Delicate Situation: How On Earth To Deal?

This girl “Rebecca” started coming into the bar I work at about a year ago; she was 24, obviously lonely, getting divorced, just moved from California, looking for new friends…she became a regular at my bar, and even though I don’t normally ever hang out with regulars outside of work (there’s always a line there) I felt sorry for her and invited her out a couple of times when I was going out with my girlfriends.

Thus I guess it’s my fault that she has kind of cabbaged onto me like a drowning man in the intervening year. She’s one of those people who assumes that if you’re off, of course you want to hang out with her, to the point that if I’m off and I want to hang out with other friends it’s like I have to lie to her about my plans or she’ll assume she’s invited…and she can’t understand why there might be times when she isn’t invited, and it’s not personal, it’s just that she’s not the only friend I have! She’s taken to going to my regular bar even when I’m not there, to the point that if I want to go there with other friends, it becomes awkward. (Not where I bartend, but the bar I always hang out at.) Not that it’s “my” bar or anything…like I determine who can go there or something…but she lives a good half hour away from it so it never occurred to me that she would claim it as “her” bar also.

Plus she knows that I live right up the road, so she’ll go there and get toasted and just assume she can crash at my house. Because her own house is “too far to drive.” This is definitely not kosher when I didn’t even go with her, and I’ve made that clear, but on the occasions where I’ve met her there, it’s like she purposely gets drunk just for the “fun” of hanging at my house afterwards. Like it’s just assumed that Saturday nights are sleepover night at Audrey’s pad, and of course I don’t want the fun to end at last call! Of course I want her to come home with me! And of course I’ll drive, too! Plus she’s always trying to buy me stuff…she’ll show up with cigarettes, and then try to buy my bar tab, and show up at my house with fresh-baked bread, or random stuff she thought I’d like while she was out and about…and I think it’s sweet that she’s thinking of me, but it makes me a bit uncomfortable to be the recipient of gifts all the time, and she brushes off all my objections.

Don’t get me wrong…she’s a nice girl and I do like her, and I know she’s lonely and newly divorced and kind of “getting out of her shell” for the first time (she has had a very screwed up dysfunctional life so far) and I understand that…and I know that my “lifestyle,” or my scene, or whatever you want to call it, is something that appeals to her that she’d like to be a part of. (Carefree girl bartender with cool friends and “connections” and a party every week, etc.) IOW, I don’t think it’s just me she’s reaching out to…it’s kind of what I represent.

Still, sometimes I feel like I married her. You know? Like on the Friendship Scale we went from “just starting seeing each other” to “friends for life” within like two seconds. She’s smothering me to death, and I don’t really know how to tell her to back off a bit without really hurting her feelings.

That’s the first problem.

The other problem…how do I put this?

She smells. Really bad.

I should note that she’s morbidly obese; she’s about 5’5" and I’ve never asked her what she weighs, but she told me the other day that she’s excited b/c she “just dropped below 300.”

I have no idea if her weight has anything to do with her smell, but I’ve heard that larger people have a tendency to sweat more, which may be a contributing factor.

When I first met her, and got into her car for the first time, it was completely trashed (garbage, papers, old food, old carton of milk in the back, you name it) and I assumed the smell originated in her car…because the smell in the car was gag-inducing. You know, like her car was rank, and she drives around all day so she just smells like her car.

So I told her to come over and we’d clean out her car…and we did. For three hours. Upholstery cleaner, deodorizer, Febreze, the works.

The smell is still there. And now I realize it isn’t the car. It’s her. Everyone notices it; friends of mine have asked about it. It’s even come up at the bar we go to; the bartenders noticed it and wondered where on earth it was coming from. They finally noticed that they only smell it when Rebecca’s at the bar.

Honestly, the smell is hard to describe. Like mildew, feet, sour milk, and old sweat. It’s awful. If she crashes on my couch, the whole livingroom smells like that til I air it out.

She already knows I thought her car was rank, and she thought it was very sweet of me to help her clean it out.

But now I know it wasn’t her car. It’s her. How the hell am I supposed to tell her this? What do you SAY? Do you say anything at all? But how on earth can I put up with it otherwise?

What the hell do I do?

Oh dear. I am reminded of that Seinfeld when he had to break up with a friend.

I had a similar thing happen to me with this woman who latched on to my life and tried to take it over. Sounds very similar, I had cool roommates and a fun life and she didn’t. Fortunately she moved to Jordan so it resolved itself.

Any chance you can convince Rebecca to join the Peace Corps?

Failing that, you need to either set boundaries or break it off completely. Both are hard but putting up with her bollox is harder.

Do you have roommates? That would be an easy way to resolve the sleeping-over situation - “Sorry Becks, my roommate has really put her foot down. No more overnight guests.”

And you need to say “no.” I know it’s hard but it’s absolutely necessary. (My own leech-friend almost cried in the bus station because I refused to wait for the bus with her - after she had, uninvited, taken up every single moment of an ENTIRE WEEKEND - by the time we got to the bus station I was so tired and pissed off and sick of her that my internal be-nice-no-matter-what-you-do censor was malfunctioning. Thank heavens.) Don’t make excuses. Just say no.

