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I really want to be friends with my social group's new addition, but she treats me like I'm an old lady!

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Question - (30 July 2006) 3 Answers - (Newest, 1 August 2006)
A female , anonymous writes:

I have a small group of very good friends, who I have a very strong bond with. We have been friends for years, and we are actually more like family to each other. We also have a wide circle of other friends, who we mix with either together or separately.

If one of us introduces a new friend we are always delighted to welcome them, - the more the merrier. So when one of my pals introduced this lady who he met through work, we welcomed her into the gang, and included her in outings and so on. I was delighted to meet her, as I thought we had a lot in common. Then we went on holiday together. We had a good time, but it was spoilt for me by the way she treated me, which felt patronising to me.

I am a few years older than my friends, and this lady is also 7 or 8 years younger than me. This is just not an issue - our friends range in age from late 20s to early 60s. But on holiday, this lady would do and say things to me like - 'we're having breakfast at 8.30, but you can have a lie in if that's too early for you sweetheart'. Or she'd ask if I needed her to knock on my door to wake me.

Once we were having a drink in the hotel bar, and she suddenly stood up and said, 'well I think it's time to call it a night. I need to get this one to her bed (patting the back of my hand as she said it)'.

She would constantly smile indulgently at me and ask if I was alright, - was it too late for me, were they walking too fast for me, were the steps we were climbing while out on a walk too steep, etc. She also took charge of organising things, and would tell me she'd arranged for us to do this or that, and ask if I'd like to join them. I used to think, hang on a minute, you are treating me like a little old lady who needs looking after, and you are inviting me to join my own friends!

I didn't know if I was just being oversensitive. But when one of my friends said to me that she thought I should have a little word with her about setting boundaries, I was glad because I felt it meant it was not just me seeing a problem where there wasn't one.

I did have a little chat with her, told her I wanted to be her friend, but when she treated me like that I felt patronised, and it was getting in the way of us becoming friends. She said she just can't help mothering people. And to be fair, she does have the tendency to take over and want to organise everyone, not just me.

Anyway I let it go. But we've been out a couple of times since the holiday and she keeps doing it. The last straw was last weekend when we went out for a meal. After we'd eaten someone suggested going for a drink and a dance, - this is something my friends and I do all the time. She said fine, but suggested I might be too tired to stay out any later, and said I could always get a cab home if it got too late for me. That really infuriated me.

I think I really need to sit her down and sort this out. The thing is, I would really like us to be friends, because apart from this one thing, everything else about her is great. Besides, my friends like her and I don't want there to be friction between her and me. But I cant help feeling that she is deliberately trying to edge me out by treating me different from the others, and to plant the seed in their minds that really I'm a bit too old to be hanging out with them.

Do you think I should try to accept that she just can't help mothering, and try to let it wash over me? Or should I talk to her, and try to explain how it makes me feel when she behaves like this.

I'd really appreciate advice on how to handle this.

View related questions: on holiday

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A female reader, snowbird Canada +, writes (1 August 2006):

snowbird agony auntI was at the recieving end of this kind of 'in-fighting' - similar to being bullied at school. She is trying to use you as a way to ingratiate herself into the group. Trouble is, she will find it hard going if your friends, knowing you better than they do her, will be 'on to her' in a very short space of time. So I would not worry on that score!

My experience was a very childish and silly situation where the only 'advantage' which 2 (obviously jealous, I'm told) women had over me, was the fact that they had huge breasts, and one of them would, in front of the others, (male AND female) - try to humiliate me by referring to my breasts as tangerines, and theirs as melons, and such remarks, all at my expense. This came to a crux when, on holiday, she said it in the crowded hotel dining room, out loud - IN FRONT of the waiter and surrounding diners - which of course took it to a WHOLE new level, as previously she made these 'digs' in private (meaning in mixed company!!).. My reply? (equally loudly) "At least I can fit into the underwear to match, and not the upholstery you have to wear!!" Childish I know, and I am no stick, but they DID ask for it, it raised a few laughs, lifted the (by now, mounting) tension and by jiminy did it FEEL GOOD!! So think up a master plan involving your original trusted friends' help, and put this usurper in her place. With 'friends' such as her, who needs enemies!? I hope the dynamics of your group of friends is not upset by her unwanted snide remarks, and that she can learn from this and mend her ways.. Good luck, don't let her spoil your previously good social life.

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A female reader, Astrid Spain +, writes (31 July 2006):

Astrid agony auntDO NOT STRESS SHE'S DOING IT ON PURPOSE TO UPSET YOU AND PROVOKE AN OUTBURST ON YOUR SIDE, she is looking for power and tries to hurt you as she wants to gat closer to your friends by threatening the position of a person she thinks she can easiy override, I would suggest smiling to her and pretend not to notice and comment her behaviour to 2 or 3 of your closest friends who could help you to handle the situation of course not the one that introduced her in the group as he/she would feel offended. Tell her that you are never tired when you're with such an agreable person as her and why always doing things with all members of the circle at the same time, leave her aside and take comfort in 2 or 3 of your best friends some time, dont get close to her on meetings, ignore her it will make her feel like an idiot,

love

Astrid

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A female reader, Bev Conolly Australia +, writes (30 July 2006):

Bev Conolly agony auntNo, she's not "just mothering" you. This is about power, and passive-aggressive nudges, not about her dotty little flaws.

You've already spoken to her about this, yet she continues. So unless she has the wits of a fruit-fly, she's doing it intentionally. And she's doing so with your tacit approval, because you don't speak up at the time.

You need to get your ~real~ friends behind you, supporting you, and nip this behaviour from her in the bud. Mention it to your friends when she says something that niggles at you.

"Looks like Brenda's on about how frail and aged I am again. But I can look after myself, thanks, Brenda. Remember, Kerrie, how I outdanced the whole group on the cruise last year?"

What you do is recognise the jab -- that's what it is -- respond to it WHEN IT OCCURS, then deflect attention.

What the new arrival is doing to using you as the lower rung on the "social ladder" with her new group of friends. She's going to step on you (if you allow it), in order to raise herself up with them. And she doesn't appear to care that it hurts you to do that.

Now you seem a very placid sort of person, and I'm only guessing, but you might have a bit of a self-esteem issue that you don't seem to recognise this hostility for what it is.

That doesn't mean you can't be friend with the new woman -- assuming you want to be friends with someone who'd hurt you to help herself -- but you have to be sure that she knows any friendship with your group means that she has to be friends with everyone IN that group. Including you.

Don't let her tread on you, just for her own gain, or you'll find that, subtly, you'll get edged out of your own social circle!

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