Every week, Mallory Ortberg answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members.
Q. Ditching friends: I am part of a group of girlfriends, and we’ve been friends for five to seven years. I was especially close with one woman (“Tay”) in the beginning of that period, but we grew apart—Tay entered into a toxic relationship with a man no one likes (they drink and fight in public a lot, and he’s very pretentious), and she became a mean drunk.
For the last two years, we have not been close, but we have remained friends, and the girls continue to invite Tay to major events but not every little get-together. She has recently gotten drunk and attacked some of our friends for imagined wrongs, at which point some of us stopped hanging out with her altogether. At a recent event, Tay got drunk and yelled at several friends to let them know we are bad friends because we’ve been excluding her. It’s true we don’t want to see her, but for the reasons named above. Moreover, we have grown apart, and I don't think it’s necessary to see her as often as I see my true close friends just because we used to be close.
My birthday is coming up, and I don’t want to invite her because: 1) She treats us poorly, and 2) I just don’t enjoy her presence anymore. How do I handle this? It’s inevitable she will know I celebrated without her, and I don’t want a drunken mean confrontation about it.
A: Don’t invite her. This woman is an active alcoholic who can’t manage her anger and has made a habit for years of unleashing a torrent of spite and viciousness upon everyone within her reach. If she attempts to confront you while she is drunk and angry, feel free to say, “I’m not going to discuss this while you’re drunk,” then leave the room if necessary.
If you have never told her you are concerned about her drinking problem and want her to seek help, then I think that would be worth saying to her separately, at a time when you know she may be reasonably sober. But you are under no obligation to continue pretending you two are anything like friends.