You have problems, I have advice. This advice isn't sugar-coated — in fact, it's sugar-free, and may even be a little bitter. Welcome to Tough Love.
Image by Samet Kilic. Logo by Jim Cooke.
This week we have a guy who's worried his friend is crushin' on him, someone who needs to break ties with an extremely selfish "friend" once and for all, and a man who is jealous of his successful coworker.
'.You have problems, I have advice. This advice isn't sugar-coated — in fact, it's sugar-free, and may even be a little bitter. Welcome to Tough Love..'
Keep in mind, I'm not a therapist or any other kind of health professional — just a guy who's willing to tell it like it is. I simply want to give you the tools you need to enrich your damn lives. If for whatever reason you don't like my advice, feel free to file a formal complaint here. Now then, let's get on with it.
This Guy Wants to Keep His Ex in the 'Friend Zone'
Hi Mr Allan,
This girl I dated for five months in high school, about three years ago, is extremely insistent on being friends. I like being friends with her, but sometimes she is a bit too clingy, almost as if she wants to get back together. This, however, is something I do not want. She keeps calling me her "best friend", and sometimes has little pet names for me, and it is a little uncomfortable. She even told me that she wants to be the first one to know if I get a girlfriend. I am a pretty gruff person if I have to be, and could tell her what's what, and have her find a friend in someone else, but we live in a small town and I run into her all the time. It would be nice if she could stay my friend, but also have boundaries. To make things more complex, she is pretty decent friends with my siblings, whom I still talk to on a regular basis.
I guess my main question is how do I stay friends with her without making her think I want to get back together? If that isn't possible, how do I drop her without her falling into a fit of depression? I am one of her only close friends.
Hey Hands Off:
It seems like she still has some lingering feelings for you, yes. That said, it's hard to say if she's as aware of them as you appear to be. There's a good chance she's just unknowingly slipping back into her old routine with you. Before you do or say anything, Hands Off, check yourself. Your dick is not magic, and your perspective on this situation is not the only one. You might actually just be considered a good friend in her mind. Just because she's comfortable with you doesn't mean she has a shrine of you in her closet made out of gum.
You can easily stay friends with her without shooting up a "let's get back together" flare, Hands Off. Just don't make any moves that suggest you want to get back together. You know, stuff like dates, romantic walks, kissing, sex, sharing a single spaghetti noodle, and so on. If she ever tries to make a move, tell it to her straight. Say something like, "Look, I really like you as a friend, but I don't think getting back together is a good idea." If she can't deal with it, that's on her. You're not responsible for her happiness.
But you feel uncomfortable now, and you want to give her a nudge in the other direction. Fine. When you hang out, talk to her the same way you talk to your guy friends. You know, stuff like trucks and porn and video games and MMA. (That's what guys talk about, right?) Whatever feelings of attraction she once had for your magic dick will be gone forever.
'.Learning to get along with an ex can be necessary for mutual friends, children or professional reasons. It's not easy, but there are some things you can do to more smoothly transition from a breakup to being friends — or civil, at the very least..'
This Person Is Being Drained by a Very Selfish Friend
A few months back, I was in a dark place: Hated my job, most of my family, life in general really. I had considered suicide and, not long after getting the idea, received a call from a friend of mine. Now, poor timing or no, this friend has always been an arrogant man, only really calling to talk about himself or ask for something. It was an odd friendship, one that usually involved me humouring him on the phone while he talked about himself and his problems for hours at a time.
Still, he always called me one of his "best friends", so when he finally got around to asking how I was feeling, I told him. The anxiety, the depression, the dark thoughts, everything I could get in before he started exhaustively talking again. "Oh really?" was his exact response, followed by him cutting me off and talking about himself again for the remainder of the call.
I understand that I put him on the spot, but his initial reaction, coupled with the fact that he went back to not calling or texting again for weeks at a time, makes me question how to break off our friendship for good. It was something I had considered long before this precise situation occurred, but, just when I thought we would finally drift apart, he would send another text or give me a call and we'd be right back to square one again.
