Social Question

jordym84's avatar

How do you deal with malicious people?

Asked by jordym84 (4742 points ) September 26th, 2012

A few weeks ago I had a falling out with my “best friend” from college and I’ve been nothing but civil throughout this whole ordeal. Our friendship had always been very skewed because she has a strong personality and I, on the other hand, am very easygoing and laid-back – the peace-keeper in the relationship. We became friends junior year of college and in the 4 years we were close, we had never once had an argument, most likely because it’s been a long-distance friendship for the better part of it (we’re from different states and I’ve lived in a few different places since senior year of college for internships and work, so we haven’t been around each other a whole lot). Knowing that she has an explosive personality (she calls herself a “firecracker” and most people, upon meeting her, compare her to a chihuahua), I always found myself biting my tongue and telling her what she wanted to hear on topics like romantic relationships and the way she relates to people (according to her everyone is stupid) because telling her the truth would probably fall on deaf ears or, worse, cause an argument. Normally I stay away from people like her, but for whatever reason she and I clicked and became close. In retrospect, I realize that our falling out was imminent and it took me living with her for 3 months to finally reach my breaking point.

We haven’t spoken nor seen each other since it all happened, but she puts little indirect jabs on her Facebook that I know are about me and our “situation.” Now, I’m not one to care about what people think about me and I run away from drama and people who create it like it’s the plague. I’m very comfortable with myself and have some amazing people in my life, near and far, who always tell me I’m a great person. But her little jabs are so infuriating because I know she’s being unfair (and even racist in some of her posts) and the worst part is that her mother and 2 sisters (her only other friends besides me) keep making little snide comments as well. At first I removed them from my news feed and hadn’t looked at their pages in quite a while, but last night, for whatever reason, I clicked on my former friend’s profile and saw some pretty awful things that she’s posted since I last saw her page. I immediately unfriended and blocked her and her family from my account, but I’m still really irritated. I have this nagging feeling that just won’t go away.

I’m in a happy place (mentally and geographically lol) and I’ve worked hard these past few years to get to where I am and to be at peace with myself so I don’t want any negativity in my life. And being that this is the first time I’m having to deal with something like this in my 24 years of life, my question is: how do I not let this situation get to me when she’s clearly trying to rile me up?

Thank you in advance!

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11 Answers

wonderingwhy's avatar

Just let it go and move on. Focus on the things that matter. You’re going to encounter plenty of people like that but who they are is on them, it’s not about you unless you let it be. You just need to be yourself and do your thing, which considering you’re in “a happy place” seems to be working out pretty well.

gailcalled's avatar

You are lucky that this is the first time, but there is always a first time for everyone who lives in the world and relates to at least one other person.

First of all, no more peeking. It is like scratching a mosquito bite. There will always be bugs, as you know.

No one can ever avoid some bad press.

Psychoanalyze her; she is insecure enough to harp on this estrangement. To any discerning person (obviously not her mother and two sisters), she looks needy and stuck, petty and unimaginative.

Take the high ground. Continue to life your admirable and exemplary life. Do two nice things for strangers today and feel the buzz. (Pay for coffee for the person behind you at Starbucks or leave a little larger tip for a good waitperson, for example. Ask a stranger who cut her hair if you love the cut.)

Shippy's avatar

We are powerless of people, situations, places and things. Just say it a few times and feel the relief. I felt kind of relieved for you when you said the friendship ended. She sounded to be a handful really, and on her own journey of self discovery (Meaning a few kicks up the butt for being firecracker will calm her down in a few years). Oh don’t worry I speak from experience. I was also a firecracker, can still be. But realized in life it got me nowhere in the end.

Remind yourself, that she has built a solid reputation for herself. Particularly if she labels herself one. So her remarks will be met with the same cynically raised brow you had when you read it. Let her go, life is short, fill your world with people who inspire you, who give you something, their time, their love, whatever it is. And leave the bone suckers behind.

gailcalled's avatar

Edit; Spell-check gets me again. “Continue to live your admirable..”

ucme's avatar

Point & laugh mostly, sometimes throwing things features heavily.

CWOTUS's avatar

This is one reason why I often do try to speak up now to tell the truth, even if it’s in very subtle ways sometimes. I wouldn’t have a long term friendship based upon lies (even white lies) and omissions (all of the things that I should have said, but didn’t). So I’ve learned a certain amount of tact and diplomacy in order to be able to tell truths – sometimes embarrassing, uncomfortable, unpleasant and unwelcome truths – even if only in small ways. Then if the recipient seems willing or specifically asks to hear more, we can go into more depth.

For example, in your case, though the friendship was forged years ago and even I haven’t been doing this “always truthful” thing for a huge part of my life, I think that I would find ways to tell my friend “how she is perceived by others” (perhaps not letting on that I share in that opinion, unless forced to), and then gently start to give her the dope on what others see.

Obviously, this can be overdone or done in malicious ways. But I do like friends; I try to cultivate them, and I am not malicious without specific intent (yeah, I can do that). So it’s a very slow gradient, baby steps all the way, and attempting all the time to sandwich any criticism between compliments (again, only when true).

