my ex-boss has gone from best friend to petulant child

A reader writes:

I am early in my career; my last job was my second job out of college. It was a small association (seven people) and my boss and I were the only two people in marketing. I really enjoyed my work during my time there, but there was a lot of interoffice drama that I made a point to stay out of.

My ex-boss, D, is approximately 15 years older than me, has lived in the same area her entire life and has no friends, and transferred colleges four times because she “didn’t like the people.” This should have raised a flag, but she referred to me as her best friend, etc. I know better now, but at the time, it seemed like being close to your boss could only be a good thing. For the most part, she was supportive of me at work, but she wasn’t a great manager and was bad at setting boundaries (for example, she updated me on how long it had been since her and her husband had sex…).

After two years, I started looking elsewhere — there was no room for growth for me, and I wanted a new challenge. I accepted a job which I’ve been at now for almost five months and cannot say enough about how much I love it. I gave my two weeks fearing that D was going to freak and stop speaking to me (a pattern of hers when people upset her), but she handled it much better than I expected. She cried and said I’d better stay friends with her, that we’d open our own company someday, etc. I left on what I thought were great terms, as I created a full handbook for my job duties, helped find and train my replacement, etc. D texted me as usual after I left and everything seemed fine.

…and then I started my new job. On my first day, she reached out to ask me if I was enjoying it. I said yes but made a point to say I missed her as well. She never responded to me, and soon after, I noticed she had unfollowed me on Twitter and Instagram and UNLIKED EVERYTHING SHE HAD EVER LIKED ON MY FACEBOOK. I ignored it. She texted me a few weeks later and asked to go to dinner, I said I would love to and we made plans. The night before, I texted her to confirm — no response. Called her the morning of, and texted her later that night to ask if everything was okay — no response. I was fairly upset because I thought we were on good terms, but I decided to let it go.

This week, I noticed she blocked me on Twitter (after previously unfollowing me). I unfriended her on Facebook because I decided I’d rather not have her keeping tabs on my life given her recent actions — and by the end of the day, she had blocked me on Facebook and Instagram as well.

I’m baffled. Everyone close to me says to just ignore it, that she’s an unhappy person and jealous that I was able to move on to a new job (a sentiment she expressed to me), etc., but now I’m concerned that I won’t be able to get a reference from her down the line, which bothers me because I worked so hard to leave a good impression. I think it’s important to note I do not post about work on social media as a rule, so I don’t think I could have upset her that way. I can’t figure out what I did to cause this or what the most professional way to handle this is.

Yeah, she’s just a weirdo. You didn’t do anything to cause this.

When someone behaves this bizarrely (systematically unliking everything of yours she’d ever liked on Facebook is some serious devotion to Letting You Know she’s upset), it’s okay not to go searching for how it might your fault.

Even if this hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t trust her to give you a good reference because for all you know, the next time you were job searching and needed a reference, she’d be petulant because you weren’t interested in coming back to work with her and would have taken it out on you then. She was a time bomb of petulance waiting to explode, and if it didn’t happen now, it would have happened later.

Is there someone else from your old organization who can give you a reference? It doesn’t sound like D was the head of the organization, so what about the person who is? It’s a seven-person organization, so whoever’s running it presumably knows your work well enough to be a reference for you. You can be pretty straightforward about why: “D took it personally when I left and cut off contact with me.” (Or you could just reach out to that person right now, tell them how much you enjoyed working with her, and ask if she’d be willing to be a reference for you in the future. If she responds that D would be able to give you a more detailed reference since she worked most closely with you, it’s fair game to say, “I agree, but unfortunately she took my leaving personally, disconnected from me on all social media, and has refused to speak with me.”)

And yeah, avoid bosses in the future who want to be your BFF.

{ 157 comments… read them below }

  1. Emi.*

    systematically unliking everything of yours she’d ever liked on Facebook is some serious devotion to Letting You Know she’s upset

    It’s also a really weird way of Letting You Know, since Facebook doesn’t notify you when something is unliked. This means she either (a) assumed you would pay enough attention to your FB interactions with her to even notice, or (b) just really wanted to set the record straight that she Doesn’t Like you, or your vacation, or your baby, or your sandwich, or your concert, or anything about you.

    Walk away confidently as this fireball of crazy explodes in the background.

        1. Annonymouse*

          Dang phone and reception on a train!
          Try it again:
          See fireball of crazy ignite
          Turn your head away and pull on sunglasses Ala David Caruso
          Casually walk away as camera pans wide and fireball explodes behind you – huge mushroom cloud style destroying things in the background
          You continue to walk off screen to presumably get on a horse or into a sports car and head off into the sunset.

    1. OP*

      My thoughts exactly. I only noticed because she had very recently liked something I posted and noticed that it no longer was there, so I investigated thinking it must be a fluke because no reasonable person would do that. It’s weird to think of someone taking time out of their day to go through and physically unliking, without blocking or unfriending, anything they’d ever liked, which is honestly when I probably should have cut my losses

      As Alison mentioned, D isn’t the highest up person at the office and the president is someone I like and respect, so asking him for a reference is absolutely an option and I think he would be able to read between the lines if I did so, since I know he’s seen the way she has treated others.

