Teaching a Friend Guidelines of Friendship

Alice_sjFebruary 22, 2013

I've got a friend who is immature in a lot of ways. I've noticed that she does things like order an appetizer for our table without asking the rest of us if we even want/like it, but she doesn't offer to pay for it when the waiter asks whose bill to put it on. And she never offers to bring anything over if you ask her to come over for dinner and a movie. To a potluck she'd bring something like a bag of coconut marshmallows and pixie sticks because they sounded good to her. (She asked me why no one at the adult party had any, and I did tell her in a nice way.)

I am generous with my friends, but I was not happy when she said that my husband and I know she doesn't make a lot of money. Um, I don't know that. In fact, I thought she was doing really well when she tells me how much money she has in her bank account (another sign of the immaturity to me). My other friends tolerate her, but they would rather I not invite her when we get together. And one friend told me that, as her friend, I should tell her (nicely) to grow up and get her act together. She can be fun, but she doesn't know how to negotiate adult friendships.

So, I have started just telling her what I expect from her. For example, telling her to pay for parking because I bought the movie tickets in advance for us. Or inviting her over for dinner and asking her to bring dessert. (Yes, we might get a bag of marshmallows and pixie sticks, but it is something.) I feel sort of bad doing that, but she just doesn't seem to know better.

Have you ever dealt with a friend like that? Do you think it's rude of me to invite her over and tell her what to bring?

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Good morning! Yes, I have a friend who is socially immature. In the course of her life, she has gone from being a clothing model and married to now - she's become a leech and has lost most of her friends - she has begged and borrowed her way to this point. She's capable of making her own way, but (I believe) because of her depression issues, she finds it easier to beg her way through life. I have finally had to ex-communicate her.

On one hand, I feel badly that she lives like this, but on the other hand, I can't support her habits and choices, so we just don't get together anymore.

No, I don't think you are rude.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 4:59AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

You are not obliged to invite her to all of your get togethers with your other friends. She doesn't even need to know about them.

Clearly, if you want to include her in a pot luck, you will have to tell her what to bring and why! Suggest a mixed green salad, or a bakery pie, or KFC. Something that actually contributes to the communal dinner.

I have lots of patience for those who really try to change their ways and contribute to a friendship....but it wears very thin if I begin to feel taken advantage of.

If you go to lunch, get separate checks. Pay for your own movie tickets and let her get the parking while you get the popcorn. Tell her that you are not interested in an appetizer so that it will get added to her bill.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 8:55AM
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She might have a mild autistic-spectrum disorder like PDD-NOS.

Here is a link that might be useful: PDD-NOS

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 10:08AM
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I don't think you are wrong at all. Sometimes people can become too much trouble to be friends with. I have had to step away from several friendships because they are too draining. I like my friends up-front, fun, and uncomplicated.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 10:13AM
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I don't think it would be rude to tell her what to bring. It's a lot nicer than sitting there fuming and talking about her behind her back later. Honestly, we aren't all raised the same. She may have something like Aspergers or just a cultural difference. You'd be a good friend helping her to fit in better.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 10:34AM
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Sounds like aspergers to me. I think you are very sweet, and smart to hold your own boundaries with her.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 11:20AM
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Dble post

This post was edited by amyfiddler on Fri, Feb 22, 13 at 12:57

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 12:50PM
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One of my adult son's has asperger's. It's true that the social norms do not come naturally to them. Maybe they can learn but I am thinking your friend is a lot different than my son in the way that she want's to be included in a social group. I can't speak for all asperger's but it was my impression that they are loners and don't care for social settings.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 2:46PM
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Some people can't pick up on social cues, or others may not care. I think it's fine to give her clear and direct suggestions.

I have one female friend that literally shows up everywhere in raggedy sweatpants and baggy tshirts. She has a full-time office job, so I know she has nice clothes (somewhere??). You don't need to dress expensively, but you'd think presentable and clean would make the list.

Usually when I go somewhere and ask if I can bring a dish, I usually get, "Oh, just bring anything, whatever you like". That's hard for some people. I'd much rather the host say, oh we need a green salad. When I want people to bring something, I give them specifics, like dessert, so we don't end up with 3 bowls of potato salad and nothing else.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 3:40PM
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It appears that you've tried to clue her in, in a nice way, so I think that you need to be increasingly direct, and tell her the reason(s), in a pleasant and considerate way.

