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Meddling, Bossy Junior Bully

I added some Admin impromptu comments in red to this submission..
I just found your website a couple of weeks ago, and since then I’ve come up against a problem, so I immediately thought to post it here.

I’m in a new junior high school this year and for the most part really enjoying it. I’ve already made a few good friends, too. Unfortunately, one of them is not exactly who I thought she was when I first met her.

At the beginning she (I’ll call her S.) seemed really nice and funny, so I enjoyed hanging out with her. As I’ve come to know her more, though, I’ve realized that her personality is actually quite clingy and, well… annoying. (I’ve always tried to be very gracious and friendly to her though, even after I realized how annoying she actually was.) Even though I’m the “new kid” at school and S. has been going there her whole life, she’ll follow me around all day and get me to do her favors. Whenever she wants me to do something, she doesn’t ask — she demands. She’s always making me wait for her in the hallways and things like that (which I wouldn’t mind at all, if she would ask like a real friend would instead of demanding).  She’s a bully, not a friend.   Albeit she’s not a physical bully but somehow she has recognized in you a willing person to boss around.   And she can’t “get you to do favors” unless you agree to do them.

Anyway, all this isn’t that big of a deal. The main problem is she’s very aggressive in what she wants, as I mentioned, and lately the thing she wants is to come over to my house.

Now, I’m not some hospitable monster, but I do enjoy having my own space and somewhere to call my own, to escape from the rest of the world for a little bit. My room is messy and not really fit for the public eye (without prior preparation). If I want someone to come over and hang out, I’ll invite them, I’ll clean it up, I’ll have a fun time. I don’t mind opening up when it’s sort of on my own terms. But when S. tells me she’s coming over, it irks me to no end.  You calming tell her, “I’m sorry, that is not possible.”  The non-verbal implication is that your parents will not permit it.

She’s the type of person who goes through your purse and stuff at school, so the drawers and dressers and all my material belongings in my room would be no exception. I’m a pretty private person and I would really be mad if that were to happen.   Buy yourself a  zippered purse (and keep it zippered) and if she begins to meddle in your purse, you take it from her saying, “Excuse me? What do you think you are doing?”  And if she is obtuse in her understanding that nosying around someone else’s purse is rude, you tell her, “Stay out of my purse.”

Even that wouldn’t be a huge, continuous, problem, but S. doesn’t just come over to your house to drop by and then head on her way. She’s more the type to stay, and stay some more, and stay for supper, and stay the night. And come home with you the next day after school.

So, my question is, how do I /politely/ prevent her from coming every time she invites herself over? It’s a small school, so I can’t just break ties with her — I’d see her everyday afterwards.    0830-13

You would do well to read and get involved in the Ehell forum, particularly the “I’m Afraid That Won’t Be Possible” board .    You need to go to Etiquette School to teach you how to grow a polite spine so that you can firmly but civilly deal with the bossy meddlers and bullies of life.

{ 55 comments… add one }
  • Lychii September 3, 2013, 3:51 am

    I disagree with admin that S is a bully. It seems likely that she just doesn’t understand private space and personal boundaries. For all we know, she could be trying her best to be friendly, and her way is just… annoying.

    Anyway, my suggestion for OP to put firm boundaries, learn to say “no” and stop doing things that make you uncomfortable. When S senses her boundaries, she’ll adjust.

  • Lex September 3, 2013, 3:58 am

    When I was at Secondary School (in the UK School system we go from Primary School to Secondary School at the age of 11) I had a ‘friend’ like this. We’ll call her ‘A’. She moved to the area and her home was quite close to mine so she started catching the bus to school with me. We became ‘friends’ (or so I thought) and whenever she needed someone to accompany her somewhere or fawn over something she’d bought (she had a LOT more money than I did and always had the most fashionable things) she’d turn up at my house.

    She’d ‘work with me’ on her homework (read ‘Copy’) and generally pick me up and drop me at her convenience.

    Then she started making other friends and dropped me even more (apart from the homework, I mean who wouldn’t want to copy the homework of a higher grade student?). She stopped catching the bus with me and only ever called on me when she wanted something.

    Now this has been a pattern for me in my life and I’m no fool. I was a bit of an idiot for letting it go on so long but I was by no means an idiot and it sounds, OP, as though neither are you – you have identified that this girl is manipulating you. This is important.

    In the end, where A was concerned, an event occurred that severed our friendship forever and I’ve never looked back. It was her birthday and she had been going on and on about having a sleepover at her MASSIVE house with their Jacuzzi (it is fairly rare for homes in the UK to have pools – the weather just isn’t good enough) and she’d been assuring me that I was invited and that I’d get an invite as soon as she’d written them… blah blah blah.

    The weekend before her birthday I went into town and bought her a present with my meagre pocket money (some fashionable nailpolish I knew she wanted and a couple of other bits and pieces). The following week, the day before her birthday, I challenged her on the missing (but frequently promised) birthday invite. She said (and I will never forget these words):

    “See, here’s the thing. My other friends don’t want you there. They don’t like you.”

