Dear Agony Ant: my friend constantly undermines me...

What do you do when a friend undermines you in group conversations? Agony Ant is on the case.

Agony Ant
17th February 2021
Image: Ella Williams
Welcome to The Courier's ant-ier version of Agony Aunt, where no problem is too small. If you have a problem or situation getting you down, and you need a sympathetic ear and the virtual version of a cup of tea and a hug - never fear, Agony Ant is here! Today we have a submission from Anonymous, about a friend of theirs who is criticising them in group conversations.

Dear Agony Ant,

There's a friend of mine who constantly has to undermine and criticise me whenever I speak in a group. It almost feels like I can’t breathe without her having to chip in with a "well, actually..." and it's really exhausting at this point. I consider her a friend still, but I feel like she doesn't view me like that, and it just makes me feel a bit sad.

Dear Anonymous,

Let’s start off with a few facts: you deserve to have a friendship based on reciprocity, one where you feel heard and supported. Your friend is making you feel small and like you can’t get a word in edgewise whenever you’re in a group. So, what should you do?

Friendship groups can be complicated, and they definitely have their power plays. You know your friendship group best. One thing is for sure, some level of confrontation is needed, whether that's by you or another friend in the group. If this has been going on for a while, others in the group can probably see it.

Often people aren’t intentionally being malicious, so a mature and calm discussion is the way to go. Regardless of the reason behind your friend’s behaviour towards you, the fact that you are exhausted is enough reason to pull them aside and tell them how you feel. If your friend hears you out, and it persists, it might be time to let them go. Friends should uplift you and make you feel welcome. Communication, ugh, we know. You can do it, Anonymous.

With love,

Agony Ant


The Agony Ant is in collaboration with NUSU’s Inclusive buddies, a bunch of students from a diverse range of backgrounds. You can read more about them here.

Want to share your woes with Agony Ant in exchange for some brilli-ant advice? Send in your problems here.

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