        1. OP*

          A really good question, but honestly, there are others within the company who behave much more inappropriately than she does (one sleeps at their desk almost daily, one throws actual temper tantrums when they don’t get something they want, both of these are grown men in their 50s-60s) and achieve a lot less. I think only one person has ever been fired and it was because they were remarkably bad at their job to the point where it was affecting everyone.

          The more I revisit this the more I’m very sure I’ve made the right decision, it’s one of those things where you don’t realize how screwed up things are until you’re out of the situation and then you wonder how you ever dealt with it.

            1. OP*

              Yes. He doesn’t engage in any of this behavior, but he also refuses to acknowledge it.

              Honestly, beyond D, everyone there is in their nearing retirement and no one is looking to leave – most are just collecting a paycheck. So I don’t think there’s much emphasis on creating a functional workplace, it’s more of a “grit your teeth and ignore it” thing as no one really has much incentive to make the company grow because it’d be more effort. Basically, there’s a ton of complaining, with no interest in finding a solution.

              (boy am I grateful I’m out of there)

      1. seejay*

        I think it’s possible that when she blocked you, all the “likes” were blocked or hidden, instead of being removed? Would that make more sense than her actively going and removing all the likes? That would probably take an epic amount of work. O_o

        (I did a quick search/google and it appears that the likes might actually be blocked from being seen when you block someone so that might be a feasible and less-creepy answer to the un-liking, although the rest of it is a whole other kettle of crazyfish.)

        1. Jawdropper Jellybean*

          I have been blocked before, you can still see their likes. It will say [friend and 1 other like this]. When you click on the 1 other, it will be blank. But it still counts a like there.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      100000% agreed. OP, it sounds like D is fifty shades of crazy, and as bizarre and passive-aggressive as her behavior is, none of this is on you. To be honest, it gives you a clean way to breakaway without worrying about offending her. I’d line up your reference with D’s boss, who you noted would likely be able to give you a good reference, and I would disengage with D as much as possible (it sounds like that’s happened, but I’d stop emailing or texting/calling, too).

      And then anytime your paths cross in public, channel your inner Beyonce, and behave like she’s any other former coworker with whom you have a passing acquaintance—be blase, polite, and detached.

    3. Kelly L.*

      Facebook question: Would the likes also vanish if the ex-boss just blocked OP or deleted her FB entirely? I’m just trying to think of something less batpoo than digging back to everything she’d ever hit Like on just so she could unlike it!

      1. k*

        I was thinking that, but re-reading it appears that D only blocked her on FB later, at the time of the unlikes they were still active FB friends.

        Which is insane. Unless there is a FB trick I don’t know about, she would have to go on OP’s page, look at every post, and manually click unlike. So tedious!

      2. Elizabeth H.*

        I only know that Facebook doesn’t remove likes if you unfriend the person, even on items that are friends only. I don’t know if they remove likes if someone blocks you, but I actually doubt it. If you delete your account, other people’s tags or mentions of you or whatever don’t vanish, they still look like tags but they don’t actually lead anywhere.

        1. Malibu Stacey*

          it’s not *removed* but the blockees can’t see the like. If I liked your post and then blocked you or you blocked me, you can’t see my like anymore but other people can if they view the post.

      3. Kyrielle*

        Probably, yes. I know comments do.

        But OP still could see ex-boss’s account and had her friended, because OP later unfriended her and ex-boss *then* blocked…. So apparently that’s not what was done.

        I don’t think they’re actually *removed* though – so I don’t think blocking and unblocking would work (plus, you’d have to re-friend-request I think) – because you see the comment count as X but when you open it you see X-1 comments. (Which is really bizarre and they should probably fix it, but that does seem to be how it works.) Indeed, comments by someone who has blocked you are hidden from you, but not other people, so you can watch them have an exchange with what appears to be thin air.

      4. OP*

        I thought this at first but confirmed that it wasn’t the case because I thought it was impossible that she’d actually done it –
        1) she hadn’t deleted her facebook because at the time, I confirmed we were still FB friends
        2) she hadn’t blocked me yet (see #1)
        3) she missed a couple from fairly early on, so while 98% were gone, it wasn’t 100%

        she blocked me only recently (like this week), in response to me unfriending her, which was a response to realizing she had blocked me on Twitter (god this is so exhausting and petty and I feel like I’m in high school) because I realized she clearly had a big problem with me and didn’t particularly want her monitoring me if she felt that way. In hindsight, maybe it would have been best to just put her on a restricted profile list. But regardless she blocked me on twitter -> i unfriended her -> she blocked me on facebook and instagram almost immediately (i noticed that night). So she would have had to actually go through and manually unlike things at that point.

        1. OP*

          but yes, I was looking for any possible way it could be less insane than it was and REALLY trying to give her the benefit of the doubt at that point in time… but nada. I got nothin.

