Dear Miss April,
I have a problem with a friend. When I first met her I thought she was really interesting, and a great sounding board for my studies. I also introduced her to a male friend of mine and now they are living together. This would be great accept I have noticed that she is not really the greatest of friends…on the surface she is fine, but little things like her competitiveness and always asking me for favours..A few favours is fine, but things like asking me for copies of my papers submitted to University that got top grades, and asking for my bibliography for papers and also wanting work papers from my job. It is pretty awkward having to say no, and it constantly puts me in difficult situations.
Recently I asked her to accept an award on my behalf as I was away and she basically got uncomfortable and kind of weezled out of it, which made me feel a bit awful for asking in the first place….I thought she was the most logical person to accept the award as a proxy as we are at the same school and in some classes and have been study buddies for three years. So maybe I am being too critical…but my other friends have recently spoken to me and one of them want an ‘intervention’ with the male friend I introduced to her…why, because they all think she is cunning and bad for him and self centred and they blame me for introducing her…..
So Miss April what do I do? Can you give me advice….do we broach her poor behaviour or let the couple sort it out? My other male friend is a very close friend of mine of many years and I am nervous the relationship will go to the next level before he realises her true qualities.
– Anxious Friend
Dear Anxious Friend
Phew! My poor dear, this is quite a mess. You don’t have ‘a’ problem, there are a number of woes in this personal dilemma, bide me time while I organise them thusly:
- You have an issue regarding the collection of your award & intellectual property of your papers
- You doubt the sincerity of your friendship with your Study Buddy
- You acted as Matchmaker and are bearing the consequences of this from your circle of friends
- You are concerned for your male friend’s happiness and your ongoing friendship with him
Often we are riled by competitive people because we are so ourselves, or it at least prods the competitive beast lying dormant within. There is nothing wrong with this unless it gets the better of our other, good qualities. By asking for your papers she is not necessarily overstepping the mark, study buddies can share and critique each other’s work. If you are uncomfortable with this, that is your prerogative. You have worked hard and have achieved high results. This is your intellectual property and you can say no by explaining your feelings. A simple “I’m sorry I don’t like to share my papers, I hope you understand”, will suffice. If she keeps asking for your work, then yes, she is ignoring your discomfort in the hope of gaining access to your research.
Asking for bibliographies is another matter, reading lists, research papers, sharing authors and information – this isn’t your own work, although you may have worked hard in compiling and discovering these resources for yourself. I think you should be able to share this, as a token of your friendship. I also think the authors would probably appreciate the extra readership as well, and we should always encourage education shouldn’t we?
Yet, these encounters are snowballing for you and we come to the situation with the award. I am unsure, did she accept and then try to get out of it? Or, was she uncomfortable from the outset? Either way, at this point in time your friendship has strained. It is possible that she is envious of your success. This happens. I suggest you ask someone else to act as your proxy, someone you can rely on and will be genuinely happy for you.
Now let’s move on to Male Friend. You introduced Study Buddy to him when you thought highly of her. Male Friend liked her, and presumably he still does. If your other friends blame you for that tell them to refrain from stupidity and explain to them the machinations of sexual attraction. There is no blame to be laid here.
However, what is worrying is the chorus of voices condemning Study Buddy at the same time as your own problems are brewing. Accusing someone of being cunning is harsh, it is not a characteristic one would desire in a friend or friend’s partner. You may have cause to worry, but do you all get together and confront her, perhaps conduct an intervention with Male Friend? Not unless you are all stark raving mad. My personal opinion is that interventions conducted by well-meaning friends are usually the fodder for highball comedy antics on modern day sitcoms, not a great recipe for raw emotion in real-life.
If he truly is a very close friend of yours you do this: speak to him discretely over supper or tea. Not in a confrontational manner, no accusing his partner of being “cunning“, or god forbid that she tried to “take my papers“! You might just ask him, how he is going. How is his relationship going? If he brings up concerns regarding Study Buddy, that is the trigger to discuss your own reservations. You might be able to introduce the concerns of others in this context for example, ‘Peter mentioned that he was worried about you because this happened, or this was said…’ . Better still, tell your friends to speak to Male Friend themselves. Good friends will find a way to speak openly and honestly with each other.
If Male Friend is as happy-as-Larry and does not bring up any concerns about his relationship you might still decide to say something. Your worry might make it difficult to hold-your-tongue. But be clear, is it his happiness that is dire or your own? If he does not see what you and your friends see, then let them be. This proposal requires you to know, understand and manage your own feelings toward her friendship independently of their relationship. You will need to continue to be friendly socially with her, even if you choose not to invest in a more personal friendship any longer. From your letter I suspect you want to step back from her, it seems your feelings have changed and your concerns are real. However, no matter what your feelings may be you will need to continue to respect her as Male Friend’s partner.
Problems aside, congratulations on your award!