    I saw red at that point and all the resentment at being used and ditched over the years boiled over and I said:

    “Really? So clearly our friendship means nothing to you since you are hiding behind the opinions of others to justify your cowardice. I don’t need you, A. I don’t need your ‘friendship’. You’re not worth my time.”

    It felt amazing, I have to say, to stand up to her. It seems, though, that I spoke quite loudly and the entire form group heard.

    I haven’t spoken to her since and my life has been all the better for it. We were in several classes together throughout the rest of our time at secondary school and we simply pretended the other didn’t exist. She friended me on Facebook a while ago and I just ignored and blocked her.

    The reason I told this story is because I want you, OP, to see that just because you are at school with someone, doesn’t mean you have to endure this behaviour.

    You have to be prepared for the consequences though and plan accordingly. For me, I was already unpopular and lonely and losing A was hard, but I occupied myself with other things (ironically, something I did for a bit of fun, I now do as a career and would not have done so if I hadn’t used it to fill my lonely time).

    Is this girl popular? Influential? It doesn’t sound like it – it sounds like she is the type to successively alienate everyone she has been friends with – if she hadn’t, then she wouldn’t be so clingy and possessive about you.

    At the same time, be mindful of her feelings. Don’t be ‘A’ – new girl in school, picks up the loner then drops her once she’s made some new friends. Make it clear to S that the problems in your friendship are to do with certain behaviours and don’t be shy about calling her out on them – maybe she doesn’t realise she does it because no-one has ever told her?

    By all means create distance in your friendship and challenge her threatening behaviours – tell her that you find her behaviour threatening. Tell her that you don’t like her helping herself to your handbag (purse). Chances are she’ll get huffy with you in her own defence and sever the friendship herself. Always try to keep the moral high ground. Firmly set the boundaries in a way that can’t be misinterpreted – “I am uncomfortable with you going into my bag. Please stop helping yourself to things in my purse. I’m happy to lend them if you ask me.”

  • Pen^2 September 3, 2013, 5:08 am

    Admin has some excellent advice here. And yes, S. is a bully who is taking advantage of you. The sooner you stop this unhealthy and manipulative behaviour directed at you, the better. The longer it goes on, the harder it will be to do anything about it.

    I strongly, strongly recommend reading the “magic words” thread in the forum (do a search for it). Basically, the reason why so many people allow themselves to be bullied and taken advantage of is because we can’t find the right magic words. Words which are civil and polite, but which also won’t make someone get unreasonably upset at us. Words which we have every right to say and which are perfectly reasonable, but also which won’t make the other person throw a tantrum.

    Magic words don’t exist. Some people, no matter how reasonable and civil you are, are just going to get upset and be spiteful anyway. It is not right to think this is a reason to avoid standing up for yourself. If you are polite, civil, and fair, yet someone still isn’t going to be reasonable, it isn’t your fault and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. “I asked her politely if she could please stop rummaging through my wallet , and she screamed at me and called me names and I had to walk on eggshells around her and let her overstep her boundaries even more as a means of apologising .”

    Search the forums and find a way to be polite about things. But don’t ever, ever feel that another person’s unreasonable response is your fault, and don’t let it stop you from living properly instead of being a doormat.

  • Carol September 3, 2013, 5:35 am

    I totally agree with what the Admin said. I may be projecting my own Junior High stuff onto you, but I wonder if you’re a tiny bit afraid of telling her to stop because you’re afraid of losing all your friends. I know that can be a hard space to be in, mentally.

    You sound like a compassionate person and I’m sure you will find a way to tell her to stop being so demanding without hurting her feelings and still protect your own.

  • Susan September 3, 2013, 6:37 am

    wow, You sure need to set some boundaries and fast. Yes you can. I am a mom of teenagers, and my daughter did begin to have a problem with a girl similar to this. Do not let her take your purse, if you have to, get a backpack and keep it in there, do not let her access to it. Just say No, really that is private. She is a bully. If she just shows up, Yes, you can say, NO. sorry My Mom and had have a appointment, and NO you cannot come in. Do not let her inside. If she keeps meeting you outside a class, do you have another friend, who can walk with you to class also. Let this girl know, you have other friends and you can’t always be with her. You can be friendly but you have to be the one to say well NO. Someday as this girl grows up she has to learn, friendship is not by being a bully to anyone.

  • The Elf September 3, 2013, 7:01 am

    I agree – this is a bully of a sort. She might be cluelessly doing it and not deliberately pushing to humiliate, but she’s still trying to push you around. Learn the word “no”. Learn your boundaries. Going through your belongings is not acceptable. Insisting on coming over is also not acceptable. This is a tough lesson to learn and I think everyone struggles with it at some point or another.

    Be aware that once you start saying “no”, however politely, there may be a backlash. If she’s popular at school she may enlist others to really turn against you. Or she may just be puzzled and go with it. But this is worth the potential backlash – you don’t want this girl walking all over you for the next couple of years.

    For instance, when she asks you to wait in the hallway for her, you can say “No, I’ll just see you at lunch/next class/after school! Bye!” and walk away. She doesn’t need a handholder! She can make it through a hallway on her own.

