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Section: manners, relationships, teenagers

Dear Ann Landers,
I am a 14-year-old girl and have a friend who is dominating my life. "Julia" calls me so often, my family has started making up excuses why I can't come to the phone. She invites me to her house every day. I usually decline because her brothers are foul-mouthed and Julia constantly gets into fights with her mother. Every time I go there, I come home feeling upset. I no longer enjoy Julia's company, but she makes me feel so guilty that I wind up making plans with her anyway. I feel sorry for her because she doesn't seem to have any other friends. What makes it even worse is that she gets angry and jealous when I go out with other girls and don't include her. Frankly, my other friends don't like her. She's overly critical and says hurtful things. I don't know how to get out of this relationship. I don't want to harm her obviously fragile self-confidence, so I lie about how much I value her friendship. When I think of how stuck I am in this situation, I end up in tears. Please tell me what to do. -- New Jersey

Dear N.J.,
You are very kind to remain friendly with Julia, even though she is domineering and difficult. You need not let her run your life, however. Make dates with other girls, and if Julia doesn't like it, too bad.

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A Note from Margo:
Hi! It's Margo here. I'd love to know what you think of the letters -- and the answers!

Also, any additional thoughts you might have. Thanks!

Maryann 's Comment
Julia is not your friend. You describe her as saying angry, critical, hurtful things. You say she makes you feel guilty--she is manipulating you to do what she wants and causing you unhappiness. You are going to need to end this relationship completely. There is no half-way here. Your parents can help by telling Julia when she calls that she is not to bother you anymore, instead of making "excuses" about why you can't come to the phone. I know you feel sorry for her, but she is poison for you.

Mary C's Comment
I wonder if Julia is looking to you to run interference in a household where she doesn't feel safe. Not your problem! However, she may need to reach out for help. School counselors or other adults might be helpful. Being a manipulative "mean girl", as she seems to be, may be a coping mechanism. Have you spoken about this with your own mother? Does she understand? If you want to maintain any kind of connection, do it outside of her home turf. If you can tell Julia a few hard truths, do. If not, move away. It is just too hard to be her friend.

t..'s Comment
I had a friend like that 50 years ago. I got her to stop being so domineering in my life by being a bit harsh. I regret it. I didn't cut her off or try to be mean to her, I just stopped being there for her and did exactly what AL is saying to do. I regret it. I could have been kinder. I now believe she was abused and I was her only outlet. Sure, I was 12 and didn't have a clue and I was not responsible but I still regret it. She went on to live a miserable life, married an abuser, and died early. I could have been kinder.
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Dear Readers,
, My x-girlfriend who lived with my son and I for 16 years died of cancer. Prior before we knew she had cancer-she moved out because of an addiction problem. We did stay very close before she died. Her x-husband an attorney took over her finances and the burial arrangements. I being financially set was okay with that, whatever they needed I provided. What really hurt my son and I the most was the obituary - we were not mentioned at all. Our friends (mine and hers) were appalled. I was embarrassed and upset for not just me, but for my son-who loved her also. I never been so upset. Her x-husband put his wife and kids and their grandchildren in the obituary, who my girlfriend barely knew. They live an hour away from us. I know its silly to be mad over a little section of the newspaper, but it still hurts. Will time let this devastating loss of her and this article ever go away? I am so angry at this whole situation, its not like we can go and rewrite an obituary notice.

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"Sensual pleasures have the fleeting brilliance of a comet; a happy marriage has the tranquillity of a lovely sunset."
-Ann Landers