Ask Ciiku: How do I deal with a toxic friend?

Dear Ciiku,

So I’ve had this friend for about 10 years. I use the term ‘friend’ very loosely here, reason being she’s very toxic. We were very close in college but drifted apart soon after. We lost track but she somehow managed to find her way back into my life. Thing is: she gossips a lot. The stuff she says about other people is so horrible and sometimes made up. And no one is safe, even her own parents & siblings have been trash talked. My way of dealing with this has been to ghost: I avoid her completely (I haven’t physically seen her in years but she always reaches out by phone). I tell her absolutely nothing about my personal life so she doesn’t have material to spread. I suspect there’s a bigger problem. Some mutual friends have told me that the issue may also be mental/psychological and the more I assess her behaviour over the years the more I think there may be some truth to it. My theory is she’s become so ostracized by friends and family cz of this behavior that she feels there’s nothing to lose by being a total bitch. So my question is this, how do I communicate that I think she needs to get therapy or some kind of help without offending her and without becoming a victim of her shenanigans? I think it’s a very sensitive conversation and I don’t know how to broach it since we’re no longer close (I’d rather not meet her to have this talk). Or should I just forget trying to help and continue to avoid her like everyone does?

Regards, Remote friend

Dear Remote friend,

I think we can both agree that she is not your friend. I don’t believe that just because you have history with someone that they deserve presence in your life as they please or even to be called friend.

Also, without a professional diagnosis, there is no need to say that this person has mental issues because they exhibit the behaviour you mention in your letter. People can be and are not good, they lie and are vile. I think assigning this to a mental issue to try and explain certain behaviour stigmatises those who genuinely suffer from mental illness. I understand that people tend to assign mental issues because they want to believe in the goodness of others. We really should not.

Let me repeat that: terrible, bad people exist. It is not your job to “fix” them. What you can do, what is truly in your control in this case and for your peace of mind, is accept that this person is not someone who exhibits behaviour you would associate with a friend and remove her from your life to the extent that if others begin to talk about her, you refuse to be part of the conversation. Completely dissociate yourself. So no, I don’t think you should have any conversation with her.

All the best,

Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: My friend drugged me

Dear Ciiku,

My friend drugged me and I found out later. How do I confront this?

Maddie

Dear Maddie,

I am so sorry that this happened to you, that someone broke your trust in such a manner. Not only did they do something illegal, but as someone you call friend, they broke boundaries of trust on which friendship relies on to function. This is terrifying.

Your question to me is very open ended because asking “how can you confront” can be viewed as follows:

  • How do I confront my friend about what they did? How do I find out what the motivation behind drugging you? Because a part of you must be wondering how your friend decided that drugging you is something that they could do.
  • How do I deal with this invasion? How do I move on and trust people again? Because a part of you must be wondering how someone you consider(ed) a friend could do this to you

When you hear of stories or people being drugged for example in the bar, most times people sleep it off and continue with life because it is something that happens and you don’t know who drugged you.

When you find out that it was someone you know drugged you, the circumstances are completely different because of course you must ask them why.

There is some clarification I would like from you before I give a concise response and if possible, let me know what you mean by confront in your instance and maybe give more details? I know it may be difficult for you but your question is very loaded and without details I fear I may not be of assistance. Thank you.

Wishing you peace,

Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: I feel like a dial-a-friend

Dear Ciiku

I have a friend who spends some months of the year out of the country. We talk a lot and whenever she’s having a problem I try be supportive and help her out. However, I’ve noticed that whenever she’s in the country the friendship changes. We talk less and there is little if any effort to meet from her end. Efforts from my end often end up in a cancellation. It’s not uncommon for her to be silent for days and text me when she’s out of the country again. But it is more than that. Even how we talk. The best way I can put it is that I can almost feel the dial of the friendships priority moving down and up depending on where she is. It is upsetting to be so close for so long and then suddenly feel like hi-bye friends.

I am beginning to suspect we are not truly close friends, only that I can be relied on for emotional labour when most of her other friends are not around. If she does not want to be close that is fine, but I would rather not share and be as open if our friendship is not that deep. My question is how to approach this conversation. I am realising that discussion on boundaries and defining friendships has a lot less information and guides than in relationships. I don’t know how to start this conversation without it seeming like an attack. What I really want is clarity but most of things that I can point to as changing are hard to put into words.

A friend

Dear Friend,

You deserve clarity. In fact, both of you need to be on the same page regarding this situation. And yes, a conversation must be had. It seems you have accepted that the friendship may not be as you viewed it. That’s a good place to be so that the conversation doesn’t revolve around how to make it deep but rather, how to get to the same page in your friendship.