  • DaynaMarie September 3, 2013, 7:22 am

    “And she can’t “get you to do favors” unless you agree to do them.”

    This is my favorite sentence in this piece. I’m a college student, and I still find myself explaining to my friends that when they tell me someone is “making them” do something, in most cases that is not true. Whether they want to do it or not, they made the decision to do it. (I’m of course talking about cases more similar to the letter writer, such as “being made” to hang out or drive someone somewhere, and not more serious issues.” A polite spine is one of the most important things to have in life.

  • Erin September 3, 2013, 8:16 am

    I agree with Admin’s advice, and I’m certainly not trying to excuse S’s behavior, but isn’t it kind of odd that she suddenly wants to be at OP’s house all the time? Especially not wanting to go home for the night? Probably it’s nothing, but it’s strange when a kid doesn’t want to go home.

  • sarah September 3, 2013, 8:35 am

    Get one of your parents involved (or whatever adult you live with). Make them be the bad guy when it comes to staying over. I know my mom always would let me say “hey, I’m not allowed to have friends over tonight.” If someone was this forceful, she would have totally been the one to answer the door and inform the friend that I’m not available. Hopefully you have an adult at home who can do that.

  • Lee September 3, 2013, 9:07 am

    This is what it took for me to rid myself of certain people like this.
    I kept telling myself that before me there was someone else they used and made unhappy, and after I break ties they will quickly attach themselves to someone else and begin to wear on their politeness. As far as having to see her every day in a close school setting…It will be difficult for about three days, then this person will act like they they have never spoken to you before.
    It it truly one of the best feelings in the world to be content in your life. Do not let this girl control your happiness or anxiousness over any situation, keep your head held high and do not make eye contact. Let her think and say what she will about you but just keep silent and don’t engage her, just ignore her. Eventually she will give up and move on.

  • just4kicks September 3, 2013, 9:11 am

    One of my kids had a “friend” like that years ago. My son was new, like you, as we had moved mid school year. After awhile, my son, like you, realized this boy was a moocher. BIG time. However, like you Dear, my son did not want to hurt this boys’ feelings either. The straw that broke the camels back was the umpteenth night in a row this kid parked his feet under our dinner table and made a face over what I was serving. No…He was NOT invited to stay for dinner, that night and many others. After dinner, while watching me clean up said casually to me, “Oh…by the way, my mom told me to grab ten bucks off you after dinner. She’s out of bread and milk.” Ummm, no. I told him I was not giving him ten dollars and promptly showed him the door. After that, I stopped being a door mat and restaurant and my son’s same response when this kid tried to follow him home was “my mom said I’m not allowed friends over anymore.” That is still my advice to any ” hangers-on” my kids may have. I tell them to make me ” the bad guy.” Good luck to you dear!!!!

  • k September 3, 2013, 9:16 am

    Not every unpleasant person is a bully. This girl sounds clueless, demanding and annoying, but she’s not doing anything that is bullying.

    OP needs to just start distancing herself. “I can’t wait – I have to get to class.” “I’m not having friends over today.” “I’ll call you when I want to hang out.”

  • Library Diva September 3, 2013, 9:20 am

    It sounds to me like this girl has deeper issues. Ask around, and I bet you’ll find the reason she’s latched on to a new person is that everyone else in the school is sick of her. It also sounds like there is something going on at home. By junior high, someone should have learned from her parents not to go through other people’s things and to ask politely for what you want. The fact that she spends as much time as she can away from home speaks volumes. I’m betting that it’s not a nice place, and that S has that type of parents that just isn’t much interested in parenting anymore.

    OP, now is a great time to start standing up for yourself. Just tell her that your parents don’t allow you to have guests and keep repeating that theme. As for the rest of the friendship, you have two choices. You can let it drift naturally: just be less and less available, tell her you can’t wait for her in the hall, etc. Or, you can try to continue the friendship but with really strong boundaries. I can’t tell you what to do, but if you like this girl at all and a friendship with her wouldn’t be a giant lie, it sure sounds like she could use a good friend.

  • acr September 3, 2013, 9:29 am

    OP, I think your first step needs to be to enlist your parents. Have they met S? If they have actually watched the two of you interact, they may be able to offer you some advice on handling S.

    You need to figure out what S needs/wants from you and then figure out how to not give it to her. When she is no longer getting what she needs/wants from you, she will move on.

    What kinds of favors does she ask for? Since you will be sharing a school with this girl for the next 6 years, I can see how you don’t want to make an enemy of her. Maybe always make your refusals in a very cheery voice. You can try, “Nope, not today, sorry!”

    I hesitate to suggest this – this should be used with caution. But when you are trapped in a situation with a demanding, bullying personality, one thing you can do is sort of vaguely agree to do the favor (depending on the favor) and then just forget. This is a very PA tactic, but when you are dealing with manipulative people, sometimes this is the only tool you have. So for example, if she demands you wait for her in the hall after class, don’t say anything to confirm or contradict. Then don’t wait for her. If she confronts you about it, shrug and say, “Oh, I guess I forgot. Sorry.”

    And the purse thing is WAAAY over the line. Does she do it in class? If so, raise her your hand and tell the teacher.

