14

Background

After this year, I will be going to a different school than the rest of my friends and so I am writing them cards. There is one person in the group who I especially don't like, and I would rather be honest and tell them that I am glad to be moving away from them. The situation between us is quite complicated but I will try and summarise it below. Be warned - it might sound petty!

TL;DR: I was dismissive of her when I was younger, we didn't speak for a while and in the recent past we have been fighting. She would be rude to me and push me around, clearly pointing out that she'd rather be near anyone but me. I spoke to her but she didn't stop doing this, which made me resentful. We finally agreed to just act as friends because we didn't want to spoil the peace for the rest of the group.

I only spoke with her briefly when I was younger, but I remember being quite dismissive of her (I forgot her birthday and also made fun of her music tastes once), so I think that she had a bad impression of me from the start. I didn't speak with her properly for a long time after that because we had no classes together and weren't particularly close. I do admit that I shouldn't have been so dismissive of her when we were younger, and that if she doesn't like me, then I have part (or most of) of the blame as well.

A (long) while afterwards, she made this unspoken rule that only she could sit next to her 'best friend' in the group when we sat at a table to eat lunch. I didn't really have a problem with this, until it turned out that the person she stopped from sitting next to them was always me, and she never pushed anyone else away from a seat like that. I kept telling her that I didn't like her doing this, but she ignored me and would literally push and shove me off the seat if I ignored her and sat down anyway. I spoke to her over WhatsApp about this and they told me they did it because I'm 'the weakest', and therefore the easiest to push away.

A few months later, I was eating nearby her and I suddenly choked on my food. I coughed and realised that I was completely unable to breathe, cough up the food or speak at all, but she refused to come and help me. What she said to me was that 'they were busy talking and didn't notice', but another friend told me that she had said she had noticed and just 'didn't care and didn't want to help'.

Finally, we all have a group chat on WhatsApp which all of us use. However, she would write personal secrets and then specifically say that she didn't want me to see their message, encouraging others to 'spam' messages so that I wouldn't see it. I did see the messages, and I told her that I had no problem with them not wanting me to know her secrets, but pointed out that literally saying that she didn't want me to see it was very rude, especially because this was the entire group's chat and so I would obviously find out. I told her that if she wanted to talk about their secrets with a group of friends that didn't include me, they could always make a separate group and discuss it there. She ignored me and kept posting messages I 'wasn't meant to see' in places that I could see them.

I was so annoyed by these incidents that for a few days I acted harshly towards them, but it by now we have an 'unofficial truce' where we act like we are friends. I still think they dislike me, and I still generally dislike them, but to be honest, once I leave I will be glad that I don't have to act like we are friends just for the sake of our other friends.

The Problem

Since we have the 'unofficial truce' (called so because we never discussed anything further but seem to have agreed that openly fighting was not the best idea), I'm not sure if it's appropriate to tell her that I really dislike her and am glad to see the end of my time with her, instead of writing a fake message that I'm sad to leave her even though I'm not.

This is especially because I am not 100% sure that she still dislikes me. Since they have acted nicely towards me after the choking incident (which I have reciprocated), and when I asked her if they disliked me, she replied 'no' but I always get the feeling that that's not entirely true.

If I do write all of this out in a card and tell her what I actually think, then I am worried that she will tell our mutual friends and I will be hated by the rest of the group. I don't want to drag the rest of the group into this conflict, but I think that the rest of the group would just ask me to get over it and they would support her. Currently, the group doesn't know that we dislike each other.

How am I meant to tell them that I am glad to be leaving them? How am I meant to tell them this considering the views of the other people in the group? And finally, how do I come across without sounding like a petty grudge-holder?

EDIT: What I want to do is to write her a message that is neither the generic 'I'll miss you, sad to leave' nor me literally telling her that I hate her, since I don't. Instead, I just want to tell her that I am not really close to her and still have some degree of dislike for her, but I am glad that we decided not to get others involved and decided to be more peaceful about it. Also, I would apologise for how dismissive I was of her when we were younger.

The reason I don't want to not give her a card is because that would be rude. The group of friends I am talking about is small, and it's a given that everyone gets a card. Finally, and this is quite a selfish reason, but writing that card would help me to move past this.

EDIT 2: In the end, I wrote her a short message based off Cronax's answer. Thanks for everyone's replies.

