NORMAN — Dear counselors, I have a friend who has recently started acting very controlling. She only wants to spend time with me. She controls what we do and even tells me what I should and shouldn’t wear.
When we are with a group of people, she makes a fool of herself trying to belittle me and win them over to her side. I wasn’t aware there were sides. This is really upsetting to me because we have been friends for a long time.
— Staci, of Norman
We can tell this is obviously causing you stress and unhappiness. Although this behavior is often seen in middle-level kids, we get the impression you are older, even though you didn’t say your age or grade level. We believe true friends are people who bring out the best in us.
They make us laugh, are honest, helpful, always on our side and they aren’t afraid of ruining the friendship by telling us something we may be afraid to hear.
It doesn’t sound to us like your friend fits these requirements. There is no place in a friendship for jealousy, belittling or controlling. It takes two to make a friendship.
In relationships, you are the boss of you. We’ve always felt that one of the hardest life lessons is knowing how to gracefully bow out of a friendship that no longer makes you happy. If you choose to end the friendship, be honest, up front and explain your feelings. Make yourself less available for texts, calls or activities.
You must decide if you are going to allow this “friend” to disrespect you by trying to control you, because if you don’t allow it, it won’t continue. When you stop allowing yourself to be treated this way, the friendship will either survive or not.
I’m sure you’ve heard the golden rule, “treat others as you wish to be treated.” Make sure you are holding up your end of the relationship.
We also want to point out that these requirements hold true in a romantic relationship, as well. No one should be in control of another person in this regard. People who find themselves involved in these types of relationships need to realize that this is a form of abuse and can lead to horrific circumstances.
Along with control, a few other things to look for would be anger, humiliation, jealousy, guilt trips and, of course, any sign of physical aggression. If any of these characteristics are present, the relationship should end immediately.
A partnership means just that — it’s equal input from both sides, as well as mutual respect. You are a queen and should be treated as one.
Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Sally and Jeannie are certified school counselors with more than 50 years combined educational experience. Jeannie has two children, Sally three. The responses presented don’t necessarily reflect the views of any certain school district.