          1. NPO Queen*

            I might take this as a note to not friend your boss/coworkers in the future. It’s harder in smaller companies, but it really keeps the drama down. I believe Alison has made this recommendation in previous posts. My old boss still wants to friend me on Facebook, and I still refuse. I might need her for a reference one day, she doesn’t need to know I was doing shots this past weekend.

            1. I'd Rather not Say*

              There is a setting on FB called “restricted” where you can friend people (from work, for example) and all they will see is your public posts, but they won’t know they are in this category.

              1. Glenn*

                Be aware that restricted profile is not all it’s cracked up to be. They can’t see your private posts, but they can see your interactions with _other_ people’s _public_ posts, both likes and comments, and such interactions can even be automatically shown in their timeline by Facebook (you’d think it wouldn’t do this for restricted but you’d be wrong.) Ask me how I know.

                1. Elizabeth H.*

                  I think everyone can see your interactions with public posts, no? Like if I comment on WBUR’s post on their page, everyone who looks at WBUR’s facebook page can see my comment. It would be weird if not.

                2. CC*

                  Elizabeth H.:

                  Somebody you’re not fb friends with who sees, through whatever means, somebody’s public post that you have commented on will see your comment.

                  Somebody you’re fb friends with will have that public post included in their timeline, even if they’re not connected in any way with the person who made the public post, have no idea they exist, and wouldn’t think to go looking for that person’s page. Facebook will draw their attention to it, because you interacted with it.

                3. Anna*

                  Elizabeth, I think Glenn means that feature where Facebook shows in your news feed what people have been liking even if it’s in no way related to you. e.g in Glenn’s newfeed he’d see a post saying “Anna liked a photo of Elizabeth H”. I seem to get it all the time and it’s so annoying. “Oh, my friend liked the profile picture of someone I don’t even have the vaguest connection with. Thanks for letting me know, Facebook”.

                  So if you had your co-workers on a restricted feed, and they questioned you about why they never saw any active posts from you, you couldn’t claim you never log in. Which could lead to an awkward conversation with an overly pushy coworker.

                  “Hey, have you out me on some restricted list on facebook? I never see your posts/you never comment on my things”
                  “No, I just don’t use it much”
                  “Really? Because I see you liking other people’s photos, commenting on posts all the time etc”

              2. Zombii*

                Good point. Especially useful when you’re at a company that expects (or worse: requires) employees to connect on Facebook. I helped my mother lock hers down a few years ago when she started getting company friend requests at a new job, and it was culturally “weird” to decline.

                Caveat: FB has been involved in more than one highly-publicized massive sh!tstorm involving the reliability of their privacy settings/how difficult locking down a profile can be, and how much notification they may or may not give when they change those settings.

              3. memoryisram*

                That’s how I handle Facebook with work people – I make most of my posts audience “custom” since I never post anything public, so that they cannot see it (I do this for mostly all my posts, especially anything related to politics because I’m quite certain we disagree and I don’t want to bring that into the workplace if I can avoid it). Yes, they can see that I like some very liberal politicians and comment as such, but it’s better than nothing.
                FWIW, I only have friended a few of my closest coworkers, for whom my political leanings would come as no surprise, but I feel it’s better be cautious. At least it’s not showing up in their feed DIRECTLY from me?
                There isn’t a good solution to this issue other than DON’T friend people but the social norms of my office are that people are friends on Facebook.

            2. Girl friday*

              Yes, I agree with that. Almost nothing is personally directed at one person and this is just her way. Since she is not a good worker anyway…

        2. Jessesgirl72*

          No, in hindsight I’d say you should have unfriended and blocked her the minute the social media pettiness started. Until she was blocked, there are too many ways to see someone’s post that supposedly is restricted (like if a mutual friend likes it) and FB has removed the ways I used to stop that. Only the block prevents her from seeing things and stalking you.

          She’s just bat guano crazy, and a complete and clean break was the only way to go.

      5. Bossy Magoo*

        I unfriended someone several years ago and all of her likes and comments are still on my past posts.

    4. Anonymoose*

      This is a very driven way to tell someone you’re hurt. I reeeally don’t want to armchair psych this woman, but she sounds like my mother. Who has? Histronic Personality Disorder. You hurt me? I hurt you ten times worse, how dare you, don’t you know what i’ve done for you. Looney tunes.

      That blows. But it’s a VALUABLE LESSON: never be your bosses ‘best friend’, ever. It will won’t end well. And your boss shouldn’t want to be your best friend, at least until you’ve moved on.

  2. MuseumChick*

    Ooooooh, I worked from someone kind of like this. Your case is more extreme. This boss…she would tell me about all her medical problem, cry in the middle of the office, and when I gave my two weeks told me she “disappointed” in me because she “though we had a relationship where I could tell her” if I was struggling at the job (this place was commissioned based work and highly dysfunctional, the owner would complain in front of the sales people about having to pay commission, when the polar vortex happened we were still required to come into work, etc)

    She honestly thought I was her best buddy, it was super weird.