  • 2
    "Currently, the group doesn't know that we dislike each other." What makes you think they're unaware of it, given the past events they've observed? – jpmc26 Jun 7 '18 at 2:41

10 Answers 10

40

I understand your need for closure, it's a very common feeling in human beings. The ability to finally say what you want knowing there won't be any real consequence is great, and if there were never any consequences, IPS wouldn't exist.

But unfortunately, even you yourself have mentioned that there's a real potential for negative consequences in this situation and because of that, you're probably going to need to temper what you say to avoid those consequences (meaning, you aren't going to really get what you want out of this anyway.)

You have a few options, and while telling you what your options are isn't really the point of this board, I feel like they are going to come up, and I feel like it's appropriate because I'll discuss some level of HOW to approach them in more IPS fashion.

1. Withhold giving a card at all.

PROS:

  • Easiest of the options, requiring literally no effort
  • Your words cannot be twisted and used against you after you're gone
  • Will likely be forgotten given time, should this person ever end up in your life again

CONS:

  • You've said this would be seen as incredibly rude, and it very well might in your circumstance.

It's likely that this person probably isn't really expecting a card. They sound like they only tolerate you as it is, and while they might use the opportunity of a skipped card to talk bad about you to your friends, it's unlikely that your friends are completely unaware of the animosity between you and will understand. Much more so than they would understand and be supportive of a truly nasty card.

2. Give a card and tell her how you really feel, risking consequences but getting the closure you want.

PROS:

  • Closure

CONS:

  • Risk alienating this person forever. This is the type of social behavior that would be remembered years and years from now when you might run into this person in a situation where you're forced to be cordial.
  • Risk alienating your other friends. Moving away is tough, especially when you're younger. If you're truly blunt about how much you dislike this person, or just honest but your words are twisted after you're gone, this whatsapp group may not be the lifeline to have people to talk to after you move but before you've met new people.

3. Leave the bridge unburned, eat crow, and write a cordial message.

PROS:

  • Near-zero risk of long term negative effects

CONS:

  • Not very satisfying

4. Redirect the card into an acceptance of some responsibility, but be honest about how you feel.

PROS:

  • Some closure
  • Constructive criticism
  • Likely to be remembered

CONS:

  • Difficult to do
  • Could backfire if the person truly dislikes you

This last is probably the most socially acceptable IPS to have, and if you were older and this was a resignation letter, a peer review, or similar formal correspondence it would be an invaluable skill to have. It's the one I'll talk most about for that reason alone.

These past couple of weeks have been much easier now that we're not fighting all the time. I realize we haven't had the best relationship, and know that I'm partially to blame for that.

This message says a couple of things:

  1. You want to continue to keep the peace
  2. You know that it isn't entirely your fault you don't get along
  3. You know that it isn't entirely her fault you don't get along

I've now come to understand just how difficult it is to be the one pushed away, and realize this is something I've done to others, including you, in the past. I look forward to the opportunity to meet new people with this in mind, and to try and become a better person. One who doesn't dismiss people's feelings.

This message also says a few things:

  1. That you were hurt by her behavior
  2. That you realize you've hurt others by doing the same thing
  3. That you WANT to get better, but it's too late for the two of you

Lastly, I would encourage you to be cordial through it all. The world is never as big as you think it is, and you cannot guarantee you'll never run into any of these people again.

  • 6
    Do you have any personal experience or references to back up this answer? (Were you in a similar situation once? How did it go? see cronax's answer for example) I know that you are simply listing and evaluating the available options, but we shouldn't make exceptions to the policy. We try to enforce it more stricly as of late. Adding one or two sentences will suffice already ;) Thanks – Kaspar Scherrer Jun 5 '18 at 15:11
  • 1
    I usually do option 2, wait the next day, realize it wasn't a good idea, destroy the message and do option 3. – the_lotus Jun 6 '18 at 16:47
  • Hi! A great answer on IPS usually matches three basic points: An explanation of what to do, how to do it and why it might work. I think the 'how to do it' part is kinda lacking in this answer: You mention doing stuff like writing a cordial message, or redirecting (points 3 and 4), and although you give some explanation of why it might work with the pro's and cons, this doesn't really explain how to do it. Could you perhaps edit an in explanation of how to do the stuff you're suggesting? – Tinkeringbell Jul 17 '18 at 8:43
40

You will always sound petty saying this.

This could be the final time you ever talk to them again. Laying out your grievances on this final card shows that you are still thinking about the situation, even after the person has acted nicely ever since the choking incident.