She needs to learn how to relate, socially, if she doesn't know/hasn't learned, on her own.

As some have said, they don't want to asssociate with her, as she is.

So she needs to learn how to participate, properly, if she's to continue to be welcome.

Do some discreet questioning to ascertain whther she's unaware... or just trying to take advantage.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 3:56PM
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All of the above are good suggestions, but how much time do you want to spend retraining her?? Not to be mean, but I go to Life Coaching and was having trouble with a friend and my coach asked me~'what do you get out of this relationship?' HMM my answer was not much, so I dropped the person, too much work. Not all friendships are meant to last forever. Or maybe if you really enjoy her, see her away from your other pals?

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 6:10PM
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I think you are being very kind by including her and trying to help her. I agree with the others in that if it is getting too much, then don't invite her to the social gathering. She might be just a one on one friend.
If she has the means, I see nothing wrong with you telling her what is expected of her. It is coming from a nurturing place.
It is interesting how some people perceive things. I have an older sister who has above average intelligence and was an A student. She is married to a doctor. Yet, you would not know they are successful by the way they live and how they dress. It's fine to be comfortable in what you wear, but when you are invited to a wedding or special occasion, you should be appropriate. Once when we were discussing what she was going to bring on a cruise, she pointed to her polyester top and matching pants and said well I have this outfit.(It was something you would wear to the gym) I honestly don't get it, but when she is invited to something that is hosted by me, I start emailing her telling her what we are all wearing etc, and she now comes appropriately dressed.
All this should not really matter, but I do feel that how you dress shows you are respecting the occasion.
So, even growing up in the same household, kids can turn out very differently.
We might never know why your friend doesn't pick up the same cues as the rest of us, but it is great that you are there to help her along the way.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 7:28PM
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Thank you all for your thoughts and stories. I donâÂÂt think she has AspergerâÂÂs, but it isnâÂÂt my place to diagnose. However, I am trying to understand. She very much likes to be social and she understands peopleâÂÂs emotions. She just isnâÂÂt comfortable speaking up if it isnâÂÂt fun, and she does miss social cues. She tends to just want to look on the bright, positive side, which is good, but then she misses cues of irritation, that sort of thing. She has a very controlling family and her only other friend is a bossy control freak and a liar.

Neesie, thank you for sharing your thoughts and a bit about your son.

For those who suggested she might be a one-on-one friend, thank you. That is how I am meeting her now. She is a wonderful person with a heart of gold; she just hasnâÂÂt matured in some important adult areas. She is getting help for a lot of her issues, so sheâÂÂs trying to be more adult and find control for her own life. It makes me feel better knowing that others think how I am working on our friendship is in the right direction.

Again, thank you all. If nothing else, I feel better that I am not also being a controlling friend by making those suggestions and whatnot. She is a good friend, and I know she wants to be more accepted and understood by others, which means understanding how most people interact socially.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 12:11AM
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I have to agree with those who mentioned Asperger's or mild autism.

I have a son who wants to belong and to socialize with his peers. He has learned many social rules and now recognizes what is appropriate behavior in most instances.

Thankfully, he has improved greatly with lots of interaction and careful guidance. He has a good heart, is very smart and is sweet. He's just different in his thinking style from most people.

Don't give up on her if she is genuinely sweet and trying. Just state kindly, but plainly, what you think is the obvious answer to each scenario and she'll catch on.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 12:41AM
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neesie, I have a 35 yr. old son with Aspbergers who has tried so very hard to fit into social situations. He has always struggled to make friends and have good social interactions and has been ostracized his entire life (even from his siblings) because he just doesn't comprehend this stuff. Over the years he has learned how to interact better, but it's been so difficult for him. He doesn't want to be a "loner."

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 1:06AM
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Very kind of you, to see that she has value as a friend beyond her group skills. Sounds like you too can "get" something from the relationship, as all healthy relationships are give and take.

Gently I will suggest looking into aspergers -or if not you, anyone else wondering about a loved one. This is not to put someone in a box, but rather to taylor your expectations and reduce your guilt or fear that you might be just controlling. I read your efforts as teaching and guiding. I think you are a good friend.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 7:32PM
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