A Drama-Free Guide To Handling Spiteful Friends

A Drama-Free Guide To Handling Spiteful Friends Shutterstock

Have you ever had that moment when you look around at the people you consider to be your friends and reflect on how much you actually like them? If you find yourself with spiteful friends, here are some things you can do to remain drama-free while still advocating for yourself!

1. Ignore them if they’re trying to get a reaction out of you.

While your friend might be becoming selfish and spiteful, you don’t want that to drag you down. By staying quiet and ignoring their calls for attention, you can ensure you stay out of the drama-train. Silence is the best bet in some situations (like this one), notes PsychCentral.

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2. Communicate your boundaries.

It’s important to have a measured approach — you don’t want the other person to feel attacked, but you can’t let them get away with their spiteful behavior. Those insults, the constant teasing, the bullying — it’s all hurtful. The friend may just be having a careless month and may not have much intent behind their actions, but they need to be told it’s not acceptable anymore.

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3. Threaten to leave if they continue.

As Psychology Today points out, spiteful behavior cannot go unaddressed. Hard though it may be, the cleanest way of stepping away from the drama is to actually leave the friendship. Communicating that they’re driving you away will cause your spiteful friend to reevaluate their actions.

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4. Ask them if they need to talk.

People don’t typically have big personality changes without cause, and often when friends start becoming spiteful, it’s because they’re going through something. Make a space for them to discuss their feelings and show that you want to help them get to the root of the problem.

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5. Don’t escalate things by playing a blame game.

While it is true that their spitefulness has hurt you, it isn’t productive to play the blame game. There could be lots of factors at play, and meeting fire with fire ensures a messy end to the friendship. Be cautious when broaching the subject with your friend because it’s easy to sound judgmental and harsh, even if you don’t mean to be.

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6. Don’t react to their spitefulness.

It’s a bit like when a toddler has a tantrum in a supermarket: eventually the guardian learns not to give them the attention they covet. Hold your ground. In the long term, not reacting to their spitefulness will avoid unnecessary drama.

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7. Ask if they have a problem with you.

If you can’t see why they are being so spiteful, you might need to ask if something in the friendship has changed. Spiteful behavior is often underpinned by jealousy, resentment, and bitterness. Some friendships have a natural end, and the way to stay drama-free may be to just accept that.

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8. Try to get to the root of the problem.

man and woman looking at each other with skepticism

Spiteful behavior, if left unchecked, can get worse over time. Check in with your friend — even if they are being hurtful and annoying — see if they can explain why they’re feeling the need to lash out. If you really care about them, this is the best way to manage their spitefulness.

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9. Educate yourself — it will help you to help them.

three men talking outside

Sometimes we get too caught up in thinking our issues are all unique that we forget that other people have been spiteful before! A useful way to manage spiteful behaviors in friends is to research and understand where it comes from. This will help you to problem-solve and support your friend.

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10. Forget the sunk-cost fallacy: if they’re not serving you anymore, leave!

two female friends drinking from coffee mugs

To really help your friend, you have to know how to prioritize yourself. You don’t owe a person support or growth if they are being mean to you. Don’t let the years you’ve spent being friends with them before stop you from leaving if you need to. Just because they were a good friend before, doesn’t mean they will be going forward.

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11. Maintain the moral high ground.

What was it the Bible said? “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” — it can teach us a lot about how the wrong application of “justice” can make a situation worse. It’s not useful to process your own hurt if it means being spiteful to them in return. Be the bigger person.

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12. Distance will keep things drama-free.

If you feel like you can’t have a conversation with this “friend” without blaming them, then put more distance between you and them. Take a week off from seeing them or replying to their texts. It will give them space to see how toxic they’ve become, and will let you have a breather.

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13. Don’t blame yourself when you no longer recognize your friendship.

friends having a conversation

Times change and so do people. Neither of you is to blame for the fact that you matured or evolved from when you first met. If you don’t have as much in common with this spiteful friend anymore, then accept that. Don’t blame yourself — or them. Just move on.

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14. Don’t make your other friends “pick sides.”

This isn’t helpful, even if you want the moment of having other people on your side. If you’ve noticed a friend becoming spiteful, handle it in private, as equals. We don’t need to play games.

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15. Avoid stirring the pot if you want a resolution.

Female friends in casual wearing chatting with each other while sitting on sofa and drinking coffee in cozy living room at home

Don’t bring catty communication tactics into play, such as passive-aggressive gossip. We want to bring people together, not isolate them further. Just stick to the facts: what they did, how it made you feel, and your route to a resolution.

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16. Suggest a group therapy session to share both sides of the story.

men talking at outdoor cafe

If all else fails, or if you want to bring the professionals in from the start, don’t be afraid to suggest a group therapy session. This takes the pressure off, shows how serious things are, and allows you and your friend to unpack the consequences of their spitefulness and come to a real solution. Win-win!

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Hannah has a Masters degree in Romantic and Victorian literature in Scotland and spends her spare time writing anything from essays to short fiction about the life and times of the frogs in her local pond! She loves musical theatre, football, anything with potatoes, and remains a firm believer that most of the problems in this world can be solved by dancing around the kitchen to ABBA. You can find her on Instagram at @_hannahvic.