I met up with a friend I hadn't seen in a while. We went to a couple pubs downtown. From the amount I saw him drink, I don't think he was drunk, though I guess I could be wrong. It seemed he tried to take issue with lots of things I said and tried to pick fights.

For example I said I started a new job. He asked what happened to the old one. I said the contract ended. He asked why it didn't get renewed. I said they were going to replace me with someone with different skill set. He asked why I didn't learn new skills.

He also said "it occurred to me I don't know much about your past? were your parents divorce? why? how do you think having a dysfunctional family affected your upbringing?"

I felt that he was putting words into my mouth and being so blunt it was rude. He also accused me of being a bad listener. When I asked for an example, he told me about a time months ago that he told me he was having a bad day, and I didn't acknowledge it enough and changed the topic. While I'm sincerely sorry this happened, I'm not sure if it's fair to bring it up months later. Also at one point I asked him to repeat something and he said "you see, you aren't a very good listener".

In the end I had to walk out on him. He kept his composure very calm and collected, but the words he were saying, I found to be bullying.

I don't know what I did to piss him off or what his problem is. I'm not okay with just forgetting about this. I need an apology or explanation as to what exactly he meant by all this. I would like him to know if I don't get an apology or explanation I'm not interested in having anything to do with him.

First of all should this be done by phone or text? I am sort of leaning towards text as that gives him more time to think about a response.

I'm thinking of saying

Hey Bob. I know you were telling me you were doing me a favor but I can tell you I felt offended by the way you were speaking to me. It felt like an interrogation. How do I know this won't happen again?

Each time I told him I found the way he was speaking offensive, he told me I was not taking feedback well and being defensive. A part of me wonders, how do I know if he's right?

I think my friend may have been watching healthygamergg on YouTube (who gives psychiatric advice) and was trying to copy him.

Awhile ago my friend told me he did a 12 step program for marjuana and alcohol. I had no idea it was a problem for him and he said it wasn't really but he wanted to be preemptive about it. Before we went to the pub tonight I expressly asked if he was ok being around alcohol and he said yes. He also saw a psychiatrist before. I was under the impression all of this was in the past. I find this complicates the situation further because I normally give people with a mental illness or disability extra slack and know to take things they say with a grain of salt. At the same time, if someone's being abusive I think it's important to set a boundary.

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    How long have you known your friend? Is this kind of behavior anything he's done before (maybe less extreme)?
    – DaveG
    Aug 9, 2020 at 1:14
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    @DaveG couple years. He's done something like this once before. Aug 9, 2020 at 8:47
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    If you text, would you have to state your whole thing at once? Could you state just that you were hurt, and wait for a reaction? Then why it felt like an interrogation (and wait)? Then ask about the future? PS, the way a friend acts on alcohol is the way that friend is. Aug 9, 2020 at 18:02

2 Answers 2


Wow! That's a lot to digest. First, I would check my definition of "friend" and compare it to a definition of "bully". Some people have deep wells of patience and forgiveness for people behaving badly. If that's not true for you, I think that an apology will smooth things over on the surface, but it won't resolve the feelings of violation.

Unfortunately, this person isn't behaving like a friend. Why would you want to spend more time with him, knowing that after a few drinks, he might suddenly become an interrogator, asking overly personal questions?

Is this friendship important to you?

The fact is, you felt uncomfortable. The night wasn't as much fun as you anticipated. Is it worth it to you to pursue the friendship, with the assumption that he will need space and forgiveness for pushing the wrong buttons in certain conversations?

One thing that you mentioned, you were high on your excitement about the new job. He brought you down to earth by reminding you of past failures. If that's a pattern in his behavior, you can be certain, he will repeat his offensive behavior the next time you have something exciting to report.

Don't let him get in your head!

Each time I told him I found the way he was speaking offensive, he told me I was not taking feedback well and being defensive. A part of me wonders, how do I know if he's right?

An apology! Hmmph!

If I were your friend, I'd tell you to "kick him to the curb".

You don't have to be polite and nice when other people are being abusive.

Don't cross an ocean for someone who won't step over a puddle for you.

It's time to break up with your "friend".

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    Thanks for the reply. Still I don't know how I would tell him I'm not interested being friends after that. I know some people just "forget about the relationship" but I'd like to be more conscious about mine. Example "It seemed like you were trying to bully me last time we met and I'm not interested in hanging out again" Aug 9, 2020 at 8:49
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    @skeeteryork - When someone is drunk, their real personality comes out. Don't reach out - disconnect. Block this person. Aug 10, 2020 at 16:00
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    It sounds like you want your friend to experience the same pain and upset that you felt. But he won't. And that's disappointing. It's similar to ending a relationship with a lover or partner, etc. You want him or her to miss you more than you will miss them. Sometimes they do. But, in this case, you might just be setting yourself up for more of the same behavior from him. Best to follow the advice of @chasly - reinstate Monica and let him go without any more conversation with him. Aug 11, 2020 at 0:22
  • Hi @skeeteryork I'm not trying to be cold or hard-hearted by suggesting you leave things as they are and perhaps say no to any more invitations to hang out. I'm just not sure what you expect him to say that will make you feel better. If you think about what you wish he would say back, then you'll know what to say to him when (or if) you see him again. What do you want him to say to you? Aug 11, 2020 at 0:25

I will start this answer with a frame challenge:

People are stressed and less socialized because of the conditions of the ongoing Pandemic. I personally, have found myself unconsciously being more abrasive in conversation, such as making more negatory jokes, and I have to actively pay attention and stop myself. Looking through the lens that he's been affected, do you think (and I don't mean this as a rhetorical question) that it was intentional to say 'why don't you learn new skills?' instead of something like 'oh yeah, I've heard those new skills are all the rage. Have you thought about learning them?'. Could "you see, you aren't a very good listener" have been a bad attempt at a joke? Similarly, could the questions about your family have been a crude attempt to connect after a being isolated or a possible reflection of a situation in his own life?

Either way, based on the fact that you voiced your discomfort and he dismissed your concerns, you are right to feel hurt.

If you are not okay with forgetting about it, and want a resolution, I would urge caution with the wording of you communication. Focus on "I" statements that can't be refuted and be careful about aggression, since him getting defensive will probably shut the conversation down. Something like:

Hey Bob, Last Zoobsday during our conversation at the bar I felt like my boundaries weren't being respected. You brought up some personal topics that I didn't really want to talk about, and when I directly said the conversation was going too far for me you dismissed it. That hurt. I felt like I wasn't heard, and the conversation felt like an interrogation. In the future when we meet up, can we keep the conversation lighter and agree to change to subject if one of us is feeling uncomfortable?

Finally, was there a possibility that he thought this was a date? My answer would change drastically if he thought this interaction had a romantic context.


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