How Do I Stop My High School Friend From Pathologically Lying About My Life?

Advice on sticky friendship dilemmas.
Feb. 21 2012 7:18 AM

My Divorced Friend Is Moving In

I said she could stay with my husband and me, but now I’m regretting it.

(Continued from Page 1)

Dear BIBMBF,

You’re likely too young to remember Jon Lovitz’s brilliant “Pathological Liar” sketch from Saturday Night Live. But your letter brings it to mind … . So Allie would do anything for you? It sounds as if she’d also do anything to you, including steal your credit card numbers, keys, jewelry, and boyfriend. OK, I’m exaggerating. But honestly, the woman appears to be well on her way to Stalker Central. You could take the high road and be flattered (and feel sorry for her that she can’t generate any stories out of her own dismal life). Or you could sit her down and tell her in the nicest possible way that you feel like she’s piggybacking on your big city tales—and that, if she’s so keen to be living the New York life, maybe she should move there herself. But my advice would be to forgo the group pancake parties if necessary and to stay far and away from this wackiest of all whack jobs.

Sincerely,

Advertisement

Friend or Foe

Dear Friend or Foe,

My close friend “Heather” and I met waiting tables more than 15 years ago. While we’re opposite personalities and she’s a decade older, we bonded through girls’ weekends, travel, and mutual respect. Several years ago, I suffered a series of devastating losses. Although Heather showed up for the funerals, our relationship turned into me driving up to her place and drinking my way through the grief. Fast forward to a year ago when I came out of my fog and realized that "Heather" and I have nothing in common but a shared past. She has few if any close friends, doesn’t seem interested in exploring new activities or places, and she isn’t even open to the idea of a romantic relationship. We’re both single and have successful careers, and I'm no social butterfly. But I’m constantly pushing myself to keep the channels open. I enjoy evenings out and work hard at keeping my relationships with friends and family. I’m also trying to "date," online and the old-fashioned way. What’s more, to keep our friendship going, I always had to come visit her. And she basically pooh-poohed who I was and what I did (i.e., criticizing the times I like to listen to music), etc.

A few months ago, I e-mailed "Heather" some of my concerns in what I thought was a direct and friendly way, basically telling her that she hadn’t been a good friend and that I worried about her tendency to self-isolate. Although her reply sounded hurt and defensive, she admitted that she needs to make herself more available and that her tendencies were self-destructive. That was several months ago. Now I feel sad about our parting and bad about criticizing her so directly and hurting her feelings. Most of all, I worry about her. She just turned 50, smokes, and never exercises. Plus, she doesn't have any children or family in town or close ties to anyone. An email and a “funny” text that I sent went unanswered. I'm not sure if Heather and I can be friends anymore, but I do believe in the Girl Scout mantra "Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver, and the other is gold.” On the other hand, lives diverge. Should I try and repair the rift?

Signed,

Walk or Sail?

Dear WOS?

First, I’m sorry for the unnamed losses you suffered. Death has a way of clarifying what (and who) is important in one’s life. It makes sense that you would worry about Heather, who, from your description, has put everything into her career and very little into the rest of her life. But worrying about someone getting lung cancer is different than wanting to go on vacation together. Pity and guilt do not make for a good friendship; companionship and shared interests and outlooks do. Then again, you say you feel sad about your parting from Heather. I think you need to figure out if you’re melancholy because you miss her or because the two of you grew apart.

I will say this: If you do want to revisit the friendship, the onus will be on you and then some. I don’t know how you convinced yourself that your breakup email was delivered in a “friendly” way. You basically told the woman she was an ungenerous loser. That’s not a very friendly thing to do. So, don’t be surprised if she rebuffs your attempts to repair relations, just as she failed to reply with a “ha ha” to your “funny text.” Moreover, from your description, it sounds as if Heather learned to do without intimates long ago. So if guilt is the true motivating factor here, please know that she might not be missing you as much as you fear.

Sincerely,

Friend or Foe

TODAY IN SLATE

The World

The Budget Disaster that Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

Are the Attacks in Canada a Sign of ISIS on the Rise in the West?

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

Is It Offensive When Kids Use Bad Words for Good Causes?

Fascinating Maps Based on Reddit, Craigslist, and OkCupid Data

Culturebox

The Real Secret of Serial

What reporter Sarah Koenig actually believes.

Culturebox

The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

In Praise of 13th Grade: Why a Fifth Year of High School Is a Great Idea

Can Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu Pull Off One More Louisiana Miracle?

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 23 2014 3:55 PM Panda Sluggers Democrats are in trouble. Time to bash China.
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 23 2014 2:36 PM Take a Rare Peek Inside the Massive Data Centers That Power Google
  Life
Atlas Obscura
Oct. 23 2014 1:34 PM Leave Me Be Beneath a Tree: Trunyan Cemetery in Bali
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 11:33 AM Watch Little Princesses Curse for the Feminist Cause
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 23 2014 11:28 AM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 2 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked Dr. Meri Kolbrener about her workday.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 4:03 PM You’re Doing It Wrong: Puttanesca Sauce
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 23 2014 11:45 AM The United States of Reddit  How social media is redrawing our borders. 
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 23 2014 7:30 AM Our Solar System and Galaxy … Seen by an Astronaut
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.