The following few years have been more of the same, with Sarah trying to force intimacy between us. She invited herself into my wedding party, constantly refers to us as “sisters” and best friends, throws fits when I hang out with my girlfriends without inviting her along, uses the silent treatment to punish me regularly, and once every few months confronts me, asking if everything between us is OK because she hasn’t heard from me in a while.
I would be more than happy to count Sarah as one of my friends, and I would enjoy most of the time we spend together, if she would only put the brakes on this “best friend” thing which drives me crazy. It was hard enough before; now, I’m newly pregnant and my husband and I have plenty of extra stress to iron out without me having to worry how to “handle” Sarah. I know I shouldn’t have to include someone in my life who makes me miserable, and if it were anyone else, I would simply have ended the friendship completely. But when I complain about Sarah to my husband, it breaks my heart to see him struggle with the situation.When I complain about Sarah to my husband, it breaks my heart to see him struggle with the situation. He knows she’s nuts and that I shouldn’t have to put up with her, but he also dreads losing Greg because Sarah and I can’t manage to work things out. Simply put, cutting Sarah completely out of my life is not an option.
There must be a way to let her know that she needs to back off, right? I’ve already explained to her that although I value her friendship, I also have other relationships in my life; I’ve cut back on answering her phone calls and text messages in the hopes that she gets the picture; and I’ve told her that I don’t have time for much else in my life because of my pregnancy. But I can’t hide behind my baby forever. I’m worried that with all the extra hormones I have coursing through me, I’m going to snap and say something to her that will effectively end the friendship, and I really don’t want to do that to my husband. Please, help me figure out how to deal with this without wrecking my husband’s friendship! — Stressed by Aggressive Friend
I can totally understand how someone like Sarah could be annoying, but it seems a little farfetched that her (fairly innocuous) behavior is making you “miserable.” When I read your list of complaints concerning Sarah — she invited herself into your wedding party, constantly refers to you as “sisters” and best friends, throws fits when you hang out with your girlfriends without inviting her along, uses the silent treatment to punish you regularly, and once every few months asks if everything between you is OK — I can’t help but think most of these issues are opportunities for you to draw some boundaries and even take a little personal blame. Like, when she invited herself into your wedding. Why didn’t you just say “no”? It was your wedding. If you “let” her be in it, that’s kind of on you, isn’t it? Just as it’s on you that you accepted her invitation to be in her wedding. No one forced you to. You could have made an gentle excuse. As for her getting angry when you hang out with other friends, how does she know when you’ve hung out with other friends? Do you tell her? Does your husband tell her husband? Do you post an update on Facebook about everything you do? Then, put a stop to all of that. Quit giving her a way to keep tabs on your personal life. Set some boundaries. Protect your personal time. And when she uses the “silent treatment” to punish you, count your blessings. If you’re already at a point when you’re avoiding her calls and texts, shouldn’t you be welcoming a little silent treatment? I don’t get the issue. And I don’t get the issue when Sarah asks if everything’s OK between you. That’s your chance to say, “Actually, I’m feeling overwhelmed by a host of stresses and obligations in my life right now and it would mean so much to me if you could be understanding that I simply don’t have the time or energy to be as emotionally available to you as you’d like. Just because I may go a few weeks without talking to you doesn’t mean we have issues in our friendship. It only means I’m focusing on the million of other things that demand my attention right now. Please don’t take it personally. I always enjoy spending time with you when I have the chance.”
And speaking of things that demand your attention, why can’t you hide behind your baby “forever”? Sure, he’s not always going to be a baby, but for the foreseeable future, he’s going to be a huge, huge responsibility and, frankly, a time and energy suck. It’s not at all unusual for parents to kind of disappear a little bit from the friends they dearly love, simply because their child demands so much of their focus. So, if it’s a challenge for parents to carve time for the people they really want to see, I can imagine what a convenient excuse a child would give parents for fading away from the people they don’t care to see quite as much. I think you’ll soon find that even your husband won’t have the time and energy he’s had in the past to do as much with Greg. And in that respect, maybe Sarah won’t take your limited availability so personally. But if she does? If she really gets her panties in a bunch when a new mother can’t drop everything to see her all the time, then that’s her problem and I wouldn’t waste your energy worrying about how that’s going to affect your husband’s relationship with her husband. Any decent human being isn’t going to dump a friend because his wife, who’s caring for a newborn, isn’t hanging out with his wife enough. That’s just ridiculous. And if Greg is the sort of guy who would pull a stunt like that, your husband would be better off making a new friend or two. Maybe you two should start or join a new parents group in your area…
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