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#191: Annual reminder time: Get your teeth cleaned. Get your eyes/bits checked. And stop hanging out with crappy people.

A flyer for a lost velociraptor, very bitey.

Sometimes when you make a list of someone's qualities, you discover they lack redeeming ones.

Dear Captain Awkward,

There’s been something that’s been really bothering me for the last year and a half or so, and I really think you might be able to help. Two years ago I met a cool girl, let’s call her Marla, and we became good friends.

So, I’m a 24 year-old gal in college and I work really hard to finance myself. I come from a rough home life, so my friends are my support network, and we all look out for each other. I’m outgoing, independent, and most of the time I feel like I strike a good balance between school/work/play. I feel great about my life.

Marla and I met during a lab project. She hated this college/this town/her classes/everyone who attends our school right off the bat. It took a while for me to spot certain things:

1) Marla always remarks that she’s better off not knowing many people (because all people are terrible and boil bunnies? WHO KNOWS!).

2) Marla repeatedly calls my friends ‘crazy’ and is very vocal about it in front of others. She doesn’t approve of how certain friends explore their sexuality outside the boundaries of a traditional hetero-monogamous relationship (having safe, respectful, honest sex with other cool single people they meet but might not see a future with). Sometimes even when I say something like, “Oh, my friend’s boyfriend is taking her for granted a little bit and I wish she would stand up for herself more”, Marla will turn it into “YOU have weird friends, YOU attract crazy people”. She acknowledges that she is very judgmental, and doesn’t intend to do anything about it.

3) She met this guy and fell in love and moved in with him after two months (his parents pay rent and bills for their off-campus apartment). They have been together less than three years, but have declared each other partners in life at such a young age. I can understand the effect of rose-colored glasses when people fall in love, but their co-dependency runs so deep that if he were not in her life anymore, she would have nothing. They’ve discussed at length their wedding, kids, home decor, etc. She will brag about how his parents have written her into their will (????????).

4) I am her only friend. She will sometimes hang out with the girlfriends of her boyfriend’s dudefriends, but it’s always in a party/group others have organized.

5) Marla stays in all the time, whereas her boyfriend needs to have constant company/go out all the time or else he gets really bad anxiety. He will often badger her to call me and have a girls’ night.

6) Marla is not involved in anything that is ‘just for her’ – no gym membership/school involvement/hobbies/volunteer gig. She has also become estranged from her family.

7) Marla’s boyfriend will move for work soon, and Marla will follow him. They might end up in the middle of nowhere and I am worried about how this relationship (any relationship!) can function with this level of co-dependency COMBINED with social isolation once they move.

8) I mostly like Marla’s boyfriend. He is smart and interesting, but sometimes he’s such a snob about his tastes and his family’s lifestyle that I’m really put off. He will make a crack (in front of others) about how I hail from a rough part of town (referencing how I should have seen stabbings/shootings/robberies, etc). I grew up really poor and I get so self-conscious when he and his friends (all self-identifying as “upper-class”) joke about it like I’m supposed to just join in. I’ll just sit there feeling like trash, thinking about how I had to scrimp and save and work extra shifts to buy my Mom a decent winter coat because hers has been falling apart for four out of the eight years she’s owned it, and how she cried because she was so humiliated her daughter had to buy it for her because she can’t even make ends meet. Marla’s from a working-class family, but he’s never made a joke about her being poor/from a rough part of town or anything like that.

Captain Awkward, please tell me the truth, am I just being a big jealous jerk? I’ve never had this intense of a relationship, so I’m not familiar with this level of commitment between two people. Do some people really only need each other and no other support network? Am I being too sensitive/reading too much into the ‘crazy friends’/’rough part of town’ comments, too? I care about Marla, but I feel so put down and often come away feeling terrible about myself. I feel bad even seeing these words about my friends on the screen. Please tell me what you think.

Thanks a million,
Moping Mary

Dear Moping Mary,

Here is the truth of what I think.

I think you should stop hanging out with people who belittle you and everyone around you, put no effort into the relationship, and make you feel shitty.

By which I mean Marla.

Start there with a slow fade, and then let the whole two birds/one stone thing really work for you when her shitty boyfriend also leaves your life.

A little off-topic? I think you’ll really like this gorgeous personal essay about class by Sady Doyle. The part where the hipsters talk about “trash” is especially relevant.