    1. OP*

      OP here… after I gave notice and she made a big deal about us staying close, she made it a point to make comments about how she couldn’t believe I’d hidden the fact I was looking from her and how it hurt her feelings, and I wanted to just be like “do you honestly think I’m going to tell my boss I’m looking for another job?” I mean, REALLY. Regardless of our relationship, unless my boss was actively pushing me to find a new job or there was a very good reason for it, I’m not going to screw myself over by letting my company know I have a foot out the door.

      1. MuseumChick*

        Yup. People like is have a very poor sense of boundaries and take everything personally. There is really nothing you can do except get out (congrats on that!) and ignore them moving forward.

      2. krysb*

        This really boils down to an inability to create and/or recognize boundaries. Sometimes it is hard as a manager to delineate a manager/employee relationship from a friends relationship, but your boss/friend took that to an extreme.

        1. Observer*

          Yeah, this isn’t even about work vs friend boundaries, but boundaries of ANY sort. I mean who shares the kind of information she does with anyone (other than your therapist, marriage counselor or doctor)?!

          1. Zombii*

            Fwiw, a lot of my family members share that sort of information with each other. It skeeves me right out, so I extricate myself from the conversation or change the topic, and they respect it. I’ve also had friends that share that sort of information with each other, and I similarly extricate myself or change the topic.

            Basically, I decline to participate, and they don’t continue to share that information with me. That’s the definition of boundaries, so I don’t care what they do with each other, and I’m not going to clutch my pearls over other people’s definition of appropriate when it doesn’t affect me at all. :)

      3. Catabodua*

        I wanted to point something out in this comment about how you think letting a current boss know you are looking is a bad idea.

        Not necessarily. There will be times in your career that letting your boss know that you are looking is a very good idea.

        As an example – if you get into a decent sized company where you might move from one department to another it’s generally a good practice to give your boss a heads up before applying to anything. While it might not seem fair, the usual MO at large companies is to call around asking about the person applying for the job before you even get an interview. It’s an easy way for them to weed folks out and save time.

        You don’t want your boss to get a call saying “Matilda applied for my analyst job. How is she?” without giving the boss some notice.

        1. OP*

          I did add “unless there was a very good reason” for situations just like the one you’re describing, because I know they exist and I totally agree with you that there’s times it’s better to tell. But I feel like generally, telling a boss (especially an unstable one) that you’re actively looking around and interviewing, while likely well-intentioned, is not the greatest idea – I brought it up specifically in this case because it was honestly unreasonable of her to believe I would let her know I was job hunting unless I wanted work to be miserable for myself.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I think you did the best you could for damage control here. You were dealing with an OVER thinker. So no matter what you did she would have hunted around inside her brain until she found some reason why what you did was BAD.

            You were set up to lose before you started, in her mind.

            Going forward make sure you stay dis-engaged. I’d stop worrying about social media, she has put a lot of time into zinging you on social media, just decide to ignore any further actions. This means if she tries to refriend you, ignore it. Make a clean break.

            You cannot put enough time into the person to get a real friendship out of her. She does not have that capacity. Additionally, on a professional plane that lack of level-headedness is also going to hurt you. Cut ties and caulk it up to a loss.

            FWIW, I think this situation could have been much worse but you did great damage control and saved yourself a lot of headaches.

      4. Annonymouse*

        Posting this up here because ….
        Imagine if the boss did write in though!

        Dear Alison,
        A worker I thought was my BFF has left working with the company and ME for another job.

        She never told me she was job searching or that she was unhappy here with the job or other people (not me of course, we were BFFs despite our 15 year age gap).

        I was so betrayed but kept up a professional facade to hide how hurt I was that she was abandoning me.

        She seems to be doing well and doesn’t want to come back at all! She was never really my friend.

        I unliked all her stuff on Facebook and she still hasn’t gotten the hint to call me, beg for my forgiveness and get her old job back (not that I’m sure I’d give it to her as she broke my trust so badly and has completely betrayed me.)

        How to I get her to come back? Do I call her boss and rescind my reference? Tell them we fired her for theft and drinking on the job?

      5. Amber*

        I’m actively job searching now, I have a great boss that I trust so I told him that I was job searching. I did that mainly so he could have a plan ready for who was going to take over all my work (I’m doing the jobs of what used to be handled by 3 people) so I really didn’t want to hurt the team by not having people trained. Job searching is still ongoing, it has taken much longer than I anticipated. My boss told me that when I told him, he’d given up on me. And now it was taking so long that he was going to pretend I never told him and he’d go back to guiding me with one-on-ones and giving feedback.

        So my lesson is, no mater now much you trust your boss, never NEVER tell you’re job searching until you’re putting in notice with an offer in hand. It’s not worth the risk.

    2. Cheshire Cat*

      I had a boss like this once, too. She placed a high value on loyalty, which she defined as “putting up with her s$$t no matter how toxic it gets.” There was a lot of turnover among the librarians (she was the director), partly because because leaving was the only way to get a raise & partly because of the toxicity. The director held a grudge against everyone who left because we weren’t loyal to her. It was wonderful to move on to a place where there isn’t any crazy.