  • LeeLee88 September 3, 2013, 9:30 am

    When I was in 7the grade, I had a ‘friend’ like this. I was horribly non-confrontational, but one day, I screwed up all mycourage and said, “(name) that’s enough. You’re too much, and I don’t want to be friends anymore.” She was dumb-struck and then tried to cajole, and then abuse me back into submission. It only strengthened my resolve. I also went to a small school ( a very small school), and believe it or not, it wasn’t a problem to not hang out anymore, especially since otherpeople who saw what I did also chose to not take her crap any longer. Do it for you, and do for the ones who don’t have the courage to stand up to her yet. She’ll probably never get it, but that won’t be your problem anymore.

  • AMC September 3, 2013, 9:55 am

    The best advice I ever got was this: ‘No’ is a complete sentence.

    What this means is that it’s okay to say ‘no’, no apologies or explanations necessary. I don’t know the gender of the OP, but women and girls are often socialized to ‘be nice’ and never rock the boat. So giving a firm and clear ‘no’ is sometimes difficult for us. That’s where a polite spine comes in handy. S’s behavior is learned. She does it because it’s worked for her in the past, and it’s working with you now. It’s time to put up boundaries. Once she realizes you won’t allow her to take advantage of you, she’ll probably move on to a new target.

  • Arrynne September 3, 2013, 9:56 am

    Admin’s advice is spot-on. Learn to decline graciously and stick to your guns when someone asks you to do something you don’t want to. You don’t need to be a doormat to be liked. I wish I’d learned that in junior high.

    Some of S’s behaviors lead me to think she’s avoiding home for some reason. It might be good to talk to a trusted adult. Not to get S in trouble, but so someone in a position to protect and/or counsel S can find out if something is going on at home that needs to be addressed.

  • wolfie September 3, 2013, 10:01 am

    Oh this post reminds me of my high school days. I didn’t have a backbone then either and while the admin’s suggestions are great ones, I wouldn’t have had the courage to do any of them. If I were the OP I would just toss my parents under the bus. “Mom says I can’t have anyone over unless I clear it through her a few days in advance”. That should stop her from demanding that she comes home with you right now. And it will give you time to come up with a better excuse (or clean your room if you actually want her over) when she asks to come home with you in a few days. The more you say no the more empowered you will be to say no in the future. Also if you can stop hanging out with this person it would be for the best – although I know that isn’t that easy either.

  • Cat September 3, 2013, 10:10 am

    What you have is a clinging vine. It goes everywhere and gets into everything whether you like it or not. You need to start pruning before it takes over everything.
    With my sense of humor, I’d be inclined to put odd things in my purse for her to discover since it’s more fun than telling her to keep her mitts out of my stuff. A plastic snake perhaps (oh,that’s Henry; he won’t hurt you.), a crucifix/garlic if you are not Catholic (oh, that’s for vampires), or just fill it with foam peanuts used for packing, just use your imagination.
    The waiting in the hall is not a problem. Say no and don’t be there. Same thing with her coming to your home. “Sorry, but I’ll invite you when my parents and I both have time to have company in the house.” If she shows up anyway, greet her at the door and say, “Sorry, but I am busy at the moment and can’t entertain. See you at school. Bye.” and close the door.
    You’ll be uncomfortable doing it at first, but fail to be firm and stand by your guns and you’ll pay the price. Difficult people will crop up in your life from now until you reach the nursing home and you’ll have to deal with them. Start now and it will be easier later.

  • cleosia September 3, 2013, 10:11 am

    While it isn’t the OP’s problem, I have to wonder why she is so desperate not to go home.

  • Allie September 3, 2013, 10:11 am

    Be consistent in following Admin’s advice and asserting your polite spine. She’ll lose interest soon enough and go find herself some sap when she realizes you’re no pushover.

  • Allie September 3, 2013, 10:13 am

    Sorry, that should have read “some other sap”

  • ImJustSaying September 3, 2013, 10:38 am

    I had a friend like this in HS She would come over and stay too long, invite herself over when she didn’t want to go home, nd not clean up after herself at other people’s homes. My “favorite” two moments would be when my or another friend’s parent would be picking her up and she would take at least 15 mins to come out of her house. Seriously 15 mins once my dad had to pak up the street because there were no spots near her house and she called from her doorstep saying she didn’t see us could we drive AROUND THE BLOCK again to get her?
    Also when My family was getting our upstairs floors done and all of our furniture had to be moved downstairs. My bed was in the living room with no door. My brother was in the dining room with no door. This friend came over arpund 6 which was fine. but then 9 passed then 10. and she was still there LAYING IN MY BED. my mom had gone to sleep as we were old enough to get ourselves around on the bus. After several hints that I was tored she finally asked “can your mom still drop me off?” I said no and gave her the time of the next bus. a better host would’ve walked her the one block and waited but I WAS TIRED. I just wanted her out.
    This caused many a session of mean-girling among myself and the other friends when she wasn’t around. We dealt with her by not inviting her places and claiming we were busy A LOT. School does make friendships/aquaintance-ships difficult. You either decide to deal with the annoyances or state your disinterest boldly and try to make your school years the best FOR YOU.
    Also I go back to my mom’s answer to my exciting plans to go to the same college as my HS friends and eventually move in to an apartment with them.
    “Most of your high school friends won’t last your first year of college, don’t worry about the future till you get there.”

