Troubled Tracy asks:

I have a friend who I have a lot of ups and downs with. They’re a nice person and I enjoy their company, but when it comes to school they tend to brag about themselves a lot and put others down. We’re in the same program too so it’s hard to get away from them at times. What should I do?”

Dear Tracy: 

Oftentimes, we have friends who appear to be nice to us exclusively or to a small group of people, but once confronted by society, they suddenly turn into dominating, vicious hyenas. Now, I’m not insinuating that your friend is necessarily a hyena, but they certainly don’t sound like pleasant company! In these situations, I think it’s better to ask yourself: what am I getting out of this friendship? Is it the emotional connection that you can’t seem to sever, or do you genuinely like this person for their good merits as a friend (whether they’re good conversationalists, or they have a talent you’re particularly impressed with that you can learn from, or they’re just a really amazing chef)? Most importantly, are you able to grow as a person after spending time with them? If you can’t come to a distinct answer for these three questions, I think it may be time you reconsider the traits you value in a friend. After all, friends are not simply good company; they’re often people we admire in some positive capacity. 

And if after questioning yourself you come to the unfortunate conclusion that the friendship is not working out for you, remember the Golden Rule of every relationship: communication. Do let them know what’s been on your mind these past few days. Be clear, succinct, and respectful (even if they aren’t; you are the bigger person here). Tell them how they make you feel honestly, even if you think it can be hurtful to them; they deserve to know so they can improve for their future relationships. If they don’t listen, then you know you’ve done your best and it’s time to move on.

Wishing the best for you!

Agony Aunt

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