Is your friend a bully masquerading as your friend?

Don't feel bad if you realize that the person who you thought was your friend is a bully to you.  You are likely the kind of person who is generous and open-hearted to others and you accept people for who they are.  When you recognize the signs that your friend doesn't respect you, the important thing is to move on.

Real friendships are healthy and rewarding ones.  Such friendships bring out the best in one another, but also you enjoy spending time with one another and appreciate each others' differences.

In unhealthy relationships, which include fake friendships, the relationship may start out looking like true friendships, but as time goes no, it can be drainking to be friends with someone who tries to control or manipulate you, which is when it is important to learn how to tell the difference and move on.

When people who claim to care about you are controlling and manipulative, this is abusive behavior and the epitome of bullying.

Though controlling people want to deceive you into believing that they are your friend and that they have your best interest at heart, in reality, the relationship is based on their attempt to control you--not on mutual respect.

The key behaviors of controlling people, or people who bully others, are important to identify so that. you can end the relationship as soon as possible.  The follwing are characteristics of such people:

1. They are demanding: If you feel like you are not in control of your own decisions in the friendship, then this is an unhealthy friendship.  Controlling friends may accuse you of not being a good friend when. you do not meet their demands.

2. They lack respect: If you are being ridiculed for feeling the way you do, that is a sign of an unhealthy, controlling friendship.  A read flag is when the person tells you how you should feel rather than accepting your true feelings.  They may also accuse you of being too sensitive, especially when they make jokes at your expense.

3. They act superior and entitled:  If your friend communicates that you are inferior in some way, this is unhealthy.  They may use sarcasm when speaking with you and they might act as if they are always right--that they know best and are smarter.  They may even tell you that your opinions are stupid and don't make sense.

4. They create drama: When someone seems to always be stirring something up, this is not healthy behavior.  They feed off of drama and will look to make a normal conflict or disagreement into a huge offense.

5. They are manipulative:  A friend who regularly makes you feel uncomfortable or embarrasses you is not a true friend.  They may have a tendency to exaggerate your flaws and humiliate you in public and make you look bad--even if they play it off as a joke.  Remember, a real friend would never want you to be embarassed.

6. They isolate you: Controlling people may look for ways to manipulate you into spending all your time withthem and get angyy when you have other friends.  They may even try to sabotage those relationships or use peer pressure to get you to do what they want.

7. They never apologize: They'll lie before they aplogize and twist the story, changing the way things happened and retelling it so convincingly that they'll believe their own nonsense.

8. They won't own their feelings: Rather than owning their own feelings, they'll act as though the feelings are yours.  This is called projection, as in projecting their feelings and thoughts onto you.


When someone bullies or controls you, it has nothing to do with you.  It has everything to do with the bullier feeling powerless.  This is why they bully.  You can always say no to their bullying.  You don't need anyone's approval, but remember if someone is working hard to manipulate you, it's probably because they need yours.  You don't have to give in.  You have a choice.

Yung Park, M.D.

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