  • NostalgicGal September 3, 2013, 10:39 am

    OP may be able to talk to the authorities at school also. It sounds like this is past friendship and into the realm of bullying which usually is a zero tolerance in most schools.

    It may take more than growing a polite spine to deal with this gal… just be warned.

  • ImJustSaying September 3, 2013, 10:39 am

    Oh my the typos! My apologies for hitting send without reviewing my work.

  • Wendy B. September 3, 2013, 10:59 am

    If this girl has been attending the school for her whole life, that means other people have had to deal with this as well. In addition to what the Admin has advised, perhaps you could talk to a guidance counselor to see if there are strategies others have used successfully with this girl. Good luck!

  • Abby September 3, 2013, 11:18 am

    Since the OP says she is in junior high, I am just curious- is S a neighbor? How is she able to come to your house? I find this whole situation bizarre. S is not a classic bully- she appears to be someone who is quite socially awkward, and it taking advantage of the fact that OP is both new to school and seemingly unable to assert herself. S wanting to come over after school, stay the night, and then come back over the next day is just weird. It sounds to me like S does not have any other friends and is keeping a tight grip on OP in order to control OP’s social life so S does not get replaced with a new set of friends.

    OP, you will need a polite spine, but here is where it always gets hard. It seems like I am always reading about girls (and women) who are uncomfortable asserting themselves because they don’t want to seem mean. Others recognize this, and will continue to take advantage, as S is doing. But I have to say, responding by telling someone ‘What are you doing? Stay out of my purse!’ seems really, really confrontational. That may be what the situation calls for, as a gentler approach may fall on deaf ears, but I can certainly see why a 12 or 13 year old girl would feel uncomfortable employing that approach. Can you just kind of pull away from S? I mean, it sounds like boundary issues aside, you don’t even really like her as a person. Is she someone you’d want as a friend, assuming she stops inviting herself over and digging through your stuff?

  • Brenda September 3, 2013, 12:01 pm

    It’s too bad that young people, right when they’re going through major physical changes, are having to learn to navigate between being nice, especially as the new kid in the school, and standing up for themselves. But if the LW is going to grow a polite spine, the time is now. Learning to say No is the most difficult and most freeing thing ever.

  • Hanna September 3, 2013, 12:07 pm

    I was similar to OP when I was younger in that I never liked having friends over to my house much, and I hated sleepovers, whether at my house or theirs. I liked hanging out late into the evening, but I needed my own space at the end of the day and I did not want to wake up to someone in my room. However, I was always very firm when I did not want to have a sleepover, or host one. I usually blamed it on my parents. “My parents don’t think this weekend will be a good time,” and when I was invited for sleepovers at my friend’s house (who insisted we have sleepovers up until we were 19), I would simply tell her “Oh no, that’s OK. I have to get up early in the morning for work/family event.”

    The OP is a push over. I know she is probably in a vulnerable state being in a new school, but that doesn’t mean you can let people boss you around. Make new friends, ditch this girl.

  • Kirst September 3, 2013, 1:08 pm

    Teenage girl has no sense of boundaries, invites herself over and intends to stay for over 24 hours? I’d be talking to a teacher about that – is there something wrong at home?

  • skv September 3, 2013, 1:29 pm

    My question is this: Do you like her? I don’t mean can you put up with her…. I mean do you actually like her? Do you like spending time with her, sharing things with her, generally hanging out and being friends? Because in all honesty it sounds a lot more like you are simply putting up with her. Read over your own letter….you do not say anything about her kindness, fun loving spirit, or friendship….it is about the things you dislike. Sometimes we meet people and after a little while, realize that they aren’t who we thought they were. That’s okay – it doesn’t make her a bad person, necessarily, it simply makes her not for you. You should quietly, without drama, cut the ties. If you do not want her to come over tell her she can’t, in exactly the way Admin said. Don’t justify or make excuses. When she demands that you wait for her outside class, politely say no and leave. Never let anyone in your purse and feel free to be a lot less polite about it – a purse, phone, and wallet are all private and there should be no gray area about that. One of two things will happen : she will get tired of not being able to control you and move on, or she will comply and you can then decide if she is someone you want to spend time with or not. Stick up for yourself, OP – it’s hard but you can do it.

  • gramma dishes September 3, 2013, 3:02 pm

    Keep in mind that if she’s ‘been there forever’ and yet she has chosen you, a newcomer, to be her sudden ‘best best friend’, there’s probably a reason. The likely reason is that the other girls who’ve been there forever have learned to say no and won’t put up with her anymore. So who’s left? You!

    “Sorry, that won’t be possible” is a good place to start, with a few just plain non-sugar coated “no’s” thrown in once in awhile too. There’s also nothing wrong with saying “No, I don’t want to.” She’s not your parents, your teacher or your employer.

    “My parents won’t allow me to have anyone over after school right now” is okay to say, even if later on you may choose to invite someone else over after school.

