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My Friend Makes Me Feel Inferior—What Should I Do?
Have you ever had a friend that made you feel inferior? Yes, it is a choice to allow this person's comments to make you feel inferior, but sometimes we more sensitive types are simply not as resilient when it comes to critical and sarcastic remarks. Some thrive off of it; some do not.
Years ago, I had a friend who always said things that made me feel inferior. However, because I had been friends with this person for a very long time, I have tried to accept certain things that she said and tried not to let these comments hurt me.
Even when I worked out and lost quite a bit of weight, she still would make comments about how my body was not as toned and shapely as hers. She had the figure of a supermodel and was able to fit into all of those cute and trendy clothes at the mall, so I always felt a little self-conscious when we went clothes shopping together.
Has anyone ever had a friend that made comments that caused them to feel inferior? How do you deal with such a friend when her constant remarks become hurtful? Is there a point when you should end the friendship if it is becoming hurtful and bridging on toxic? This article will discuss some of the strategies people can use when dealing with a friend's hurtful comments.
Her Mean Comments Are Not Personal
Some people are more blunt and often make comments that can be construed as hurtful by others. Growing up, I had a very nurturing mother who was always careful not to say things that would upset me, as she knew I was a slightly sensitive child.
Critical Friends Were Often Raised by Critical Parents
However, some people who have parents that feel they must make tough comments to help their kids rise to each challenge. I am glad that my mom was not this kind of parent, but a child with a more blunt and direct personality may enjoy this type of parenting. It is always interesting to realize a person's home environment and personality type both go into shaping their personality.
In some friendships, it can be difficult if one person is sensitive and more tactful when the other person is more direct. It all has to do with personality and the way people interact with one another. If one person is more sensitive then she needs to let her girlfriend know certain comments hurt her.
For instance, let us say two friends are trying on swimsuits, and one makes a comment about how the red one with white polka dots makes her look chubby. Some honesty in all friendships is good, such as one friend is trying to help the other friend pick out a swimming suit that is flattering for her body type.
This friend is not being mean on purpose, and she probably just feels she has to make comments about people's body shapes and attire because she learned that behavior from her mother or other relatives. My friend, for instance, later complained that her mom could make harsh comments about people's attire and body shapes, which helped me to not be hurt by some of her more critical comments about my body type.
Strategies for Dealing With Critical Friends
So we should learn how to deal with these hurtful situations in a tactful and productive way.
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Change the Subject
For instance, you can say, "Thanks for trying to help me pick out a suit; maybe we can both look for ones that look good on me?" This comment shifts the attention away from feeling upset and focuses the attention on finding an appropriate bathing suit, which helps to reduce the drama in the friendship.
However, if your friend continues to make hurtful comments when you are trying on clothes and says nothing looks good on you, then you need to make some ground rules about future social outings. For example, you can tell your friend, "I enjoy many things that our friendship has to offer, but I feel uncomfortable clothes shopping with you because_______," and you fill in the blank.
Establish Ground Rules
After this, you will continue to be positive and constructive by simply making it known that some activities are better to do on your own. This same scenario can be applied to any situation where your friend is making a hurtful comment, and you are not able to deal with it. For example, maybe you go on skiing trips, and she makes fun of your ability, so it is better just to establish some ground rules and let her know there are certain activities you will not be attending.
What to Do When Her Comments Cross the Line
If her comments continue to cross the line, then you need to consider whether it is healthy to continue the friendship. With my one friend, she continued to make hurtful comments in almost every situation, which made it hard to want to be around her. I am not perfect myself, and I know I said and did things that irritated her, but all friends must ask themselves when does the friendship stop being mutually supportive and becomes toxic?
Ask Yourself if It's Worth Continuing to Spend Time With the Person
With your family, you have to put up with certain differences because you are related, but your friends should be a refuge where you can just be yourself. Hurtful comments do not make your friends bad people, but this might be an indication that the friendship has hit a roadblock that cannot be surpassed. Sensitive people like myself do not tease and joke around with each other a lot, but we can be funny and witty in different ways that some people may not understand.
If you are friends with someone who likes to joke around a lot and their teasing is beginning to hurt, begin to ask yourself whether this is the type of friendship that helps to bring out the best in you. I once had a friend who always told mean-spirited jokes, and after a while, I just did not find these funny. When I stood up to her jokes, she said I was sensitive and did not know how to laugh, but I told her jokes bordering on personal swipes are no laughing matter.
Spend Some Time Apart
So when your friend likes to joke and make blunt comments, then she might feel more comfortable spending time with people that give her the freedom to do that. Do not get into dramatic confrontations, but let your friends know that you need time off to do things for yourself for a while. Take some time to do things you might not be able to do with that friend or spend time with other friends that make you feel more comfortable with.
You do not have to end the friendship, but sometimes it is better to bow out if it is becoming hurtful and mutually disrespectful. Just try to remember that many things people say and do are not personal, but that we each react differently to different events and scenarios.
For instance, I had a friend who got very upset when people used pornographic language around, but her friends did not care and sometimes used that banter among themselves. We each have a different threshold, and we have to learn what makes us feel comfortable and the happiest. She learned eventually that whereas that group may be having a merry old time, she was happier to go on social outings by herself and reconnect with some old long-lost friends from school.
Friendship Does Not Equal Happiness
To be truly happy, you must be secure with yourself and not always thinking about friends' opinions. It does take time, but you can work on self-confidence so your friends' comments do not hurt anymore. Make sure you take time out for yourself to read self-esteem-building books or to just work on a hobby.
Maintain the Friendships That Are Meaningful and Fulfilling
Friendship is a gem worth cherishing, but maintaining any and all friendships is not the end-all and be-all to our happiness. Even with the best of friendships, we have to be happy with ourselves first and then think about friendships second. This was an especially hard lesson for me to learn because I always felt like I needed someone's approval to be happy, but I finally learned I only need my own approval.
If I am making good decisions that will make my life productive and happy, then I am doing the best I can for myself. Many people will come and go out of your life, so you must love yourself first and learn to be happy spending solitary time working on hobbies and goals.
Focus on Friendships That Bring Out the Best in You
Friendships can augment our lives and we should see them as wonderful people who bring additional happiness, but remember these people are not responsible for our happiness. Any friendship that makes a person feel less than is not worth wasting a person's time or self-esteem on. Try to pursue friendships that bring out the best in yourself and the best in your friends.