Make It Stop: “My BFF Won’t Stop Competing With Me And Copying Everything I Do!”

Make It Stop is a new weekly column in which Anna Goldfarb — the blogger behind Shmitten Kitten and Shlooby Kitten — tells you what’s up. Want a fresh take on a stinky dilemma? Email [email protected] with the subject “Make It Stop.” She’ll make it all better, or at least make you laugh. Girl Scout’s honor.

This week, we’ve got a competitive, copycatting best friend and a overly chatty coworker to contend with…

My best friend from college is a total copycat. Everything I do, she does a weird half-assed version of it a little bit later. It’s not just liking the same songs or TV shows, it’s that she shadows my life choices. She started to work in the same field and eventually moved to the same neighborhood, and she won’t admit it but she also tries to one-up me in the process. She makes it competitive, and when we’re around our other friends she tries to take the credit for being the first to discover everything. No matter what’s going on in our lives, she tries to make her issues front and center to everyone else, and I get lost in the shuffle because of it. Her constant bragging about things that I accomplished first makes me feel like I don’t get any credit. It’s gotten to the point where I never want to be around her, which is really sad because we’ve been best friends for a long time. I don’t know if I even like her as a person anymore. I know they say imitation is flattery, but it’s really getting to me and sometimes I really do get jealous of her which is so stupid because I’m perfectly happy with what I’ve got going on for myself. How do I make her get her own life?!

Not all friends are meant to be forever friends. It sounds like you’ve outgrown the friendship for the time being, which is totally understandable because nobody wants a best friend that doubles as a mini-me.

You could end the friendship. Ice her copycatting ass out of your life. Limiting your time together will not only help your sanity, but it might push her into becoming her own woman in the process. Maybe a few years down the road, you two might be in a better place to reconnect and pick the friendship up again. But for now, you two are more over than Thug Kitchen’s street creed.

However, if you want to make an attempt at salvaging your friendship, have her over for cocktails and gently bring up your concerns. Say, “Hey, I’m starting to feel like you’re being overly competitive and it’s bumming me out.” Give the examples you gave me. See what she says. It’s possible she didn’t realize how she was coming off and she’ll apologize and adjust her behavior accordingly. If she gets defensive and snaps back at you, then at least you’ll feel more justified if you decide to move on and she’ll be clued into why you’re taking a break from her.

Side note: when I received your question in my inbox the other day, I looked up my copycat friend from college on Facebook. She’s now married and expecting her first child. She looked happy. Turns out that once we had some distance either she found herself, or I moved on, or (more likely) a combination of both. I added her as a friend and she quickly accepted the request. It made me smile. Like all breakups, this one just needed some time to heal.

I have a problem with a co-worker. I work in the front office of a busy computing department and act, in part, as a “dispatcher” sending the technicians on various calls around the school campus. I am friendly with one of the techs who is sweet, but she’s a talker and has no sense of personal space. She has a horrible habit of getting behind my desk with me and talking at me non-stop. I have tried working while she chats, but she just keeps talking at me. I am one of the few people in the office left with the patience to listen to her prattle on, but I’m running out of it. Other staff members have tried to rescue me from her, but to no avail. I don’t have it in me to tell her to leave me alone, and I don’t always mind her rabbiting on, but it is distracting. Is there a polite way of telling her to bugger off and leave me alone?

While you can’t just come out and say, “Fuck off, chatterbox!” you do have to politely tell this woman to shut her sandwich hole.

Just tell her, “You know what, I’d love to chat but I gotta get back to work.” If she ignores your request, just re-iterate with a smile. “No, seriously, I have to get back to this.”

Or, depending in your rapport, you can even be jokey and sarcastic about it. Next time she goes on a rant about how the person at Starbucks misspelled her name or some other such nonsense, say, ”I’m gonna stop you right there. As much fun as it is to ignore my work and chat all day with you, I really have to get back to this. Let’s catch up later.”

You don’t have to confront her about anything, just make it about you and your need to focus on your work. Good luck!