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55 comments
  1. LW, I too clung far to long to shitty friends because I did care about them. The choice to stop contacting them, however, was taken out of my hands, and it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I didn’t realize at the time how much negative energy I was absorbing from them, how much they poisoned my judgement and made me self-conscious by belittling me. As soon as they were cut out of my life, I was able (with the help of not-shitty friends) to realize that I actually do like myself, I am pretty neat, and I do like my life.

    It might hurt, and you might genuinely care for Marla, but friendship is not a one-way street.

  2. Rosie said:

    Oh, yeah. Marla sounds super cool.

  3. Ensign Perception said:

    You’re not being too sensitive. Nobody gets to call your friends crazy or make jokes about how you came up poor. That’s bullshit, to put it bluntly, and you don’t have to put up with it.

    Biggest red flag in the whole letter, for me, was Marla’s comment that she is glad she doesn’t know many people. People who seem to loathe 95% of the human race for no reason… they creep me out.

    • People who seem to loathe 95% of the human race for no reason… they creep me out.

      I KNOW RIGHT!

      I’ve met people like this through dating websites. They just don’t seem very happy to be alive. I always think 1) you have a right to be depressed, I’m depressed myself and all, but what kind of response do you expect from a date when you’re so dour? and 2) if you’re so damn cynical and mistrustful of people, why are you on a goddamn dating website?

      It’s annoying.

      • People who seem to loathe 95% of the human race for no reason… they creep me out.
        Thirding this. People who “don’t like people” usually have some weird stereotypes about what “all the consumerist sheeple” out there are like, they’ve got a lot of growing up and some meeting people to do, and if they don’t let themselves do those things, not my problem.

        I like to answer with a sincerely offended “Hey… my best friend is part of the human race!” They never seem to get the joke/not-exactly-joke though.

        • bellacoker said:

          I used to be one of those people, until I realized that my outlook wasn’t as much a strong philosophical stance regarding the state of the world as a habit of looking at situations and noticing/commenting on the parts I didn’t like instead of the parts that I liked.

          I was making the shitty parts brighter by highlighting them with my attention and then thinking that was just the way the world was. A self-fulfilling shittiness cycle.

        • JenniferP said:

          See also people who use the word “sheeple” a lot. I can’t hang with them.

          • internpaul said:

            I feel like xkcd has really reclaimed the meaning of “sheeple” – http://xkcd.com/1013/

        • Anna said:

          I would like to add a bit of nuance to this discussion, because as a strongly introverted person, I have sometimes felt that I am “better off not knowing many people” or felt overwhelmed by friends who expect me meet a ton of new people.

          At the LW’s point 1, it sounds like she doesn’t know why Marla prefers not to meet many people. Elsewhere in the letter, it definitely sounds like Marla has a really negative attitude about people in general, and I agree that it’s a huge red flag and not a property of being an introvert. I just also think it’s possible and okay for people to not want to meet new people sometimes. Even if those people are probably pretty great human beings.

          • commanderlogic said:

            Hi Anna! There’s a difference between “I don’t like most people” and “I don’t like meeting people.” The first is the one we’re talking about – a summary dismissal of most people based on the facts that a) they are people and b) “I don’t like people.” That’s not introversion, that’s misanthropy.

            Not liking to meet people because you are introverted is a totally different ballgame; the people are probably nice! But you’re more into the loner thing. That’s cool. Some of them might be jerks, but you haven’t classed every possible person you could meet as “probably a jerk.” You dig?

          • Ensign Perception said:

            Yeah, I had to learn the difference the hard way when I moved in with a girl who was like, “I just don’t like having PEOPLE around in the apartment.” At first I thought this meant she was introverted. Then I discovered it actually meant that she felt entitled to try to kick my boyfriend out of the apartment for no reason at all, would get mad at me for wanting to have breakfast at the same time as her, and was basically a total asshole who Did Not Play Well With Others.

            So, yeah, I did not direct my comment toward introverts. Introverts do not creep me out. People who demonstrate a mysterious hostility toward “people” – they creep me out.

          • Anna said:

            Yes, that is exactly the point I was making. I just wanted it to be explicitly included in the conversation =) Thanks.

