Amy is a ‘Negative Nelly’

Published 11:58 am Monday, March 25, 2024

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I’m wondering if you have any suggestions on how I can help a friend. It really is a friend, not me!

I’ve known ‘Amy’ for around 10 years, and we’ve been good friends, although sometimes it can be an effort on my part. Amy can be very thoughtful: baking cookies and bringing them over as a gift or treating me to the occasional lunch, but a large portion of the time she can be very negative and a real ‘downer.’ Usually, it’s about her ex-husband who had a string of affairs before leaving her for one of them, and when we carpool to work, she will often talk non-stop about what a creep he is and how he betrayed her. She also posts things about him on social media or other negative things about how awful it is when people you trust let you down and what jerks men can be.

Lately, Amy has decided to try online dating and she is also up for a promotion at work. She didn’t get the last promotion and part of it, rumor has it, is because of all the negativity she posts, which is full of way too much personal information. She’s been on two dates from a dating website, but the guys have never gotten back in touch for a second date. I truly believe it’s because of her attitude and ‘victimhood.’

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Every time we grab a bite or something, she rails about the last two ‘jerks’ she dated and how she thinks our boss is a misogynist because she keeps getting passed over. She’s not asking me for advice, but it’s gotten to the point where I don’t want to spend my lunch break listening to her broken record of complaints. I need to either start avoiding her or tell her she’s driving me crazy. Should I?


Almost Ex-Friend


Dear Ex,

Quite the thin line here!

Indeed spending time with ‘Negative Nellies’ can be quite draining and anyone would understand your wanting to avoid Amy’s company. You will, however, face a confrontation that will appear when Amy asks, ‘How come you don’t want to have lunch together anymore? Are you avoiding me?’

Now, you can also take the bull by the horns and be completely upfront about the situation during your next lunch: ‘Amy, I get that you’ve been hurt by so-and-so and disappointed about not getting promoted, but I have to be honest and, as your friend, I hope you realize this is coming from a place of love: You’re driving me nuts. A person can only hear the same gloom and doom monologue so many times before they begin trying to fake their own death over their chef salad and that’s what’s going on with me. I’d like us to have a true conversation again where you ask about me and my life too. And if you don’t feel like you can, it might be worth seeking professional help that can guide you through your depression because I can’t.’

Of course, that’s just a template, but feel free to use it if you like. Amy will either realize how her behavior is affecting others and make an effort to change, or she’ll wallow further into ‘Lake Me’ and pronounce you as a fair-weather friend before storming out of the restaurant. And if that happens, welp, hopefully her wine glass will still be full, and you can knock that back before heading back to work. But this really is Amy’s problem, not yours, and all you’re doing is finally refusing to be collateral damage.

Cheers, dears!!

Aunty Pam