Friends Who Put You Down
5 Questions You Need To Ask

by C Pratt

It hurts when friends put you down

It can feel so hurtful when you have friends who put you down.

Sometimes the comments can be very subtle and you know if you say anything then they'll tell you you're being "too sensitive" or "making a big deal out of nothing".

Yet, you still think, "Friends shouldn't do that" but as we discussed in “People Who Put You Down”, when someone puts you down or makes negative comments towards you, it tells you a lot about the person making the comments. Quite often, the comments really have nothing to do with you but much more with how the person feels about herself and how she views the world.

Knowing this can really help when you're dealing with friends who put you down. You have more of a chance to understand why it's happening and also will have the opportunity to possibly turn the whole situation around without losing the friendship.

By asking yourself the following questions, you can gain a new perspective on the situation and come up with some effective ways to handle it. This will just make everything so much easier to handle.

The other great thing about going through this quick analysis process is that you won't end up just feeling hurt by the comments and confused as to what you should do. You'll be able to see the comments for what they really are and take back your personal power by knowing how to move forwards.

So, let’s go through the 5 questions you need to ask when dealing with friends who put you down.

Note: In this article, I’m going to use the pronoun ‘she’ just for ease of reading and consistency but easily the comments could be made by a 'he'.

1. When Are The Comments Made?

A good place to start is to pay attention as to when the comments are made. When does your friend say them to you? What's usually the trigger for the comments?

For example:

  • Does she tend to make these comments when you tell her about something good that just happened to you?
  • Does she make them when you're telling her about your plans for the future?
  • Does she make them when she's just been hanging around certain other friends?
  • Does she make them when she's feeling scared and unsure about herself?

By paying attention to what seems to happen before the comments are made can give you some truly valuable information. Usually you'll be able to find a pattern. You may realize that it's always a certain topic of conversation that sets off the put downs. That would be an easy fix because then you could just avoid bringing up that particular topic. Or, it might provide you the clue to learn that your friend is very sensitive or jealous about certain things.

Or, let's say you realize your friend makes the negative comments when she's in a group situation and you can see she's feeling slightly nervous about being there. This might give you a great indication that your friend is actually very insecure. You may think she's acts like she's a very confident person but you may realize from when the comments are being made that it's just covering up insecurities. By knowing this, you may see that she's not making the put down comments to be mean to you but instead to make herself feel better. The comments may be meant to bolster her own sagging confidence. It's still not acceptable for her to put you down but knowing the why behind why she does it will help you tremendously.

Or if the comments come when you're talking about future things you want to do, this could be an indication that she feels like she's not good enough or that she doesn't have a bright future like you do. Or she might be afraid of failing if she tries something new. Again, her comments are due to her own fears and not really about you at all.

Possible Solution
It can be annoying to deal with your friend's insecurities and you definitely don't deserve to be treated this way. Friends should always treat each other with respect. But if you understand where her comments are coming from and how they may be all about her and not you at all, it'll help you to either ignore them or at least not be as bothered by them and also have a better idea on how to work through them so she stops saying them. Her comments are very much a reflection of her. If you remember this, it makes it easier not to take the putdowns from your friend as personally.

One possible way to deal with this is you could start encouraging your friend in areas where you see she has definite strengths. So, ignore the comments where she's bragging about things she's bought or how she's better than you. But, if she does something nice for someone or does something really well, compliment her on that. For example, "Wow, that was really nice of you. You have such a kind heart. You're so good at helping people."

This way she gets a "reward" for those things that she does well and not for her bad behavior like putting you down. If you ignore everything to do with her trying to appear better than you, she'll quickly see that you're not interested in that area and that she's not getting your respect for it. It also works to boost her self esteem and could give her an area to focus on which will give her even more confidence. People who feel confident about themselves don't put others down. They're far more likely to be encouraging actually. Anyway, so your friend ends up feeling better about herself for being the real person she is rather than this image she's built of putting you and others down.

You may find that you start bonding over things that are more important than the shallow things she's been concerned with previously. She may also start opening up to you about things she wants to work on achieving with her life. It could start being much more of a true friendship where friends encourage each other and support each other no matter what.

