Unwanted friendship

United States
January 11, 2009 6:02pm CST
How can I get rid of an unwanted friendship? A woman with whom I work lost her husband several years ago, and when I reached out to her in her grief, she became such an overwhelming friend that i had to tell her off. For many years, we've been strictly professional acquaintances. Lately, she's becoming overbearing again. he just called and asked if she should make extra lunch for tomorrow so I can have it, too. She's started calling every day, often several times, and I don't want to be mean, because it's truly nice and friendly, but I feel as if I'm being strangled. Our lunch break is at the same time, and it's not going to change. If I begin to go to a different table, I know she'll be hurt, and probably very loud and embarrassing. What would you do?
7 people like this
17 responses
@EvrWonder (3577)
• Canada
12 Jan 09
It is unfortunate when these situation arise. If I were you I would simply become busy. Just be unavailable for extra circular activity. Get call display and avoid certain phone calls. Sounds harsh but it will help to solve the problem. At work, begin to mingle with other co workers so that in time, you will be having lunch with others, Perhaps keep the problem to yourself but engage in friendship with others at work. Then arrange to go off the property for lunch. Spring and summer is coming, so asking someone else to go outside for lunch would be a pleasing opportunity. Do not take her calls. You're busy. Since she obviously doesn't come to your home, make like you are so busy remodelling, painting or that you are now raising birds or fish. Be somewhere else, whether you are or not. Just don't answer for awhile. Or change your number. That can be a hassle, especially if you have had it for a long while. When she asks, just tell her that you were having some harassing phone calls so you were recommended to change the number. If she asks for it just say no, since the last experience, I am only giving my number to family. She doesn't need to know otherwise. I hope one or more of these suggestions help. I understand your position and is not an easy one.
• United States
12 Jan 09
How wonderful! You obviously understand. I can do several of these things. Unfortunately, we only have 25 minutes for lunch, and we're not allowed to leave. I'm a teacher and she's a secretary in the school's office. I really am all that busy, and I need to stop allowing her and a couple of other people intrude! Thanks for excellent advice.
1 person likes this
@EvrWonder (3577)
• Canada
13 Jan 09
You are Most Welcome! I hope that you succeed with Flying Colors ;) Also since the environment is a school, this is perfect, just make like you are doing research and hit the library or the computer science room, if you school has one. Best to you and Thank you for your comment.
1 person likes this
@EvrWonder (3577)
• Canada
27 Jan 09
Hello cobrateacher, Thank you very kindly for the BR. How did it go? Feel free to give us an update. best to you. Thanks again!
@cutepenguin (6455)
• Canada
12 Jan 09
I echo others' statements. Be busy, and treat her like an adult, not like a kid. Just because she is being particularly friendly to you, doesn't mean that you HAVE to be exclusively friendly to her - sit down at other tables once in awhile. If it bothers you, act as if you have something in particular to say to someone at that other table - smile and nod at your friend, but go up to someone else and comment on something that you might be doing that afternoon.
2 people like this
• United States
12 Jan 09
Unbelievable! She just called me to ask why I wasn't at lunch. I told her I needed some quiet, so I went outside. She said I should have come by her desk! I told her I needed a quiet break, and then she started asking all sorts of questions about other teachers. I told her I don't know because I'm too busy with my students to know what anyone else is doing. I don't want to start gossiping with her. I did tell her I won't see her tomorrow at lunch, either, and she sounded very sad when she wished me a good day. This is annoying and frustrating!
1 person likes this
• Canada
13 Jan 09
Wow. This person is really stepping over the line. Unless you feel like discussing this with her, continue to state that you are busy and/or need quiet time. If she presses you, wanting to gossip, remind her that you are trying to get your work done during the day so that you can get home in time for dinner at night. "Hey, if I chat all day, I'll be here all night - sorry, I need to go"
@alindahaw (1219)
• Philippines
12 Jan 09
I guess these things do happen. I have a friend who used to follow me around and talked endlessly. She is such a nice person but sometimes, she can be quite irritating. I didn't want to hurt her feelings but time came when I have to get away from her or lose my sanity. I avoided her and after a couple of weeks, I guess she finally accepted the fact that I don't want to be friends with her anymore. I know that she was hurt and she told me that much but I needed to get away from her before I go crazy.
2 people like this
• United States
12 Jan 09
Are you sure you're not thinking of Luisa, too?
1 person likes this
@alindahaw (1219)
• Philippines
18 Jan 09
Luisa? I don't know your Luisa but I certainly have someone who is a lot like her. LOL I think these people would make good telemarketers. I think that they simply do not get tired of offering you something and calling you when you don't need them to call you. The worst part of it is that they actually think that they are doing you a favor! Oh my Lord! I don't mean to be rude but it would really be very nice if they just stop calling and trying to be nice to me.
