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How to Deal With Friends Who Like to Put You Down

by Emma Wells

First of all, friends who enjoy putting you down are not real friends. They are toxic friends, or even bullies, and it’s important that you handle the situation accordingly, says Texas-based therapist Jeffrey Gallup. If your so-called friends are constantly criticizing you and making fun of you, do yourself a favor and tell them to stop -- or get a less poisonous posse.

Confront Them

If you still think that these people are your friends, you can always try confronting them and telling them how much they hurt you. Standing up for yourself and setting boundaries is a good strategy for getting rid of poisonous pals, writes Marissa A. Ross, relationship advice columnist for HelloGiggles. Asserting yourself is always more effective than ignoring the problem, agrees Rachel Simmons, author of "Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls." Tell your friends that it hurts your feelings when they make fun of you or criticize you. If they’re really your friends, they’ll apologize and be more sensitive in the future. And if they can’t do that, then they’re just bullies masquerading as comrades.

Document Incidents

If the put-downs are excessive and your so-called friends don't stop, begin to write down the incidents. Stay objective, noting what was said by whom, when, where and who else was present, advises Megan Kelley Hall, co-editor of "Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories." This is valid evidence if you need to go to an authority figure for help, or even for confronting your friends to show them just how often they put you down.

Talk to Someone

It can be hard to go through bullying alone, so if you feel helpless and alone, talk to a friend, authority figure or professional therapist. Holding your feelings inside is not healthy, and neither is turning to self-harm or thoughts of suicide. If you are considering self-harm or suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK), or find a trusted friend or family member to tell immediately.

Do Your Own Thing

To feel good about yourself and make more positive friends, spend time doing things you enjoy. Get busy and spend less time with the poisonous people by focusing on work or school and the fun people in your life. You can also develop hobbies that take your mind off stress, like a team sport, theater group or chess club. Doing things that you genuinely enjoy will lead you to meet people who share your interests and set you up to make good friends who encourage you instead of putting you down.

About the Author

Emma Wells has been writing professionally since 2004. She is also a writing instructor, editor and former elementary school teacher. She has a Master's degree in writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English and anthropology. Her creative work has been published in several small literary magazines.

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