2. What Are The Put Downs Usually About?

Next, a valuable clue can be gained by paying attention to what the put-downs tend to be about. For example:

  • Are they usually about how you're not good enough with something?
  • Are the comments meant to make fun of what you buy or wear?
  • Are they hitting on one particular area that you don't feel confident about in your life?

Let's say you find that the put downs are made after you tell her something new that you bought. She might make subtle comments about "How could you buy anything from that store?" or want to know how much you paid so she can make a face when you tell her.

You'll often find this happening if the person values possessions highly. They'll put you down for not having the same high quality of stuff or for having to buy cheaper items. So, if you see she makes put downs in regards to what you own or what you buy, then you know her sense of value comes from her possessions. This usually means the person is lacking in a sense of value about herself. She most likely feels like she's nothing without money. The money is her identity and what she thinks is valuable about herself.

Depending on her background as well, she may have been brought up to believe that this is how you discuss things with people. Or she might usually hang out with a certain clique of friends and that's how they all treat each other. Her comments may actually be a way of "bonding" with you.

The flip side might be occurring too in that if she gives you a hard time about spending money, then this could be from her feeling like she doesn't deserve new things so you shouldn't either.

Her reaction is what will tell you a lot about her. So, think about the put-downs and what are they about? What do they tell you about her? It's not about you. What does it tell you about her and how she views the world?

Possible Solution
For this example, let's say your friend puts you down because of where you buy things and says something like, "Where did you buy those shoes? The dollar store?"

You could respond, "Yes! (or wherever you did get the item) You should see the great selection you can get there. They're a well kept secret. I got these fantastic blue shoes there plus a brown pair. And, super comfy! I love them. You should go."

Then she sees that you do respect the place you buy your stuff. You didn't go because you couldn't afford the more expensive places, you went because you like the store. Plus, you know a secret she doesn't. You know where to get fantastic shoes at a great price. But it also serves to show her that her comments mean nothing to you. You have a strong sense of self and you do what's right for you. You don't do things just because other people think you should. You'll probably gain her respect for this because she's caught up in the trap of having to maintain a certain image.

3. What Is She Trying To Achieve With Her Comments?

You need to ask yourself why is your friend really making these comments? What is the intention behind them? Usually, it's not just to make you feel bad. There's often much more to it than that.

  • Is she mad at you about something else and trying to get back at you?
  • Is she trying to make herself feel like she has more power?
  • Is she trying to get you to do something for her?
  • Is this how she treats all her friends?

Possible Solution
If you realize that the comments started after you had a disagreement and that all the comments are little digs about a certain topic, all the put downs could be her letting you know that she's still mad at you. If this is the case, you could try to discuss the topic with her so that you can both move past it. Some people do hold a grudge forever though so if that's the case, then at least you know what you're in for.

Sometimes put downs are used by people to get you to do something. For example, maybe her comments are intended to make you feel guilty that you didn't help her out before just so that you'll help her out this time. The true intention behind the comments is just to ensure that you'll do as she asks. So, you could avoid this by simply sticking to your word and also by providing additional assurance that you will do what you've agreed. Or, if you don't want to do it, let her know and again remain true to your word. You'll be able to easily ignore the put downs because you know the intention behind them. The words lose a lot of their power when you understand why they're being said.

4. Is This Person A Good Friend To You Otherwise?

Another important question is to simply ask yourself if she's a good friend to you when she's not making mean comments? Do you usually enjoy the time you spend with her? Do you feel like she's a good friend to you? If not, why do you keep her as a friend?

But, before you decide just to dump her as a friend, figure out when, what, and why and you may suddenly have a brand new perspective on the put downs.

Possible Solution
Before you give up on the friendship, there are a few things you could try. After she makes a condescending comment, you could say with a light tone, "Now, now, that's not very nice. Friends don't do that. We're too good of friends to put each other down."

Keep your tone very light though and say it almost jokingly. For this one to work, you'd have to make sure she didn't see that her comments really do bother you. But, this one would make her realize that she isn't being nice. She may not realize how she's coming across and this would make her see that and also to realize that good friends don't put each other down. You may actually be her only friend that doesn't put her down so it may be a new concept for her.

