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I Suspect My Friend Is a Bit Sociopathic

by Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

From Croatia: In my first year of university I was a very shy insecure boy who had just started to live and study in a big city. I had just started to make friends, and as I didn’t have any male friends there was one girl I met, who became one of my first friends. She seemed likeable, funny and charming. We shared many mutual interests. Needless to say, I did favors without even thinking about it. I even fell in love with her at some point, but it wasn’t mutual and she has a boyfriend.

But then I saw her “other” side. She consistently made hurtful and cynical remarks. Of course, I thought there was something wrong with me. Not knowing how to reply to her demeaning comments, I just said “huh?” or “what?”, bewildered, and later thought about what she was trying to say. I’ve been called arrogant, overbearing, confused, socially retarded, socially awkward, socially defective. I’m not any of these things and have never been called that. One time I frowned on something, she yelled “Don’t be so full of yourself”. The other time I looked at her while she was playing smartphone games, and smiled friendly only to hear: “You will be a very poor parent.” She frequently puts me down, and sometimes even mocks me, although in a friendly way. However, she isn’t constantly mean to me – there are times when we talk normally and have fun, but her flaws far outweigh her good sides.

Some of my friends also started to realize her character, her double standards and her hypocrisy. She comments on everything, as private as it is. She has no boundaries and gossips abundantly. When I talk to her in confidence one day, my friends talk about it the next. Naturally, she never apologizes because she is always right. When I don’t agree with her, and I must, sometimes she will simply walk away, acting offended. When I tease her friendly, I suffer the consequences. I feel very sorry for her boyfriend and their manipulative relationship.

I don’t know how to put up with her behavior any more. Probably noticing I’m distancing myself from her, she found a girl friend she talks more frequently to. Nevertheless, despite my sporadic comments about her behaviour, she refuses to change it. What should I do? Is it best to walk away?

It is unlikely that this young woman will change. It is pointless to continue to try to make her understand the impact of her negative attitude and behavior. From her point of view, she is perfect and everyone else needs to conform to her standards. It’s interesting to me that the names she calls you are more properly applied to her. Maybe she knows that on some level. Maybe not. She does seem to need to feel like she’s superior in the relationship.

You don’t have to walk away literally. But for your own peace of mind, you do have to take her as she is and distance yourself from her comments. If you can’t do that, then the kindest thing you can do for yourself is to put distance between the two of you and only deal with her socially when you have to.

Please don’t criticize yourself for having befriended her at first. Often when people go to university or to a new place, they befriend whoever is available and friendly. When people are a little scared or lonely, they overlook flaws and are just grateful for company. As you got more comfortable with your new situation and began to get to know other people, you also began to see her more clearly and to rethink whether you wanted her to be your friend. This is a normal part of growing and maturing.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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