The thing is, you can’t control how she reacts to the conversation. You can use the most pacifist approach and it may still be deemed as an attack. I think what you must focus on rather is ensuring that when the conversation is had, (and it must be had), that everything you are thinking and feeling is expressed. That, in my opinion, is the crux. Since it seems that you have better communication when she isn’t in the country then I think it’s best to have it then, in whatever medium is comfortable for you.

My opinion on this is you shouldn’t preempt the conversation by issuing a “we need to talk” notice. Just dive into it during any regular conversation you are having. And ask all the questions you believe will provide you the clarity you seek…… “how do you view this friendship? How come we never meet when you are in country? What kind of friend do you need me to be? How do you see this friendship? What defines this friendship?”

Both of you must be honest with each other to figure out where you will go in the friendship. And I wish you well.

Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: Thoughts on dating you sibling’s friend

Hey Ciiku!

I’ll get right to it. Dating your sibling’s friend who really really gets you, thoughts?

Reese

Dear Reese,

My thoughts are that two consenting adults should date if they so choose.

Now that that’s out of the way, I am curious as to the hesitation or even doubt about the situation. As though there is a rule that says you shouldn’t date your sibling’s friend. I understand that things would be awkward IF you were to break up under certain circumstances, but what if you didn’t? What if the relationship became a balm, a respite, surrounded you with love? Is that a chance you are willing to take because some random rule made by only god knows who that you shouldn’t date your siblings frje?

Ask Ciiku: I have never had a real relationship

Hi Ciiku,

I’m turning 28 soon and I never had a real relationship. By this I mean anything past four months, never really went on dates or spent a lot of time with anyone. I have a hard time making friends too and often spend a lot of time by myself. Lately, this feels lonely and I have no clue how to be more sociable or if this is something I even want. I feel like as I get older this will become tougher. What would you advise?

Loner.

Dear Loner,

I have to ask, are you comfortable by yourself? What does a real relationship look like to you? Do you go out with your friends? Do you have friends? Do you spend time trying to figure out what you want? Why do you feel like a relationship is something you need to have experienced? What has changed recently to make you feel this way? When did you last have sex? Is sex important to you?

Off the bat I am going to say that making friends doesn’t get harder as you grow older. And I say this with a lot of conviction not only as someone who keeps making new friends as I age but also as someone who believes that the people who peddle that story are holding onto friendships from their youth that don’t serve any purpose.

People make difference choices on how they live their lives and to be honest, most end up doing what seems to be the same thing because that is the template we are socialised to believe makes sense or the template of how a well lived life looks like. And if you have not done what a majority of people have done, it seems like you are not doing something “right.”

Please note I am not saying that you don’t need romantic relationships or friendships. Companionship has been scientifically proven to be a human need but what I believe to be more important is knowing yourself and therefore knowing what you want in terms of companionship. What does it look like? Who are the people you want in your life? What values do they espouse? That kind of thing.

Do you want to make friends? If so, then make the plans to do so. Do you want to be in a relationship? Same same. And I know this isn’t easy especially for someone who knows themselves in a world that doesn’t encourage self development (or encourages en masse self help led, development).

But do I think it’s possible? Yes. Friendship might be easier to do I think.

Finally, I think one of the greatest disservice we do to ourselves is keep people in our lives just because. You know what I mean? Like, being in a relationship with someone just because they gave you attention. Being friends with someone just because you’ve known them since high school. I wish we would be more intentional with our relationships. I hope you do too Loner.

💓💓💓

Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: I was abused by a woman

Hi…

So I’ll just get into it – I was emotionally and psychologically abused by someone very prominent in the KE Twittersphere – and she’s a woman. I will not come forward because I know I will not be believed and I have no way to prove it – I deleted all communication we had ever had and blocked her from ever contacting me. I need Twitter for work so I can’t delete the app but I get physically ill when I see her posts – I sweat and shake ,one bad day I threw up. I have tried to look for help online but a lot of the articles I find are about men being the abuser. What do you do when yours is a woman?

TT

Dear TT,

I am so sorry you were assaulted. I am also very sorry that you keep seeing your abuser online and have this visceral reaction to her and her tweets. I hope you find peace and justice TT.

Men are socialized to believe that they cannot be a victim and many people believe this therefore I understand your hesitance in coming forward. Furthermore, emotional and psychological abuse is not treated with the same seriousness as physical abuse. I understand the hesitance. Women can be and are abusers and although there is less documentation (especially in Kenya) about resources, I believe that help is possible.

