Opinion & Advice

Dear Dr. T and Kelsey,
A girl joined our group of friends last year, but has recently become very mean and manipulative. She chews people up and spits them out and expects us just to take it. She has no other friends anymore because she’s pushed everyone else away. Should we continue to be friends with her or kick her out of the group? If we stay friends with her, how should we address her bad behavior?



Dear Anonymous,

First, you should check your motives. Make sure you’re not jealous of this girl for some reason or mad at her for something else. If you are jealous or angry about something completely different, you should deal with that issue separately.

However, assuming this girl is as mean as you say, you should handle the situation directly. The best way is to tell her something like, “I don’t like talking to or about people that way.” Hopefully, this kind of direct communication will fix the problem.

If talking with her directly doesn’t work, you’ll have to distance yourself from her to protect yourself from getting hurt and from becoming party to behavior that could hurt others. The key is to distance yourself politely without behaving in the same ways you detest in this girl.
I think you should also let your friends make up their own minds about how friendly they want to be with her. There’s no need to have a coordinated effort to “kick her out” because that would involve the type of backstabbing and gossiping you say you’re trying to avoid.

— Dr. T, adolescent psychiatrist



Dear Anonymous,

It might be best to take a step back from this friendship for a bit.

Spend a week or two apart and give her a little space. Once you’ve had time to clear your head, you might take note of disagreements you’ve had or issues she has been dealing with in her personal life that she could be taking out on you and your crew. After the friendship hiatus, meet her for lunch and air out your concerns.

Tell her how she has been making you and your friends feel, and politely let her know that it’s not OK. If she’s receptive to the conversation, try to patch things up. If she’s not in the mood to compromise, it might be best to let her go and quietly sever the friendship.

If you decide you don’t want to be friends anymore, make sure to separate in a nice way. Slowly start to stop talking, texting and Facebooking her. It may be easier to pull away now and save yourself from some unnecessary drama later.

It seems like the best option right now is to work on your other friendships and save yourself the headache of a toxic one. As long as you’re polite and honest with her, you should be able to work things out or back off without a fight.

— Kelsey Farrell, Andrew


Disclaimer: The comments by Dr. Christian Thurstone and The Mash staff are not intended as and should not be considered medical or psychiatric advice. Although we endeavor to provide information that is accurate and useful, we recommend that you seek the services of a competent, independent mental health professional in the relevant jurisdiction to the extent you require personal help or advice.

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The Mash is the Chicago Tribune's newspaper and website written for teens, by teens. The paper is distributed for free every other Thursday at Chicago-area high schools and is written largely by high school students.

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