Something else you could try is to instantly change the subject. "That reminds me, I wanted to tell you that I heard that new play that just opened last Friday is really good. Are you interested in going?" or "Do you want to go get a coffee?" This works again to cut off any negative conversations. You just don't get involved with any conversation that's negative.

The put downs are meant to get a reaction out of you though. If you don't react the way she expects or wants, she'll most likely stop doing it.

Part of getting this to work the most effectively though is to understand why her comments really do bother you. Is she hitting one of your buttons? For example, do her comments make you feel like you're not valuable or worth much? It can take a little digging to realize what's really going on behind the scenes. What is it about her comments that bothers you the most? Once you figure that out, then most likely you'll notice the comments but they truly won't bother you at all. You'll realize, "Ah, yes, when she says things like that it reminds me when I was a child and my mom made me feel worthless too. That's why I'm reacting but that's in the past now. I know I'm valuable and that it's an honor for her to be friends with me."

Actually, usually once you realize the emotion that the comments are triggering and simply acknowledge them, the comments suddenly have no effect anymore. And, once your friend senses that, she'll stop with the comments.

The last possible solution is to really consider whether she is a good friend to you in other ways besides this one issue? If she isn't, why are you keeping her as a friend? You could simply stop being friends with her. Friends need to add to your life and if they're just dragging you down or making you feel worse about yourself, it may be time to let them go. If this is the case, then check out, "Unhealthy Friendships, Why Do We Keep Them?"

5. Is There Anything You Can Learn From The Put Downs?

No doubt about it, it hurts when someone makes a negative comment about you. So, this question might be the toughest one to ask but it could also end up being the most rewarding.

So, let go of the instant hurt you feel from the comment and ask yourself if there is any truth to the comment? Is there something you can learn from it that you could use to improve yourself? Is this put down actually a gift that you can use?

If your friend says something like, "You're so lazy". Let the emotional aspect go and just ask yourself if it's true sometimes. Are there times when you haven't given your best effort or when you've made excuses instead of just taking action or have there been times when you've promised to be there for someone and cancelled on them at the last minute? If yes, then you can use this as a chance to improve yourself. Take the comments as a good thing because then you know what you need to change about yourself. The really great thing about this one is that you can change. Far easier to change yourself than someone else actually. So, be willing to face the truth and see if you can learn something valuable from the comments.

The one other thing you might learn from the comments is whether this person is mirroring back to you how you really feel about yourself deep down inside. So, if you feel like you're not good enough, they may be reflecting that back to you. You can read more about this here: Mirroring - A Key To Understanding Yourself


Taking the time to ask these questions when she makes the comments will help you in a few ways. First, it'll get you to take a step back from the comment and realize that the comment is a reflection of the person making the comment and may not even be really about you. This mean you won't feel as hurt. But, more importantly you'll know better how to respond to the comments.

This is the key behind this. You don't just react to the words. You understand why the words are being said so you can choose the best way to respond.

So, if she makes mean comments when you're talking about the future, you'll probably see that she's not feeling very secure about her own future or she's afraid to go after her own dreams. Or, you may discover that she's really angry at you about something but just isn't coming straight out and saying it. Or, you may discover that she's pretty insecure herself. You'll learn a lot about her and what's really going on behind the comments just by taking the time to think about them and not just taking them personally.

This is what gives you your power back. You see what's really happening behind the scenes.

Once you understand the why behind the comments then you'll know that there are things you can do. Maybe you need to encourage her more to follow her own dreams, or maybe you need to deal with an issue from the past or maybe you need to heal the part of you that she keeps hitting on (if you feel like you're not good enough, work on that aspect of yourself and you'll find she no longer will make the comments because they no longer affect you.) People make these comments to get a certain reaction. Once you stop that reaction, the action will change.

So, the next time you receive a put down from a friend ask yourself:

  • When are the comments made?
  • What are they about?
  • Why are they really making this comment? What's the real intention behind it?
  • Is this the type of person I want to have as a friend?
  • Is there something I can learn about myself from these comments?

This is a quick and easy way to empower yourself against mean comments and putdowns by friends. You're taking control of the situation instead of just letting the hurt eat away at you.

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