How to Help a Friend Who’s Cutting Themselves
How to Deal With a Friend Who's Become an Enemy
Friendships often involve a strong emotional bond to someone. As long as the friendship is healthy and thriving, that bond is a good thing. When a friendship takes a turn for the worst, that bond sometimes makes it hard to have a clean break. This can lead to former friends being subtle, or open, enemies. If you feel that you are in this situation, you have to identify the signs of an unfriendly friend, let go of the friendship, and neutralize any negative actions that your former friend takes against you.
Evaluating the Situation
Pay attention to their opinions.Friends will often share their opinions on a host of things, from your clothes to your significant other. These opinions come from a genuine interest in your life, whether it’s good or bad. If your friend offers you constructive criticism that has a positive intent, that is acceptable. If they consistently bring you down with negative and overly critical opinions about you and your life, then it might be time to have a conversation with them about where the friendship is going wrong.
- A friend offering constructive criticism might pull you to the side and say something like “Have you noticed that the shoes you are wearing have a hole in them? You might want to put on something else before we go out.”
- Someone who is being overly critical may address the same situation by calling you out in front of everyone and saying something like “Seriously? You are wearing shoes with holes in them. Don’t you have a better pair?”
Consider what they say when you’re gone.People discuss other people all the time. Doing so is not inherently bad, but when someone takes the opportunity to paint an absent person in a negative light, that’s not a good sign. If one of your friends is talking about you in a bad way, you will probably hear about it from other people. What they have to say about you when you aren’t around is a fair reflection of what they think about you overall. Knowing what they think about you can help you salvage the friendship if you are interested in doing so, but it will require cooperation on both ends.
- Do not overreact to a friend making a lighthearted joke or stating something that is true. For example, say you aren’t on time for a get together and one of your friends says something like, “I’m not surprised. They probably lost the car keys.” This isn’t something to be offended by (especially if you commonly lose your car keys).
- Personal and demeaning comments rarely, if ever, fall into the lighthearted joke category. Take the same example of being late for an outing and imagine one of your friends says something behind your back like, “I can’t stand them. All they do is complain about how bad their life is and bring everyone around them down. I hope they don’t show up at all tonight.” In this case, this person is likely not a friend anymore.
Notice if/when they stand up for you.Friends advocate for one another. This means that a real friend will support you when you need it whether it is in public or private. If you notice a friend sticking up for you or helping you out, they are likely a genuine friend. This can be a good sign that they are interested in repairing the relationship, even it if it is currently on the rocks.
- For example, if someone says something rude to you and your friend diffuses the situation by saying something like, “That’s not necessary. Let’s all be mature,” then they are taking up for you.
- If your friend joins in and says something unkind to you, they might not be as good of a friend as you thought.
Talk to the person.If your friend has flipped sides and become your enemy, there must be some reason. Have a conversation with them and see exactly why the animosity has developed in your relationship. Be direct and clear with your old friend, especially if you want to be friends again.
- For example, you could say something like “I’ve noticed that we don’t get along as well as we used to. It seems like you aren’t very fond of me anymore. Is there a reason?”
- This conversation might be best had alone.
Consider the permanence of the split.Once you deem a friend lost and an enemy gained, you have to decide whether this is what you want. If you want to rekindle the friendship, you will need to cooperate with the other person and create active steps. If you aren’t interested in rebuilding the friendship, then the two of you will most likely remain enemies.
- You could take active steps like having breakfast together once a week to reunite.
- Before deciding that the friendship isn’t worth fixing, you might want to consider things like mutual friends involved. You might spend a lot of time around this person whether you want to be friends or not. In this case, it might be best to at least be on speaking terms.
Letting Go of the Friendship
Seek closure for yourself.If you have a friend that you have decided is now an enemy, you need to let go of the friendship. This means releasing the good times and the bad. This process will likely come with a mix of good and bad feelings that you will need to sort through. There are several ways to help yourself do this:
Stay focused on the present.Dwelling on the past will drain the energy and excitement out of your life. Instead, focus on enjoying your life as it is right now. To do this, spend time with your current friends, or go make new ones. You can also find things that you enjoy doing alone and spend time doing those.
- Practicing mindfulness can help you let go of the past and focus on the present.
- An example of something you might enjoy doing alone could be exercising, art, or reading.
- You can go out to movies, coffee shops, or the park with your friends to enjoy yourself.
Be prepared to encounter them later.If your new enemy is an old friend, you are likely to cross paths from time to time. Whether you still have several mutual friends or just live in the same neighborhood, social situations could force you to tolerate each other. It is best if this situation does not catch you off guard. Some things you can do to prepare for an encounter are:
- Think about how to respond if they are rude to you.
- Consider what you should do if they want to be friends again.
- Practice saying what you think you will need to say. For example, say something in front of the mirror like “I’m well. I hope you are well, too.” If you don’t want the conversation to go any further, you can excuse yourself.
