When Friendships Go Wrong
She was a true kindred spirit―until she revealed your secrets to a roomful of people or “forgot” to invite you to her birthday dinner. Experts advise on what to do when a friend’s behavior turns foul.
The Friend Who Takes AdvantageI let a friend stay at my home while I was out of town. I came back the day she left and my guest room and bathroom were a mess―wet towels on the floor, garbage everywhere, and dirty dishes in the sink! When she e-mailed to thank me for letting her stay, I never replied. I figure I don’t need friends who trash my home. ―Gina, Las Vegas
Advice for Gina: "Gina might have felt less steamed if she had expressed her disgust right away," says Florence Isaacs, author of Toxic Friends/True Friends (Citadel, $9). She could have said something like “I was shocked by the mess left in my apartment. Did you expect me to clean this?”
If this happens to you: Speak up. Gina stayed quiet because she had decided to end the friendship, but a lot of women don’t raise tough issues for a different reason: "They’re afraid to communicate what’s wrong because they don’t want to alienate a friend," says Isaacs. In fact, she says, talking it out usually helps save the friendship. Use statements beginning with I (“I was surprised!”), not you (“You’re a slob!”), to avoid a defensive response. After you’ve made your point, stop speaking and listen. “If she does apologize, that changes the whole tenor of the thing,” says Isaacs. If the friendship is important to you, she adds, be open to forgiving her.