Q: I would like to ask you how a person can remain friends with somebody who is extremely bossy. I have a close friend who feels she is ALWAYS right. Even when it's none of her business, she tries to tell me what to do, how to drive, where to turn, how to landscape my yard, what to wear, etc., etc. I have told her with as much diplomacy as I can that everyone has their own way of doing things and she agrees, but then goes on to say but! if you listen to me blah blah blah. She is constantly talking and interrupting people when they speak and she is getting more and more impossible to be around. She's been a good and faithful friend otherwise, and I really don't want to lose the friendship, but I'd like to know what to tell her the next time she demands things are done her way? Because if I can't find an honest solution, then it will have to be goodbye. -- Kate, 51
Dr. Susan: By middle age, most personalities are pretty much set in stone. If anything, they get even MORE the way they were when the person was younger. The way I see it, you have some choices. For starters, don't expect your old friend to become less bossy. It won't matter how many times you tell her how annoying her behavior is. Even if you're diplomatic and reasonable in explaining the need for her to allow you to do things the way you prefer, little will change. Your friend sounds like she has impulse control issues, much like an immature toddler or an unruly teenager. Your real choices: Remain friends with her but ignore her commands and criticisms, really let them roll off your back. Some people are able to manage that. If that's simply impossible or too much of a strain, then let her know that you can't take her ordering you around any longer and won't be seeing her for a while. Then cut down on seeing her to maybe twice a year, at which times you'll be reminded very clearly of why you mostly dropped her. And if even seeing her occasionally is stressful and upsetting, say good-bye. Friends do outgrow one another. Sad, but that's reality.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.