Friend trying to be stuff she isnt.

Maybe you have fallen out with your mate, or perhaps you are about to betray them - whatever it is, talk about it here.
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Friend trying to be stuff she isnt.

Post by SillyMistakes » Sat Apr 07, 2018 1:43 pm

I dont know if this should bother me as much as it does, but I've noticed one of my friends is, not exactly acting differently, but professing to be different than she was or has been. She has always been relatively quiet/shy, with social anxiety when outside of our friend group, she's been creative and focused this creativity on writing diaries and stories, and she's been generally thoughtful and considerate of everyone around her, and she's also always been a relatively heavy wine drinker, but never to the point of disgrace. But lately, she's been making assertions about herself which are either stretching the truth or simply not true. I suppose what I want is to understand why. I mean part of me thinks it might be that she's stopped writing stories and is focusing her creativity elsewhere. Another part of me just thinks after her last boyfriend broke up with her for no specific reason she wants to make these changes in herself, but the assertion of the changes is the only way this is coming across at the moment. Weirdly, her ex-boyfriend she was very, very much in love with, was as fanciful (to put it politely) as she is becoming now, which is why I never got along with him, so it could be a strange subconscious way of channeling his personality. Essentially, I want to know your opinions, on whether I should really let this irritate me or if its healthy to let these play out or even why she would suddenly start doing this.

The first example of this is the only one that I must confess, while it might be harsh of me, I do try to catch her out on (without openly declaring that as my intention) but in recent months she's started claiming to be multi-lingual. I have no doubt she's invested in learn-to-speak-*enter language here* courses, but in no way do I believe that she has the level of skill she seems to claim now. I catch her out on this by using commonly-known phrases in certain languages and questioning if that was the proper use, I know I might be being childish here, but the fact she often gets it wrong (for instance, noticeably correcting "nouvelle" to "nouvant") shows that these claims dont have much basis in reality.

The second example is her assertion that she is "fiesty" and rough-and-tumble, this may come from an all-male. quite masculine work environment, but what irritates me about this is how obvious the switch is between the personality she professes to have and the personality we've known her to have her whole life. She'll go from "Mate, I will deck you" to "ooh please do this/stop doing that because its making me anxious" at the flick of a switch. I'm really trying not to come across too harsh, I mean I made friends with her and got close to her when her anxiety was at its worst, I dont have an issue with anxiety, and as long as no actual violence is involved, I dont have an issue with the whole "big man" act (using "man" because of the traditional views of rutting stags etc.), what irritates me is maintaining both of these at different times means you can pick a verbal fight with someone then if you lose, make them the bad person for picking on someone helpless and awkward.

Another example is through the sex/heartlessness thing. This, I think, must be related to the numerous mistakes she's made in the past because of her having too much heart, lending large amounts of money to people who'll never give it back, selling her own personal items just so she can afford to visit people who are on a wage that should allow them to "go halfsies" or at least attempt to visit her instead. She has been used in the past, and it's been painful to witness, unfortunately I usually only hear of these events after they occur, so there's no way of preventing them. I'm not saying similar things haven't happened to me, but they happened when I was in a safe environment (i.e. living at my parents, while i was at school) where I could recover from them with little or no lasting repercussions. She was living alone and independently by the time she started learning these lessons, so they did have a massive impact on her personal life both social and personal. But anyway, we've always been a relatively "Open" friend group about our sex lives, but not necessarily our love lives, but now that she's had a few more experiences, she's started pretending to be some "ice queen" who sleeps with hundreds of men and discards them. That's simply not her, I've seen what she's like, the moment she lets someone into her life, she doesnt want them to leave, she wants them to accept her, that's part of what makes her such a nice and generous person to be around, I'm not saying she falls in love too quickly, but she gains a strong emotional attachment certainly, and she's never had and I doubt she's going to have enough meaningless sex to qualify her to go onto "sex and the city", i'm not trying to sound like i'm criticizing or adulating this fact, but its simply not her personality, and I dont understand why she A) feels the need to say that it is or B) thinks that her friends, the ones closest to her who know her best, would believe that that is her personality.

Hopefully I havent gotten too worked up about this, I wanted to be impartial, but I just dont understand why she's started doing these things.

N.B. all of these are relatively recent (last few months/year at most) developments.

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Re: Friend trying to be stuff she isnt.

Post by boulding » Mon Apr 09, 2018 4:20 pm

It's human nature to try to big ourselves up, to exaggerate our achievements and to present a different persona than the real one. I know I've done it at job interviews. However when a friend invents and fantasizes to this extent it shows she has really low self esteem and poor self image. There's nothing wrong with daydreaming and wishing. We all do it. However she seems to be fantasizing to the point of wanting to escape from reality.

I think the most helpful thing you can do is not to make too much of this. If you focus on it or challenge or confront her it will have the effect of validating her stories. Just listen with half an ear and then politely change the subject. Of course, if she is really losing her grip on reality just gently lead her back by saying something like "No I don't think that's quite right I think..."

The best thing you could do for her is to make her feel valued by concentrating of her positive qualities and building up her self worth

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Re: Friend trying to be stuff she isnt.

Post by stephie2 » Tue Apr 10, 2018 9:14 am

I would just dismiss it. I have a friend who every time I buy something then she buys something better or similar, if I lose weight she does, if I book a holiday then she does too. I just shrug it off as it really does not bother me that much. I actually feel honoured that she wants to be like me haha

I honestly would let her big herself up. If it is not harming anyone then I wouldn't worry too much about it.

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Re: Friend trying to be stuff she isnt.

Post by Tarantula » Tue Apr 24, 2018 8:46 am

Hmmmm. I felt a bit sorry for this person as I was reading, perhaps because I relate to her a bit.

It sounds like different negative experiences have lowered her self-esteem and sense of self-concept, and now she's overcompensating by making it 'the [her name] show', like trying to prove how above it all she is, how cool she is, how 'over it' etc.

Yes, I smell the whiff of overcompensation quite strong here, and I should know, as I've kind of been like that myself before, when things were going tits up in my love life and I didn't want to admit to myself or others how badly it was affecting me, and how much I was secretly beating myself up for making stuipid decisions over and over again but feeling powerless to stop.

She wants to feel in control of feelings that are beyond her control. The alcohol might be one control mechanism - the frontin', 'look how interesting and ker-azy my life is' act might be another.

I can understand your temptation to 'catch her out' - nobody likes a BSer - but this will only entrench her sense of shame. She's not stupid and probably knows what you're up to. But if you call her out directly saying 'that's a load of rubbish', then your friendship will probably be over.

This whole act might be an act, but it's all she has right now. She's not ready to fully admit 'you know what? I am really, really, really hurting and I don't know how to face it.'

So I generally agree with the others that you should allow her to have her flights of fancy, OR, you could always try to have an honest chat, in a loving, non-critical way, and basically say 'look, I just wanted to see how you're feeling about (abc, relationship, breakups etc), that must have been a really rubbish time for you.'

I think what she needs most is empathy and understanding rather than judgement. There's no level of judgement anyone could give her that would come close to how badly she's judging herself deep down.

That's my gut feeling.

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