How To Handle Rude Friends Without Losing The Friendship

Updated 05/28/19

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How rude! You probably have more patience when acquaintances behave rudely than when your friends do. That’s because we expect more from our friends. We think they should know us better and therefore when they offend us we’re shocked and disappointed.

Sometimes rudeness is a sign that your friend doesn’t care about your feelings, but other times they’re just clueless. Go easy on rude friends until you determine their motives. Here are five ways to deal with rude friends in a variety of situations.

Are You Treating Your Friends with Respect?

First, make sure that you have not been the one offending others. Sometimes a friend will act rudely in response to something you did. For example, if you’re always late, your friend might begin showing up late. This could be considered "giving you a taste of your own medicine" or simply that they have adjusted their priorities according to the way you have treated them in the past. How you should react depends on what they did and if they’re trying to intentionally start an argument. 

When a friend intentionally offends you, immediately address it. You could say: “That is offensive to me and I thought you knew that. Why did you do it?”

Or: “I wish I could just shake it off but your comment has offended me. Let's talk about something else.

Gracefully changing the subject is a good way to let your friend know you didn’t care for what they did or said without causing a lot of drama. If you feel that they do not understand why you wanted to change the subject, this may be an item that comes up again in the future. Expressing your frustration is important for any friendship to grow. 

Is Your Friend Rude in Conversation? 

Some folks lack conversational skills or are not good at noticing social cues. Then, it may seem like every word they say is rude. They might talk over you when you try to speak or perhaps they blurt out rude questions, throwing you off-guard.

Social grace is a learned skill, so help your friend by showing them the verbal boundaries you find acceptable. When they cross the line, tell them:

I don't think that was appropriate and I’m at a loss for what to say.” Then change the subject to something else.

Or: “As my friend, you should understand that what you said was rude.” If you need to do so, explain why you feel this way to your friend. True friends are willing to reflect on themselves and do better for the people they love. 

Does Your Friend Embarrass You When You Invite Them Over?

Maybe your friend’s biggest downfall is that they lack social etiquette. Behaving properly isn’t about stuffiness and formality, it’s about treating people well. The Golden Rule is always a good thing to refer to when it comes to improving your own behavior.

But when your friend acts rude (at a wedding, at your dinner party, when you introduce them to your coworkers), it’s time to act.

First, realize that you can’t change people. If your friend has a history of behaving rudely, it’s best not to invite them. If you must send an invitation, be aware of moments when they could act rudely (grabbing a microphone at a wedding, offering up cringe-worthy stories rather than small talk at a dinner party), and do your best to stop the behavior as soon as you see it. Ask your friend if you can speak with them privately in another room and then tell them their behavior needs to stop. Just be sure you are honest and gentle with your friend and do not try to embarrass them in return. You don’t want to end up as the rude person just because you’re trying to protect everyone else from your friend’s behavior. 

Does Your Friend Treats You Poorly at Their Events or in Their Space? 

When a friend invites you over and then treats you poorly, that is cause for concern. You should be aware of toxic behavior in your life, and this likely qualifies as a violation of your friendship. The key question to ask yourself before you get upset is: Are they trying to be rude or just innocently behaving poorly? This may not be as easy to answer as it may seem. 

If their rude behavior is intentional and unlikely to stop, you should leave the event or premises without a scene. Leave when it is socially acceptable and then schedule a time to talk to your friend one on one about what happened afterward. It is best to see them in person or discuss what bothers you over the phone. Avoid email or other short-form communication for this sort of thing, because it is too easy for your words and intentions to get misconstrued, without ample opportunity to clarify. 

Is Your Friend Rude to Your Other Friends or Your Family?

In an ideal world, you’d hope all your friends would get along with each other. In reality, that usually doesn’t happen. This is especially true if you have a variety of friends, each with different experiences and opinions.

While your friends might not love (or even like) each other, they still need to be respectful. If you know that certain people will clash, do your best not to force them together from the very start. 

f there is a certain event or circumstance where everyone is going to be there, you should be able to expect that your friends will be polite. If they aren’t, and you can discreetly chat with them about it without making a scene or embarrassing your friend, pull your friend aside and let them gently know they’re being rude.

If you can’t talk with them without causing a scene yourself, then wait until the next day or so and bring it up with them in person.

How Can You Both Move On?

The most important aspects of a friendship are honest communication and trust that you have each other's backs. When your friend breaches this unspoken agreement, you both may need to identify your disconnect. As long as you both have the best intentions for one another, then a little rude behavior will only be a blip in the history of your formidable friendship. 

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