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When Friends Offend: What to Do About Friendship Faux Pas

It can be hard to part with a dress for a night when you know that your friend won’t return it until weeks later.  And it can be equally agitating to lay out money for a girlfriend knowing that she probably won’t get around to paying you back anytime soon.  As much as we might love our BFFs, sometimes our relationships become tainted by those annoying things that aren’t really a big deal, but still tend to bother us.  And the longer they go unacknowledged, the more unbearable they seem to become.  Whether you’re a friendship faux pas offender or victim, tension can arise between you and your besties and can really take a toll on even the strongest friendships.  Here are the friend-peeves that really bug use, and how to solve them:

When she thinks it’s okay to use all of your stuff, all of the time.  
When she’s asking to borrow everything from your hairdryer to your textbooks to your clothes, you run the risk of losing track of your own belongings – not to mention having a pile of dirty laundry from two people.  Instead of lending her everything you own, find out why she insists on borrowing your things so often.  Friendship expert Dr. Levine suggests telling her clearly what she can borrow and for how long. Specific time frames and rules about what she can use might help to curb her reliance on your possessions.  Next time she asks to use your curling iron, say, “sure, but I need it back by Friday- will you be able to bring it back by then?”  If she says yes but then doesn’t, don’t lend her something the next time she asks.

When she tries to take advantage of you, a 21-year-old friend, to buy alcohol.  
Your 21st birthday is a reason to celebrate with friends, but it’s not a reason for your friends to rely on you to buy them alcohol.  This situation involves a person of-age providing a younger friend with alcohol, and things can get dicey.  Not only is this a presumptuous favor to ask of someone, it’s blatantly illegal.  “Explain that you are her friend but you don’t want to take the risk of doing something that may get both of you in trouble,” says Dr. Levine.  This determined drinker might have to resort to devices other than her 21-year-old friends to provide her with what she wants – or perhaps give up the habit until she can buy it herself.

When she is a total “player.”  
When a friend knows everything about your personal life and also happens to be close with an ex-boyfriend/friend of yours, make sure she’s really trustworthy.  Collegiette Kristie from NCSU suggests avoiding these pot-stirrers for fear of causing trouble between you and your friends or exes. If she gets information out of you and shares it with your ex behind your back, it’s time to have a chat with her.  And when you’re fighting with another friend, don’t allow her to wedge herself in the middle. Explain that playing both sides of the fence is not cool, and while it’s okay to be friends with all parties involved, it’s not okay to circulate private information between them.  This might mean not being as open with this loose-lipped friend as you have been in the past.

When she doesn’t keep in touch.  
College life is extremely busy, and sometimes setting aside the time to keep in touch with a long-distance friend is difficult.  But when you don’t hear from a girlfriend since you initiated the last conversation, it seems like she doesn’t really care to ask.  Kelsey, a sophomore at BU, reasons, “a simple text takes 3 seconds” and it lets your friend know you’re thinking about her.  Make a habit of reaching out to your BFFs regularly (and letting them know you like to hear from them too) to keep from growing distant. If you’re down on a friend for not doing this, let her know that you miss her and wish she were available to talk more often.  Friendship expert Dr. Irene Levine suggests using text messages, Facebook and other forms of social media to keep in touch with your girls, which are quicker and easier than phone calls when you or she just doesn’t have the time.

When she judges your other friends.  
Nothing is worse than knowing that a BFF doesn’t approve of another friend of yours.  Rude comments like “She’s kinda weird,” or “I really don’t understand why you like him,” are unnecessary and frankly, unsolicited.  Dr. Levine points out, “she may be jealous of him/her or she may actually be concerned about your welfare.”  Try getting her to hang out with you and your other friend to prove to her that he/she is awesome too, and there’s a reason that you’re friends with both of them. If she’s a true friend, she’ll try to get to know your other ones despite her first impressions of them, or be able to give you a good reason as to why she thinks they’re unworthy of your friendship.

When she always needs to borrow cash.  
Her “Oh crap, I forgot to bring cash with me.  I’ll pay you back I promise,” is something you – and perhaps others – have heard enough times to know that you’re not getting your money back anytime soon.  “If she’s having financial difficulties,” Dr. Levine says, “you could help her budget or suggest a source of income.” But the next time she asks, be sure to mention that you’re still waiting for those $5 you lent her to pay for her cab ride the other night.

When she flakes on plans all the time.  
You made dinner plans but she “forgot” and decided to go to the party instead.  You’re left high and dry, scrambling for last-minute plans, if not a last-minute meal.  At some point, you make plans with her knowing that she’ll end up bailing.  Explain that you don’t appreciate it when she does that, and if she continues to do it, you’ll stop trying to get together with her.

When she eats off your plate at a restaurant
Well, she ordered a salad because it was the “healthy” option, but she really wanted the greasy and delicious grilled cheese and fries that you got – therefore, your meal becomes her meal too.  She reasons that you’re the one that ate the unhealthy meal and her salad was the perfect choice, when in reality, you ate less than she did because she ate half the food on your plate.  If this bothers you, tell her, and ask her to stop.  It’s okay to get possessive over your food in this instance – we all agree that a grilled cheese is worth protecting from this BFF.  Or at least ask her to pitch in for part of it when the check comes.

When she never offers to drive.  
She doesn’t have a car, or she can’t handle highways, or she had a really rough day.  Any of these issues prevent her from ever driving, and though you and your friends all take turns, she never seems to take one herself.  “Let her know that you don’t mind driving once in a while, but you would like to share the responsibility,” says Dr. Levine.  This friend deserves to be called out, and made to realize that everyone else has played her part, and now it’s time for her to play hers.

These faux pas are definitely things to avoid when it comes to your BFFs – and worth discussing when one of your friends does something that bothers you.  Don’t let it simmer, because it will continue to happen.  Dr. Levine points out, “all of these situations require honest communication.  When something or someone annoys you, you need to talk about it before your anger mushrooms and blows up.  Talking about problems in a relationship gives people the opportunity to be more self-aware and to make changes.”  The same goes if you suspect that youmight be a faux pas offender.  Be aware of the way you treat your friends, and be sure to check in if you sense tension or frustration.  Though it’s only a borrowed shirt, a couple of dollars or a lunch date, these things add up and turn into habits.  Friendship faux pas can be enough to damage a relationship – if something is bothering you, speak up, and do it before she ruins another one of your favorite tops.

Lauren Kaplan is a senior majoring in English and Dance at Emory University. She is originally from New Jersey, and has loved living in Atlanta for the past three years. Lauren thinks most fondly of her two favorite places - her childhood camp, Camp Wayne for Girls, and Margate on the Jersey shore - from which she has derived a love of friends, family, and the beach.