama bomb who’s looking for a place to explode, messily and all over the place. If this is a person who, for whatever benighted reason, likes to roll into your social circles and cause drama, this is information your friends have a right to know. Especially if your Spidey-sense is right and she is just looking to start some sh*t again.
Previously published here and reprinted with permission from the author.
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