Be the bigger person and forgive and forget. These comments should not be written on a going away card. They are better suited to a more private conversation in a text message or phone call. You never know how a person's opinions will change later down the line, and a card that highlights the negative aspects of the relationship will not be one the person will want to remember.

You are better off simply not writing them a card, or at the very least not writing anything negative on it. You even state that you are not 100% sure that she even still dislikes you. Just keep it to yourself and don't burn any unnecessary bridges, because you don't know what they will say about you to other people if you choose to do this.

Just forget about this incident and move on with your life.

One of my friends dealt with a similar issue where he received a "goodbye" card from somebody who had gone into extensive detail into an issue that was very minor compared to the description on the card. My friend had no idea this person was harboring this grudge and thought he was on good terms with them based on how they acted. Needless to say my friend hasn't contacted that person again.

21

I've been in a similar situation in the past. In my case, I communicated my sentiments verbally rather than through a card, but I think the overall approach should still be viable.

The idea is to acknowledge the difficulties without placing any blame and to focus on the positive aspects. For example:

Hey X,

I think we've had our difficulties over the years and we'll probably never be the best of friends, but I'm glad that recently we have found a way to interact without causing trouble for our mutual friends. I would also like to take this opportunity to express my regret at how I treated you when we were younger. I think I often behaved dismissively towards you, which was unfair.

Kind regards

Kumikan

I would also put a generic 'I wish you a long life and good fortune' kind of well-wish as the last sentence, but it will depend on your culture whether or not that's appropriate or not. I would advocate doing it only if such generic well-wishes are indeed common in your culture, to avoid implying that you've completely gotten over your dislike.

11

The reason this would sound petty is because it IS petty.

Like grandma said, if you can't say something nice just don't say anything at all.

Aside from your own personal satisfaction at finally telling that jerk what you really feel, what good comes from this? NOTHING. All it does is satisfy your petty need to have someone else know that you don't like them. Be a grown up and just move on.

  • 1
    Well said. That this isn't obvious I find sad. And what often happens is you end up regretting it. And who wants to look so petty and mean? That's all it'll do telling someone you don't like them. If someone finds satisfaction with this it means they're satisfied with saying something that hurts someone. In which case why do they even care if it sounds petty or not? It's mutually exclusive really. – Pryftan Jun 6 '18 at 1:54
3

It's a great big world out there. When you get out, experience the world, meet new people and mature into a more confident human being, you'll look back on this and wonder why you ever gave her so much emotional and social control over you.

If you choose to send a "good riddance" note to her, while it may be satisfying in the short term, all it does is send a message to her that her behavior makes her important to you, and that she is able to emotionally manipulate you. Most probably she will try to find a way to keep in touch, or will find out who you keep in touch with and make sure you continue to periodically hear insulting or belittling things she says about you, just to keep herself in that very important place in your mind.

She's a bully, and, to a certain extent, you allowed her to bully you. Now is your time to assert yourself, take control of your emotions and your energy, and to prove to her that she is not an important controlling factor in your life. You do this by walking away, and not looking back, and NOT by trying to get a parting shot in.

Throughout our youth, school, and the circle of friends and acquaintances from school, dominate our lives. As an adult, or even as someone who has moved to a different circumstance, they will no longer dominate, and you'll look back on those things that used to consume you as trivial, in retrospect. It's all part of the growing up process. You'll feel much better about yourself if you behave in a confident, positive manner, and don't let her drag you down to her level.

"I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it." - George Bernard Shaw

3

I rarely end up regretting being nice to people, I almost always end up regretting being mean.

That's because a year from now, most of those feelings that are leading you to want to write something like that will be forgotten. You will look back and realize: You were petty. Even if you found some magical way to disguise it and not make it seem like it, you will always know. You were not as great as you could have been. You could have handled it better.

So why not handle it better to begin with?

I once had a really trying time with my best friend, where we were both extremely stressed and just made it worse for each other (we were both in an exam phase and he was moving in with his girlfriend -> meaning the end of six years of being roommates with me), which he chose to do exactly while we had exams, so we had to get the entire stress of moving during a time like that.

Once we finally left our old appartment for good, I was looking forward to two to three weeks without ever talking with him but before that, I REALLY wanted to get angry and tell him off for all the stuff he did that annoyed me in the last couple of weeks. It had been building up and I could not stop being angry and thinking about how good it would feel to tell him all this without any immediate consequences.

I phrased multiple long messages to him and scratched them again. Finally I was able to calm myself down and remind myself that it might make me feel better for a moment, but it wouldn't make him feel very good. And it's not like he was any less stressed than I was. He was probably in the same state of mind. I even managed to realize that most of the anger was just because I was stressed and I probably wouldn't care about any of it a couple of weeks later.