I suggest that if possible you should get professional counselling for this. (please see this list on my site for some suggestions). You will need to find a non-religious, non-patriarchal counsellor who is empathetic to abuse against men and this might mean some trial and error. But I think it is imperative that you find someone who works for you and your situation.
I don’t know how possible it is to completely not have to see this person’s tweets in your timeline but it might need you to completely curate your follower and following list and I am not sure if this somehow affects your work. But if possible, it is something you should spend time doing. Is there someone you can talk to about this? Someone who can listen to you, someone who will not doubt you and will love and empathize with you? Please reach out to someone who knows you and talk to them. I hope you have someone you can trust enough to talk to.

I feel as though my answers may not be as helpful as finding professional help would be. So please consider that urgently.

Best to you,

Ciiku

 

Ask Ciiku: I am confused about my marriage

Hi Ciiku

In a few weeks time, my husband and I will be celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary, and much as it should be exciting, it’s not. Hubby and I met when we were quite young and still in uni and we had a lot in common including friends and interests, in many ways we still do. Over time I took it upon myself to work on myself and how I understand the world, this had been something we did together, we read together, shared ideas and grew together. In my quest to grow I studied feminism among other things and found a community of people who supported me and helped. When I broached the subject with hubby, he would shrug it off and go on about some obscure white philosophers. I didn’t care much since I thought he would eventually see things my way but in this whole time he has stayed the same.

He hangs out with the same guys from uni and high school, he has become complacent and I feel he is stuck. You honestly can’t believe what it feels like to have a #notallmen person as a partner even after repeated talks about patriarchy and it’s effects. It’s soul draining. I feel ignored and I feel resentment welling up slowly.

Here is the issue, over the past two years, I met a colleague with whom I feel a strong emotional and intellectual connection. We discuss almost everything, except my marriage, and he is good listener and willing to learn. We have no sexual tension and it makes it a great blessing. In the recent weeks I have felt a change in my relationship with my friend, I am not sexually attracted to him but I have considered what it would be like to have him. I know the bond I have to hubby but I also know that it would be only once. I actually don’t think it would have to be my friend for fear of ruining something good, I just want an experience out of this tepid relationship. I love my husband and despite his shortcomings, he is a very good person, he loves me, undeniably. We have tried talking and even talked about counselling but we are in this situation. I’m confused.

Tee

Dear Tee,

What a dilemma you find yourself in. You and your husband are drifting apart, you have a close friend with whom you say there is no sexual tension but you are considering a one time thing with him or even a stranger.

I have a couple of questions: What does it mean for your marriage that you and your husband seem to be drifting apart? Is your marriage sexually monogamous? If it is what does wanting an experience outside of this “tepid relationship” mean? Is there an issue with the sex in your marriage? Have you spoken to your husband about all this? Including the wanting the experience outside of the marriage? What realisation have you come to that you are trying to ignore? What do you want at the end of the day? Do you know?

People over the years develop as human beings and I get wanting to understand more about the world and acquiring the tools you need to survive in this world. In my opinion, everyone should continously endeavour to grow and develop as human beings. This is a personal process and ideally we hope that people we are in intimate relationships in will join us on the journey. Sometimes that doesn’t happen and then you drift apart. As with your case.

Love is more than feelings. I feel I need to reiterate that there is more to staying together with someone outside of love. Also, even though someone is good, this does not always mean that they are good for you. You have admitted to feeling like your soul is being drained and that you are resenting your husband. Saying you are considering counselling indicates that you are trying to work something out. And I think you should. If possible you might also consider therapy by yourself as well to figure out what it is that you want.

Above all else, remain true to yourself.

Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: Does Masturbating Induce Periods?

Hi Ciiku

This one is probably weird but I’ve been wondering so here goes… Does masturbating a few days before one’s period is due help induce it? Over at google, the information says it doesn’t but it has happened over my last two cycles. My period, that is mostly very regular, has been popping up a few days earlier after this. I wonder if it’s just coincidence or there are others that have had the same results?

Anonymous

Hi Anonymous,

This is a very interesting question in many ways top of which is that I have no idea. Truly. I would have had to Google as well much like you did and therefore sadly, I have no adequate response to this outside of maybe seeing a doctor?

Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: Should I have broken up with my boyfriend?

Hi Ciiku,

I broke up with my boyfriend of two years a little over a month ago and it’s been the most miserable time in my life. We met a almost 3 years ago through mutual friends and and struck up conversation and became closer with time. I have never known anyone like him, he is kind, thoughtful, he puts me first, he shows attention and I have never doubted or questioned his commitment, he makes me feel so loved. Being with him has been a great time.

