5 Tips for Dealing With Friendship Bullies – As An Adult

February 21, 2018

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Have you ever noticed that you leave some interactions with friends, feeling bad about yourself? Or dread going to a get-together because there is one person who always puts you down? Friendship bullies exist long past your years at school, and it’s important that you are able to acknowledge when it’s happening, and equip yourself with information on how to deal with it.

As ever, Elgin Avenue contributor (/all round awesome human) Chelsea is lending her sage advice to the situation, and sharing a recent experience with a close friend which led her to re-think friendship bullies as an adult.

Spoiler: there’s a happy ending!

Over to Chelsea!

Love, Monica x

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5 Tips for Dealing With Friendship Bullies – As An Adult

Being 31 now, I can confidently say that I feel really good about the group of friends surrounding me.

My group of girls is full of positive, caring, smart, fun, and loyal hearts. Without a doubt they’re people that I’ll be friends with until the end of time. All people I’m extremely grateful for!

But as my husband pointed out a couple weeks ago, I do have one friend who tends to bully me. I had actually noticed this myself, but never put too much thought into it.

“That’s just her personality,” I said defensively as he pointed out how she was treating me.

“She’s one of my best friends, this is just how we communicate.” I added.

Later that night, after going back through mine and my friend’s conversation, I realised that (gasp!), he was totally right. Though she wasn’t being outright rude, there was an underlying sense of bullying. And when I was honest with myself, it was a constant feeling when dealing with her.

Though she wasn’t being outright rude, there was an underlying sense of bullying.”

I won’t bore you with the details, but long story short, I ended up talking to my dear friend about this tendency and how it made me feel. I can happily report that we worked through it, and she was overly apologetic for it (as much as I didn’t fully grasp what was happening, neither did she). But it got me thinking about friendship bullying in general, and how if I’m dealing with it, I’m likely not alone.

If you find yourself in a similar situation soon or in the future, I’m hoping these tips can help.

I may not have all the answers, but this is what I’ve learned so far. Because unfortunately, bullying isn’t something that only happens on the playgrounds during elementary school.

Don’t Tear Yourself Down

When you hear something about yourself from someone you care about, eventually you’ll start to believe it.

Just because a person you thought was your friend told you you weren’t good enough, doesn’t mean it’s true.

In fact, what your parents told you years ago is still true in this situation—when people treat others poorly, it’s usually because they have their own insecurities.

“When people treat others poorly,

it’s usually because they have their own insecurities.”

Eliminate The Negativity

No one needs or deserves to have the kind of negativity bullying brings into their life.

If this means saying goodbye to a decades-old “friendship”, then that’s what has to happen.

And, as Monica recently shared, there’s an opportunity cost for spending time and energy with a negative friend. You’ll be depleted of both resources which could be otherwise spent on a more supportive friendship. 

It’s probably easier said than done, but removing yourself from that situation is something you’ll definitely be thankful for in the long run. 

Believe In The Good Of people

Don’t let the actions of one person change your view of all your friends.

It can be easy to let your relationship with one person alter your perception and let negativity take over.

Whether it seems like it or not at the time, more than likely you do have good people in your life who care about you and wouldn’t dream of bullying you.

Know That Some People Will Never Understand, And Some Will

Now, I got lucky in the fact that my friend understood where I was coming from, but that’s because she’s also someone with the biggest heart; she was simply communicating poorly.

Most adults are pretty set in their ways and will rarely ever see how their behavior is affecting others.

If things go poorly, it’s kind of like agreeing to disagree—you have to realise that even if you sat down with this person and tried to explain how you’re feeling, they might not understand and may even have a negative reaction towards you.

Be prepared either way.

Be Forgiving

I was pretty timid going into the convo with my friend because she is a big personality and one that trumps my people pleasing one.

Turns out, we had a really positive conversation and she apologised for the way she treated me.

Not every situation will have a happy ending, but be willing to hear people out when they want to acknowledge their mistakes.

What’s Your Take?

Has anyone else ever struggled with bullying as an adult? Any other tips that worked for you?

Love, Chelsea x

Photography: title image by Victoria Metaxas and other by Charlotte Bryer-Ash 


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