So I made a friend but don’t know what to do about it

Written by Diane on. Posted in on life in France

What would you do_ Have you ever met someone who just can’t take a hint? I wasn’t going to write about this because I figured my little situation would work itself out, but it hasn’t and I’d love your advice. It’s about making friends. And how to lose one.

To sum this up, I met a woman who lives in town but I don’t think we have that much in common and I really don’t want much more than a casual, get-a-coffee-every-now-and-then type of relationship. She won’t stop trying to make plans and is bordering on annoying. No, scratch that. It already is really annoying. I’m trying to be nice but I’m at my wit’s end.

Read on for the full story…

I made a friend

First, let me say that in the grand scheme of things, this isn’t a super serious problem but it is stressing me out at the moment. So do you have any advice to share?

Let’s start from the beginning. Moving abroad has proven to me that life can be really lonely without friends and I’ve written about the lonely expat problem that resonated with a bunch of other expats. To help put myself out there and find a few friends in my area (aside from acquaintances I’ve “met” via email), I signed up with a profile on a meet-up site back over the summer that I later found out tends to attract country folk/rednecks. But I gave it a shot anyway because I genuinely wanted to meet people.

A few days after joining the site, I met up with a local French woman for a dog walking date at a local park. At first I was so happy to have a potential friend that I probably appeared a little too excited and as I was getting to know her, I accepted an invitation to a sporting event and a coffee at her house over a period of a couple of weeks.

But the fact is, as time went on, I realized we just don’t have that much in common aside from both having a dog.

We weren’t super compatible, but she seemed nice enough and I figured we’d keep it casual for a coffee here and there. As for the dog connection, Dagny and her dog played a little but he’s much bigger than Dagny and plays a little too roughly for my liking — and growled at her, so the dogs aren’t really a match either.

But then the frequent texts and calls started. Trying to make plans. Trying to have my husband come out with us too. Inviting herself over to my house (which I shut down).

Honestly, I’d be OK with having a coffee at a cafe with her once every few months no problem. But she wants to get together with me ALL THE TIME. What’s strange is that she grew up in this area yet doesn’t seem to have a circle of friends.

Even if she was the coolest person in the world, I wouldn’t want to hear from her near daily to meet up every weekend.

I won’t share all the details in the interest of privacy, but she’s not someone I want to pursue a friendship with.

The kicker was when Dagny and I went to her house for a coffee a few weeks back and she informed me that the day before, her cat had fleas and ear mites.

I repeated what she had said to make sure I understood correctly and I had. Yesterday, she confirmed. She explained that the vet combed the fleas off (great!) but the cat was not given a flea treatment (she didn’t want to pay) nor was her house flea bombed. I mean WTF. Really???? And even worse, fleas jump and just because they were combed off the cat doesn’t mean the dog is free of fleas nor is her house. Ever get bitten by fleas? Not pretty. And ugh, the thought of the eggs. It just wasn’t very considerate and put me on edge. My jaw was on the floor as she explained this because it’s kind of common sense to NOT invite someone over with their furry pet when your cat who lives half indoors JUST had fleas the day before. She didn’t pick up on the fact that I was a bit upset.

So then over Christmas, the texts and calls escalated. At this point, I’m so not interested in even a casual, coffee type of friendship. We have plans to eat out (pushed it out a month to give me some space) and she tries to invite herself to my house with her boyfriend instead. I shut that down real fast and said I’d like to stick to our original plans to eat out. She texts back, “Why?” Just no. Stop. I turned off my phone.

If I don’t respond to a text in 20 minutes, she’ll text me again. And then call and leave a message. It’s stressing me out because one of my problems in life is that I care too much. I care too much about people. Always have. And I really shouldn’t. My family is referring to her as the harasser at this point.

You're smothering me.

And just to clarify, I get that people come from all walks of life and I know we all don’t have the same life experiences — that’s what makes things interesting — but when you have no desire to better yourself, learn new things or learn about other cultures or get outside your bubble, things get boring real fast.

I also don’t care if you’re fashionable or a good cook or have a pretty house or car. I couldn’t care less about material things like that when it comes to friends.