    Don’t be mean, of course. But don’t try too hard to be “nice” either. You can state what you are willing to do or not willing to do politely and if she doesn’t like it, you’ll just have to find new friends — which is, I think, what you really want to do anyway.

    Don’t be hard on yourself. Remember than even those of us who are much older and more “experienced” than you also have problems dealing with people like this. Yes, there really ARE adults who behave much like the girl you describe. And, even as adults, we still struggle sometimes to figure out the exact location of that line between being ‘nice’ and being a ‘doormat’.

  • Angel September 3, 2013, 3:16 pm

    I don’t think it is possible to break ties with her either, however, you can be polite to her without hanging around her all the time. I would get involved in activities that she has no interest in/or is not a part of and do those things. When she asks to come over, you can conveniently be busy that day.

    You can’t be busy every day, but you can set up boundaries in other ways. You can try, I’m afraid that won’t be possible, or just say NO, if politeness doesn’t work. By all means, if you would like to be friends with her you can invite her over once in a while. But if you don’t want to be friends, just keep saying no when she asks to come over. Even the dimmest bulb will eventually take the hint.

    The same applies if she asks you to do her favors. Nope. Make up an excuse if it makes you feel better–I’m going to the bathroom. Have to stay after class. Promised to do something for the teacher. If all else fails, talk to your guidance counselor about it and maybe they can get the bullying to stop. I think that if you talk about it to someone in authority she will probably stop harassing you.

  • Ellie September 3, 2013, 3:55 pm

    I just want to compliment OP on her maturity level in this situation. I’ve had my share of clingy friends over the years, and I can say that in junior high I certainly did not have the patience and consideration OP does! Good for her for seeking advice from an etiquette expert before taking action.

    Girls are sensitive at that age, and confrontation can lead to a scene when dealing with a difficult teen or preteen girl. Especially one with bully tendencies. Sometimes the best way is just have to avoid avoid avoid until they get the point.

    You have done nothing wrong here, of course you have the right to your own room, your own space, and belongings! I wonder if her behavior has driven away most of her friends, and so now she is putting on you since you are new and was not previously aware of her habits. But do not let her problems become yours, just stay polite but not overly friendly. She will drift away, I promise!

  • KitKat September 3, 2013, 5:09 pm

    I had a few “friends” like that in college. I believe I told two of them off quite amazingly (I’m quiet and non-confrontational if possible and by then I was really p****d at their actions). Another girl I knew made severing ties easy by moving to a completely different state (she was okay in small doses).

    A good phrase to know when asked a favor is, “What is it?” Saved my rear more than a few times both in college and now in the real world. Mostly because if I didn’t want to do it, I had a chance to say “No.”

  • Marozia September 3, 2013, 6:47 pm

    All the advice I’ve read here is great.
    As for going through the handbag, that happened to me and my words were “Are you looking for anything special? Maybe I can help”. It never happened again!
    Maybe you should charge for ‘favours’ – say $10 a piece. That aught to stop her!!

  • Nancy September 3, 2013, 7:01 pm

    Seems to me that S. is someone who knows how to manipulate others to get what she wants. There are certain people in this world who look for “nice” people (for lack of a better term, ie people who will allow some amount of inconvenience to themselves to get along), and exploit them to get what they need. You sound like someone who is probably very giving, and will go along to get along in a lot of circumstances. She probably latched onto the “new” kid because she’s already exhausted most of her other class mates.

    You don’t need to deal with this. You make and lose friends like crazy in middle and high school. It’s fine. You will make other friends. Join a club or something and meet other kids who aren’t so needy.

  • Ana September 3, 2013, 7:42 pm

    @Library Diva, not to trash your advice, but I think “Asking around” is the worst possible move the OP can make. The OP is a junior-high girl, and gossip and grudges spread like wildfire in school hallways. Asking around will be a sure way for her to earn a reputation as a gossip, and will only get more girls involved taking sides and spewing drama between her and S. If OP has concerns about S, she should take them to a trusted teacher or guidance counselor, NOT pry her peers for information. If she isn’t concerned for S’s well-being (which she doesn’t need to be, unless she has reason to believe S is being abused or is abusing herself), than she just needs to start using the firm “No,” as the admin instructed. She doesn’t owe S any explanation or understanding other than the fact that S’s behavior is unacceptable.

  • Ruby September 4, 2013, 5:47 am

    “Bully” is an overused term. Not every antisocial behavior is bullying.

    The LW should set boundaries with the other girl. Say no to her requests.

  • Wendy B. September 4, 2013, 9:19 am

    Rereading all of this an my initial reaction, I realized that I was very much like OP when I was in junior high. I moved from a small country school to what was (for this area) the “big” school that dumped kids from five or six different elementary schools into one school for sixth and seventh grades. I was used to a class of 15 and was suddenly in a class of 300 (divided into smaller groups). It was overwhelming for a shy, country girl.

    One girl befriended me and we did remain friends throughout high school, but I also learned about setting boundaries with her. At first she was always into my things. Finally I just started saying, “No.” Fortunately, instead of her getting mad, she just said, “Ok.” Even though we drifted apart after high school, there were times when I was glad we managed to stay friends.