Gah! You ain’t kidding when you say it’s a delicate situation.

And I’m trying desperately to think of some advice and coming up completely blank.

About the first issue: I think persistent communication is the only way to deal with it. “I am your friend and I like you. But I have other friends, too. Let’s start planning times we can get together. On other days, I’ll be spending time with other friends.”

Re: smell…I worked with a girl who had a blouse which smelled like b.o. really, really strongly. It was a while before I realized it was the blouse, not her. It was a rayon fabric. Everybody noticed it but no one wanted to say anything.

I waited until 5:00 (quitting time) one night, walked to the elevator with her and whispered “your blouse smells really awful and it smells that way every time you wear it”. She actually thanked me and never wore it again.

Now, I don’t know if it’s her clothes or herself. I’m kinda of a “blurter” so I’d just say something quickly and hope she got it.

If I were in her shoes, I would appreciate someone telling me.

What an uncomfortable situation to be in!

As far as the B.O. - tell her. Do it in private, and as kindly as possible. Either she will try to clean up her act (what a horrible pun) or she will be horribly offended and never speak to you again. In that case, you’ve solved both problems.

OK - here it is. Be blunt.

“Honey, you are a great kid and all, but I really need my space. So, sorry, but no more sleepovers here on the weekend - and I don’t have a problem getting together for a drink now and then, but not every time I go out! I spent less time with my ex (boyfriend/husband). Besides, you should be getting out and meeting some new people. It’s no good for you to end one relationship and then just hang around me all the time. So - no hard feelin’s hon, but let’s just stay occasional drinking buddies, ok?”

And then stick to your guns. Don’t open the door when she comes a callin’ and smile and be polite when you see her, but give her a bit of a cold shoulder. It’s hard, but otherwise you are stuck for life - or worse, you will get all pent up and blow up and say something worse that you will regret the next day.

Oh, and do this little kiss off sooner than later. This weekend would be good.

Three letters: SWF.

My advice: Move!


I am amused by the fact that I have had almost 700 viewings of this thread, and only six replies.

I think it proves my point.


DMark, you will be pleased to know that I made myself clear on sleepovers tonight…I worked til four a.m. tonight, and she went to “my” bar to party (the one I go to when I’m off) and she text-messages me that she’s “too drunk to drive home” and that she’d come sit at my bar til I was finished closing, and then drive me home.

I told her no, she couldn’t come to my bar, that Mr. Levins was going to come get me.

So she texts me that she “doesn’t want to be a pain” but that since Mr. Levins is home, could she go ahead and go to our house and crash on the sofa?

I said no to that too. Mr. Levins may be home, he may not be. I’m not going to impose on him while he’s relaxing, just to entertain you or anybody else, while I’m not there to run defense. I wouldn’t want to entertain HIS friends when he isn’t home, and I don’t ask him to do it either.

For someone as “drunk” as she was, she got home in record time and was coherent enough to instant-message and text-message me without any mishaps at all. Can you smell “set-up?”

A good buddy of mine, who’s known for his bluntness, has sworn that he is going to bring her smell to her attention. Partly because I am a coward, and partly because he enjoys being an asshole. Half of me is protesting, thinking of how he might express it and how she might take it. The other half is like, “GO TEAM GO!”

I think this whole experience has made me a lesser human being.

No it hasn’t. Some people have a warped sense of a friend is. You’ve been more than patient with her. I imagine tons of subtle hints have dropped and ignored. Your saying “No” to the latest manipulation attempt should be an even stronger hint.

Time to stop hinting. Be honest and speak up.

Honesty does not equate to brutality. Your being honest with her will be no more ‘brutal’ than any other conversation. But, be prepared for her reacting as tho you are taking delight in hurting her feelings. Remember, it’s not your responsibility to diminish your quality of life to satisfy her warped sense of what friendship is.

You really ought to tell her - as gently as possible - about the odor issue.

It’s one of those things a person can’t go about fixing unless they know about it, you know?

Except for the BO and the morbidly obese part, I think I used to be that person. Also, I wasn’t divorced, but it was during my last two years of high school and first year of college. See, up until my junior year, I had no actual friends. I had people I could hang out with at school, if I didn’t mind the subtle abuse as opposed to the overt, extreme abuse I got from everyone else, but I didn’t have any real friends. I didn’t develop a whole lot of social skills, I really didn’t know how friendship actually works.

Then, I started hanging out with this one guy, J, and holy crap! He actually seemed to like me! He invited me places! I had a friend! This was an exhilerating turn of events. Through him I got to know other people, other people at my school got to know me better, they actually thought I was cool! I became a bit more confident, made more friends, and school wasn’t so bad anymore. But, J was my first real, true friend. For three years or so, I was really damn clingy. We ended up going to the same college (and though he may claim I went there just to be near him, he’s delusional, I’d been planning on going there since junior high because of their music program…I wasn’t THAT psycho). Looking back, I’m pretty sure he felt smothered. Nonetheless, at the end of the school year, he asked me if I wanted to share a house with him and some other people instead of going home for the summer. One day, things just came to a head, he was going to work, and I’d asked him if I could use his computer while he’s gone. He went off on a rant at me about how I always need to have a piece of him every minute, and some other really hurtful things. I was completely devestated. At the time, I had no idea that I was doing anything wrong. I moved back home that day.