We have our minor issues but we try and resolve them as amicably as possible. All that is good but here is the why. I have never had a problem with his light drinking but in the two years we have dated he has gotten a bit drunk once in a while and I loathe it when he does. We went to my cousin’s wedding and even when we knew there was an open bar, we agreed to just have a little then go home. Mandem went ahead and got quite sloshed and we had to leave the car and cab home. I was so pissed that he actually did that and he woke up and apologised before he picked up the car. I felt horrible and told him we needed to end this . He was upset but said we would work it out but I am now worried that I gave up something that was good. He has talked before about marriage and to be honest I don’t know what to do. This is someone I would like to spend my life with but I am also hurt. I have been thinking of the response you gave B but I also feel like I need to fight for this, for my joy but I am so conflicted.

Please help

Manzi wa Accounts

Dear Manzi wa Accounts,

I am sorry for how you feeling. It is not easy to break away from someone who you love and have invested time in. Especially when that person who you say loves you and is committed to you and has never made you doubt, hurts you and doesn’t respect a course of action that you have both agreed upon.

I am curious, what does fighting for the relationship mean or how does it look like to you? Does it mean that you accept that he will get drunk once in a while and that you will not get angry about it or does it mean that he stops drinking too much? Because you know there is only one person’s behaviour you can control here. And that’s you.

In fighting for the relationship, this means understanding that asking him to stop and him not stopping is something that will likely happen again. He has to be the one to initiate that change. He has to be willing to stop for his own sake, because he sees that it is detrimental for him and by extension the relationship. Not because you think he should because you asked him or because you think that if he really loved you he would change. That is not how it works. And if this is not something that you can accept, then maybe letting go of the relationship is what is the best option for the sake of your peace.

My position? Bend but don’t break. Keep in mind that he might not change and if that is something that you are willing to live with, you do so, without the expectation that he will change and without any resentment. No one is perfect and I don’t even think you expect him to be but the truth is, there are certain elements of a person that with time can cause disagreements and resentment so I suggest you think long and hard about what matters to you and if this is something you are willing to rethink your stance on.

Joy isn’t a finite thing. There is a lot of joy in this world Manzi wa Accounts. And you deserve it.

I want to share two things that I thought about with respect to your question:

The first is this quote:

No one can persuade another to change. Each of us guards a gate of change that can only be opened from the inside. We cannot open the gate of another, either by argument or emotional appeal.

Marilyn Ferguson

And the second is a Twitter thread which you can read by clicking here.

May you find peace.

Ciiku

 

Ask Ciiku: Am I overreacting?

Dear Ciiku,

Hey. I’m in a relationship with someone who claims to love me wholeheartedly but will still do things that I’ve repeatedly told them I’m uncomfortable with e.g he’s best friends with a lady friend that they used to stay all night on phone with but he’d delete their interactions. I caught him flirting with her on text a few times but he now claims he’s stopped and it’s just a platonic relationship 🙄. I feel like he loves me but can you really claim to love someone if you are still so selfish? Or am I overreacting and should I just accept their friendship?

B

Dear B

You know what I like about your letter. That you said “he claims to love me wholeheartedly“. You use the word claim. That means while yes he says you, you are not sure you believe it, you aren’t sure because his actions do not match his words. Am I correct in my deduction?

I have to ask: Is there anything he can do at this moment to make you believe fully and without a doubt that he loves you and that you can trust him and that nothing is happening with anyone else? Is the issue with the best friend the only issue the two of you have? What concerns you more: that there is a female best friend that he flirts with, the deletion of the texts, or many other things not mentioned in this letter? I mean, it is quite suspicious that he deletes them and that you know he deletes them (I assume you go through his phone) which means you already don’t trust him anyway (also using the word “caught” speaks volumes B).

My opinion? Let this relationship go.

Love is many things, and more so, it is more than what positive feeling you have for someone. Being loved is easy. Being loved the way you want to be loved? That’s when work needs to be done.

Why do you feel like he loves you? Is he because he says so? Or is it his actions that show that he does? Do you love him?

Sometimes, because we are with someone, the feeling of being chosen or the fact of being in a relationship is termed or labeled as love. That being in a dysfunctional relationship is better than being single – that somehow the fact that we are with someone means there is love. But that is not what love is. I think we assign things to love that shouldn’t be considered love. And even more than that, we tend to ignore people’s actions and focus on their words, which seems to be the case here B. For example, what compels you to check his phone? Is it because you don’t trust him?

If someone declares that they love you, wouldn’t their action indicate that they would do things that wouldn’t jeopardise the relationship or make the person they are in a relationship uncomfortable?Trust must accompany love, being able to trust someone you are in a relationship with is seminal to peace of mind.

I think you need to look long and hard at what you believe love to be, what you would want from an ideal relationship and what you are getting from this person. And remember, above all, love should be fair – to you and for them.

You deserve to be loved the way you want to be loved B. You deserve to love someone worthy of your love. And the truth is, from how you describe it, as little as you do, doesn’t seem to be it.

Ciiku