Bring down the friend Reich

Dear Danni,

I have a close-knit circle of friends who get along really well with each other, except there’s one girl who makes everyone uncomfortable. It’s not so much specific things she says-she just has a big personality. She’s loud and bossy and thinks she knows how to do everything. No one stands up to her, I guess, because she is intimidating.

Danni, I hate going out when she’s around, but I hate feeling like I have to change my plans all the time. Why does she have this hold on everyone? Do you think I should just let it go? Do you think I should sit her down and tell her?

Dear “Friends,”

There’s one in every group.

This girl isn’t blazing any new trails by her infectious dynamic, however, my guess is that she has yet to come across anyone like herself. And on the off chance that she has, she probably quickly leveled them down to size.

I would put money down that your friend has struggled with issues of identity, validation and trust most of her adult life. She has, no doubt, isolated and offended people and embarrassed herself in weak attempts to connect.

It also sounds like she displays tendencies of domination, which leads me to believe your friend feels little control in her personal life.

The old saying “What you resist persists” seems very appropriate here. I would imagine that although everyone around her is picking up on her behavioral traits, she has no clue, and so compensates by confusing confidence with brashness.

Your friend’s over-the-top tendencies are actually feelings of inadequacy.

By avoiding any frank or candid discussion with your friend, you are perpetuating the cycle. The fact that the entire group is allowing one member to dominate and dictate is only going to create Grand Canyon-sized divisions and hurt everyone involved. You become passive-aggressive and resent your friend, while she continues her totalitarian social reign.

You are creating the monster. I sense your hesitation and concern over a possible confrontation, but you need to get over it-it needs to happen. Still, be careful: Your friend will probably react defensively, especially if you decide to stage a “group intervention.” Perhaps with this individual, it may be best, and most effective, to have a one-on-one conversation.

Either way, what is missing from this relationship is integrity. As all of you dear readers have heard me say before, you cannot build a relationship without open and honest communication-having this conversation will open up space for both of you to create whatever dialogue you want. Starting from scratch, you’ll be able to ease the tension and begin a relationship that is committed to the same things.

By letting her run her racket on the group, you’re not being a true friend. True friends can say all of the good things, but can also be straight about things that are missing. The sooner you have this conversation, the sooner you’re both going to start having a substantial, open friendship.

We would all do well to remember that everyone, EVERYONE wants to be liked and perceived well by his or her peers- especially by friends. Keep that in mind when you go to speak with your friend. The end result is to make your relationship better.

Speak with integrity, and you will reach a common ground.

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