  3. Moonsaults*

    My previous bosses are all incredible strange personalities of their own, making my job now with functioning adult bosses blow my mind every day. But woazah that lady is friendless by her own hand in every way it sounds like.

    That’s your second job and I hope this new one is so awesome for you, you never need anything from them anyways. I skipped using a previous boss and company this last time because everyone is emotionally charged and even though they love me to this day, they communicate poorly to put it nicely.

  4. Robbie*

    Ooh, I had a fellow student like this on the student society. She treated me like I was her best friend, because everyone else had hurt her so deeply at the school (red flag when the sweetest person there had “burned her so completely”). When I called her out on some unprofessional behaviour, she told me this is how women silence other women and that I have shown my true colours. She then proceeded to block me on every media, quit the student society, and blatantly ignore me despite how we were 2 small groups together.

    Some people just are not able to understand that professional behaviour is not just being agreeable all the time. Anything that is not 100% “best friend” behaviour is you being the enemy somehow. You did nothing wrong, and it is entirely up to her to deal with her feelings. Good luck OP with the new job!

    1. Zombii*

      Wait. She tried to gaslight you by using feminist talking points? I’m simultaneously appalled and impressed. That is next level in all the wrong ways.

  5. Lemon Zinger*

    Great advice from Alison. OP, your former boss is a trainwreck and nothing good can come out of you contacting her. Definitely secure a good reference from someone else at the company.

  6. Merida May*

    To me it sounds like D is trying to test the OP.. maybe to see if she’s as committed to their friendship as D expects her to be? That amount of tedious effort on social media has baiting undertones, which OP does not have to respond to at all. I know it’s hard to cut ties with a reference when you are just starting out in your career, but the lengths you’d need to go in order to keep things positive and friendly just seems exhausting. If you can find someone else in the company who can vouch for you I’d say go that route.

    1. Malibu Stacey*

      “To me it sounds like D is trying to test the OP.. maybe to see if she’s as committed to their friendship as D expects her to be?”

      This is my guess, having unfortunately been friends or coworkers with people like this. I’d go so far as to say D extended the dinner invitation to give LW the chance to be like, “Why did you unlike that picture of mine from NYE?” so D would get the chance to tell LW what an awful person she is.

      1. OP*

        Oh wow, I didn’t even think about her reaching out as a sort of test to see if I’d bite and ask about her weird behavior. That’s totally a possibility.

  7. Elizabeth*

    OP, have you otherwise been in touch after the first few weeks after you left your job five years ago? Because her getting into a huff about it all over again five years later has me going =O

      1. Elizabeth*

        Ah, that would indeed make a difference! Though I’m still a bit YIKES on it, it’s less scary than if it had been five years. :D

  8. Aunt Margie at Work*

    So she turned from a princess into a pumpkin.
    You did nothing wrong. You learned a lesson at very small cost to you. (Reference? Who knows? She could leave the company, leave the country; she could change her field, her name, or become unreachable in another way that nobody could anticipate.)
    In the future remember, the person who tells you “you’re my best friend” is not your friend. The person who is 15 years older than you, in a position of power in your life, overshares and makes “lighthearted threats” like “you better never leave!” “You better stay in touch” is not your friend.
    Don’t be hurt she’s acting this way. She’s not mad at you. She’s mad, as a hatter. Nothing she does is about you.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Another Pumpkin Boss, eh.

      Right, it’s always been my idea that besties agree that they are best friends. Any time some one just tells me I am their best friend, I start to worry. It does not go well usually. Of the good close friends I have had it’s usually come up in conversation, with both of us telling each other we feel the other has been a good friend.

      OP, I hope you do understand that this would have blown up sooner or later. It happened sooner, so here we are.

  9. Colorado*

    This line struck me immediately.
    has no friends, and transferred colleges four times because she “didn’t like the people.”
    My mom used to tell me when I was younger, “be wary of girls who have no friends, there’s usually a reason why”. Cold? Maybe, but I never understood how people don’t realize that when there’s nobody they get along with, the problem is them, not everyone else. Disengage, she off her rocker! Best of luck in the new job :D

    1. Lovemyjob...Truly!!!*

      My mom said the same thing! I once worked with a woman who told me that she didn’t have any girl friends because girls are awful and catty and can’t be trusted. I remember her look of shock and outrage when I told her that I would never be friends with a woman who didn’t have girlfriends because, to me, in indicated a lot of insecurity and immaturity that was just too much work to deal with.

      1. Artemesia*

        Yeah there is a big difference between people who are introverts and have few friends and people who brag about not having women friends because ‘women are so . . . .’

      2. Parenthetically*

        I totally used to be that person. Some of it was school dynamics, some was how girls are socialized, but some of it was genuinely insecurity and immaturity. I have a mix of men and women friends now, but my perception of women was 90% about me and 10% about the women around me.

        1. Zombii*

          I also used to be that person. In my defense, most of the girls I knew were insecure and immature (because we were 12, probably), and it took a long time to realize that (most) girls grow out of that. Also, saying “I don’t get along with girls” (when I was 12-17) was code-phrasing to find the non-conforming girls who also “didn’t get along with girls.”

