I have a long-time friend, whom I'm very close to. we usually openly discuss all sorts of topics (even very private ones).

Lately I've observed that my friend tends to judge people and situations based on her view of life. She has unrealistic expectations about interpersonal relationships in terms of politeness and helping. More problematic is that she's a little lonely in her city and while putting in the effort, she hasn't been able to make new friends in the last years.

I've told her my observations, but she still thinks she being wronged and constantly in bad luck because she believes that normal people should behave like her because she believes this is how it should be I haven't pushed discussions about this because I thought sooner or later she would learn that reality is not as nice as she imagines. I have been ignoring her judgmental behavior for months since she has been very stressed finishing her doctoral thesis, but her not being in sync with reality has started years ago.

Her superiority complex is taxing our friendship I'm afraid her very narrow view on the world might cause trouble on her professional career and, if this continues, our friendship. I took personal offense, when she lately said "All engineers are stupid”, as opposed to scientist such as she fancies herself. She didn't retract or soften the statement, when I reminded her that two of her best friends were engineers. When I pointed this out, and asked her if she just met some bad ones, she responded: "No, they are all like that. That's just what I believe". I was angry, but I was not in the mood to be her outlet.

How should I address this issue, that is damaging both her personal and professional relationships, with her?

  • 5
    "Should I" isn't a decision we can make for you. If you could state your goal here? Do you want to tell her or not? Then we can help you formulate your interpersonal interactions with her based on that...
    – Tinkeringbell
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 13:48
  • We have been friends since middle school, so she has been constant part of my life for about half of my whole life. So of course, first I want her to be happy. Second, since I do care about her (she's like a sister), I don't want her to become such a judgmental person. At the same time, I don't know if it's for me to say that or whether I should be more accepting. At good times, her slighltly delusional world view is quirky and I'm hoping this is just a phase.
    – fukiburi
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 14:05
  • This reminded me of another question - sounds like a similar sort of personality, although the relationship there is quite different.
    – Em C
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 14:40
  • "I don't want her to become such a judgmental person." She is what she is already. Can you change her with a conversation? This is impossible to know and too broad to answer. Off the top of my head, I can think of several reasons why she is like she is, which would be difficult for you to change. Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 14:51
  • I have several suspicions myself, which is why I'm not sure if it's better to wait things out. The open superiority complex is new, so I'm still hopeful. But the fantasy bubble is not. I don't see any reason why latter thing might go away soon, either. But I'm not sure if getting her "into reality" might be worse, since while she's in the bubble, she can still hope that there might be people like her.
    – fukiburi
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 15:06

1 Answer 1


I've had a friend go down a similar path, and it ended badly.

Many of us are shy, or awkward. Many of us struggle with interpersonal relationships. However, some of us choose to improve our approach, while others choose to lay the blame for their failed relationships at the feet of anyone except themselves.

The superiority complex is a defense mechanism against having to admit that she may have a problem. Against the painful realization that the world may not conform to her views, and that she may have to change in order to fit in.

What I tried with my friend was simply brutal honesty. One night, after months of subtle hints, when I really felt like I was at the end of patience with his attitude, I sat down with him and straight up told him that he'd become an a-hole. Diplomacy was not on the agenda that evening, and I was very open in my assessment of what he's going through, and how others perceive him.

As it turns out, that was the last time I spoke to him, because he completely cut ties with me. All my good intentions, and, from my point of view, boundless patience, had been for naught.

You may want to try a more subtle approach, but the longer you wait, the worse it's going to get. I still believe that brutal honesty is the best way to break through to these people, as it may actually force them to do a little soul searching. However, be prepared for the potential blow-back, because your friend may have gone just a little too far down the rabbit hole.

Although this may sound terrible, consider this: do you really want to remain friends with a person who is as prejudiced, insensitive, and stuck up as her? I can tell from your question that your patience is coming to an end, much like mine did all those years ago.

