Dear Dr. Archer,
I have two best friends whom I like very much, but lately I've been facing issues with them. They keep finding fault with everything I do! Since childhood I've been a vegetarian, but for the past year they've been forcing me to eat non-vegetarian. I have told them I hate non-vegetarian foods, but they don't understand.
They criticize how I dress. I consider my sense of dress average -- not too bad and not too good, but they keep telling me I don't know how to choose my clothes. One of them criticizes my taste for music, saying I don't have taste. I listen to the music because it makes me feel good and don't understand why they have to be judgmental about it.
One of them never visits my home, giving me lame excuses, so I visit her often. I don't know how to express my anger and frustrations because I don't want to hurt them. For each and everything that they say, they say they're concerned about me and are telling me for my own good.
One friend is married and has a child. The other raised two children, so they know how to take care of children. I've never been around children in my life, so they find fault that I don't know how to care for children.
I find they're criticizing me even when I'm not at fault. A few months back I couldn't control my emotions and stopped talking to them, but even that became a big issue. One insulted me indirectly on a social networking site and told me I ditched her after being friends since childhood days.
I feel they're dominating, but according to them they're right because they're perfect. I cannot let go of them because at times they supported me financially and mentally. When I tried moving out of their lives, they started blaming me.
I just don't know how to deal with this anymore. I feel it's affecting me in a psychological way. What should I do?
It's time to realize that these "friends" are not friends. This is not how friends treat each other, Tina. They accept each other; differences and faults included. Trust me, no one is perfect -- not me, not you and certainly not them.
Tina, these girls are not telling you these things for your own good. Telling you that you have something between your teeth, or that your shirt has a stain is for your own good. Criticizing everything that makes you unique is just insulting and mean-spirited.
Anyway, it's time to talk to these girls one at a time, this is important. Explain clearly your issues and explain what will be necessary for the friendships to continue. No more insults, you like your dress, your music and your food, period.
If they cannot respect your differences, then they're really not your friends. A friend builds up and supports, she does not insult and tear down. Read "How Can A Friend Help Someone Suicidal?"
to get an idea of what a real friend is all about.
If they don't like it, that's their choice. They may have helped you out before, but they're not doing so now, and today is what counts, not yesterday. I hope this works, who knows? Just make sure if they don’t follow through with your request that you leave them behind.
Regardless of the outcome, I suggest you put yourself out there and meet some new friends. Talk to the girls at work or school that you get along with. Ask if they want to do something together, and possibly bring another friend. This will expand your circle and possibly develop into a lasting friendship or two.
Joining a club, group or learning or furthering a hobby will help you meet others with whom you have something in common. Get their contact information so you can contact them later, and give them yours. Then follow up.
You are unique, and you are exceptional. Do not let others who are unhappy and jealous bring you down. Best of luck to you!