advice: when friendship becomes endship

QUESTION FROM A GREEK TRAGEDY READER [Let’s call her Natalie]: I’ve been a long time reader (since you first were featured in The New York Times) and really could use your advice.

Several years ago I introduced a work colleague [Let’s call her Tory] to an acquaintance of my then boyfriend, now husband. We all started dating at approximately the same time and eventually married at roughly the same time.

Tory and I were both sales professionals that worked from our homes. I lived near her boyfriend [Let’s call him Sam] and covered a territory close by. She lived 100 miles away and covered a territory near her home. As her relationship developed, Tory began to spend more time near Sam and managed her territory remotely.

Throughout the time that we were all still dating we were close friends. She and I spoke several times a day both personally and professionally. When Tory got engaged she asked me to be in her wedding, and I was honored!

Shortly after her engagement, she accused me of sabotaging her at work by telling our boss that she was living 100 miles away. It turned into a terrible situation — so much so that I lost more than 2 friends over it. In every group outing (that our friends host), one of the couples is generally left out, and I just learned that I am not being invited to a mutual friend’s baby shower because Tory will be there.

At the time that Tory accused me, I adamantly denied it and our friendship deteriorated. There were lots of hurtful accusations made by her, and I did my best to ignore them. They eventually erupted into 2 distinct very public screaming matches (her fiance Sam to my fiance Billy and her to me at a wedding.)

I lost sleep and continue to lose sleep over this. I’m depressed and sad. I learned after the fact that she’s not a nice person, and this is pretty typical behavior for her. Tory’s been arrested for screaming at police officers, etc. Unfortunately she puts on a good show – she’s articulate, driven, and beautiful.

I did learn that she has a really storied past – not worth repeating here, but it’s enough stuff that I could write a small book on. Worth repeating is the fact that I was recently told that someone else in the company really did turn her in for her poor work habits. They were doing all of her work for her and were tired of being used. I guess our boss had pressed her for details of her behavior, and Tory just assumed it was me.

Tory no longer works for the company (she had a baby right away and now stays at home). I continue to work for the company.

We live in a very small community – amongst a pretty "horsey" crowd. Word travels fast here, and memories are long. Because of this, I’m hesitant to come clean with what I know, because it could totally backfire on me as being a gossip, or continuing to lead this fight. It could also really hurt her, and embarrass her husband Sam, who is an incredibly nice guy. But I’m tired of taking the blame for this. I am tired of friends on the periphery wondering what’s going on, and I know questions will come up about my not being at this upcoming shower.

What do I do? I’d really appreciate your advice. XO, Natalie straight up advice

Before I take a smack + crack at answering this (and I will), I’ll let others weigh in with their own words of wisdom. Floor’s all yours…

Actually, I’m putting my smack + crack in a new post because it’s that long… and it’s also a personal story beyond advice. See the post, "wrecking balls + other psychos."

go ahead, askGOT QUESTIONS? NEED ADVICE? If you have questions or need advice on anything from where to eat to how to get over the bastard, just email your question to my advice email address. Nope, I’m not a shrink, but since people keep asking for my opinion, I might as well share it and air it, so everyone else can weigh in too.



  1. Normally I would probably say that it’s better to keep quiet and let it go since you’ve realized you don’t want the friendship anymore through how she’s acted. But she seems pretty intent on messing up your other friendships too, indirectly, which is across the line in my opinion.
    Is she friends with the other co-worker who DID complain about her? You might let her (“Tory”) know in a neutral way, maybe a letter or email, that it wasn’t you but this other person. Or maybe you could relay this information to her husband. I wouldn’t go directly to your other/mutual friends, as that might seem gossipy and petty, even though you are in the right.

  2. Leave it alone. Those people worth knowing are those who will make their own decisions about you based on personal experience. Others who judge you based on gossip aren’t worth your time. You’d forever have to live up to or overcome what others are saying about you. Who needs that kind of person for a friend? It’s too much work! It would be nice to be liked by everyone, but sooner or later as an adult you have to accept that you might not. Move on with your life and stop dwelling on this person who is no longer part of it. Concentrate on your wonderful husband, job and friends who care about you without hesitation.

