DEAR HARRIETTE: I have known this friend of mine for a couple of years now, and he constantly takes advantage of people close to him. I am not sure if I should continue being friends with this guy. He really needs to be a better person to the people who consider him a friend.
I think the reason he acts this way is because he has issues with his family. I know him well enough to have seen him constantly having fights with his siblings and parents. I think when he gets upset with them, he takes it out on us. But I’m done with that. How can I get him to stop? -- Dealing With Bad Friend
DEAR DEALING WITH BAD FRIEND: Get clear on exactly what this friend is doing that you don’t like. What does it mean specifically that he is taking advantage of you and your friends? You need to identify the behavior, then bring it up with him.
The best way to handle this is directly. Tell your friend that you do not like the way he has been treating you. Give him examples so that it is crystal clear what you are talking about. Tell him you care about him and want to be his friend, but this unacceptable behavior has to stop.
Tread lightly when talking about the reasons for his actions. You should not bring up his bad family dynamics. You can ask him why he thinks he does the things he does to people he says are his friends. Listen to see if he has any inkling of what he’s doing and what his responsibility is to that end.
If he is unwilling or unable to stop the abusive behavior, you may have to back off for a while.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)