@kprofgames (3101)
• United States
12 Jan 09
Sometimes it's hard to be nice. That I understand. I think you are a very sweet person to think of another one over yourself. I have two "friends" that are like this. One is a bit of a whiner, where anything that happens to her, her life is over. The other is a crier and when she's worn out her welcome with another friend from our circle, it's the next one's turn. To be honest, if one of our friends weren't dating her we'd told her to jump off a bridge a long time ago. So, I do know alittle bit. I think first thing to know is what is the mental mantality of this person? Is this a person that you can say something to and they'll actually listen? Or will they brush it off and somehow turn the conversation back towards them? If they're a conversation turner or their light bulb isn't the brightest, you might just have to sever ties there and call it good. Hurt feeling or not. You've had a work relationship before, so there isn't any reason that you can't keep it just business. If she's offended that you have your lunch at another table, just tell her the truth. I think it's much better to do that then being nice back. To be honest, this will give her a false hope that you really are friends. You don't have to make excuses. If you want to have lunch with other people, just tell her today you're sitting over here. Then make a habit of it. Sometimes being too nice can not only hurt you, but them too.
2 people like this
• United States
12 Jan 09
It's really hard for me to be snippy with anyone, but I know I need to be. You're right when you mention brushing it off and turning it all back to herself. She does that all the time. I'm trying hard to work up the nerve I need ...
1 person likes this
@leenie50 (3992)
• United States
12 Jan 09
Hi Jo, This is always a very tough situation. It's very annoyingbut you want to be nice about it so as not to hurt feelings unnecessarily. The problem is that these type of people don't take hints and worse yet, don't want to hear the truth. I think the best solution would be an honest email. That way, you won't have to approach the problem at school. One thing you might do is tell her that you must make your own lunch because of your difficulties with your jaw. Good luck my dear friend. I'd hate to be in your shoes right now.xoxoxo leenie
• United States
12 Jan 09
I must admit, I turned down the offer of lunch by saying my jaw's acting up too much. It is, but not really enough to skip lunch. It's such an awkward situation.
1 person likes this
@Opal26 (17690)
• United States
12 Jan 09
Hey cobrateacher! That is such an uncomfortable position to be in! I hate when there is no way out of something like that and you just have to sort of grin and bare it! I don't really know what to tell you because you pretty much have answered the questions yourself already! It doesn't seem like you have too much choice, at least for the lunchtime thing. As for the calls at home, you don't have to take those if you have caller ID! Or if your husband can answer them and make up some excuse so you start talking to her less and maybe she will slowly get the hint! Other than that I don't know what to tell you when it is someone you have to see every day it really makes the situation alot harder to ignore!
2 people like this
• United States
12 Jan 09
Making up stories isn't easy for me, but this week, anyway, I really do have an excuse. We're in mid-terms, so I don't have time for anything but work. Your input is truly appreciated.
1 person likes this
@sahmof2 (274)
• United States
12 Jan 09
She might just need someone to be there for her to talk to, you can politely turn down her offerings for lunch and the such by telling her no thank that you I can bring your own. Sometimes being straight forward works best. I wouldn't recommend you ignoring her because that can hurt her and probably make the situation a lot more akward being that you to have to work together. It's a good thing she asked if she can bring you lunch instead of just putting you on the spot and bringing you some so she probably wouldn't take it personal if you said no thank you.
2 people like this
• United States
12 Jan 09
I find it amazing that I've been "adopted" at the age of 62! That's sort of the way it feels, and it's kind of a squirmy feeling.
1 person likes this
@rsa101 (17834)
• Quezon City, Philippines
12 Jan 09
Well I guess just be there for her in her most challenging times in life. I think she just needs your time to heal from her grief she is experiencing right now and the fact that she is approaching you for comfort then there must be something that she finds in you that is comforting her life and I think you should be appreciative of that. Extending yourself for her at the time of her grief was good enough maybe guiding her to herself would be best if you would continue to extend yourself for her. I guess there is nothing wrong with that. What do you think why you feel strangled by her generosity? Because for me I do not see anything wrong with her friendly gesture towards you.
• United States
12 Jan 09
You're right. It's just gone too far. I don't have a sister or a mother and, frankly, I don't want either. I do offer friendship, but there are limits.
1 person likes this
@shell1986 (405)
• United States
12 Jan 09
If I were you I would tell her the truth; that you don't mind being her friend but she is being too overbearing for you. Since she lost her husband you could possibly get her interested in a support group for people who have lost their spouses. Anything to pique her interest could help as well; church, the local YMCA/YWCA, a singles group, anything really. Just try to be sensitive to her feelings while telling her the truth at the same time. Good luck and I hope everything works out for the best with you and your co-worker.
2 people like this
• United States
12 Jan 09
This feels like such an unnecessarily uncomfortable problem! I really appreciate the suggestions.
1 person likes this
@Jenaisle (3803)
• Philippines
12 Jan 09
That's sad on her part and irritating on your part. Well, you'll have to tell her frankly but gently. At times you'll have to be straightforward to others for them to understand that you mean what you say. This is to stop prolonging the agony, It would hurt at first but make her understand why you're doing it, that you are feeling "strangled". If she is sensitive enough, she'll understand. Cheers.
