Maybe this sounds like “no duh” advice to you. Why would you hang out with people who aren’t even nice to you? I don’t know! And yet I’ve done exactly that, multiple times in my life, and I see other people do it all the time. Yes, there are definitely times when you have to hang out with people who aren’t nice to you, like if that person is your classmate or coworker and you truly cannot avoid them. But if you can get away from them? Cut them out of your life ASAP.
I was really lucky to grow up with a super close group of girlfriends who always have each others’ backs. I’ve known some of them since elementary school, and although we have different opinions on things and we’ve certainly had disagreements in the past, they are the people who I know I can 100% count on in any situation. But as I’ve learned in the years since I graduated from high school, not everyone grew up with friendships like that. There are people who think that friends are supposed to make you cry, or make you feel bad about yourself, or pick fights with you. If you read a lot of advice columns (as I do, because I LOVE them), people are always writing in with questions about their “friends” who are actually not friends at all. Friends are supposed to make you feel good about yourself, not terrible.
Unfortunately, it took me awhile to learn that. When I was younger, I didn’t get that there are people who will treat you the way you demand to be treated. And if you don’t have any self-esteem and you’re weak, they’ll take advantage of it. I used to have friends who would sigh when I walked into a room, roll their eyes when I said something stupid (which was often!), and purposefully try to exclude me from things. It was extraordinarily painful. Instead of thinking, “This is not acceptable treatment. I don’t deserve this and I should say something about it,” I just felt worse and worse every day. I didn’t even tell people about it because I was so ashamed, and I thought it was surely a reflection on me. I mean, listen, I know I’m an annoying person sometimes–that’s very evident on this blog–but no one’s annoying enough to warrant that sort of treatment. So I just took it, for a really long time. I don’t think I’ve ever felt worse about myself in my life.
Eventually, I was able to cut people like this out of my life completely. Now I can see that this really, really wasn’t normal. People always have their own reasons for treating you poorly, and they’re usually not about you. Maybe they’re feeling bad about something in their own lives. But that’s still no reason for you to take it. If someone who calls him/herself your friend is making fun of you, purposefully excluding you or others to make him/herself feel better, cutting you down, talking shit about you, or in general just being mean…stop hanging out with that person. There’s no way around it. If you really value this person’s friendship, talk to him/her about it first. But if the crappy treatment keeps up, forget it. This person is not your friend.
Now that I’m older and (sort of) wiser, I absolutely do not tolerate that sort of behavior. If I even get a hint of someone doing “mean girl” shit, excluding others, or trying to put me down, I am over it. Which is not to say that I don’t accept apologies or change my mind about people! I totally do. I get that everyone has bad days (or years), and I’ve certainly made my own mistakes. But in general, remember that people treat you how you tell them to treat you. If you accept any sort of abuse, they will keep delivering it. You should only be friends with people who truly want to be nice to you and lift you up, not be mean to you and tear you down.
In closing, enjoy this quote from Kate Nash, who puts everything I said much more succinctly:
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