BFF or Bully?

BFF or Bully - Mean Girls GIF
Hi friends. I recently got a message from a fan that tugged at my heartstrings. She asked to remain anonymous and as I promise all those who send me confessions, I will happily grant her anonymity on today’s blah-g post.

But here’s the gist: Picture a clique at your school. One girl is the constant target, the one who the others relentlessly pick on. Maybe there’s an alpha girl in the group–the target’s BFF–who’s slinging all the insults and mean-spirited jokes. The target says she’s allowing it to happen because she sympathizes with the alpha girl and knows she is actually deeply insecure and these insults are a way for her to feel better about herself. But it’s gone on for too long, things have gone way too far, and the target can’t pretend she’s okay with their friendship dynamic any longer without suffering serious self esteem issues.

The target wants to make a change, but she doesn’t want to be mean or start a fight. She doesn’t want to offend the alpha by confronting her in the wrong way about this situation, but things have gotten hurtful and something has to be done. What if this girl was your friend, what would you advise her to do?

Dear Anon,

I can tell you’re a selfless person. What gave it away, you ask? You’ve been too nice to this girl. In this case, it might be that your good heart has allowed you to be taken advantage of by, as you wisely noted, a very insecure person who has chosen to take her insecurities out on you. It isn’t fair, but it’s a high school reality, and sadly the clique mentality can last throughout most people’s lives. It’s your job to stand up for yourself and demand the respect you deserve from friends–the same respect you are giving them. What’s not your job? Taking on the responsibility for your friend’s insecurities and suffering through emotional pain in order for her to feel better about herself. You have a great deal of compassion and understanding for your friend, and your intentions in allowing her to make you the target were coming from a good place, but BFFs don’t try to make each other feel badly, no matter the reason. This girl isn’t your BFF, she’s a bully.

It isn’t your fault she’s made you the target, but it’s your responsibility to show the people around you how you deserve to be treated. I hope you can find the nerve to stand up to this mean girl and know that there are ways you can do this without being mean yourself. You don’t need to play her game by throwing insults back her way, and you don’t need to stick your head in the sand hoping she’ll eventually stop and move onto bullying someone else in your group. At this point, she knows she can get away with it so you need to communicate that the behavior needs to end.

You can’t avoid having “the talk” with your friend. Keep it private, in person, and come from a calm place. Don’t yell or make underhanded remarks or else this mean girl will likely become defensive and this talk may escalate into a verbal fight. Adrenaline will be high at this point, but try to stay poised. Let your BFF know how much her comments and teasing have hurt you and that they need to stop. If you still care about saving the friendship, simply let her know that, adding you won’t be able to have the same friendship until she adjusts her behavior towards you. Do not let her make you feel like you’re making too big of a deal out of her teasing. Remember that BFFs do not make each other feel badly, no matter the reason.

If all goes well and your BFF is receptive, she will rightly apologize and make changes in how she treats you. If she doesn’t? You will have to find ways of separating yourself from her and sticking with the girls who truly have your back and care about your feelings. This can be tricky in a high school setting, but not impossible.

Anon, my heart goes out to you and I hope you decide to confront your friend about this issue. There is no reason you can’t have the friendships in your life that boost you up instead of tear you down, but it’s your responsibility to make that happen. You can do it. Good luck.

TTYW,

Lisi

5 Comments

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  • Novella says:

    Hey Anon! I just wanted to let you know that I was in literally the EXACT SAME situation a few years earlier. I knew that my best friend was having a lot of problems outside of school, so she decided to make me feel inferior. Knowing that she had power over someone boosted her self confidence and made her feel better. I completely understood that there was a lot of things going on in her life, but at the same time, my parents and my gut kept telling me that it wasn’t okay to handle her bullying. When I did confront her, she got a bit defensive, broke down, and made it seem like she wasn’t doing anything wrong at all. She completely avoided the situation. Confronting her was very hard, but it did help. Verbalizing my problems made her realize her mistakes, even if she didn’t admit it. After she was aware of what she was doing, she silently started to change her ways. I noticed that she started to make up for what she had done to me by doing what she should have done originally with me to others, if that makes sense.

    It’s been four to five years after the incident. Now, everyone believes she’s a very sweet person, and she is. She’s still a bit cautious around me, but I know that she is trying very hard not to revert back to her old self, and is finding other ways to vent her frustration. It does get better, and while your friendship with this Alpha may not be the same, it won’t disappear completely. Your BFF just needs to learn her lesson.

  • kaykay says:

    hi Lisi Harrison I love your books very very much. they inspire me. Just because you might have something no one else has that don’t mean bring that person down.Right know I am working on a book called me and my crew.im only 12 year-old and I very proud of myself.thanks a lot keep doing what you love and never give up

  • Kailee says:

    This happened to me a lot in 7th grade (I wrote a blog post about it here: http://peach-lemonade.blogspot.com/2014/03/the-bullied.html) and it was really hard! My friends would tease me all the time, at church and school especially and I’d go home crying to my mom about how they’d told this one boy I liked him (and I definitely didn’t like him) or how they’d ditch me at school all the time to get rid of me. I called them my friends but they really were being such jerks. I should have confronted them about it, but I was young and I don’t even know if that crossed my mind. If I had though, I think it would have stopped because I’m not really sure if they even knew how much it was hurting me, I think they just thought I thought it was funny because I always laughed with them or put on a smile so I wouldn’t look stupid. Maybe your case is the same and your friend doesn’t even realize how much she’s hurting you. I definitely think asking her to stop is a great idea. Thankfully for me, the next year, I had more friends come to that school and I started to hang out with them more and the bullying kind of stopped.

    My advice to you is to also find other friends to hang out with or eat lunch with. You don’t even have to spend all your time with them, but spend some time apart from this other girl and have a change of scenery with someone else who’ll treat you nicely and the way you deserve. Easier said than done, I know, but who knows what could happen, right? Also, I just want you to know that no matter what happens, one day you’ll back at this, maybe still friends with those girls, maybe friends with new ones.. I moved and made better friends in my new town, and grew apart from those other girls, but you’ll be totally fine and this won’t be forever. You are so nice and I hope you can have friends who treat you so great, you deserve it! Bullying is never okay and you are so brave to ask about it and how to deal with it. Good luck 🙂 (sorry for the long comment, ah!)

  • Shaila Gottlieb says:

    You are so smart Lisi…I love your advice…it’s important at any age as there are always bullies.

    xoxo

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