Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Carolyn: Ive been trying for a few years now to maintain a friendship with my ex from high school. Were in our late 20s now.
Hes not a bad guy, and he talks a lot about how much I mean to him, but in practice, he seems completely uninterested in the being friends part. He does things that really bother me, seemingly on purpose; for example, he makes uncomfortable comments about my appearance, starts arguments with my husband, attacks our lifestyle, and takes my picture when Ive explicitly asked him not to.
The couple of times Ive confronted him about how alienating his behavior is, he wont acknowledge any wrongdoing but also refuses to give me any distance because of how important I am to him. Im at wits end. Its like he views my friendship as a trophy for how nice and well-adjusted he is. Is there any way to fix this?
Yes. Stop pretending youre friends.
Carolyn: And when he asks me why Im not keeping in touch anymore? I would love to cut off all contact but its going to be awkward; we have a lot of friends in common, and hes not one to just let things die quietly.
Well, Fred, I havent called because you routinely insult me, argue with Phil and attack our lifestyle, and when I call you on it, you refuse to admit fault. So, Im done. Please respect that.
Then do not cave. Just by keeping this guy in your life, youre saying awkwardness is worse than keeping an insulting, argumentative and disrespectful person as a friend. Its not.
Re: Ex-Friend: I dont understand why a married couple allows an ex to visit so much that the ex feels free to humiliate her, argues with the husband, etc. And why does a married woman keep company with a man who keeps telling her how important she is to him?
Because she doesnt want to tell him to (buzz) off. Thats powerful incentive for the nonconfrontational. I have to think her husband shares this trait.
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