Dear Dr. Jaffe,

I think that my best friend is manipulating me. She puts me down
sometimes so I feel bad. Just little things like how I weigh more
than her and how she has had many boyfriends while I have never had any.
Also she acts moody sometimes and I start to think that she’s mad at me or
something then she’ll ask me to do stuff for her and I’ll do it because I
think she’s mad at me. She can be really bossy sometimes. I’m sick of her making me feel inferior and I want her to stop but also I don’t want to stop being friends with her because I still like her. Is there a way to have her
stop bossing me around and me to be more independent from her?

–Where Did I Go?

Dear WDIG ,

The fact that you realize you’re being manipulated and want it to stop is the very first and most important step. You’ve already done the hardest things so bravo! You are in a tough situation and one that is, unfortunately, very common, but lots of people never get to the place you’ve reached. Pat yourself on the back and do a tiny “I’m proud of me dance.”

In junior high and high school, friendships change and get redefined, and friends turn into FRENEMIES overnight. You probably feel like you’re in a no-win situation because if you complain, your “friend” might make fun of you or cut you out of her life entirely. But if you don’t, you’re trapped.

Okay, so what to do when your friend turns into a Frenemy?

I think of friendships as beef tacos (yes, I think of most things as beef tacos). Alone each part is just a tortilla and beef. But when they go together just right, they are something sublime.

Unfortunately, sometimes the beef tries to take over, and sometimes the tortilla gets too full of itself, and that is when things go wrong. So to start off, lets figure out what a friend is.

Ask yourself (and consider writing down the answers):
What do you want in a friendship?
What would a friend have to do to get you to leave the friendship?
What are your responsibilities as a friend? What do you get to ask for?
What happens if you don’t do what she says? How do you feel? What is her reaction and what is yours? What do you think those reactions should be?

Once you’ve come up with your very own personal definition of a taco, I mean, of a friend, you’re ready to go on to the next step.

Figure out what kind of sacrifices you are willing to make to be friends with this person. You need to draw a line for yourself. Sometimes you’ll cross it, that’s part of the learning process. But establishing it is there will help you realize WHEN you’ve crossed it, when you’re sacrificing too much.

And when you feel like that has happened, write it down. Then write down how it makes you feel, and what you wish were happening instead. Let it all out, your anger, betrayal, how being manipulated makes you feel, everything. Be as specific as possible about events and their impact on you. Then go to sleep.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. (dream of something good. Like tacos!)

The next day review what you’ve written. Take out all the angry parts, and hone it down to a calm, non-confrontational but specific statement that you can use to talk to your friend. So like, instead of saying “You know that time you made me talk to that guy and when I wouldn’t do it you told me I was being a baby and kept pushing me, and you acted like a total skank? What were you thinking, skank?” Say “When you wouldn’t listen when I told you I didn’t want to talk to that guy, it made me feel bad. I know that isn’t what you meant, but that was the result.” Practice what you want to say a few times (like 10) until you can do it calmly. Its scary, I know, and that is why the practice is helpful.

Then tell her. Its useful to both begin and end by saying something along the lines of, “I think you’re awesome and I love being friends with you and that’s why I’m telling you this.” Assume that she did not mean to make you feel bad. She might get a little defensive (even for a few days), but if she’s a true friend, a friend who is worthy of all you have to offer, she’ll back off and listen.

And if she doesn’t, you have to decide what is important to you. Go back to your answers to the questions about what makes a friend, and see if you are giving up more than you’re willing to. If you are, you can keep her as a side friend, like refried beans are to taco—they can be a gas, but they can also make you a little uncomfortable, and they’re not crucial for an enjoyable taco. If you decide she’s just beans, work on becoming closer to other people. The more tacos you have, the more you guarantee you’ll never be starved for friendship.


For this next letter, I’m turning to you guys to help me with the advice. This is about friendships with boys. It’s multiple choice and there are no wrong answers! Eaaaaaaaaaaasy.

Here’s the question:

I was just wondering what you thought it means for a guy to give a girl a high five? Do you think that its just “Hey what’s up?” Or do you think maybe it is “I want to touch you but I am scared.”

“High Five’d Out!”

Is the guy
A) Just saying “what’s up”?
B) Saying “I want to touch you but I am scared because I have a crush on you and am shy”?
C) Other [please specify]

Send me your thoughts at and I’ll post the majority opinion at the end of the week.

Until then, Happy Friend Awareness Day!

Dr. J

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