          • Absolutely. I’m an introvert, too, but I’m happy to see people I like and when I’m happy to see you, you’ll certainly know it. Some people, on the other hand, seem to attend social functions solely so they can stand around looking dour and letting everyone see how dour and dark they are.

            Legit introverts who get dragged to social functions and have trouble having a good time aren’t the same thing, of course.

          • Well, I find also that I prefer not to spend my time with 95% of people I meet, and actively dislike about 40-50% – but there is a difference between saying “I do not like this person and will endeavor not to see them” and spending all your time trashing them, or otherwise being a manipulative dipshit. Also, I found, personally, that when I was hanging out with people I didn’t really LIKE but was invested in, I was much more likely to insult them because I DIDN’T LIKE THEM, and just wasn’t letting myself see it/was too lonely. So, LW, I hate to suggest it, but I think Marla’s behavior is speaking louder than anything else, and you should listen to your instincts.

      • maggie said:

        YES. And they’re sooooooooooo bitter that no one wants to date them. Uh yeah, think about it, people, would *you* want to date yourself? I suspect not. There’s a reason you’re always single.

        • MorkaisChosen said:

          DING DING DING

          Logical fallacy spotted!

          “I hate all of humanity! Why won’t anyone date me?”

          To which I can only say, “Why do you want to date people? I thought you hated them all…”

  4. Hanna said:

    This story has a happy ending – Marla and her boyfriend are moving away, giving you the perfect opportunity to phase her out of your life! And please don’t worry about her and the loner-ness and the codependency. You can’t control her, so let her live in whatever (probably misguided) way she chooses. With the appalling way she and her boyfriend have treated you, you don’t owe them a thing.

    • Virginia said:

      Yes, this: the bright star is on the horizon.

      Also, LW, it sounds as if your *other* friends are GREAT! So go you!

  5. People who mock you and belittle you are not your friends. This is one of those times where even asking the question shows you know the answer.

  6. kate said:

    Please, check the definition of “friend.” Or better yet, close your eyes, contemplate for a while, and define what friendship means to you. I’m hoping your definition includes as a baseline mutual respect and caring about the other person’s happiness. Both sides of a friendship should be better off for having the other person in their life.

    If spending time with Marla and her boyfriend makes you “feel so put down and often come away feeling terrible about yourself,” they are not your friends. They are people who have some positive qualities that make them entertaining acquaintances… but from what I can tell, they’re not actually kind. Seriously. Friends do not sneer at each other. They do not make each other feel small.

    • Every time I do a purge of people who I have come to realize are toxic (some not always as obviously toxic as others), I feel so much better about me. Sometimes I handle it badly, and I feel some guilt about that, but the sum delta is positive. Life is too short to willingly expose yourself to stuff that makes you feel worse about yourself. Doesn’t the rest of the world do enough of it without helping it along?

      In my vindictive moments I might consider that someone living a life like Marla’s is desperately unhappy, while I am overall pretty happy – karma baby!

  7. Shora said:

    LW, from the beginning of your letter, it sounds like you have a really good life and a lot of really good friends. That makes me really happy for you, because it makes what I’m about to say easier.

    You get to choose the people who get to be in your life.

    No, really, you do. You can remove someone from your life for any reason! It’s your life, and you only have one, so why waste it spending time with crappy, negative people who make you feel bad?

    College is a time where people often think it’s cool to say “I don’t like people.” Like they’re special and unique for disliking the human race, or something. They’re not special or cool, they’re annoying as fuck, and I don’t allow these people in my life anymore. Or if I do it’s in a very limited capacity.

    You are absolutely allowed to say “Being around you doesn’t make me feel good, so I’m not going to be around you anymore.” You’re allowed to trust your thoughts and not belittle them by telling yourself you are “too sensitive” or “just jealous”. Trust your gut, remove these people from your life, and only let people who add to your life into it.

    • Kristen said:

      I’m seconding this. Seriously, it’s a hard, HARD lesson to learn, but it’s true. I’m 25, and I live in a major city, and I have THE BEST FRIENDS EVER and I (usually) love my life. Go back a bit, I hug out with a lot of nasty people in college because they were the ONLY PEOPLE OMG. It was among the major things that I truly loathed about the college experience. After graduation, I moved 300 miles north and started a new life in said major city and found new friends. But it was still a rocky new start because old habits die hard.

