BFF: But Not Always

All girlfriends are not created equal. Some are excellent listeners; others keep you laughing with stories, sagas and sass. Some offer poignant, honest advice; others just want to have fun.

But there’s also the friend that just, well, ticks you off. You still love her, so you want to handle those aggravating upsets in a mature, smart fashion.

Easier said than done, right?

Sticky Situation: You love Susie, but you loathe Mike (Susie’s better half).

Solution: If nothing else, you can use your dislike of Mike as an excuse to spend more quality time with Susie, sans men. Chicago-based licensed social worker, Marnie Spiegel, suggests a monthly “girl’s night out.” You enjoy Susie and your friendship, without having to worry about Mike. But when you must see Mike, remember the adage: Kill him with kindness. As best you can, tolerate him without upsetting or offending Susie. “Remember that being a good friend is about being supportive and non-judgmental,” Spiegel says. “And, ultimately, Mike is Susie’s husband, not yours.”

Sticky Situation: Marla loves to get together; she suggests dates all the time, yet always suggests that the playdate, dinner or brunch be at your house—never hers.

Solution: If you don’t feel comfortable discussing your concerns (telling Marla to suck-it-up and have the gathering at her place, rather than yours…again), you can simply excuse yourself from hosting by saying, “Sorry, my house won’t work this time.” Chances are, if you say “no” enough times, Marla will get the hint.

Another approach is to suggest her house, calling it a “favor.” Spiegel recommends something like, “Marla, would you mind having the playdate at your house, as a favor? We’d really appreciate it.” This way, Marla feels appreciated—and encouraged—to open her home.

Sticky Situation:
Linda loves to gossip, but you pride yourself on staying away from rumors. Yet Linda still calls you–daily–to share a wealth of insignificant nonsense.

Solution: You have two options. First, make your conversations with Linda short and sweet–to the point (whether about upcoming plans, a soccer game, a meeting, etc.). When she starts to go off-course, redirect the conversation back to its roots, suggests Spiegel. Or explain to Linda that although you will always be available to help her, you’re not interested in talking about other people’s lives.

Sticky Situation: Your college roommate, Jessica, has become a total downer. Her attitude, aura and actions are negative. And it’s starting to drive you crazy.

Solution: Have a heart-to-heart with Jessica. Try to talk through some of your feelings, about her negativity, without being condescending or disrespectful, recommends Spiegel. “As best you can, stay upbeat and positive, encouraging her to support the idea of reaching a healthier frame of mind.” You can also give her a motivating, self-help book (“Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life ” or “Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy Revised and Updated” are two great options) as a first step. And, of course, remind Jessica that you will always be a sounding board for her and that things will get better.