I’m 20 years old already, but I keep having problems with friends or acquaintances. I get to know them a little, and then suddenly they start shoving me, hitting me on the head, yelling at me, manipulating me to do things THEY WANT me to do, but I DON’T, by telling me I owe them, etc. It’s weird. It keeps happening. One moment they are nice; the next moment they stink. I’m not sure how to describe those moments on text. It’s like seeing a car wreck. I’m confused because I thought they were nice. And then they apologize. They pull the “I’m insecure” card, but never apologize. If I get angry, they say I’m being immature.
I know I’m not the one who needs to apologize, but I’m sorry that your “friends” are NOT the kind of people who deserve to hang out with you. And everyone who is willing to put in the effort of a sustaining relationship deserves the same from their friends.
First and foremost, however, is your safety: If your friends are figuratively and literally hitting you on the head, that shit needs to end, STAT. There is no universe in which physical abuse is a sign of “friendship.” Their insecurity is no excuse to hurt you. I strongly suggest ending all contact with anyone who is doing so, if you feel that those individuals will not retaliate in a way that puts you in further physical danger. If you don’t feel comfortable doing so, do not hesitate to reach out for help.
If you live on a college campus, campus police officers and resident assistants are trained to aid and abet those situations. Another method is having a trusted, different friend with you while you confront the people hurting you to tell them that your relationship is over because of their actions. OR you can just stop picking up their calls, stop answering their texts, delete them from your online presence, and stop putting yourself in situations or surroundings where you will interact with them. It’s passive aggressive, but often effective.
You don’t need an apology. A cold doesn’t take time to apologize for making you too sick to go to work. And that’s what these people are to you: a sickness. When you’re sick, you think nothing of looking for a cure. But for some reason, it’s all too difficult for us to get rid of our cancerous relationships when the remedy is easier to get your hands on than Sudafed.
Stop hanging out with these people. As frustrating as it may seem to cut one or more people from your social circle and limit your number of friends, you can and will meet people who are not physically and emotionally demeaning of your worth. When you have people constantly enforcing the idea that you aren’t good enough, that your wants and needs shouldn’t factor into your relationships, that you should push your comfort zone because they demand it, odds are you will start acting in a way that reflects those ideas. And a person who feels weak, pushed around and manipulated isn’t going to attract upbeat, engaging individuals – you’re going to attract more abusers. By cutting off those relationships and recognizing your worth as someone who deserves the same love and respect you give to your friends, you will not only change your pattern of thinking, you will change people’s perceptions of you.
For those of you who need another analogy, it’s like driving defensively: You can’t control what the drivers around you are thinking or behaving, and that isn’t your job. Your responsibility is to monitor your own actions and be a part of an effective system. It isn’t your job to be someone’s punching bag. Nor – when this person inevitably tells you they’re “sorry,” or will stop pulling that crap – is it your job to teach someone how to be a decent human being.
They can think whatever the hell they want about you: You’re being too sensitive! You’re taking it the wrong way! That’s just how they show affection! Good for them – they can go be that person’s “friend.” You don’t need to be in the middle of that 10-car pileup, nor rubberneck as you pass it on the highway.
Images courtesy of Lauren Slavin.