      You know what changed? I started deleting people on facebook. Yup, I’m serious. It was the beginning of figuring out what I wanted and what was healthy for ME. That small step helped me to realize who I wanted in my life and who I didn’t. I now define it as “If you bring more negativity in to my life than positive things, I don’t want you there anymore”. It seems harsh, and it can be but for me is absolutely necessary.

      Ex-boyfriend who still holds a grudge and makes snarky comments? Gone
      Simpering person from social group who always puts people down, including me? Gone
      Old friend from high school who makes very political comments, and bashes people I like? Gone

      See the pattern? Use the techniques our glorious Capitan has outlined. You can very effectively slowly fade from someone’s life in about 3 weeks, and be happier at the end of it. Seriously. You deserve better. You already have those amazing friends. Don’t feel guilty for letting people go who don’t make you happy. Do you really think those ill-fitting pants you dropped off at the Thrift store last Thursday feel sad you’re gone?

      • Marie said:

        Facebook-management is something Teh Youth should get classes on in school, because it’s great training wheels for all relationship management.

        A few years back, after some horribly awkward friend-plosions, I announced I was getting off Facebook and deleted my account. After six months, I came back. I re-added only the people I actually talk to in real life, or family that I don’t talk to regularly but want to keep generally in touch with (and aren’t people who use the phrase Obamacare). Everybody else, I pre-emptively blocked, including:

        1. Coworkers I currently work with. Even if I like them! We do not get to be Facebook-friends until I don’t work here anymore.
        2. Ex-friends and ex-boyfriends (very rare exceptions can be made for exes, but ONLY if there has been a year of no-sex-and-we’re-not-pretending-to-be-friends).
        3. Mutual acquaintances of said ex-friends and boyfriends. They may be nice people, but no. It is not worth the millions of awkward scenarios I can envision between us when I do not even really know you that well.
        4. Every new significant other of my friends, until I get to know them in real life and decide I like them there. This is because unfriending them after I find out they’re an asshole BUT they’re still dating my friend is just AAAAAH. So, no, we just do not operate by the distributive principle of friendships, friendship actually has to happen first.
        5. Any person for whom denying a friend request would create more drama than just never speaking to them.

        The shorter version of all this is, if discussing my boundaries with you strikes me as a conversation that won’t go well, or will require a far higher output of my energy than I get back from our relationship (awkward acquaintances, hello!), then we don’t really need to be conversing that much at all.

        A while back, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who is a new mom. I was asking her advice on whether or not I should catch up with an ex, because the opportunity had presented itself. She told me that before she had a baby, that stuff was important to her, but now that she has no sleep and no time for sex with husband and no time for basic hygiene like laundry or baths, the idea of spending any energy on anything that isn’t really super important to her just seems like a laughable dream world. And her idea of who would end up being the super important people worth spending energy on changed, because people to whom she was SUPER CLOSE!!!! but were also energy-sucking nightmares of drama and feelings you feel about yourself became not that important, whereas the people she maybe hadn’t always been closest to but were low-key and accommodating and accepting and “hey let’s watch a movie, or not, and talk about how shit is all right” suddenly became really worth her small bits of remaining energy.

        When I was in high school and college and just-out-of-college, I had boundless time and energy, and so I had a million friends and they were all just the best (even when they were the worst). The older and more boring I get, the less energy I have to spend, and I’m getting more selective. If I have a friend who makes me feel tired, unhappy, unliked, or like I’ve just been through a fight every time I see them, I try to remind myself that my time on this earth is finite, and 2/3rds of it is taken up by working and sleeping. I have every right to make the remaining 1/3rd as banging as possible, and that maybe involves culling out the people who take more energy from me than they give back.

  8. Jason said:

    LW- You know what would make an excellent “Good luck in your new home” gift to Marla and her boyfriend?

    An African Violet.

    • Eclairity said:

      I turned on my dinosaur age computer and linked to the interwebs just to say this: this gave the giggles all day.

  9. Esti said:

    Gah, I think the system ate my comment. Apologies if this is a double post.

    LW, you sound awesome and like you have worked really hard to be where you are — happy, and taking care of yourself, and with an awesome support system. Don’t let one negative, nasty person ruin that for you. You have no obligation to be her friend (and the worries about her co-dependency with her boyfriend are, I think, a separate issue — that part’s her life and not really your issue).

