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Cherie Burbach

Reader Question on Avoiding an Argument With an Angry Friend

By January 12, 2013

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Did you know you that you can ask for advice here? Your question might be answered here in the blog or with a new article. You can ask your question anonymously or just use a first name only if you'd like.

The advantage in asking a question here is that it benefits others also. You'd be surprised at how often an issue you struggle with and think you're totally alone in is something another person is dealing with too.

Marjorie recently asked:

I have had a friend for about 20 years and we have helped each other get through a lot of bad boyfriend relationships and hard times.  Most of the time we talk it is usually about her. She is very insecure and is always afraid of what others think of her and it has been mostly a burden on me but I enjoy the times we are not focused on her problems.

She is very emotional and gets irrationally angry and yells at her family and boyfriends.  Until this past Christmas she never let that anger out on me but she did in a text because I was busy with my family and I was texting her to set a time to meet which makes no sense.

So we did not get together during the holidays and we have not spoken since mostly because I don't want to deal with her anger.

What should I do? I don't think I want to end the friendship but again I also do not like to confront anyone or argue.


The best advice is always to talk to your friends when there's an issue, but when your friend is known to have blow ups, I can see why you'd want to avoid being a part of it.

One way to handle this is to text her again and say something like, "I wanted to follow up and see how your holidays were. You seemed angry last time we spoke (texted) but I'm not sure if you were angry with me or what was going on."

She might not realize she sounded angry (some people are not very self-aware in this area), or the possibility exists that even though her text might have sounded negative, she really wasn't angry (texts and emails are notorious for misunderstandings since you can't see the person to determine if they're kidding, angry, in a silly mood, or what.)

If she confirms that she was angry, you can try to work it through by seeing her point and listening to what was bothering her. After all, if you've been friends for twenty years, you may not want to end this friendship over one incident. Every set of friends go through ups and downs occasionally.

This is also the point where you can tell her that you believe she is angry a lot. Allow her to explain herself. Perhaps your friend is going through a lot and needs some help. You can listen or help direct her to a professional where she can get a handle on her emotional outbursts.

As much as you might want to avoid confrontation, you can't always do this if you're going to have friends in your life. That's the reality of it. You have to sometimes talk through things or every time you have an issue with someone you'll avoid them and end up losing a friendship. Often a friendship will be much closer once people talk things through.

However, only you know just how good of a friend this person really is. You can tell her your concerns, that you're afraid of talking to her for fear she will blow up again. Let her know this is an issue and give her an opportunity to apologize.  If this latest text is just one in a long string of bad behavior, perhaps you can walk away from the friendship, but do give some thought as to what you will say if and when your friend tries to talk to you again.

For instance, if she tries to talk to you again and pretends that nothing is wrong, you can try avoiding her but if she is an emotionally aggressive person she might not give up. You can also tell her that her anger is troubling to you, and for that reason you'd like to move on. Be kind and let her know you wish her the best, but that you feel moving on from each other is best for both of you.

In this case, if she apologizes and takes ownership of her bad behavior, you might want to give her another chance. If she gets angry again and lashes out, then you need not say another word. You've already made it clear.

January 15, 2013 at 5:08 pm
(1) Marjorie says:

Hi Cherie,

I really appreciate your advice. I did text her about a week after Christmas that ” I know you were angry at xmas and I am sorry for that. Xmas day is usually taken up by family. I figured you gave up on me based on your text to forget to get together. I hope all is ok with us. Lets talk.”

I never heard back from her and she never texted me either so I know she is really angry knowing her. She has made up something in her head that makes me the bad guy.

I will try one more text maybe in a week or so but I might also just leave it until she comes to apologize to me. She has been telling me for a few years she keeps loosing friends…I wonder why. She is a psychologist by profession btw and she does see one for herself periodically. Scary!

Thanks again and I hope things will work out. They usually do.

January 15, 2013 at 7:20 pm
(2) friendship says:

You’re welcome, and you’re right, things usually work out the way they are meant to.

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