2 people like this
• United States
12 Jan 09
I hope the worst that will happen is that I'll be bad-mouthed to anyone who will listen!
1 person likes this
• Philippines
12 Jan 09
As I can sense, I think that woman has a feelings for you. I think she likes you so much so she wanted you always. I know that is difficult for you to just leave her. I think you invite more friends who will also join you. And after that you can just make excuses later not to join here atleast she already had new friends.
2 people like this
• United States
12 Jan 09
To be perfectly honest, most people there can't stand her. She's very loud and pushy, and since we spend our days with rowdy kids, lunch is a time when we want quiet and a bit of shop-talk. I apppreciate your suggestion, but the man in the classroom next to mine told me not long ago not to be offended if he stops sitting at that table because he can't take this woman. I might just take the suggestion above and go outside to read.
1 person likes this
@guybrush (4660)
• Australia
12 Jan 09
I empathise with this, because I'm a very insular person and hate being 'pushed' into doing things I don't want to do rather than hurt someone's feelings. My parents are the same, and I remember a neighbour once hounding my mother so badly she ended up having to be rude. The woman had the habit of waiting until we were leaving for school, then trotting across the road and staying there chatting and drinking coffee - on a couple of occasions she was STILL THERE when we returned from school! Poor Mum was desperate not to hurt this woman's feelings, and one day told her she wouldn't be able to stop for coffee for a couple of weeks as she was doing a BIG springclean and would be busy - she was hoping this would break the woman's habit. It didn't make any difference - and when Mum saw the woman heading across the road the next morning, she went out on the step and shouted at her to 'Go away - and not come back!' It sounds hilarious now - but it was very upsetting. The good thing was, the woman never came over again - but it made for a nasty feeling in the street. I think it's probably best to gird your loins (so to speak) and tell your colleague you like using your lunchbreak to catch up on some reading, as you have no time for that at home. You can take a book with you and stick your nose in it. I always do that if I have to eat alone in a cafe - it's like putting up a 'do not disturb' sign!
2 people like this
• United States
12 Jan 09
Actually, until I had surgery shortly before winter break, I did spend lunch break reading. In fact, I went out to the back stairs to have a quiet read. Why had I forgotten that? I think I might just take my book outside and say I need quiet! I'm glad you reminded me.
1 person likes this
• India
12 Jan 09
I'll go to the next table. There is no point in being with her if you are not comfortable and as far her feeling bad goes, it is going to happen one day or the other if she doesn't correct her self any way so why to bother?
2 people like this
• United States
12 Jan 09
You're probably right, but I hate to be mean to someone who's just being nice. She takes it much, much too far!
1 person likes this
• United States
12 Jan 09
I would just have to tell her one of those times she called how you felt that she was being over bearing with the friendship and that is not the kind of friendship that you want of course I am the type of person that you never have to wonder whats on my mind but I would tell her over the phone if she seems to be the crazy type but I would not let my self suffer from this just tell her that seems to be the only way to handle things like this
2 people like this
• United States
12 Jan 09
For many, many years, people have taken the fact that I'm a very quiet person to mean that I'm a doormat. I try really hard to get past that. Your advice is excellent.
1 person likes this
@ronaldinu (12440)
• Malta
19 Jan 09
HI Cobrateacher, it means you are a sensitive person and that this person who was feeling like drowning grasped to you in order to survive. This post also shows you are an altruistic loving person and a really true friend. However I do understand that you need your own space and that she does not invade your privacy. I would try to encourage her to make more friends, going to social activities where she can mingle with others, perhaps even find and meet a decent guy. Than I am sure the telephone calls will become less frequently until she occupies herself with a hobby or another man.
1 person likes this
• United States
19 Jan 09
Good ideas, but they haven't worked yet. Lately I've been trying to convince her to get a computer at home so she can go on the social networks like Facebook or MySpace, where people would be anxious to befriend her! She has a daughter in Italy, and e-mail would be a lot cheaper than phone calls several times a day, so maybe that will catch on one of these days...
@savypat (20245)
• United States
15 Jan 09
Can't you have a private talk, tell her you value her friendship, but that you feel uncomfortable with friendships that are to close. Be very kind but firm. Why put all this energy into trying to solve this problem, time to deal with it straight on. Just my advise.
• United States
15 Jan 09
You're right, Pat. I'll do that. I truly appreciate it!
@srganesh (6348)
• India
12 Jan 09
I thin it is better to speak to her openly how you you feel with her activities.Let you be strict to limit herself without disturbing you.Doesn't she have other friends or relatives?Why should not you ask her to mingle with others in the office too.Is she embarrasing you more?Does she see a mother in you?
• United States
12 Jan 09
I've tried the group thing, and they didn't like her, and let her know. Even at synagogue, she can't seem to get anyone to talk with her because she's loud and pushy. Her only friends seem to be her children and grandchildren. Even students beg not to have to go to the office if she's going to be there, because she's rude to them. She's very nice to me, and other people tell me she admires me so much! Today I went out to the back stairs and read a book.
1 person likes this