My friend bullies me

Dear Suzie,
i know u may hear this all the time from teenage girls, but this bully is driving me crazy. At times she’s lovely and acts like a really great friend, but then it switches and she makes remarks and disaproving faces when she doesnt agree. If i do anything, she has a go at me and interrogates me, making me feel under pressure. Shes an only child and used to being the centre of attention but this two-faceness has been goin on since we were 11, 3 years ago now. I’ve known her all my life, but how can i stop her making my life so hard? i’ve tried talking about it and making new friends which does work, but how can i get the lovely girl instead of the spoilt jealous one? Please help, because none of our other friends seem to notice how much she manipulates me.

There is no “lovely girl” or “spoilt jealous one”. There is a human being who mostly feels lovely and acts nicely, and who sometimes feels jealous or needy or hurt or confused and then acts unpleasantly. As do we all! Perhaps the difference with your friend is that, being an only child she is used to being the centre of attention, and demands and expects it. But that’s no reason for you to dance to that tune.

The truth is that people can’t manipulate you unless you let them. People can’t push you around and put you under pressure, unless you fall in with the game.

Want it to stop? So stop pulling when she pushes, pushing when she pulls. If she makes a face, shrug and say “Don’t agree? OK.” and leave it at that. If she has a go, ask her if she’s having a bad day, and back off. Tell her you’ll come back to chat when she’s feeling better, or ask her if she needs to talk about anything. Maybe she acts this way when she’s having a bad time elsewhere – at home or in the clasroom.

It’s more than possible that she does what she does without realising how unpleasant it is. Maybe she needs to learn from experience that when she acts in that way she won’t get what she wants. At present, you ‘reinforce’ her behaviour – by that I mean you show her that it always works. Stop letting it work and she’ll soon learn not to do it.

The only people who can take power from us are the ones we give power to. She doesn’t make your life so hard – you do, by taking what she says so seriously, by taking it personally and by reacting when she behaves this way. Take a deep breath and react positively to her nice behaviour rather than falling into line with her bad stuff.

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