By Susan Shapiro Barash

With a new year upon us, our resolutions are filled with hope and promise (not yet worn thin by time, reality and old habits). Thus, the question of how to deal with a ‘difficult’ friend comes to the fore, right at the top list of those unsettling issues to address. In the midst of the holiday rush, there wasn’t time or inclination to consider what to do about such friends — although many of us were well aware of their presence all along. As I’d written in my last blog, not many of us have the guts to rid ourselves of these wearisome friends. So, for those who end up making excuses, holding the peace, and sticking with that friend, I offer ten tips:

1. Don’t let your friend take advantage of you. This includes feeling put upon, ‘trapped’ into including her socially, doing a favor for her, or being her sponge.

2. Don’t allow a past history justify bad behavior. If your friend has done something wrong, face this and be bold enough to have a conversation about it.

3. Stop being in a codependent relationship. Remember, often times it isn’t just your friend but how the two of you operate in this friendship that makes it so difficult.

4. Don’t fall for her tricks and manipulations – you are too smart for this and
you’ve seen it all before. This includes when she lies about her whereabouts, her plans, hedging her bets for a better invitation.

5. Put up better boundaries so this friend can’t be aggressive, nosy or demanding. It’s mutual respect that you’re after.

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6. Insist that it’s an equal playing field and don’t allow this friend to have more power in the relationship. You don’t want to lose yourself in the friendship.

7. Let her know if you no longer need her ‘selflessness ‘and that it’s getting a bit tired. You’d prefer a friend who has some backbone — some give and take.

8. Rewrite the rules: if this friend is draining you emotionally or is a destructive force (and still you can’t leave the relationship), announce that things are about to change – she has to shape up.

9. Confide carefully and cautiously. There are some friends who relish our bad news and aren’t long on empathy. And no one wants to be undermined by a confidence.

10. Preserve your time and energy. There’s nothing worse than the friend who doesn’t honor your time and energy quotient since both are at such a premium these days.

Perhaps it is easier said than done when it comes to the above tips. To this end, if one is able to implement half of the ten tips, they’re ahead of the game. Besides, the importance placed on friendship is considerable. We tolerate a great deal and hope for the best.