  3. My advice is to absolutely keep that information to yourself. It will only give people reason to question your character. Although difficult, it is always more beneficial and rewarding to take the high road. One thing I’ve learned is that you can’t control what others think of you, no matter how hard you try. People will believe what they want to, and only your actions will prove to them they are wrong. Having your reputation ruined by someone is one of the hardest, most hurtful things to go through, but doing it to someone in return will only cause you and others (like her husband) more pain. People will learn for themselves of “Tory’s” character; it is not up to you to tell them first. It sounds as though you are a kind person, since you haven’t already gossiped about her. Kindness is always the better route.

  4. I agree with MJ. This Tory sounds like she suffers from deep insecurity. People will figure it out. Meanwhile, show up at the baby shower with a nice gift and a smile if you want to continue your friendship with this crowd.

  5. When your husband goes to Tory’s house to borrow a cup of sugar, then you should be sleepless and depressed.

    Mah, Pollyanna, if you only KNEW, how angry this fucking story made me, I kept waiting for the good parts, and they never came!

  6. I’m with MJ – let it alone. The more you try to defend yourself, or place blame where it belongs, the pettier and more ridiculous you sound. You’ve said what you need to – the people who know you know your side of the story – be the bigger person and don’t gossip or be bitchy any longer.

    My mom always says (and I tell my children) – when you’re being antagonized by someone (bully, boss, husband) – state your truth, move out of harm’s way and let them self-destruct because people like that always do. People around them will see them for what they are – and will also see who you are, a lovely, gracious above-the-shit-storm kind of person who doesn’t need to stoop to petty gossip, rumor mongering or slander. There will be no gain in continuing this fight.

  7. I would leave it alone. If you wanted to rekindle your friendship with her, it might be worth talking to her to iron things out, but by the sounds of it, she’s not worthy of your friendship.

    And I wouldn’t worry about the other people in your town. If they are going to be blindly lead by this woman, then they aren’t worth your time or your thoughts.

    Best of luck.

  8. Resist the urge to prove that you are in the right. It’s no one’s business. I would take the high ground and let people think what they want. I wouldn’t even entertain discussion on the matter, because that would only dig you in more deeply.

    The situation really only involves you and Tory. If people feel they have to pick and choose whom to invite, that is their issue –and their prerogative. The fact is they SHOULD just invite everyone and let the chips fall whereever. Her true colors will come out to everyone sooner or later.

    Meanwhile, hold your head high and go about your life. If you give this situation power over you, you’ll be missing out on a lot of happiness. If you try to prove you’re right, you’ll look defensive. In the end, people don’t want to be in the middle of that kind of crap. The high road will get you further.

    good luck!

  9. I totally agree with MJ – well said. Plus, if this is how Tory is, it’ll come up with someone else. People will see her for she is at some point. Sucks, though – sorry you’re having to go through it.

  10. I think you should focus on restoring your relationship with your other friends. You’re probably being left out of things because they assume you don’t want to be there or to avoid awkwardness. Let them know you want to be involved in their lives regardless of Tory, hopefully they’ll get the message that you are the more genuine out of the two of you. Do tell the people in the group that you consider to be your true friends what really happended and what you feel. Yes, if Tory has ‘got to them’ first they may still sit on the fence, but I think it’s important to maintain an honest relationship with the people you consider as real support, the chances are they might have been on the receiving end of this womans spite. None of the others matter really. Once you’ve done this get out and start socialising in new circles, maybe start a class in something you’re passionate about. Make some new friends and I’m sure following your experience it’ll be much easier to spot the toxic ones.

  11. Take the high road and keep your mouth shut. In 1, 5, or even 10 years, you’ll be glad you did. Karma is a wonderful thing. Just stand on the sidelines, keep your mouth shut, and pretty soon she’ll do to others exactly what she did to you.