    Unfortunately, there were others that came into my life over those years that didn’t understand the word “No”, or “please stop that” or other such terms. In order to protect yourself emotionally, you need to learn that you just can’t always be the nice kid who is friends with everyone. Someone else’s emotional well being DOES NOT depend on you. Once you grasp that, needed boundaries are easier to set.

  • MollyMonster September 4, 2013, 10:16 am

    So there has been a lot of advice on how to extricate yourself from this “friendship” but if you think that S. has some redeeming qualities and actually want to be friends with her, you’ll have to “train” her to be a good friend–like a dog. Reward good behavior, refuse to acknowledge bad behavior. If she is trying to visit your house because her home life is bad, training her to be a good friend would benefit her greatly. If she is just wanting to come over to snoop, then you are within your rights to deny her.

    Start setting boundaries and communicating. “I don’t like it when you go through my purse, please stop doing that.” And if she doesn’t stop, then you know she doesn’t value your friendship and you can decide to end the relationship. If she does stop (at least most of the time, everyone can regress once in a while), then move on to the next behavior you want modified. “I like walking with you after class but hate it when you demand I wait.” If she demands, ignore it, but if she asks nicely, try to accommodate her. Learn to say “no” to the favors you don’t want to do, and start putting light demands on her so she can learn that friendship is reciprocal. Maybe start asking her to wait for *YOU* outside class! 🙂

    I have a friend who was Mr. Correcty–he would correct everyone about everything, no matter how miniscule. He got married and his wife trained him to correct in his head, and he has become 1000 times more fun to hang out with. If his parents or other friends had done this, he would have been much more popular as he was growing up. S. might be a similar case and if you feel up to the attempt, try to mold her into a passable human being.

  • Library Diva September 4, 2013, 12:39 pm

    @Ana — you’re absolutely right. I meant the phrase “ask around” as more of a figure of speech than a suggestion for a course of action, but it was a poor choice of words. It was a way of saying that this girl has probably done this to most of her other classmates and that’s why she’s clinging to the new kid rather than hanging out with a group of her own. But you’re right in that actually asking around would cause needless drama and hurt.

    I actually don’t think S is being abused either, but there’s a whole lot of grey between an abusive home and a pleasant home. Maybe S’s parents are hoarders and the house is disgusting. Maybe their relationship has deteriorated and there’s a lot of yelling at home. Maybe S is the youngest of 10 children and the parents are just worn out. Maybe her parents are really young and still in party mode, or really old and don’t have the energy to parent. Maybe an illness in the family has diverted their attention away from parenting S. Maybe they work all the time and leave her to her own devices. Maybe they’re just flat-out crappy parents, for no good reason. To me, the fact that she has both a desire to spend a lot of time away from home and the agency (at age 10-13) to do so, coupled with her extreme lack of social skills, just indicates to me that something’s not quite right there.

    If OP really, really can’t stand being around this girl, of course she shouldn’t pursue a friendship with her. But if there’s enough positives about S to warrant a friendship with strong boundaries, it may wind up making a tremendous difference in S’s life.

  • ketchup September 4, 2013, 1:58 pm

    It’s been said by others, but I just want to point out that she doesn’t sound like a bully per se. She sounds utterly clueless, as if she hasn’t been taught anything.
    Also, how she rifles through your stuff makes me think she thinks that is normal, like her stuff isn’t private either. Not at all. Add the fact she doesn’t want to be home… it sounds bad. I don’t know, not really, but does she wear baggy clothes? Maybe you can check for bruises? It may sounds ridiculous and over the top, but so many children show warning signs, and so many of those signs are ignored.

    Then again, I could be completely wrong.., but it does sound very much like a girl I used to know when I was 11, who did similar things, and also had a very unhealthy home life.

    If I’m wrong about the abuse, then it’s still possible she’s utterly clueless. Maybe you can enlighten her calmly and friendly that her behaviour is just not acceptable and far from polite. I mean, if you’ve never been taught manners and you’re still a child, it can’t really be your fault. It could be my Dutchness, but I’ve always thought that speaking your mind and telling people how you feel could be the best solution.

  • acr September 4, 2013, 3:17 pm

    I’m going to have to disagree with MollyMonster and other posters who have suggested that OP “train” S. OP approximatly 12-14 years old. The patience and tact required to retrain someone like S is something that is rare among adults. And frankly, I doubt it would work. In highschool, a girl latched on to me and my two friends as her “lunch buddies.” She had some learning disabilities that made her socially awkward. She wasn’t as demanding as S, but she a lot of annoying habits that really made our 30 minute lunch break unpleasant. She would fiddle in her food with her fingers, she would interrupt constantly, she would take a sample of other people’s food…then offer the food to the other members of the group. One time my friend and I were discussing a book we’d read called the “Calender Papers” or something like that – a mystery novel. Lunch Buddy told anyone who would listen that we were reading about “calender girls” which was horrendously embarrasing to our teenage selves.

