It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing today. After the jump, we hear from “Tired of Being Picked On” whose guy friend from med school was constantly putting her down, criticizing her appearance and “diagnosing” her various “abnormalities.” I suggested the guy liked-liked her, assumed she didn’t feel the same way and was trying to make himself feel better about the situation. Keep reading to see whether they’re still hanging out and if he stopped with the insults.
Before I get into my update, I want to thank you for the advice on my situation. It was not only enlightening, but also the comments from the “Dear Wendy” community were just as insightful. To clarify some points: The only thing that happened between me and my friend from the time his behavior started changing to when I wrote the letter was that we became better friends. We began seeing each other every day, would share personal information about our lives (including relationships), and even considered being roommates for the following year. (Then he became mean, I scaled back on our interactions, and he dumped me as a potential roommate). Nonetheless, instead of everyday, we still hung out 4-5 times/week.
With that being said, I did make some changes to our friendship. At the advice of one of the other readers, I was direct about how his comments made me feel instead of my former approach of inquiring about his feelings. That was disastrous as he dismissed my feelings as sensitivity. These long and drawn-out discussions about his behavior/my feelings became a regular event in our friendship until one day I was angry enough to tell him my appearance wasn’t for him and he had no authority to make comments. He explained that his family shows affection by “picking” on each other and he feels close to me. I asked him if he wanted me to reciprocate this “closeness” and he was quick to decline. After a few more words, he retreated and his comments slowed. Every once in a while, he “couldn’t help himself” and an insult or two would sneak its way into our conversations, but it was quickly followed by an apology.
Our friendship survived, we moved on, and eventually the insults virtually stopped. Then about a month after writing the letter, he tried to take our friendship to the “next level.” In which case, I rejected him. He was kind enough to ask me if I were okay and I told him, “Of course, don’t worry about it. Nothing happened.” He wanted to talk about it and I repeated, “Nothing happened. Talk about what?” He insisted something happened and I denied that claim. I was COMPLETELY caught off guard and so embarrassed I just wanted to run away… Fast. A couple of days later, I felt bad about how I dealt with the situation and I asked if he wanted to talk about it. He ignored the question and our friendship hasn’t been the same since. We can barely look at each other. What a tragic ending after coming so far.
I’m sorry it ended that way. The really sucky thing is that you believed you were friends, but on his end, you were never a true friend but simply a potential girlfriend. Once he accepted that that potential was never going to be realized, he moved on. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but maybe it will save you hurt feelings in the future if you recognize similar behavior in someone you’re getting to know more closely and can move away from before investing too much time and energy. When people treat you with a sort of love-hate attitude, it’s generally because you are something they can’t have in the way they want or you represent something they can’t have in the way they want. Relationships like that will become toxic if you don’t keep those people at a safe distance.
If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.