Don't be afraid to cut a toxic person out of your life, because you're doing yourself no favors by clinging on to the relationship. Remember that no matter how the conversation goes, you will have followed your moral compass, and adhered to your principles. It's now on her to change, and you can't be held accountable if she makes conscious choices to ruin her own life and career.

NOTE: As an aside, I would suggest buying he a copy of How to make friends and influence people. Maybe some of the advice will stick if she ever reads it.

Here are some strategies for dealing with her on an ongoing basis (this is after your heart-to-heart talk about the transformation you've witnessed her undergo):

  1. Every time she says something rude, or insensitive, call her out.

And I don't mean in a cushy way like you've been doing. For example:

Her: All engineers are stupid.
You: That's an incredibly biased, rude, and close-minded thing to say. You pride yourself on being a scientist? What happened to objectivity and weight of proof? Engineers have designed computers, they built the equipment you use to further your own studies. Sure, some engineers are incompetent, but so are some scientists. How can you say something like that and then claim to be a woman of science?

This puts the pressure on her to analyze her own definition of what a scientist is, and whether she meets the standard. And don't let her wiggle her way out of it:

Her: Fine, not all engineers, but most.
You: No, that's BS and you know it. There are so many brilliant engineers out there who have contributed so much to not only their fields, but science as well. You're just on the beginning of your career, if you even manage to kick it off the ground with that attitude. You really think you're so amazing that you can look down on all those people? Even Einstein was more modest than you.

  1. Don't be afraid to walk away if she's being a entitled brat.

If she's being a brat, let her stew in her own juices, and walk away. Don't put up with her crap - instead, send a strong message that her behavior is unacceptable:

Her: Ugh, I don't even want to see those people. They're so lame. Complete idiots!
You: I happen to like them, and get along with them. I don't appreciate your judgmental attitude.
Her: Whatever, I don't know how you can hang out with those idiots.
You: You know what? You're being incredibly rude right now. You think you're an angel who gets to pass judgement on everyone around her? No wonder you can't make any friends when all you do is look down at people. It hurts me to see you do this to yourself, and I'm not going to sit here and watch you dig yourself further into this hole. I'm going to see my friends, whom you think are beneath you, and I'm going to have fun. You can stay home all by yourself, and think about how your high and mighty attitude works wonders for your interpersonal relationships.

And then you walk away, cancelling your plans for that evening.

Really, one of two things will happen: either she will realize that she values you as a friend, and this will force her to re-asses her attitude, or she will place you in the "inferior"/"hater" people category and cut ties with you.

  • I like this answer, I just want to add that I had a similar issue with a friend and it didn't work out too good. We drifted apart (because after opening up to them they ignored me), and although we are friends again, I consider them to be more an acquaintance and a relic from the past than an actual friend. As Andrei said, ask yourself if you want to stay friends with the person she has become. People change all the time, and sometimes this means that two friends part ways.
    – Robin
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 14:13
  • 1
    Due to our long-term friendship and that her judgemental behaviour has just recently pass a certain threshold, I'm still reluctant to cut her out of my life. I do understand that people change and that it's sometimes unavoidable to let go of old friendships. I'm just not there yet. Even if two of you had bad experience, I think I'll try to tell her honestly next time.
    – fukiburi
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 15:29
  • 6
    "How can you say something like that and then claim to be a woman of science?" That line specifically is such a good one. It's like: "Hey you value this thing, but you are saying something that goes completely against your own values." +1, great answer.
    – user3316
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 22:20
  • 1
    @AytAyt While I live for cases like that, I also think that unfortunately they are rarely able to achieve the goal. People who are not rational won't suddenly become rational when presented with a rational argument, they'll respond how they always do: from feeling.
    – Cronax
    Commented Nov 17, 2017 at 16:28
  • 1
    @Cronax - in the heat of the moment, yes. But then, later, when they've had a chance to think about it, those arguments will come back to haunt them. Some people will see the light, and some never will. Such is life.
    – AndreiROM
    Commented Nov 17, 2017 at 18:52

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