          Now I’m adult, and I realize that’s problematic, and needlessly reinforces all the stereotypes. :(

    2. Malibu Stacey*

      Also be . . . I don’t to say *wary*, but cautious of someone 15 years older who wants to be your BFF. If we are talking 24 and 39 – there’s a world of difference in life experience there to make a compatible friendship for a lot of people.

      (Obviously it’s not impossible, but I am 37 and can’t imagine I’d have enough in common with most 22-yr-old women to have them as basically my only friend.)

      1. Mazzy*

        I agree for the most part but one of my closest friends is thirteen years older and we met when I was at my first job. I think she falls into the “too smart for her own good category” so when she finds someone who she can talk to about philosophy and politics and life in general then she makes friends with them, irregardless of demographic

      2. Kyrielle*

        I think it makes a difference how long they’ve known you, too. If someone that far from you in age goes from acquaintance to friend to BFF over *years*? Then you’re just compatible, probably.

        Almost anyone who wants to be your BFF overnight, or even really tight friends, is probably in it for something else. (Often satisfying their own loneliness – it doesn’t have to be a conscious ulterior motive – but still.) And it gets more-weird the less you have in common.

        1. Artemesia*

          Exactly. It is like guys who start talking marriage on a first date. Run. People especially in the workplace who latch onto the newbie in a group are often people who have burned a lot of other friendship bridges. when it is a peer in the workplace, it is often someone whom you really don’t want to be associated with or who has alienated other peers.

          1. FormerLW*

            When I was younger, I was a magnet for friends who would woo and pursue me and make me an insta-BFF. I was the perfect target for one particular attentive, affectionate, charismatic person with deep, deep issues. He was part of the small academic department where I ended up finishing out my degree, and red flags were a-waving – wanting to hang out all the time, disclosing too personal information too soon, jealousy over my time and contact with others, avoided by and disrespectful to our fellow students and instructors. If I had just been a little more patient and self-confident, I would have made other friends, in time. But my self-esteem was in the shredder, and I so longed for a friend to hang with, especially one who made me feel special. In hindsight, I did a lot of damage to my reputation among my university cohort through my close association with this person, who was good-looking, intelligent, loads of fun, — and treated everyone but me like total crap. And as it always, always goes, I started to get treated like total crap as well, especially when I didn’t go along with whatever this person wanted.

            There are certain common traits and vulnerabilities among women who associate with abusive romantic partners – I feel like I ticked every box as the poster girl for toxic and abusive friendships. Ultimately, I had to “ghost” the individual from university completely. I still wish I had more of a social circle and made friends more easily, but I’m doing great these days and will forever be wary of “love-bombing” from potential platonic friends.

            1. Artemesia*

              I am an introvert and moved to a new city 5 years ago knowing no one but my daughter’s family. I have worked explicitly on building a circle of friends and have been surprised at how easy it actually is when you actually set out to do it. The secret has been that when I meet someone new in a meet up or event that appeals to me, I trade phone numbers and then follow up to suggest a luncheon date. Almost no one takes the initiative in settings like these but when you do it really does work. sometimes we bore each other, sometimes they don’t like me but often it works out and I now have 3 girlfriends to go to museums or lunch or whatever with, two of whom have husbands my husband enjoys and so we do couples things together. And we have a dozen or so more casual friends whom we do things with. I wish I had discovered this in my 30s until waiting till my old age but back then I had work colleagues who sort of filled up that social need and so we didn’t really develop all that many personal friendships.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Dunno if this rings for you, but I think sometimes at younger ages we can tend to be more competitive than friendly. We are too focused on launching a family, a home, and a career to really build long lasting friendships. In some regard, we do need to focus on these things.

                Because the needs are different for each decade of life the mindset also changes. In some ways I think it gets easier as the decades roll by.

                I do know this, at any age, we have to play fair. OP’s boss will continue to have difficulties because she does not play fair.

        2. Annonymouse*

          Yeah … I’d also be wary of anyone wanting/forcing to get that close that quick (instead of finding someone that you genuinely click with and end up spending lots of time with).

          I’d also be put off by someone older using the term BFF. I’m in my early 30s and I don’t use it.

          I’d use good friend, close friend or best friend (singular – or possibly one of each gender).

          BFF is a bit too much and high school/ sorority for me.

      3. Alton*

        Or in general, I think it can be a warning sign when mature adults act really into the idea of being BFFs. Hitting it off with someone is one thing, but being focused on wanting someone to be your “best friend” and wanting to force emotional closeness suggests immaturity and insecurity to me. There’s a difference between enjoying someone’s company and wanting them to emotionally fulfill you, or being in love with the idea of having a friend.

        I think friendships with age differences can work well, but yeah, there can be lifestyle differences that can limit what type of friendship you have–which isn’t a terrible thing. Not every friend has to be (or should be) a “BFF.”

        1. BPT*

          I really love Mindy’s line in The Mindy Project: “Best friend isn’t a person. It’s a tier.”