After that, we hung out occasionally, but we were never as close as we used to be. It was a shitty situation, but it was a good learning experience. Today, I’m still sort of paranoid about appearing clingy, and as a result I’m a little too standoffish with my current friends, and even my fiance at times. I think J could have handled the situation a little better, but I’m grateful that he told me what the problem was, rather than just cut me out of his life without giving a reason. It did help me to have healthier friendships later on.

I’ve never told this story in this much detail to anybody, I do find my actions back then a bit embarrassing. I was a total loony. But, I hope it might give you some insight into what might be going on with Rebecca. It’s entirely possible that she’s never had the opportunity to develop normal social skills. You should talk to her about it, you’ll be helping her too, but try to be gentle. Set some boundaries, make it clear that you do like her and want to spend time with her, but being friends doesn’t mean you have to spend ALL your time together. I’d save bringing up the BO for another time, though.

The first time I skimmed this post I read that as “No more overweight guests”, and thought, “Yeah, that would work.” I am a horrible man.

I read a great take on this kind of thing once. It went something like, “If you allow other people to hurt you, you are actually allowing them to hurt themselves because hurting you damages their karma.” You would not be a horrible person by telling her that you need more space, Audrey. You would be telling her something that she needs to know to become a better human being. I would also suggest leaving the BO thing alone for now. One crisis at a time, you know?:smiley:

While the issues do need to be addressed individually, the B.O. issue might be the one to bring up first. My reasoning: Rebecca needs to make new friends to help her be less dependent on Audrey Levins. If she smells to high heaven, it is going to be more difficult for her to make friends.

Oh oh! One I actually know.

I was a manager at a gym where a girl worked that I noticed one day smelled. Really bad. If I had to describe it it was a stale cigs, coffee breath, BO and unclean vagina smell.

What I mean is BAD. I actually heard from someone she went to school with that she rarely wore underwear and she had smelled off and on through high school too, but no one told her.

I took her aside and levelled with her. I explained that I was her friend, and I had noticed this odour, and if I had, other people had so she needed to do something about it. I said she was too nice and too special to have people judging her harshly for a smell. I said I wasn’t sure if it was laundry issue (maybe money was tight) but if so, I could help her out a little.

It was fine, she thanked me and I noticed she didn’t smell anymore.

It was a tough conversation, but worth it in the long run. Good Luck

Audrey –

Maybe it would be a good idea to download to hardcopy your post and all the responses and give it to her in an envelope and tell her to read it at home, yes?

Audrey: A few notes…

  1. Write or type a note, anonymously, addressed to her specifically, about the odor issue. Since she has “multiple contacts” at the bar, she won’t have a target offender, but she’ll get the message.

  2. Regarding her B.O. as a sequelae from her obesity: likely hygiene-related, in some cases metabolically or hormonally driven. In the “note to a friend,” refer her to a physician. She probably needs some diabetes/hypertension/thyroid screening anyway.

  3. Tell her upfront about the unreasonableness of her treating your place like a drunken flophouse. That’s rude behaviour, even for long-established friends. Ruuuuuuuuuuuuuude. Bars should have a Fuckwit Conduct List. Mayhaps you could write one for attachement to the “note.”

  4. The problem is not so much hers as yours: you don’t have responsibility for her shit, so stop acting as if you do.

It is a tough situation. I had a friend in college who I had to ‘break up with’ once, too. There is no easy way to do it, but I decided I was going to be completely honest with her, but not cruel. I told her the truth without going into a list of things I didn’t like about her, I also answered all of her questions honestly. I knew if I made up a fake excuse she would find a way around it, so I just had to come out and tell her that ‘we are in different places and need to go our separate ways.’ Be firm. It will be very hard, if you are anything like me the idea of having a face to face conversation like this turns your stomach because you know how hurt she will be, and like your situation my friend was really a decent and fine person who I didn’t want to hurt, and I knew she would be really really affected by it.

The funny thing is that she was way too clingy, but like your situation I wouldn’t have minded hanging out with her once in a while. She was a type who wanted all of your attention and was constantly seeking validation, and I knew a ‘call me sometime and we’ll hang out’ situation would not work. To make a long story short, she was very hurt and angry and we stopped speaking after I talked to her about how I felt. Now time has passed and we actually are speaking again and are comfortable in an ‘old friendly aquaintance’ sort of way. We keep in touch but a few times a year, not as a constant presence in each others’ lives. It helps that she lives in another state now!

So it can be done, but yes there were some tears and very hurt feelings for a while. I didn’t know a way around it but it was better for both of us than for me to pretend indefinitely and grow to resent her even more. I did feel a lot of guilt for a while but we had more of a history than the two of you, and we actually were very good friends and roommates for a while before this happened, so hopefully it will not be as big an ordeal for you.

Good luck!