A Friend Indeed?

I have a friend that I visit about once a year in another town. She has a number of gay friends, including me. I used to work with her and her former boyfriend, who is an alcoholic. Her sister currently has a boyfriend who is also an alcoholic. I have never had to deal with this problem in any family/ partner relationships. My problem is, the last few times I have visited, although we really have a good time, she always behaves in a slightly abusive way toward me at least once during our visit. Example: walking way too fast, and when I ask her to slow down, telling her that I can't keep up, she won't. And in fact, walks faster. I am wondering if she is unconsciously trying to bait me into some kind of a conflict, if this is behavior she is used to using with boyfriends. (Also, her father was very controlling when she was a child.)

Anyway, she lives rather far away, and although I don't expect my friends to be perfect, I probably won't visit her anymore, since I feel I am stuck there until I can get back home and asserting myself even more would lead to a fight. My question is whether you have any insight into what is going on here. Thanks.


Bob, you're reaching for all these far-fetched explanations for your friend's textbook passive-aggressive behavior— sister's drunkypants boyfriend, controlling daddy issues. . . . Tell me, what does any of that have to do with you and your relationship with her? I'll tell you what—not a thing.

But I also have to point out that you sound extremely (over)sensitive. My boyfriend is about a foot taller than I am, and so his natural stride is about twice as long. If he starts getting ahead of me, I don't get pissed off; I simply wander off in another direction until he notices I'm gone (which can take a while). Then he spazzes and comes looking. As a result, it hardly ever happens anymore. (Heh, heh.) The thing you have to do in any relationship is figure out, not how or why you can change your friend/S.O.'s irritating behavior, but the most pain-free way to deal with it.

I had another boyfriend who was chronically late (he was this way with everyone, not just me). At first I was furious every time we had a date—I'd be standing on a corner, waiting for him in the snow, while he was home trying to determine which socks looked best with his white Chucks. By the time he bothered to show up, I'd be in the throes of an aneurysm and the movie would be half over. The evening had been shot for both of us. Eventually I learned to just quit waiting around for him. I gave up meeting him outside of any event and just went on in without him. His tardiness never improved, but my blood pressure and disposition sure did. (Nothing calms a girl like Milk Duds and a giant-size Diet Coke.)

But I loved that guy more than I hated his lateness, so I had to train myself to ignore the few things about him that bugged the crap out of me. Because believe me, everyone (exception: moi) has several or more severely irritating quirks.

Friendships are the same. If you find yourself constantly stressed or unhappy, you have to do a cost-benefit analysis on the relationship. My ex-friend Stretch was whip-smart and fun, but at least once a month would bring me to tears by being unspeakably cruel.

Like you, I tried to guess her motivation, but as she had a history of doing this with all her friends, I quit bothering and started doing the math. Yes, it was fun to go to the beach with her, but it was less fun to listen to her list all my myriad faults, knowing full-well she was also reciting them (and more) behind my back to our mutual friends. True, she got us great tickets to Iggy, but she also hit on and slept with someone she knew I was seriously infatuated with.

In the end, her motivations didn't matter. I dumped her. It was painful, and a lot of our mutual friends went with her, but I don't regret it. I doubt you will either.

Looking for answers? Write Dategirl at dategirl@seattleweekly.com or c/o Seattle Weekly, 1008 Western Ave., Ste. 300, Seattle, WA 98104.

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