    We spent one laborious semester tactfully correcting her and saw minor improvements – then over Christmas break she completely back slid. Understandable, of course, but totally intolerable to our 15 year old selves.

    And meanwhile, other people avoided eating with us because they didn’t want to be trapped with Lunch Buddy. So we were denied the opportunity to form additional friendships b/c of her issues.

    Reforming S would be a tremendous burden, with little or no return. Instead of the OP enjoying school, studying and making friendships with nice, undemanding people who treat her politely, much of her social life would be sucked into this “project”. She will be denied other friendships because people don’t want to get sucked into S’s neediness.

  • camlan September 4, 2013, 4:55 pm

    This is not a friend. This is a person you go to school with.

    I get being the new kid in school. Thanks to my father’s job, I was in 9 different schools between kindergarten and high school graduation.

    I suspect that she is hanging around you so much because the other students, who have known her longer, are aware of her behavior and they don’t want to hang out with her.

    You don’t have to sit with her. You don’t have to talk with her, beyond a polite “Good morning,” or “Hello.” If she waits for you after class, say, “Hi,” and keep walking.

    If she puts a finger on your purse or anything else that belongs to you, simply put your hand out and take it away from her. If she says anything, look extremely puzzled. “That’s my purse. You don’t go through other people’s belongings.”

    The more time you spend with this girl, the less time you have to make other, nicer friends.

  • Jenn50 September 5, 2013, 11:09 am

    acr, I didn’t read the suggestion that OP “train” S, in terms of trying to fix her life. I read it more as “Teach people how to treat you.” Over time, S will learn that OP will not tolerate her intrusion and demands. Whether or not S generalizes that to infer that OTHERS probably don’t like that too, is not OP’s job or concern.

  • Anonymous September 5, 2013, 2:26 pm

    There really needs to be an “Assertiveness Heck” forum. I touched on it a few months ago, but basically, “Assertiveness Heck” is a place that people who don’t stand up for themselves, accidentally cast THEMSELVES into, by continuing to tolerate rude behaviour from other people. I originally set it up as a mythical place, but now I think it’s real; it just takes on different forms on a situational basis. So, not to blame the victim (I could have written that when I was anywhere between 8 or 9, and about 13), but this seems like an Assertiveness Heck situation as much as an Etiquette Hell situation.

  • Anonymous September 5, 2013, 3:15 pm

    Oh, yeah, OP–do you have any interests that S doesn’t share? If so, this is the perfect time to use that. Since it’s September, and I’m assuming you’re somewhere in North America, because of your use of the term “junior high,” it’s the beginning of a new school year. Soon, after everyone’s settled into the rhythm of classes, I’d imagine that extra-curricular activities would be starting up, right? So, anything that looks interesting to you (music, dance, drama, sports, newspaper, yearbook, student government, maybe a photography or studio art club if there is one), why not try it? It doesn’t sound as if S is up for “group friendships,” so much as a “one on one,” clingy, demanding “friendships, because, well, she doesn’t seem to understand how friendship works. So, I can see this working one of two ways: Scenario #1, you join the activity/activities of your choice, S isn’t interested, and you become too busy for her, and make new friends through whichever activities you may choose. She sees that you’re too busy, and moves on. Scenario #2, S joins whatever you join, and the other people at that activity (teachers, students, whoever), see the way she’s behaving, and call her on it, and maybe the adults there will make sure she gets the help she needs. As far as “help” goes, why not visit the guidance counsellor at your school and tell him or her what you’ve told us? That person could help you distance yourself from S, and help S get help with whatever’s going on at home.

  • Dragonqueen September 5, 2013, 10:15 pm

    Ah, you folks are so nice. Clueless? Socially awkward? Guess none of you has ever met someone clinically crazy, as in psychopath or sociopath. Too young? Not on your life. Some of the scariest crazy people I ever met were under 12. Here’s the thing about people like S: she’s a predator, and predators can always recognize the prey. If OP had drawn the line the first time S crossed it and pushed her firmly back over it, she wouldn’t have messed with her ever again. But OP is vulnerable, wanting friends, afraid to make someone unhappy and have others disapprove of her, so she is wide open to being used over and over again. Either stand up for yourself or resign yourself to being walked on and having S wipe her feet on you, OP. The behaviors S exhibits is normal for a toddler, not a school child. Any person her age acting like you describe has serious mental and emotional problems. Maybe she is having trouble at home, but lots of kids do, but do not force themselves into other people’s lives. She is not your spouse or your parent or your sibling. You are not required to be her puppet or pet or punching bag. And like many a spouse, you will be amazed how easily an abusive relationship turns physically painful. Don’t think it doesn’t happen. There are many school children who learn it the hard way and then can’t figure out how to get away. If S wants to act like a toddler, treat her like one. Be firm, be consistent, and slap her hand if she can’t understand what “No!” means. This may save her future relationships if she learns from it, but probably not. But it will definitely save yours, and that is all you are responsible for.

  • littlebosammy September 6, 2013, 7:29 pm

    I’m surprised that the parents haven’t done anything. Coming over after school, staying for dinner, and staying the night? If I was LW’s mother, I would have no problem being the “bad guy” and getting rid of this leech.

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