For example, I would never tell anyone the vicious “truth” that “Everyone thinks you’re an ass.” That is not friendly; it’s vicious and hurtful no matter how much someone protests that they’re saying “it’s for your own good!” But I might tell someone who complains about being treated in such a way that, “People around you frequently misunderstand you; I know that I misunderstand you fairly often, and I like you.”

Surely you can see the difference and the utility in this. If someone is frequently misunderstood and has a jot of understanding, then they have to take responsibility for that misunderstanding and make themselves understood better. That applies even if people are “stupid” (they’re still people, after all, and deserving of human interaction, or maybe they’re business associates – or bosses – and our jobs depend on them). With “stupid people” you have to be even more careful to be completely understood.

But you’re not stupid. I don’t need to write an essay in human interaction here.

I’ve been finding that being honest with people, saying what needs to be said, omitting what should better be left unsaid (that’s not dishonest, I think, if it’s done with some discretion and judgment – I don’t try to avoid all controversy, but I don’t shy from what is necessary) helps me to form a few real friendships that I can count on. And my friends learn that they can count on me, too.

KNOWITALL's avatar

My mother and I call it ‘extricating’ people from our lives who are toxic. We both had several ‘friends’ who caused drama or were downright just mean, or too ignorant to be around. If I were you, I would consider her extricated and no longer even think about her. If her family or friends confronts you in any way, just be honest and tell them you can’t have toxic people in your life anymore and move on.

PS You can still message people via other friends accounts, and see fb pages, so be careful how ‘public’ your posts are.

Trillian's avatar

The best revenge is living well.

wundayatta's avatar

You did the right thing: blocking her and her family on Facebook. Now do it in real life, as best you can, as well.

I know it is always tempting to want to see if they are still saying bad things, but trust me, they are, and you don’t want to know.

You have to trust that the rest of your friends who know her will talk to you if they have any questions. But most of them will trust that they know you better because of their own interactions with you.

The hardest thing to do is to let it go, yet that is the best thing to do.

Let.

It.

Go.

Lead your life. She has nothing to do with it any more. When you find yourself thinking about her, gently remind yourself that it isn’t good for you, and redirect your attention elsewhere. You will do this many times, but eventually, it will become less and less necessary, and you will be focusing on your current life, not some silliness from the past.

jordym84's avatar

Thank you all so much for your replies.

The problem isn’t moving on, I threw the towel on this one at the very beginning of it all when I packed my bags and moved out in the middle of the night, and I haven’t looked back since. I don’t miss her, I don’t miss the “friendship” and whenever any of it crosses my mind it’s more in a relieved kind of way – relief that she’s no longer part of my life, relief that I don’t have to deal with the pardon my language BS anymore. Our mutual friends stopped talking to her a long time ago and I’m still good friends with them, so I’m not worried at all about what she could be telling them. They’ve been very supportive, but I don’t talk to them about her either, it’s too petty and not the sort of thing I like to do.

I’ve been really happy and at peace despite having lost a “friend” and I’ve come to appreciate the truly amazing people in my life (family and friends) even more now thanks to all of this. I was just really irritated with the things she and her family had been writing on FB and for a moment I almost wrote something in the comments bar, but fortunately I came to my senses in time – I refuse to feed into that kind of behavior.

@gailcalled Exactly what I was thinking as I wrote the question: I’m beyond lucky and fortunate that this is the first time I’m going through something like this. I read somewhere not too long ago that it’s in your 20s, when the real world starts to kick in, that you begin to realize who your true friends are, which seems about right. And I’m fortunate to have some pretty amazing people in my life.

Kardamom's avatar

What you might want to do, because it can give you a little bit of closure, is PM her on Facebook and include the last 2 paragraphs from your post on Fluther, because I think that sums it all up quite nicely. Do it privately, between you and her first.

Because I’m not sure exactly what transpired for you two to end your friendship relationship, you could also add another short paragraph before these two, explaining why you felt the need to leave the relationship. Make it short and sweet, but honest without insulting her, something like “Marsha, we were friends for a long time, and during that time, I sometimes felt like I had to bite my tongue and keep quiet when you said things that were hurtful to me or to other people, and for that I am guilty. You are a very powerful personality, but sometimes you may not realize that you sometimes hurt people and then try to pass it off as just being honest. There has to be a balance between being honest and being compassionate. Unfortunately for both of us, I was not always honest with you, in that I did not speak up when I felt hurt, embarrassed or insulted, because I cared about you and did not want to hurt your feelings. I’m afraid that I am going to have to block you and your mom and your sister on Facebook, because I have noticed that you often post things that appear to be subtle or blatant digs at me. You can feel however you want about me, but I would appreciate it, if you would keep those things out of the public venue. What happened between us is private and should be kept between us. It would mean a lot to me if you would keep our private business private and not allude to it on Facebook.

Then see what happens. If she doesn’t knock it off, then you could post the above paragraph on her wall and your wall, so that everyone can see what kind of person she is.

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