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Andrea Rodgers is a member of the Vogue 100, a hand-selected group by Vogue magazine of 100 influential decision makers and opinion leaders across the country known for their distinctive taste in fashion & culture. She has been featured in Vogue, W and Allure, CNN, Fox News, NOS Dutch Public Broadcasting, TV Tokyo, France 24, Alhurra, USA Today, Washington Post & Politico.

Toxic Friends

Dear Miss A:

This is a rather long, complicated story. One of my best friends and I have had a rough year. Last spring she had a crush on a guy (we’ll call him Jay), I thought he was really great as well. I started to like him too as I got to know him. But I really didn’t feel the need to act on it, I was at a really good place in my life. After awhile she decided that she really couldn’t see herself dating him, and I was happy for her. She started moving on to other guys, and I didn’t even give it a second thought.

We all ended up at a party; I ended up drinking a good deal more then I should have, to be perfectly honest I blacked out for a good two hours that evening (not something I normally do, but it was finals week). Jay ended up being the one that had to take care of me, he got to the party late and decided not to drink. He ended up making a move on me, saying that he had really liked me for awhile. (I know sketch-ball move) We ended up fooling around a little, nothing serious though. He took me home, and told me that he would call me the next day.

I talked to my best friend about it, and she said she was happy for me and that she was surprised she hadn’t seen it coming. She admitted she was a little jealous that he had gone for me and not her, but she was not upset with me and told me to enjoy it.

He and I ended up being exclusive over the summer, even though he was in Boston and I was in DC. We talked daily and visited each other a few times.

He ended up breaking it off at the end of the summer; neither of us would have enough time to devote to a serious relationship because of classes, work, and our desire to pursue our own interests. We had also sort of hit an intimacy road block; we were going different ways with our interests, and we both have some trust issues from past relationships. It was really hard on me because the following week/weekend I found out about some potential medical issues, had to spend a day in the hospital with a friend, among other work related issues.

We came back to school and ended up staying friends, we weren’t super close but it was better that way. I was still working on getting over him and just didn’t really want to make it any harder on myself.

In the midst of working on myself, my friend let me know that she still had feelings for Jay. That while she was dating another guy over the summer she still thought of Jay and had strong feelings for him. At the time I was still dealing with some personal health issues, as well as some family issues (this year just wasn’t good all around). She knew that I was having a hard time with it.

But she assumed that my role as friend took precedence over my feelings; she talked about her feelings and analyzed his actions. She was debating whether or not to tell him; she ended up hooking up with another guy that was one of his good friend’s at the time. A really wonderful guy that treated her like a princess, he’s really handsome and thoughtful and adored her. She decided that she had to let Jay know about her feelings; she told this guy her situation and he told her that he wasn’t going to wait but that he understood her need.

I told her that if she ended up dating him, I wouldn’t be able to spend time with her. That it would be too painful, she was absorbed and didn’t really process it when I said this. She said that she understood and she would do anything she could to make it easier, and that she hoped that our friendship would survive this.

She ended up talking to him about it, and he told her that he didn’t have the same feelings. That he might have at some point, but it wasn’t going to happen now.

Which was a relief to me, but something was still bothering me. I realized that I felt really disregarded and used, that my feelings had been forgotten. But at some point she had mentioned that it was only fair that she have a chance because she had been through a similar thing.

I realized that she hadn’t. That it wasn’t the same. That she had completely ignored my pleas for her to stop, and that she was completely ignorant to the pain that she had caused me and the even greater potential for pain that there had been. I started to act very passive aggressively, but realized that because she had been such a good friend that I needed to tell her. That she deserved to know how I felt.

I told her, and she felt awful that she had caused me so much pain. She failed to fully comprehend that what she had done was something that would hurt me so much, but she understood that I was hurting even if she couldn’t understand it. She told me that she had no idea, that she thought I was fine. She told me I needed to communicate better, and that she would listen better. We made some amends, but I told her that I wasn’t over it and that she had seriously shaken my trust and faith in her.

Over winter break we talked and things seemed to be going back to normal; but we got back and things were still a little rough. She had hooked up with the guy she dated last summer; problem was he had a girlfriend, she knew it, and she knew the girl. But she did it anyways.

I can’t abide by that kind of behavior, I can’t. I was completely disgusted when I found out, completely disgusted. I didn’t really convey that to her, she eventually realized how wrong what she did was after we saw He’s Just Not That Into You. But she pitied the woman’s character, and therefore pitied herself.

I’m having a very difficult time being her friend now. But we have a lot of love and understanding, and I don’t want to loose that. Plus we have two other really good friends that we live with, and the four of us our incredibly tight. (I also live with her.)

She claims not to have feelings for Jay anymore, but she talks about him all the time. She complains that they’re not as close as friends, and that he’s changed. She doesn’t want to admit it’s because of what she did.

He and I are becoming really good friends again, last semester we distanced ourselves as much as well could with the number of mutual friends that we have. I got over him for the most part, nothing finding someone new won’t cure. I’m happy being single though, and enjoying my friends more then ever.

She’s not happy with my getting closer to him. A mutual friend of mine and his has been dropping hints that he’d like our budding friendship to bud into something more. It’s something I’m not looking into too much, because what’s going to happen will happen. But I haven’t told me good friend that liked him about it, and I don’t know that I should.

I suppose I want advice on what I should do about my friend; I don’t feel like I can trust her. I don’t feel like she has the ability to consider my feelings because I dated Jay last summer. She says that she feels like our friendship is at a standstill, or going backwards. I would love to just get over these things, but they are things that are inherently against my nature. I’m sure there’s more I could say, this is a really hard situation and I think I know how I should proceed but I would love to hear your perspective.

Thanks,

Dear Unsure Undergrad,

Thank you so much for writing in! It sounds really complicated, especially since your friend is also your roommate and you have so many friends in common. I know you said “she’s a good friend”, but is she? Doesn’t sound like it. It’s great that Jay wasn’t into her, but she seems like the type that might throw herself at him when he’s vulnerable like when he’s been drinking.Your friend sounds like she needs constant attention and validation from guys. She sees guys as trophies, wants guys that other girls have, and can’t be satisfied with the guy she’s with. Sadly, I think you’re right in not trusting her, and if you don’t have trust, you don’t have a real friendship. I know you have great memories together, and still have fun on a superficial level, but I feel like she’s going to really hurt you at some point and sabotage your relationships with guys.

I know you’re young, but sometimes you really do need to reassess your friendships. Sometimes you’re better off breaking ties with people, and ridding yourself of all the drama. A couple of years ago, I really made an effort to cut toxic people out of my life. I stopped going out “on the scene” and spending my time with “friends” who were everything from compulsive liars to back stabbers, social climbers, alcoholics, drug addicts, and materialistic elitists. I’m much happier having a few very close true friends and lots of acquaintances than hanging out with a big posse of “frenemies”.

One thing I would really suggest is that you think about finding a different living situation for next year. It’s not healthy to live with someone that you can’t even trust. You need a more peaceful setting in which to live, and study. All this drama will pass with time, but what is truly important is your school work as that will shape your future. And Lord knows this is a very tough economy to find work, so when you do get out of school you want to have done well! You may not want to stop being her friend all together, but if you look for a different living situation for next year, that may cut down on how much this friend knows about your life. The less she knows the better, as she can’t be trusted. This will also give you space to make new friendships with girls whose values are similar to your own.

– Miss A

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