          For a long time I would call multiple people my “best friend” because they were all equally close to me in different ways, and that’s great because you don’t have to rely on just one person to meet all your needs or rank your friends. Like if someone said, “Do you know Stacey?” I’d answer “Oh she’s like my best friend!” (and I might say that about more than one person).

          Now that I’m in my thirties, it does feel kind of weird to say “best friend,” so I’ve started using the term “one of my closest friends.”

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I like the concept of close friends, this allows for more than one. Best friend is usually one person. If we can establish and maintain a few close relationships we can really impact the quality of our lives.

        2. Annonymouse*

          It totally can depending on what you connect over and have in common.

          I’m about 10 years older than some of my coworkers and connect better with them than some who are the same age as me.

          But we have similar interests and I’m not trying to be “cool” or trying to recapture my youth nor are they trying to be more mature or worldly to fit in.

          But I wouldn’t call them my BFFs or anything close to that.

    3. Aunt Margie at Work*

      My mom told me “the person who comes up to you and says, I’m your friend and we aren’t THEIR friend” is the last person you want to be friends with.

    4. Mazzy*

      Not to mention that the person could also have been bullied or ostracized by the “cool” crowd. And many adults groups still act with that HS mentality

    5. Applesauced*

      If you meet an jerk in the morning, he’s a jerk. If you meet jerks all day long, you’re the jerk.

  10. Mae*

    It amazes me that people who possess these behaviors are also seemingly capable for leadership positions. Boundaries are so important, as I’ve learned. However, certain industries don’t advocate boundary setting, in my opinion. I’ve learned the hard way that it’s up to the individual to not feed into the clique-y mentality of certain environments.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I read an article that tried to correlate how many characteristics of leadership are also characteristics of sociopathic personalities. It was an interesting read. I can see how people can get duped into believing a person could lead people. Kind of scary actually.

  11. CBH*

    It sounds like she is having trouble processing that you viewed things as friendly working colleagues not as best friends forever! She probably feels betrayed by this and retaliated by blocking you socially. For her its all friendship or nothing. Just remember, you nothing wrong bettering yourself career wise. Good luck in the new job.

  12. AdAgencyChick*

    I have nothing more to add to what Alison already said, I just think that “time bomb of petulance waiting to explode” is ACES.

  13. The Optimizer*

    I had a somewhat similar situation and feel your pain. For me, I had a former coworker and good friend (we were probably BFFs at one point but a lot changed after she had a child and weren’t nearly as close as we once were) who brought me into the company I still work at now. I loved working with her when we were colleagues (though others that worked more closely with her didn’t share my opinion…now I know why) but with her as my sort of boss, it was pretty awful. She had a similar petulant streak, amongst other factors, that ultimately cost her her job . I ended up getting that job and once she found out, she stopped contacting me, didn’t interact on social media at all, etc. This was actually fine with me as the things I saw when we worked together that closely which permanently changed my opinion of her. We were still friends on social media but when I moved her and a bunch of other people I was not close with to get a more limited feed from me at the beginning of the year, she unfriended me within hours. She has since gone on to tell everyone that we used to work with that I sabotaged her in order to steal her job. Thankfully, I won’t ever have to rely on her for references and the people she’s been bashing me to seem to understand since they told me about it.

    1. Annonymouse*

      You totally sabotaged her by being competent and making her look bad by comparison.

      How could you? After everything she’s done for you, you heartless monster!

      In all seriousness these people will never look inwards and reflect on what they contributed to the situation/problem.

      Always the victim. Always everyone else’s fault and it was just circumstances and other peoples jerkiness that made them end up there.

      Reminds me of my dad. Sigh.
      You’re a grown ass person. Stop acting like a 5 year old and take some responsibility.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Going one step further, these folks who are always the victim are where they want to be. If you try telling them they are a human being first and a victim second, they fall apart. You have attacked their identity. If they are not victims they have no other identity.

        I don’t want to explain how I know this. Just “don’t attempt this at home”, as they say on TV.

  14. Venus Supreme*

    It sounds like you’re pretty happy in your current job and you aren’t looking for new work any time soon, so when the time comes for you to leave there’s a strong possibility you’ve made more connections (via volunteer work, side jobs, etc) who’d happily give a reference in addition to another coworker from OldJob. Who knows? Maybe D will have left the organization between new and job search time…

    Also, I have a D (lol that sounds funny) in my life too. She’s a friend of my boyfriend’s. I’ve never met her and in the first 3 years of dating she always sent me jewelry and other gifts and would text both Boyfriend and me her dating issues. One day she deleted the both of us on all social media fronts, but when Boyfriend’s mom died she ran back to us to offer condolences, etc. I accepted the apology and she explained she was upset that we weren’t paying enough attention to her (LOL WHAAAT). Well, a month later she blocked us on everything again.

    It’s best that we not entertain the D’s in our lives, OP. They cause nothing but trouble.

