Dear Barb—Reflected Betrayal

Dear Barb:

Hi.  I am having a problem with my best friend.  We have been friends for years and things have always been pretty good between us, but recently our relationship has changed. 

Mel had been dating a guy for about five years and she recently found out he was cheating on her.  Her boyfriend ended the relationship and now he’s with the other girl, who happens to be a mutual friend.  Mel feels extremely betrayed and is very angry at everyone, especially me.  I have never seen this side of her; she disagrees with me about almost everything that we used to agree on.

She has done this with some of her other friends, but only the ones who have boyfriends.  I’m wondering if that is the problem, maybe she is jealous.  Even if I talk about beliefs that I have, she will try to correct me and at times even says “you are wrong!” We have been friends for so long and I hate for this to happen to us, but I don’t know how to handle it.  I have tried ignoring her comments, but then she almost challenges me to try to get me to react to her.  She also does this on social media.  If I share something I believe in, she will criticize it, again, trying to get me to react.  Do you have any ideas on how I can deal with this, without losing a good friend? Thanks, Cynthia.

Hi Cynthia:

Thanks for your letter.  It almost seems like two things are going on here.  Your friend seems both jealous of the fact that you have a boyfriend, and also is trying to challenge your beliefs.  This could be a form of baiting.  Baiting is when someone deliberately attempts to get an angry or emotional reaction from another person.  Your friend may be doing this intentionally, but it’s more likely she is jealous of your having a boyfriend; especially since you say she does this to other friends who have boyfriends as well.

However, your friend just experienced a devastating loss and betrayal from someone who I’ll assume she was in love with; so you have to try to be understanding.  Take the initiative to open the lines of communication and find out what she’s really feeling.  Be supportive and encouraging; also spend some time alone with her.  Try not react to her comments on social media, but tell her in a private message how they make you feel.  Don’t feed into her anger.  If this doesn’t help, maybe take a bit of time away from each other.  Don’t give up on the friendship, but allow her some time to heal.  I hope this helps.

Email your questions to voice@voicemagazine.org. Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.
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