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A Controlling Friendship – A Bully By Another Name

Have you ever had a friend who made you feel bad? Maybe your friend was mean to you sometimes, and confused you. Or she (or he) would ignore you because you had done something wrong.
We all fall out with our friends on occasion, even us adults. It is a normal part of life.
When the friendship is one-sided then it is a different story. Then we might say it is a ‘controlling friendship’.

How to Recognise a Controlling Friendship

Have you ever had a friend who behaves like this:

  • Always wants to spend time with you and doesn’t like when you play with others
  • Gets angry if you don’t do what they want to do
  • Contacts you all the time, even when you have gone home.
  • Wants to be like you, or wants you to be like them. Copies your clothes and your hairstyle
  • Doesn’t take notice of your feelings, it is all about what they want
  • Makes a fool of you in front of others, to make them laugh
  • If you object to this, tells you that you have no sense of humour, and that it was just a joke
  • Is moody and unpredictable, and blames you for anything that goes wrong
  • When you do something they don’t like, they ‘punish’ you by ignoring you, or playing with someone else
  • Pinches, kicks or hits you

You might still think of this person as your friend, they can be a lot of fun at times, and you want to continue to spend time with them.

We could call the person controlling. They wants to get their own way, and they do this by making you feel bad about yourself.

We could also call them a bully, because they are ‘a person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker’.

A controlling person can be someone your own age, or someone older than you. If you know how to recognise a person who behaves in this way towards others, then you can avoid making friends with them. If you see them being mean to other people, then remember that they may later turn on you.

What Can You Do?

First, you could tell a friend, or a trusted adult. It could be a teacher, or a family member, maybe even the parent of a friend. Let them know that the ‘friend’ makes you feel bad, and that you don’t want to be friends with them any more.

Then you could start to distance yourself from the person by not always being available to spend time with them. If they ignore you, walk away and speak to other people in your class. Perhaps there is another person in your class who you could team up with.

No one should make you feel bad. If you have a friend who makes you upset, or who you wish you could avoid, then it is ok to stop being friends with them. Don’t let anyone control you.

You are strong. Walk away and find someone who values your friendship and who makes you happy.

Where to Get Help

If you are being bullied, and need help, there are various organisations that can help – further advice and links here.

Don’t ignore bullying, it won’t go away. If you are being bullied, it can be making your life really miserable and you need to talk to someone about what is happening.

Ideally you could talk to your parents or carers or your teacher if the bullying is happening at school. If you can’t talk to your parents or teacher, a friend could maybe talk to them for you. You must tell someone though. You might want to talk to:

–          Parents
–          Grandparents
–          Auntie or other relative
–          Friend
–          Parents’ friend
–          Teacher
–          School counsellor
–          Youth worker
–          School nurse
–          Mentor

If the bullying is going on at school, the school can activate their anti-bullying policy. Maybe your teacher doesn’t know you are being bullied.

Keep telling people until it stops. The bullying may not stop the first time you tell your parents or teacher and they try and put a stop to it. If it continues, tell your parents or teacher again.

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