I care about being considerate and respectful of others’ boundaries. And she’s not. At all.

Some people have told me to just be upfront with her and say that I don’t really want to be her friend, and I’m all for honesty, but I don’t want to hurt her feelings or be mean. I want to treat her how I’d want to be treated and that just isn’t it. Maybe if I try to be honest but in a softer way? Will she get the hint? I tried to just decline invitations to do things hoping she’d figure it out but she hasn’t. This would be easier if she didn’t live in town and grocery shop at the store right next to my house. Another option? Lie. I guess I could tell her a little lie — something along the lines of getting slammed with a big work project that will span six months and I’ll be really busy for a while. I’m really at a loss here.

What would you do?

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Comments (12)

  • Lynn

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    I had a friend like this who I met in French class in Paris (so we were both foreigners needing friends). I enjoyed her company (and to be honest, adoration) at first, but over time realized how negative she was. I was lucky in that we lived far enough apart that I knew I’d never run into her around town, so my strategy for cutting her off was just to gradually increase the amount of time between her texts and my responses, and between our get-togethers, until it became months. She found new friends to fill in those gaps. In your case, I’d keep the meal plans you pushed out a month, but cancel/postpone them at the last minute — sure, this isn’t polite, but neither is her behavior. And without seeing you, she’ll be forced to find another outlet.

    Funny story: After a semester in school with this friend, I made several ‘aller-retours’ to the US over 5 months before officially moving to Paris to be with my boyfriend. My first trip back to Paris, she asked what day I arrived at CDG. Then after a 12 hour flight, I exited customs to see HER waiting for me (surprise!). I had intended to take my huge bags via taxi to his apartment, but she pushed me to take the RER/etc (and I felt bad since she’d met me at CDG, so I went with her). Two+ hours later I was ready to KILL her.

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Thanks for reminding me that I’m not alone in these types of situations, Lynn. In your case, you were lucky that there was physical distance between you, and wow I bet that RER ride was one that will go down in history as one of your favorite trips ever lol. Yesterday, after having my phone off for a day, she called within 30 min and tried inviting herself (and her bf) over my house again. I am so fed up w/all this. Thank you for commenting!

      Reply

  • cynthia

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    Reading your posts about friendship is like listening to myself. I’ve studied the french language a number of years. Ive tried to make friends with the french women in my area and abroad. I’ve also tried to make friends with American women who study/speak french. In my opinion it is not easy to make friends be they French or American. There are too many restrictions and judgments that people place on one another. Most people want to find friends for the connections that they have. That is why there is so much rejection and competition between women. Most often it’s very hurtful when in happens. Very few female friendships work for these reasons. I’ve also been in the same situation of unwanted friendships as well. I see nothing wrong in cutting her off. Negative people are psychic vampires and will drain every drop of energy they can from you. True friendship is a rare gift. It will come when the time is right, you will know when it happens and it will be very special. You will know in your heart and there will be no unrest. Blessings, Cynthia

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Hi Cynthia, you’re absolutely right. I never realized it until I moved away but it is incredibly difficult to make friends as an adult. I don’t know if it’s the judgments and competition like you said (that’s sad if it’s the case) or just that people are too busy with their lives to reach out to others. I’m so sorry to hear of your negative experiences. Hope 2014 is your best year yet!

      Reply

  • Jackie

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    People always remember how you made them feel. So, put yourself in your friend’s shoes and treat her as you would like to be treated if it was the other way around.

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Hi! That’s good advice, Jackie. And if it were me, I’d want someone to be honest with me even if it comes as a surprise or hurts my feelings. But I don’t think she’d appreciate the same honesty and things might take a turn for the worse. So not sure what I’m going to do.

      Reply

  • Punaiz

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    Hello Diane,

    I allow myself an advise as you seem to be asking for one.
    Losing friends is as easy as having a conversation on a bad topic. She loves dogs? I would propose her a good receipe to cook hers. She is pationated about paints? Let’s be serious, those useless artists are only trying to be lasy while selling us for fortunes the pictures my child draws in 3mn.
    That kind of topics…

    And maybe the best: silence. She is drinking a coffee with you, and asking questions? Short responses: “oui”, “non”, and absolutely no new topic to propose. When she stops speaking, it is blattant silence. Nothing to say: why meeting?