So I decided to take the high road and just not write him.

About an hour later I got a big message from him doing exactly what I just stopped myself from doing. I didn't even feel bad about it, I just had to laugh. I really wanted to call him and let him in on the fun of the situation (without any bad intentions at all), but sadly I had to realize that would have only made him more angry or feel bad because he wasn't able to control himself the same way.

A month or so later, he apologized to me, he felt really bad for letting his anger out on me and so forth. I told him I almost wrote something like that myself and he could stop worrying, but left it at that (obviously I didn't mention that his message actually made me feel better instead of worse).

So yeah... I got a month of barely thinking about it, while he got a month of feeling bad. Not that difficult to see who made the better choice here.

So I'd strongly recommend being the bigger person. Don't write anything mean, don't blame her for anything, but also don't just write something meaningless if you can help it. Obviously this bothers you and you want some closure, so try being honest with her without blaming her for anything. Tell her you thought it was sad that you didn't get along better but that you know you share a lot of the blame for that and things like that (kind of like you did in your question).

I think Cronax gave a really nice example of a message you might want to write her.

It's not just about avoiding bad consequences, it's about actually feeling better.

2

I wouldn't do it. After you leave she might just show it around to everyone and use it as evidence and motivation to say that your good intentions were actually just a way to attack people and tarnish what is a really lovely idea (to say goodbye in a nice way). You may also bump into each other in future, after you've both matured, perhaps after many years, and even become friends. I've known this to happen with my own friends. In my own experience I've had a lot of jobs. There's always someone difficult. I always leave well. Then I don't have to worry about it after. I've learned letting go is a vital mental skill to reduce stress. Once you've moved on, you've moved on. You're free!

2

Since you've made up your mind to write them a card, some awkwardness is guaranteed and your priority should be to minimise the collateral damage (to your relationship with the other friends in your group) and perhaps any (further) damage to the relationship in question.

Your intention is to bury the hatchet (sort of) while also expressing "good riddance". Tough game that (okay, just reiterating). In the bargain you'll have to swallow liberal amounts of (possibly false) pride and try to "look" the more forgiving sparring partner. Yes, finally the cat will be out of the bag if the other person decided to "sing" your message to the group and pretend the (only/bigger) victim of the situation. The friends are sure to slice and dice each word and it's nuances, if only to convince her that you didn't mean too ill of her. You have to show immense maturity, as difficult as that may be.

Suggested wording (to suggest a general direction and by no means to put words in your mouth, or rather pen/keyboard):

Dear X,

As you know, I am headed to Y to pursue Z. While I am excited at the prospect to chase my dreams, I am saddened at the thought of leaving our blah group. It further saddens me that I could not get to know you better, especially as I've known you the longest in the group. When I look back, it feels silly the way we handled some of our interactions; perhaps I should have been more mature in those situations, but hey, we were kids, weren't we? If and when our paths cross again, I hope we interact as a pair of mature adults, and better, as friends if not old friends. I wish the best for you.

Regards,
K

1

Based upon what I've read it sounds like this "card" could become a written record of accounts about a conflict.

Don't write about conflicts with people on paper and then give them a copy of that paper. This becomes evidence that could be used against you, used out of context, the words twisted against you or shared with other people.

This person would then have a record of what you said and you'll have a difficult time challenging those accounts later or defending yourself from false accusations. It'll be your words against your own words.

Given that this person is someone you don't really trust or like, then I would avoid arming them with words in your own handwriting.

Speak to them in person if you have too, but any cards should just be a simple "Good bye!".

1

Honestly, write what you want to say, plain and simple, dramatic as you like. Enter into histrionics if you need to. Swear and cuss. vent all the problems.

Then shred the letter, burn it and scatter the ashes.

All that giving her that letter will achieve is to disrupt whatever equilibrium you've already achieved, it's highly unlikely to make things better.

The real benefit is to yourself, the emotional venting of writing it all down will help you far more than any likely conversation based on it. So write it and burn it.

It's a time honoured tradition in many cultures.
Compare and contrast: https://robscott.com/write-and-burn/


Funnily, I actually wrote a few hundred words about a comparable experience to yours and vented hugely in it, then realised it didn't actually answer the question very well and deleted it. Rather unintentionally following my own advice and "burning" without showing anyone.

I feel better already. So call that a recommendation for the technique.

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