Ask LH: How Do I Confront A Friend Who’s Suddenly Turned Into A Jerk?

Ask LH: How Do I Confront A Friend Who’s Suddenly Turned Into A Jerk?

Dear Lifehacker,

I have been friends with a person for almost 10 years now. They recently started being a jerk to me. They seem to have no apparent reason, and are fine with other people. I haven’t done anything to upset them (at least I don’t think so) and want to fix this problem. Do you have any tips for confronting or calling this person out?

Photos by tommaso lizzul (Shutterstock), Ninja M, Frederick Dennstedt, Jesper Rønn-Jensen, N1NJ4.


Frustrated Friend

Dear FF,

We’ve all certainly found ourselves in this situation before. While a lot of the time it’s a fleeting problem, every once in a while a friendship really can take a turn for the worse. It’s never a fun experience, but here are a few ways to handle the situation.

Ask LH: How Do I Confront A Friend Who’s Suddenly Turned Into A Jerk?

Schedule A Time To Talk It Out

First things first, you need to double check and make sure your relationship with your friend is really in trouble. Just because someone’s a jerk a few times doesn’t mean they’re going to stop talking to you all of the sudden. Unfortunately, the only way to really root out the problem is to talk with them.

Talking it out is obvious enough advice, but as The Huffington Post suggests, it really is the best solution to root out the problem:

If you’ve had a falling out or need to speak to a friend about an issue. Reach out to them. Tell them you would like to repair the friendship and want to talk about what happened.

That directness is pretty tough and the conversation might get a little messy. There’s no easy way to do this, and your best bet is to just meet up with them and be straight about what’s going on. Tell them they’re being a jerk, and you want to know why. Hopefully the conversation will be productive from there.

If you need some help navigating the conversation, we’ve walked you through calling people out on BS before, as well as how to properly deal with manipulative people. If all else fails, it might just be time to decide if you even like that friend to begin with.

Ask LH: How Do I Confront A Friend Who’s Suddenly Turned Into A Jerk?

Downgrade The Friendship

Ten years of a friendship equates to a pretty high friendship status. This might mean you’re spending a lot of time together and doing loads of activities. Over time, this might put significant stress on the friendship. Psychology Today suggests that the best solution might be to downgrade the friendship status a little:

Consider whether you really need to end the friendship? Can you downgrade the relationship so you see each other less often or dilute it by seeing each other within the context of a group?

It seems a little silly, but the idea here is to simply spend a little less time together. Sometimes, people need to just shake things up a bit. If your friendship has become a routine where you’re always doing the same thing, changing the dynamics of how it works helps keep it going. It might not be the same friendship you’ve had for the last 10 years, but at least you’ll still have it.

Ask LH: How Do I Confront A Friend Who’s Suddenly Turned Into A Jerk?

Give The Friendship A Break

Chances are you’ve been through plenty together and you’ve seen each other in a variety of highs and lows. While it’s hard to really explain why they’ve suddenly decided to be a jerk, sometimes friendships just need a break. As Psychology Today points out, this isn’t a bad thing and sometimes it’s just about growing apart:

Drift in friendships can also happen when you grow and change while your friends do not, or when you haven’t quite figured out your own talents and beliefs and are susceptible to conforming to the values of those around you.

When you grow apart, your friend might not know how to handle it and they react by being a jerk to you. Psychology Today highlights a gross story about a friend who’s volatile temper went a lot further than just being a jerk, but closed with the following advice:

Given that this is a 15-year friendship, I think it is likely she will come back to you after she gets over this. Give her all the time she needs. You’ve said and done what you could to help her at the moment.

Having a friend go suddenly aggro on you is never a pleasant experience, but hopefully you can at least keep the whole thing civil even if you can’t repair the friendship completely.



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  • I had two long standing friendships that I downgraded, for different reasons – they might help.

    A friend put a new girlfriend ahead of me for months on end. Always too busy. When his infatuation ended, he wondered why I had little time for him. He had let his true colours show of how important I was – and blamed her for being controlling.

    A friend got involved with an argument I was having with another friend. I advised him not to take sides, but he chose to act as “judge, jury and executioner” with only hearing one side of the story (ie. I told him nothing because it wasn’t his business, so he only had 1 side to hear). Needless to say, he came to the wrong conclusions and judged me in a way I knew was wrong. In one instance and one instance only I snapped and said “it’s none of your fucking business”. I realised that I had chosen poorly in trusting that individual as I don’t need to be judged by 3rd parties.

    Needless to say, in both instances, I greatly toned down a long-standing friendship (10 years+), and I’d do it again in a heart-beat. Both of these happened a long time ago… And I still talk to them, but they know that I’ve changed toward them.

    One other theory could be that a 3rd “friend” has turned against you and this other person has chosen to side with them (similar to my story 2, above).

  • Lots of quotes from ‘Psychology Today’ in this article.

    Anyway I did this. Talked to a friend who was being a jerk. He said nothing was wrong. We haven’t spoken since. That was over 10 years ago. Some people are just too cowardly to be honest about their feelings. He’s no great loss, in hindsight he was never a nice person. But I regret all the years of hanging out with him, when I could’ve been doing other things. All we did was smoke pot and play video games, hardly the basis of a good relationship.

    But I do wish I had another friend who I could smoke pot and play video games with. But I would feel really weird ‘asking out’ someone now, I’m 33 with kids. So I pretend to be a mature person. Even though I still feel the same as I did when I was 16, just with a smidgen more wisdom.

  • I had 2 great friends for almost 7 years, we spent a lot of time together and fun times were had.
    Then they decided to become ultra clingy all of a sudden, whenever I could not make it to any meets they would freak out and even come to my house uninvited. It seemed they were worried they were losing me as a friend. It became so bad they started making comments about
    my family etc.

    I tried talking (like in the article) with them face to face about it, openly and hoping as friends they would keep an open mind about things. Instead they decided blackmailing me was the best way forward. Thanks guys!

    So yes, the talking approach doesn’t always work. And then the only thing left to do
    is just let your friends go and remember the good times you had with them.
    It sucks, but that is the only way.

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