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Kim
Hi Vixens,

Sorry this is so long!!!! I tried to shorten but don't know what to leave out.

I have a friend at work who is making me feel very uncomfortable and I would like some advise on what to do.

I have worked with her for 7 years. I used to be her supervisor and then I changed positions and went Part Time since having kids. The dynamic of our relationship has changed dramatically over the years.

What started out as comradery at work and having lunch every day we work together has turned dramatically into a possessive and jealous friendship.

Background: This girl, Mandy, has a very strong and forceful personality. She is extremely opinionated and has no problem telling anyone what she thinks. She is very touchy and gets mad easily over small things with other coworkers and sometimes even clients. She is known to be intimidating to other coworkers. When I first worked with her, I was her supervisor and I didn't see these things about her. She was always extremely pleasant to me and we developed a close working relationship.

Over the years, we have become equals in our work positions. I tend to be a soft spoken, quieter, reserved and sensitive person. My nature has allowed her overbearing personality to emerge over the years.

Here are things that have led up to me asking your advice.

1) I work 3 days a week and she expects that I only have lunch with her all three days. On occasion I have wanted to have lunch with a different coworker, and I have told her I have plans. She got very angry and insisted that she come along with the us to lunch. I told her that was fine if she joined us, and she got even angrier saying that I worded the invitation wrong, that she wasn't "joining us, but however the other friend would be the one joining since she and I always have lunch together,"

2) She stares at me from across the workplace all day, and when I go on a break, she asks me where I have gone to and why I was gone so long.

3) She listens to how I talk to clients and gives me unsolicited advice on how to do things better.

4) She wants me to share all about my life to her, but doesn't share anything about herself. I assume she is single, but even after 7 years, I don't know much about her, if she lives alone, etc.

5) She tells me "she loves me like a sister, I am her best friend in the world". Constatnly hugging me.

6) She became furious one day when she was late to work, and I texted her to make sure all was ok, and to let her know I couldn't have lunch with her that day because I had a friend visiting. She said to never text her about lunch plans, that I could only tell her in person (even though she was late and I didn't know when she would be at work). I can text her about other things, but never if I want to go to lunch with someone else.

7) She is jealous of any coworker I talk to and badmouths them to me. If I make friends at work, she says they are trying to make excuses to take me away from her and have lunch or a break.

8) If she doesn't like the wording of something I say to her, like " Do you want to go to lunch now" etc. (because asking if she wants to implies to her that maybe I don't want to) she gets so upset and berates me.

This is just a small sampling of how this relationship has become. Recently after a big outburst on her part, I told her I have had enough and I can't be having this stressful friendship. I said that she makes me feel guilty everytime I want to do anything else, and she is constantly telling me what to do. I told her it is too intense and I have to back away from this friendship and give it some space. This has been many years in the coming which is my fault. One of my flaws is that I can be a people pleaser and too accomodating. I have allowed the relationship to become this way, and I finally needed to set some serious boundaries.

After this, she comes to me every day, sometimes with gifts, and she cries and tries to take my hand and tell me how I am her best friend and she loves me and she will "regain my trust". She makes excuses for her behavior (like she got in a fight with her sister that day and took it out on me, or some other excuses.)

This is all too much for me. I am more of an intorverted, solitary person. I am married with kids, and I work part time and don't need drama and intensity like this in my life.

Do I completely desert the friendship? She still stares at me all day and tries to "make up". ALso, Since I have asked for my space, I have been nervous to go to the lunch room with other friends since she will probably go up there at the same time. Do I set boundaries but try to have lunch with her once a week, or completely distance from her.

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    This woman is not your friend; if she was, she would consider your feelings as well as her own. And she's not doing that. She insisted that everything was to be done on her terms and when you told her that what she was doing was bothering you, she countered with excuses and guilt and manipulation. This is all about what she wants, not about being a friend. Regardless of your status as an introvert or married or busy or whatever, her behaviour toward you has been extremely inappropriate and dysfunctional.

    Because she is used to getting her own way, any change, particularly not in her favour, is going to be resisted in a big way. It would be nice if you could back off and have a more relaxed friendship with her, but I suspect that for this woman it's an "all or nothing" proposition. And I suspect that unless you draw a line in the sand, her harassment and manipulation attempts will continue.

    So I would recommend reacting to each of her demands and requests separately. As in stop having lunch with her and if she insists, tell her no thanks. And if she stares at you or tries to grab you, tell her firmly but politely that this is not appropriate nor appreciated. And start documenting these incidents; if she continues, you should go to HR and report this because her behaviour can be construed as harassment. You shouldn't have to put up with this kind of nonsense.

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    Jill wrote: This woman is not your friend; if she was, she would consider your feelings as well as her own. And she's not doing that. She insisted that everything was to be done on her terms and when you told her that what she was doing was bothering you, she countered with excuses and guilt and manipulation. This is all about what she wants, not about being a friend. Regardless of your status as an introvert or married or busy or whatever, her behaviour toward you has been extremely inappropriate and dysfunctional. Because she is used to getting her own way, any change, particularly not in her favour, is going to be resisted in a big way. It would be nice if you could back off and have a more relaxed friendship with her, but I suspect that for this woman it's an "all or nothing" proposition. And I suspect that unless you draw a line in the sand, her harassment and manipulation attempts will continue. So I would recommend reacting to each of her demands and requests separately. As in stop having lunch with her and if she insists, tell her no thanks. And if she stares at you or tries to grab you, tell her firmly but politely that this is not appropriate nor appreciated. And start documenting these incidents; if she continues, you should go to HR and report this because her behaviour can be construed as harassment. You shouldn't have to put up with this kind of nonsense.

    Thank you so much Jill. I really appreciate your perspective on this. I feel your advice is right on. It was so hard to see it when I was so enmeshed in the relationship but now that I have taken a step back I can see what you are seeing. Thank you so much. I am starting to document everything. You are so right, she is not a friend, and I haven't been able to make any other friends since she is so possessive but now I am taking control of my time and I am ready to make new friends and spend time by myself doing the things I like to do. I feel a burden is starting to lift, and again, I thank you.

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    Mandy sounds almost incapable of normal human interaction, let alone being someone's friend. Certainly her actions seem much closer to being controlling and possessive (not to mention self-obsessed) than to anything resembling "friendship".

    Completely deserting this non-friendship is unquestionably the way to go.

    Oh, and while I agree with Jill's spot-on HR advice, I'd also point out that if your company is big enough, you may be able to find another department to work in. If not, it may be time to find another workplace....


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    Thank you so much Kai. I appreciate this advice and agree with you and Jill. Sometimes it is hard to see what is going on when you are right in the middle of it. A fresh perspective is exactly what I needed. I am going to move forward with putting this advice into action starting tomorrow. Wish me luck! I am so fortunate to have people like you to reinforce and reassure me in this next step. Thank you. I am also going to look into transferring to another department.

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