  12. Leave it be.

    I had a very similar situation happen to me. Very long story short, a fellow graduate student in my program went from being my friend to being an enemy, because she acted horribly, made a fool of herself, people found out, and then people didn’t like her. Because we were previously friends, she thought it was I who had turned everyone against her, when really, it was just because others found out what she had done (to try and make them look bad).

    She still blames me to this day and doesn’t say nice things about me.

    I could care less, because she’s very insecure and it shows through in her interactions with people. She burned all of her bridges with her colleagues – so much so that no one will hire her or give her a good reference.

    Just take the high road and don’t bother explaining yourself. And try not to lose sleep over it. I’m a worrier, too, so I know how you feel.

    While we may not be able to control something, we can control how we react to it.

  13. I agree with the others here. . . take the high road and move on. It sounds like she has “issues” and is someone to not be trusted. If she were truly a friend then she would believe you and trust you. I know it is tough but just move on from this. It is not worth wasting any more energy on this woman and potentially ruin more of your relationships in the community. It sucks to see her true colors but better sooner than later. Focus on enjoying your husband and family and the good things in your life.

  14. Looks pretty unanimous. My advice too is to stay completely out of all of it and move on. Don’t talk about her or to her and move on for good. Be friends with people who don’t know her.

  15. Hi Stephanie,
    I am wondering if I can rely upon you and your readers for some*free* advice. I wrote to you and received excellent advice regarding a spoiled friendship and a baby shower (When Friendship Becomes Endship.) Now the saga continues…

    You and the fine readers/responders of suggested to me to ignore the situation and avoid attempting to address a very *mean*girl about destroying several friendships that I had lost. As painful as it was to ignore the situation your advice paid off 10 fold. After nearly 2 years, many of my friendships (except for the instigator *Tory*) have been restored. One by one each friend called and said that they had been manipulated by Tory and their friendship had ended too. (I did end up getting invited to a shower, Tory was invited to the 2nd.)
    In a weird twist of fate Tory’s mom had reached out to one friend and asked for some help with her daughter. The short story is that her daughter isn’t just mean and jealous -she has serious mental health problems and dependency issues. She hidden it well – none of us knew, not even that she had past problems. Tory’s mom addressed many things with my closest-lost friend sharing with her, her daughter’s ability to manipulate and destroy people. Like a blessing from God, Tory’s mom suggested that my friend explain everything to me, and attempt to rebuild our lost friendship. We’ve been working through it all since August. I am really forever grateful to Tory’s mom.
    Tory’s mom also reached out to me over the summer. She asked for my help with her daughter suggesting some kind of intervention. I explained to her that I didn’t think it would be possible given the amount of anxiety she caused me and I did suggest that she loop in Tory’s husband. The conversation was polite but it didn’t go any further. I wished her all the best and told her that she and her daughter would remain in my thoughts.

    Fast forward until now, Tory’s mom is still desperate to get her daughter help, but seems oddly opposed to involving Tory’s husband. Tory has since reached out to me (though I’m not sure if her motives could

    As I mentioned in my last post she now has a baby. There are a few of us who are worried about the baby’s safety and in some fashion Tory’s too. Her husband works long hours and travels international with great frequency and he, from all accounts, seems clueless to Tory’s issues. (We were too so I’m not surprised.) Her mother mentioned to me that she’s completely isolated both physically and figuratively.

    There is a part of me that feels like I should help her because I have back everything I wanted. My reputation at work has been restored, my friendships too and most importantly my confidence. Knowing that her issues, while serious, can be overcome and she has a shot of being a good mother and good wife, I feel obligated to do something.

    The questions are: While I know that I’m not obligated to do so, should I get involved to save her and her baby. If you were in Tory’s shoes would you want your old friends involved? Does anyone have any experience with interventions?
    As always, your help is REALLY appreciated.



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.