    Separately, and sorry for the mild threadjack, but I wanted to thank the Captain for the link to Sady’s post. I didn’t see it when it was originally posted, and it was a lightbulb moment for me. I have always, always *hated* hipsters, but somehow I never connected it to the fact that my father is a truck driver, and my grandfather unironically wears John Deere hats, and my uncle’s normal cab-driving outfit would not be out of place in Williamsburg. It seems really obvious in hindsight that my angry!feelings about that whole stupid subculture are connected to the fact that it’s premised in mocking my family and my background, but it’s not something I’d ever really realized before.

  10. UGH yes, separate yourself from those privileged, entitled, sheltered jerks who thoughtlessly make other people feel bad about their upbringing and don’t even have the sense to realize that THEY are the weird people.

    I hope you can find a way to be proud of the hard work you put in to help out your mother, and the hard work she did to take care of you. Those people making you feel bad have never worked hard a day in their life, and they have no real appreciation for the gifts that they’ve been given.

    • G said:

      Yes, LW, the stories you told about yourself and your mother show that you come from a family of hard-working, independent, decent, caring people. That’s something to be proud of, something to live up to. Or I should say, to continue to live up to.

  11. Lots of Feelings, Apparently said:

    Letters like that always make me feel sad and uncomfortable, because I know that I was a ‘Marla’ for some people in my life. I’m the person with no ‘support network’, as you always nicely put it, without anything ‘just for me’, I don’t go out much. I’m depressed (trying to work it out, though), fiercely loyal, judgemental (I’m very left-wing) and rather bitter. And I’m pretty much sure that’s how these people see me: the pathetic loser who just doesn’t fit in with their successful social life. And to be honest, I always feel bitter about how these letters always get encouraging responses about how liberating it will be to get rid of that burden of a ‘friend’. And I’m sad that it’s exactly what LWs want to hear.

    We live in a culture that tells us that we must be perfectly emotionally stable and without any flaws (well, I don’t count the adorable flaws, like being dorky or nerdy or awkward in a cute way) to be worthy a friendship or a relationship. Honestly, this just bothers me.

    • JenniferP said:

      My problem with Marla is not that she’s lonely, it’s that she’s MEAN and her boyfriend is MEAN.

      If you think I’m part of the culture who tells people they have to be perfect to be loved, well, that kind of pisses me off and I think you are plain wrong about that.

      But I will say that if you were a Marla to some people, and they dropped you from their lives and are happier for it, that was their right to do, as it would be your right to drop people from your life who aren’t making you happy. Friendships end sometimes, and no one is obligated to stay in one that isn’t working for them.

      • Right? Lots o’ Feelings, do you actively make fun of your friends? Do you respond to any social interaction with something that makes other people feel like shit? If not, then you are probably not A Marla.

    • commanderlogic said:

      a culture that tells us that we must be perfectly emotionally stable and without any flaws (well, I don’t count the adorable flaws, like being dorky or nerdy or awkward in a cute way) to be worthy a friendship or a relationship.

      May I refer you to the letter immediately preceding this one for evidence that, at least around here and probably out in the wild real world, perfection of any kind is not required for love. What we don’t stand for is people being jerks to other people, but especially to their friends and loved ones. Being a jerk is not an adorable quirk and it’s not friendly.

      Bitter judgey people can have friends too, but they can’t be bitter and judgey AT their friends or they won’t keep them long. Behold: The Bitter-Judgey Dream Team

      • delbelcoure said:

        Indeed, I have a friend I have nicknamed Guinness, for he is short, bitter and stout. He is never bitter AT people though- he is bitter about situations. He has a piercing eye that sees through b.s. and he is often hilarious in his bitter recounting of situations.

    • Ensign Perception said:

      “Pathetic” is not the word that comes to mind when I hear about people who make fun of their friends’ economic background and feel justified in judging other peoples’ sex lives as a sign they are “crazy”. If you see yourself making those kind of hurtful remarks to people, or judging them about issues that really should be their personal choice maybe that is something to work on as you get down to the business of dealing with your depression.

      Try to see it from the LW’s point of view. These people are treating her badly. She doesn’t want to drop them because they are losers, she wants to get away from them because they make her feel horrible.