    Happy new year

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Hahah, Punaiz that’s terrible advice!! But it made me laugh 😉 The thing is, to do any of these things, it would require me seeing her again which I want to avoid… Thank you for commenting and Happy New Year to you as well!!

      Reply

  • Madeleine

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    Hmm. You said you want to treat her as you’d like to be treated. I know you’d never act like her, but if you misunderstood a situation, wouldn’t you want someone to just come right out and tell you? Hopefully it’s the case that this is just all a misunderstanding. She thinks you want to be her friend, and she’s trying really hard to be your friend. Just tell her that you don’t want to pursue the friendship. Don’t lie. It’s not like this woman is your family. You don’t owe her anything other than honesty.

    By the way, your story started to sound familiar at first. I have a neighbor friend that I don’t have much in common with, but we meet up regularly when weather permits so our dogs can play. And we usually end up chatting way the whole time. It’s become fun. We both work from home, and our dogs love each other. However, we never do anything outside of the dogs playing together, and that seems to suit us both fine. If you’re looking for something like this, don’t give up! Dog friends can be quite handy, and it’s a great break during the day to have someone to call up for a quick meeting.

    Reply

  • Anne

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    You already have the answer! You stated it when you wrote,”Look I don’t care if you were the coolest person in the world, I wouldn’t want to hear from you daily or meet up every weekend.” That is kind, honest, straight forward, and objective enough not to hurt her feelings and I would say it to her face while dining. Do that as a character building exercise for yourself. Follow that up immediately with telling her you’re going to need your space in that you will be involved in a writing project {start one}. If she is a vampire, she will not respect your space and continue calling. If she does continue, then you are going to have to up your honesty and tell her your getting a little freaked out by her obsessiveness in not allowing you , your space and if she can’t respect you enough to do that, then any further dealings are off. You play things by degrees, saying them as kind and objectively honest as you can and to the extent she continues you up the honesty and just maybe you will end up helping her to look at her own neediness and obsession.

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Yes, that’s the route I took with her and hopefully she got the hint. No texts or calls since! Thanks for weighing in!

      Reply

  • Eliza

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    This is the first time I have ever commented on a blogging site but I just could not help it!
    I don’t know how to keep my story brief but I will try….
    I moved to a beautiful region in rural southern France in 2005. I left my home country, family and friends in UK and wanted to start afresh and escape a bad relationship. I wanted to be alone to lick my wounds.
    People, in a small community, are especially curious about why a woman should be alone and I was not very comfortable to discuss my situation.
    I was warmly welcomed by the local French people. The expat community was another story!
    One particular woman, also English, earmarked me for her “new best friend”. She was old enough to be my mother but pretended that she was roughly my age. She was living out her fantasy of herself in France. She had to weave a web of lies around the deceit about her age. She wheedled her way into my life by trying to “help” me. It was claustrophobic and impossible to shake her off. She offered favors and was counting up what I owed her. She would write many long emails daily, phone me constantly and bore me to death. But she made sure that I owed her something.
    I managed to shake her off and kept her out of my life for a couple of years. I met a wonderful man and joined him in Spain. I was free of her!
    I had to return to France to sell my house and this took eighteen months. The Wicked Witch surfaced again! I made a huge mistake in asking her to do me a favor. That gave her carte blanche to inveigle her way back into my life. She was jealous that I was happy and determined to undermine my my newfound happiness. It was like she had been waiting for the moment. She found it eventually and then blackmailed us. Seriously.
    We should have gone to the police but we did not have her stamina for revenge I dared to put my husband before her!. She actually made me very ill and I have still not recovered.
    I do know that she has a reputation for this behaviour but I don’t know if she will ever delight in finding such a “victim” as myself.
    It is not natural for anyone to phone/email/text multiple times per day.
    I saw a film recently, starring Judy Dench, called “Notes on a Scandal”. This film sent shivers down my spine (and my husband felt the same) because it was this woman!
    I guess she is lonely and bitter and time is running out for her to find a new victim. I doubt if I was the first.

    Reply

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