It just feels like he is adding to these feelings of anxiety and he could care less about me to boot. I tried talking with him about his selfish attitude some time ago, before this situation I mentioned earlier, and he made a promise to change, without actually doing so.
Should I confront him about it again in an attempt to break this friendship off for good, or hope to be able to "ghost" him instead through silence? I know it's not the best option, but he's not leaving me many...
Hey Egos Abound:
Please do not commit suicide. Suicide leaves behind a wake of suffering and sadness for people in ways you cannot truly fathom. There are other ways to mitigate your pain. Do not hesitate to call Lifeline on 13 11 14 if you're in Australia, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 if you're in the US, or speak with a therapist. It helps. It really does.
Anyway, Eggos (I changed it 'cause it amuses me), I can say with zero doubt in my mind that this man is not your friend. He is a vampire. He shows up only when he's hungry, rushes through the pleasantries, then drains you of life while he complains about the damn sun. He sucks (yup). In fact, this leech you call a "friend" makes me so angry, I wish I could pry him off of your neck myself and rip his fangs out.
Now Eggos, what do we do with vampires? That's right: We shove a stake through their arrogant hearts. So that's what you're going to do with this monster as well, except verbally (do not stab this person please). You need to tell him something like this:
[shitty friend's name], I need to tell you something. I've always been willing to chat with you about your problems and offer any help I can, but when I told you I was struggling, and even considering suicide, you weren't there for me at all. You didn't say anything, and then you blew me off, going back to talking about your problems again. In fact, you've never really been there for me. You're selfish. Friends are supposed to help and soften the blows life deals, but you do the opposite. I don't think we should talk any more.
If you're the squeamish type and not up for that kind of honesty, then ghost him, Eggos. Ghost that vamp hard. Block him out completely, and go be with your real friends who do care about you and don't vant to sawck you blahd. You don't need that kind of negative influence in your life.
'.Everyone wants to be well-liked and respected, but when you trip over yourself to be nice, you might be doing yourself a disservice. People might perceive you as indecisive and perhaps even disingenuous. Instead, try being honest, polite, and assertive..'
This Guy Needs to Focus on His Own Work
Need some help gently telling someone that they just aren't very good at their job. There's a guy at work who is insufferably proud of his work — he's constantly puffing out his chest and patting himself on the back. The problem is, nothing he produces is really novel... I mean his standard routine is to take OTHER peoples' work, repackage it, and then present it with only cosmetic, superficial adjustments to it. It seems like he's got almost everyone fooled and truthfully it angers me. BUT he seems like a pretty good guy (we're not friends) and I don't want to hurt his feelings. Is there a tactful, subtle way to give him constructive criticism on his approach? Essentially, how do you tell someone that he's a hack without being a dick?
Green 'n' Mean
Hey Green 'n' Mean:
I have one very important question for you: Are you this person's boss or in any way their superior? If not, you don't get to say anything. At all. Shut up and do your job. Stop complaining about how this guy is edging you out at work and do your job better.
Honestly, this guy you're bitching about sounds like a genius. He's taking ideas that are somewhat decent but flawed, then reiterating them in a way that sells. I mean, that's what most truly successful ideas are, Green. They're not novel, out-of-the-blue epiphanies that just take off the moment they're conceived. They're old ideas that need to be reworked until everything is just right.
If he's stealing your work, suck it up and talk to him about it. Tell him that he's using your idea and that you'd at least like to get credit for it, or be a part of the project. Otherwise, keep your criticisms to yourself and focus on improving your own work. Maybe even learn from this guy. This "he's got everybody fooled but me" angle really just comes across like you're jealous and would rather knock him down then rise up yourself.
'.Struggling to come up with new ideas at work? Worried you might get canned if you can't bring something brilliant to the next meeting? Provided you don't mind being evil, you can steal someone else's great idea and sell it as your own..'
That's it for this week. I probably didn't make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but sometimes what you need is some tough love. 'Til next time, figure things out for yourself.