    • Agreed with above replies. I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you are not like Marla. So what I suggest is that you don’t overidentify with Marla just because you’re lonely and she’s lonely. Marla is an asshole.

      If Marla finds a friend who’s happy to put up with Marla’s shit, awesome, more power to Marla. But friendships, like sex, should be enthusiastically consensual. Otherwise, what’s the point? Nobody owes Marla attention or support if Marla can’t be arsed to be a decent person.

      I’m pretty sure I’m no fun to be around when I’m depressed, but I do my best not to lash out at people, and I don’t have friends dropping me left and right.

    • Yes, this is less about the SPECIFIC behaviors, and more about how those behaviors are making the LW feel. If Marla had a friend who was not bothered by these things, there would be no reason for zie to write to CA.

      And while it sucks to think that friends can choose not to be friends with us for any reason, do you really want friends who stick around because they feel they are stuck with you? I’ve had that, and I’ve had friends who genuinely support me. The former? SUCKS. The latter? Made of PURE AWESOME. And I have tons of non-adorable flaws that really great friends have loved me through – because we found ways to communicate about what we were each willing and able to offer and take from one another. I lost a lot of friends along the way from being an energy suck – it hurt a shitton and I was furious at the time, but now? I’d probably distance myself from someone like that too. I wasn’t willing to communicate, I just NEEDED THINGS ALL THE TIME and it took a lot of time for me personally to be able to acknowledge that no one is obligated to fill my needs, and that in pursuit of that I had been a really shitty friend. No one can make anyone else change if they’re not ready (and I mean ready, rather than willing, because I think a lot of the time there is just an element of time/brain evolution/mysterious magic involved that is not under anyone’s control – you’re ready when you’re ready, and you can do a lot to stimulate growth, but you can’t make the apple just appear on the branch, you know?)

    • meerkat said:

      I relate to this. The letter was okay for me but some of the comments make me uncomfortable, because it’s not always super clear if Marla’s a bad friend for being mean or for those other qualities.

  12. Sheelzebub said:

    Yeah, I. . .no one is obligated to be someone’s emotional kickbag. Sorry, but no. I’ve been handed that manipulative argument before to try and keep me in downright abusive situations, and it is just not okay. Maybe Marla will get a wake-up call when her behavior–and the behavior of her BF–drives yet another person away. But it’s not the LW’s job–and beyond their ability–to ‘fix’ Marla and/or her boyfriend. It’s not okay to expect the LW to continue to put up with horrible treatment that MAKES HER FEEL LIKE SHIT because it might hurt Marla’s feelings. Marla’s not the only person here with feelings, FFS.

  13. Schadenfreude said:

    Ron Weasley, why are you trying to stay friends with Draco Malfoy? Spend more time with good friends who aren’t comically unkind like Harry, Hermione, Neville, Luna, etc.

    • Traditional said:

      *highfive*

  14. ConcernedCitizen said:

    LW-
    I hear two thoughts rumbling around in your head:

    #1 Marla is kind of a pain in your ass, and does not treat you or your friends with respect. I think the Captain and previous comments have replied to this one pretty resoundingly with a “you have the right to choose your friends” so I’m going to tackle your second point, which is
    #2 Do some people [in a relationship] really only need each other and no other support network?

    In this quickly-escalating relationship, I think it’s less of a “who needs what” and more of a “who gets to have what.” It sounds to me like Marla’s boyfriend gets to have Marla AND his family AND his dudefriends AND access to the family money which provides for his and Marla’s needs AND an active, social life. Marla gets to have (and maybe choose to have) no family, no activities (or gym memberships), superficial relationships with HIS friend’s gfs, and you- a fabulous, positive, strong force of nature who he makes a point of belittling. Moreover, he does so in a way that, because she is the other non-upper-class person in the room, belittles Marla too. You called it co-dependency, but there’s one person in this relationship who is severely more dependent than the other.
    It may be that Marla thinks all people suck and are scary and not worth knowing. It may also be that her partner, who (as I understand your timeline) met her sometime shortly before you did, convinces her that all people suck and are scary and not worth knowing. Because, ya know, sometimes people in relationships like to isolate their partners. It’s a control thing.

