It doesn’t matter how nice you are, there are always going to be people in your wider circle you deem as friends, or associates, who will wring you dry for their own benefit. There’s no ‘two ways’ about it! Thank goodness for the true friends who are there through good times and bad. So here, my friend, are the mean girls: 7 user friends we’ve all had in our life. And more importantly, how to manage them!
1. You always help her, but when you ask for something, she doesn’t reciprocate
This is the friend, or work colleague who you mistakenly think is a friend, who is always asking you to do something for her to pursue her goals. Of course when you ask her for help, her eyes go glassy and she disengages from the conversation. She finds some lame excuse why she can’t help you. Or she says she’s busy and will get to it later. Or, she simply doesn’t respond to you until you’ve forgotten about it. Then she contacts you weeks later because she needs something from you again. Mandy knows the drill. “My ‘friend’ started a new business and, happy to support her, I asked all of my friends to ‘Like’ her Facebook page and subscribe to her newsletter – at her request,” she explains. “But when I launched my business and asked her to ‘Like’ my Facebook page, she didn’t respond. I sent her a Facebook invite, then emailed her a month later and she didn’t even reply! Then she contacted me asking me to ‘Like’ one of her client’s posts!” Yep, it’s all about what you can do for them.
How to manage: You have to give people the benefit of the doubt – maybe she is just really busy and doesn’t realise she is ignoring your requests? Perhaps a gentle word with her may help to bring it to her attention? If that falls on deaf ears, either accept her for who she is, knowing that she will continue to ask you for things and not reciprocate and be comfortable with that, or just don’t bow to her requests.
2. She is quick to point out all the things she does for you, but nothing you do for her
You know the type. She is quick to take credit for putting you forward for a job, or introducing you to your partner, or for babysitting your child 12 months ago. She keeps going on and on about all the amazing things she’s done for you, but doesn’t acknowledge the zillion things you’ve done for her. Ingrid experienced it first-hand. “I worked for a ‘friend’ at two different companies over five years and considered her a great mate,” explains Ingrid. “She was always going on about how flexible she was with me having to drop the kids at school, but not once did she acknowledge all the unpaid work I did for her every night after I put my kids to bed. The weird thing was, I wasn’t paid until I arrived anyway, never took a lunch break, and constantly did ‘above job description’ things for her. And yet she always made me feel like she was doing me a favour.” Yep, the pendulum swings one way.
How to manage: Usually these people aren’t driven by malice, they’re just a little bit ‘me focused’ and remember all the things they do – not what you do for them! A subtle but honest chat usually clears things up. Tell her how grateful you are for what she does for you, then point out some of the things you do for her. If she doesn’t get it, tell her straight that you feel like your efforts go unacknowledged. It may just turn everything around.
3. The social climber
Gosh, I have watched many of these girls climb the social ladder. My first experience was at 15, when Jane began to befriend myself and my other best friends. She’d invite us over to her place for ‘free pizza Friday night’, until she was in the inner circle. Then she started going out with Paul, the popular buy in our group, and her social ranking skyrocketed. She was very manipulative and deceitful, turning friends against friends with blatant lies, until she got what she wanted and was the ‘Queen Bee’. She quickly came unstuck when people discovered her lies though. Michelle says she sees them all the time at her work. “I’ll never forget one person, who used to hang around the office door of a friend of mine, until she made her way into the friendship group,” Michelle explains. “When she got there, she spread atrocious lies about the very person who welcomed her in and almost ruined that person’s career. Today, I see her at the top of her field, posting Instagram pics with mega celebrities, and I’m totally bewildered!”
How to manage: You can’t manage social climbers – they are ambitious and driven to get what they want. And casualties will occur along the way – just make sure you aren’t one of them! Distance yourself from them and minimise contact if you can. If you work together and are a part of each other’s daily lives, don’t ever enter into a gossip session that may bite you in the bum later.
4. She’s only available when it suits her
I like to call this the ‘fair weather friend’. Louise had a classic ‘sunshine’ friend. “We lived together for a few years when we were in our twenties and we were both single,” explains Louise. “We were both a bit wild at the time and loved dancing, and spent many weekends hitting the dance floor ‘til dawn. Then she got a boyfriend, moved in with him and actually told me, ‘Things won’t be like they used to. I won’t be going out dancing with you anymore.’ I didn’t hear from her for 12 months. Then she broke up with her boyfriend and wanted to be friends with me again. She’d call me up drunk at 10pm and ask me to meet her out. But when I’d say I was at home in bed and let’s catch up tomorrow for lunch, she wasn’t interested. She wouldn’t return or answer my calls the next day and I literally wouldn’t hear from her until the next time she wanted to go out dancing.”
How to manage: Accept her for who she is and understand that she is a ‘fun time friend’ only – not someone to call in need. Set boundaries and try to work with her to find catch-up times that suit you both. And if you can’t, you might just have to accept that you’re on different life paths that no longer crossover.
5. She treats you like her P.A
Peta had one of these bossy friends! “My ‘friend’ would contact me and suggest dinner, then ask me invite a load of other people and expect me to coordinate it,” explains Peta. “She’d say, ‘I’m really busy – can you organise it and let me know when everything is locked in?’. Seriously!” Jade had a similar demanding friend. “My friend would ask me to pick-up her kids from school, grab some milk and dinner and then drop them off at her place at 6pm,” she explains. “I have two children who attend the same school, so don’t mind picking up her children, but to then ask me to go to the shops with four children and drop her kids off was taking the mickey! She always made me feel like her time was more valuable than mine, and like I had nothing better to do than run errands for her. Eventually I put my foot down and told her I didn’t have time to run around for her.”
How to manage: No one likes feeling devalued or taken advantage of, so you’ll either have to speak up and say, “No, I’m not available to do this,” or set clear boundaries. Let her know where you can reasonably help her out, then be firm about what you can’t do.
Related: How To Manage Rude Children
6. The friend who puts you on a pedestal to get what she wants
Rebecca says she had several work friends who were ‘expert flatterers with a cause’. “They’d call me up and say, ‘Hey, can you just do this for me, because you are so fast and efficient and it will only take you five minutes,'” she explains. “Of course these ‘little jobs’ would take me hours, but they would deliberately downplay the amount of time involved so I’d say yes.” Yep, the old ‘flatter her with compliments to get what you want’ trick.
How to manage: Maybe she really does think it will only take five minutes? Sometimes explaining what is involved, how long it will take and when you will be able to fit it in is the easiest way to clear things up. A nice, ‘thank you for thinking so highly of me, but actually this will take a lot longer than that. I can look at it for you on the weekend…’ should do the job. Or maybe it is a deliberate tactic. In which case, do you really want to be helping her out?
7. She borrows from you but never returns
Some people have no shame. They will ‘borrow’ money, clothes, DVDs, coffee machines, whatever they can take because they feel they are deserving, then never return them. What can you do?
How to manage: It’s frustrating having to ask someone for your things back, but it’s the first place to start! If you find yourself repeatedly asking and still not getting your things back, you may just have to accept that they’re gone. And don’t lend her any more of your possessions!
Got a ‘mean girl’ to add to the list? Add your comments below!