Help! My Best Friend Is a Mean Girl

Learn how to set boundaries and move on


Nothing is worse than discovering the person you thought was your best friend is really a mean girl in disguise. Initially, you probably overlooked your best friend’s sarcastic remarks and putdowns; and you figured, “hey that’s just the way she is.” You loved her in spite of her faults. But then things changed. Maybe it started out with little things, like a snide remark here and a slight there, but eventually grew into blatant disrespect and mean behavior.

When you discover that person you most trusted to have your back was really stabbing it the entire time can be particularly painful and it can be hard to move forward.  But it can be done. Here are seven ways to move on.

Be honest about your feelings. Find a way to communicate to your friend that her bullying and mean behaviors are wrong and will not be tolerated. Remember mean girls count on you not saying anything. So be sure that your friend knows that you will not accept being treated this way. Be prepared for her to shift blame to you or to try to make you feel bad. Don’t let her words take root and don’t engage in a lengthy conversation. All you really need to do is be honest about how you feel. No friendship should end without an explanation.

Remember you cannot change her. A lot of girls make the mistake of thinking they can change their friends. While it is good to point out what your friend did to hurt you and why you aren’t spending much time together any longer, you also have to realize that these things alone will not make her change.

Your friend has to want to change. The only thing you can control is you. Make a choice to take care of yourself.

Put distance between you and your friend. Most mean girls have trouble changing their behavior because it works for them. They are used to being in charge and they maintain that power by manipulating and hurting others.

As a result, it is important to distance yourself from them. Find other friends to hang out and with and other things to do. Your focus should be on taking care of yourself. Remember, hanging out with a mean girl is harmful to your emotional health and wellbeing.  

Allow yourself to feel a sense of loss. Any time a friendship fizzles, there is a sense of loss and sadness. It is not uncommon to grieve over what you had. You may even think about all the fun times you had and wish you could have that again. This is normal. So allow yourself to be sad. But, do not feel like you are being selfish or guilty. What you are doing will benefit you in the long run.

Take the high road. Typically, mean girls do not take boundary setting and assertiveness from others very well. So be prepared for your former friend to say mean things about you, including spreading rumors and gossiping. She may even make up stories about you. But it is best to take the high road in these situations. Do not stoop to her level by talking about her with other girls or boys.

And if people ask you what happened between the two of you, answer as simply as possible. You could say something like, “We just don’t have that much in common any longer.”

Report any bullying. If your friend continues to hurt you by engaging in name-calling, relational aggression, cyberbullying or other types of bullying, be sure to report it. You also should tell your parents or another trusted adult what is happening. No matter how competent you are, you should never try to go it alone in bullying situations.

Make new friends. It is never a good idea to try to do life alone. Every girl needs one or two friends to talk with and spend time with. Look for friends when you are doing something you enjoy like participating in an art class or while playing sports. Then ask if they would like to do something together. Do not buy into the idea that your life is over or that you will never have any friends. Those are self-defeating ideas and simply untrue. 

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