    I don’t mean to be the DV police, I recognize it may not apply to this situation at all and it is CERTAINLY NOT your responsibility, duty, what have you to become a PI and fix Marla’s relationship, but I also think you’re right-on to note some unhealthy dynamics here.
    Be friends with her or don’t, keep in touch when she moves or don’t. But if it feels right to you, and if there are things going on behind closed doors which rural isolation could exacerbate, Marla could potentially be greatly helped by knowing there is at least one person out in the world who thinks she is “a cool girl” and that there are community resources available to her.

    • JenniferP said:

      Thanks for this really valuable perspective.

    • Sheelzebub said:

      This is a good catch. Thank you.

      • BadSack said:

        I strongly support this perspective, too.

        • CoolNewAnonymousNickname said:

          Yep, I also had my DV spidey-sense start to tingle when there was talk of how everything is centered around Marla’s BF and how rockin’ he is compared to everyone else. I know I behaved like an asshole when I was under the influence of my abusive ex and his ‘you and me against the world’ mentality. He really had me believing that people are crap and that he and I were our own little nation ‘against’ them all. Which is, of course, super batshit and a MASSIVE red flag. I don’t know how, or if, you could have a conversation with Marla (or if you even want to at this point) about your concern that BF is isolating and controlling and basically attempting to brainwash her into his worldview. That’s up to you, LW. You are not in control of Marla’s choices, nor are you the DV police (love that, BTW, ConcernedCitizen!). You just take care of you and control who enters your sphere of influence and how long they stay there.

    • Anita said:

      Agreed. Marla sounds annoying, but I also picked up on the fact that by making fun of LW, boyfriend is indirectly making fun of Marla & her background, i.e., some form of emotional abuse going on by him toward her. Her behavior is not excusable, but I get a sense this girl has been through some serious trauma that has yet to be addressed, that boyfriend likes her for now but may drop her in the future when she’s no longer convenient, and then she’ll crash big time. I don’t see anything wrong with checking in infrequently to see if she’s alright, if that’s what LW wishes to do. But LW must feel strong enough with her own sense of boundaries that she doesn’t get sucked in to be taken advantage of if things crash and burn, because Marla is likely to be very needy if that happens, and she has already demonstrated an insensitivity to LW’s feelings. So it comes down to whether LW feels strong enough to check in now and then without being overwhelmed.

  15. Yan said:

    LW, YOU sound amazing.

    Marla does not.

    Be amazing. Hang out with amazing people. Be proud of who you are and where you’re from and what you’ve done. Hang out with people who support all of that.

  16. Nomie said:

    “If I had a tumor, I’d name it Marla.”

  17. Lord Domly Pants's Bane said:

    If they don’t get that joke then there is something profoundly wrong. I say this even though I truly do loathe most people. Not because they are ‘sheeple’, but because they are mean, like Marla for example. People treat their own friends that way, and spouses and kids and then you get into how people treat people they aren’t supposed to be nice to… EEK! However the people who aren’t like that make up for it by being awesome so I don’t spend time whining about how the human race is a loss and I certainly wouldn’t add to all the cruelty. That would be so full of fail it makes my brain hurt.

    LW People should not be cruel to you. Friends are supposed to be kind, it is in the job description. Srsly, look in the operators manual. “If your friend is being utterly vicious it is defective and should be returned and replaced with a different friend.”

    • MorkaisChosen said:

      I think the question is whether you think most people are a bit shit, or if you *assume* most people are a bit shit. One of these results in prejudging people, the other doesn’t.

  18. kathleendonohue said:

    When I found myself being inexplicably mean to people who were actually pretty good friends to me, it was usually because I assumed they were going to one day come to their senses and abandon me to be friends with better people, so I used hostility to distance myself from them, which was dumb and a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    LW, her behavior is not your responsibility. I suspect the two of you are living on different planets, perspective-wise.

  19. kristinmh said:

    Marla sounds like a real prize! I don’t see why you wouldn’t want to be her friend anymore! I know *I* totally enjoy hanging around someone who expresses contempt for humanity in general and me in particular!

    Seriously, when I was 21 or so I lost a couple of friends – not for Marla-level behaviour, but for otherwise being a selfish asshole. It was really painful but I learned a lot from it, including how to be a better friend. Maybe you showing Marla the door will be the kick in the pants she needs to grow as a person.

    Not that you need to frame your decision about this friendship in terms of “what’s best for Marla”, but it’s something to remember if you’re feeling guilty.

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