Neutralizing the Enemy
Handle the situation yourself.Unless you plan to lose more than one friend, leave mutual friends out of the drama. No one wants to be forced to pick between you and your new enemy. They also aren’t likely to enjoy listening to you talk badly about someone that they still consider a friend. If you need to talk to someone about the situation or vent your frustrations, do so with a friend that doesn’t know your former friend. You could also talk to a family member, counselor, or other supportive figure.
- If your mutual friends bring up your new nemesis, simply change the conversation and say something like “That situation is between the two of us. I think it’s best that I don’t involve our friends.” Anything you say could upset your friends or find its way back to your former friend.
Overlook as much drama as possible.An enemy that was made from a friend is likely to be holding on to some sort of grudge. They may try to upset you or entice you to argue and bicker with them. The best thing that you can do is ignore any immature behaviors and focus on conducting yourself in a respectable way. Otherwise, you will be seen as being just as childish as your enemy.
- For example, if your enemy does something like leave a nasty note in your locker, just throw it away. There is no need to write a note back or confront them about it. Actually, you don’t even have to read it at all.
Be polite in social situations.When a social situation forces the two of you to interact, not only should you be prepared, but you should also be polite. Being rude will only invite your enemy to do the same. It can also ruin the event for everyone else. Avoid as much conversation as possible, but keep any conversation that you do have pleasant.
- For example, if you go to a mutual friend’s birthday party, you might have to say something like, “Hi. How have you been?” After a short exchange you can move on.
- If you are rude to the other person or complain about them being invited, you might make the whole situation stressful on your friend who’s having the party. This will make things tense between you and your friend.
Set clear boundaries.When you do interact with your old friend, make your boundaries clear. Though you may have to exchange pleasantries, you do not have to entertain your enemy for long conversations or reminisce about the ‘good old days.’ If you have no interest in rekindling the friendship, do not agree to meet up for coffee or hang out. Politely decline the offer and move on.
- For example, your enemy might say something like, “We used to have a lot of fun together. We should grab coffee sometime and catch up.” You can politely respond with something like, “I’m not sure that’s a good idea. We had a pretty rough falling out, and now we can be in the same room peacefully. I wouldn’t want to mess that up.”
QuestionWhat if she's ruining my life?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerDrop her. She's not worth it if she's ruining your life, and your life would be better without her.Thanks!
QuestionMy "enemy" used to be my best friend. I never knew what a snotty person she could be. She talks about me to her other friends; she tells them she hates me and stuff. What do I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerDon't worry about it. It sounds like she's just jealous of you. I mean, you're clearly always on her mind if she's talking to her friends about you. Ignore her. Don't make any negative comments about her to others. Take the high road. Most likely it's only a matter of time before everyone else sees what a jerk she is too.Thanks!
QuestionMy best friend told a crush of mine that I like him, and she set us up on a date without my permission. How do I deal with this?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou should talk with your friend about the situation. Tell her how the incident made you feel, and ask her not to do anything like that in the future.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if you are in the same group with them, like for a project?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTry your best to cooperate. Stay on task and don't engage with them on any other topic. If they really make it impossible for you, ask the teacher or authority figure if you can be moved to another group.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if she is trying to sabotage me at my job?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerMake sure your manager knows. Document exactly what's happening and when and keep any proof you have (incriminating emails, recorded phone conversations, etc.). If your manager isn't helping you, contact human resources.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if she's cussing at me, telling me I don't have a life, saying I have no friends, and calling me dumb and a lesbian?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerStay away from her, she's disrespecting you, probably because of her own insecurities. Ignore her, and if she doesn't stop, get a teacher or another adult involved, because she is bullying you.Thanks!
QuestionHe is my classmate, my project team member and my lab partner. How should I deal with him?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerJust act normal. Make him see that you are serious about the work and have fun. Don't let it bother you and it shouldn't be a big deal.Thanks!
QuestionHe is on my basketball team and we regularly meet. He often says nasty things about me when I miss a shot. His friends always have his back. What should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerJust deal with it. Trust me, I know what you're going through and I know how worthless you feel when he says nasty things about you with his friends. Talk to him like you would talk to an adult, politely and respectfully. This will make him feel compelled to treat you the same way. If you think he's not that type of person, laugh his comments off. Be nice to his friends too. Do your best at basketball and don't worry about what anybody says to you except the coach.Thanks!
QuestionI tried breaking a boy up from his girlfriend. It's been over a year since then and I feel bad, but he's causing trouble with the deans for me. I miss his friendship. Is pursuing this appropriate?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, but if this boy prefers to keep his distance from you, do the same with him. If you get the chance, talk to him openly about how you feel about doing what is was you did. Try to explain that you just want to be friends and you want to end the rivalry.Thanks!
- Focus on your good relationships.
- Avoid blaming yourself for pushing them away.
- Do not imitate their behavior toward you. It will make you look immature.
- If you are being harassed or bullied, reach out for help. If you are underage, try reaching out to a parent or teacher. If you are in serious danger, contact law enforcement.
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