  15. Allison*

    Le sigh . . . there are people like this out there. Not just managers, they’re everywhere. They act like poor, neglected little kitties. Everyone is mean to them, no one understands them, no one really values or respects them. But YOU do! They attach to you instantly, acting like you’re the bestest person in the whole wide world and their best friend ever! You’re an angel, you’re so good to them, they feel so blessed. They gush about how happy you make them on social media. But then you do something they don’t like. It can be something like leaving the job where you work for them. Or maybe you get a stomach bug and have to bail on their birthday party, or you turn down an invite to grab drinks because you already made plans. You take up a hobby or get a significant other and don’t have as much time for them. Maybe they need something, like a place to crash or help moving, a ride to the doctor or rent money, and for whatever reason you’re unable to help them. Basically, you someone stop being the perfect bestie.

    WHAM! They’re enraged. They went from adoring you do hating your guts in 60 seconds. You never cared about them, you were just using them, like everyone else! You disrespected them! You’re a horrible, cold, unfeeling monster. You’re toxic! And they respect themselves too much to be around toxic people, so you are GONE! They are gonna cut you out forever.

    I’ve encountered people like this. Never gotten on their bad side, but I’ve seen it happen (so I remain a neutral acquaintance, knowing what happens to people who befriend them), and these people straight up terrify me.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      HA, this is totally my ex. “Every other girl I dated before you was crazy!”

      Pretty sure he told his next girlfriend I was crazy.

      1. Allison*

        Oh yeah, I think every woman dates at least one guy like this. Say all his exes are crazy, then act like a jerk and imply that you’re crazy for being upset.

      2. Parenthetically*

        Ugh, “You’re so different than all those OTHER girls who are shallow/crazy/whatever” is like the worlds reddest red flag in early days. Like do not try to compliment me by insulting other women.

      3. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        If every girl you date is crazy…..what’s the common denominator?

      4. JanetM*

        From long ago on Usenet:

        If I even get a whiff of “See my shiny halo, did you know my ex is a psychotic minion of Satan?” I’m out of there quicker than you can say “I don’t want to be next”.
        – Ancient Kung Foole Proverb by MetalFem

    2. Relly*

      This is so, so, perfectly phrased.

      The one tweak I’d make — sometimes, unfortunately, you aren’t Cut Off Forever. My D decided I was THE WORST MONSTER EVER and gave me a horrible ranting sobbing chewing out, over something where I’m still not sure what set her off. And then a couple of days later bounced up to me like it had never happened, wanting squishy hugs and yay it’s you!!!!!

      I cut her out, at that point. Not out of rage or even eyerolling “whatever,” but because … I was young and naïve and had been convinced, convinced, I could save her from the awful people (see also: my own issues) But when she had lashed out, she’d been downright cruel. And I realized I just couldn’t ride her roller coaster any more; I was losing too much blood.

      She still contacts me periodically to ask how I’m doing and chirp about her life and be very sad that I’m still angry at her. I can’t reply and tell her I’m not angry, because if I reply I will dive head first into her Maelstrom again. So I delete the messages and feel guilty that she thinks I’m mad, but I’m not mad, and I just can’t do it any more. Is it weird to say that a friend broke your heart?

      1. Allison*

        Yes, this is true. You reminded me of someone I had to cut out last year. We had this crazy yo-yo friendship since college. We’d be buddies, then one day he’d get mad at me and unfriend me, block me, and stop responding to text messages. I’d be sad for a year or so, then move on, and he’d reach out and apologize for being a jerk – he was going through issues, you see, so we’d go back to being buddies for a bit, and the cycle would continue. It was usually for different reasons. Sometimes he chewed me out first, sometimes he’d cut me out silently and not explain why until he came back.

        The last time was the last straw, because I was tired of getting hurt and being left to wonder what I did wrong, and I told him “keep your distance this time.”

        He’s texted me a couple times since, and I’ve been tempted to respond, because sometimes I feel like I need the kind of friendship we had when we were warm and fuzzy, but I stayed strong. I feel like I sent him the wrong message every time he wandered back to me.

      2. Grayson*

        It is perfectly understood when you say a friend broke your heart. I had a friend use me as an emotional punching bag for three days straight when I tried everything from empathy to sympathy to quiet reassurance that I was there for him while he went through problems. When he continued with the one-two punch combos, I finally called him out on his shitty behavior. His response was to end our friendship of two years because of that. I cried my eyes out.

      3. Cheshire Cat*

        Yeah, this is real. I have a colleague with whom I was friends for many years. Then one day she stopped speaking to me. When I confronted her about it, she said that I was being passive-aggressive (!) and she didn’t want to be friends anymore. Almost a year later, she told me that she’d been “a bad friend” but, between the lack of a real apology and wondering if she would ever do it again, I don’t want to be close friends again. Ugh.

      1. Allison*

        I’m glad I’m not crazy.

        But seriously, knowing someone like this has had a really shitty impact on my self esteem, and general psychological wellbeing. I would start to become overly critical of my own behavior around others, convinced that a certain friend who “really cares about respect, you guys” would someone get angry if I was anything less than perfect around others. And when I tried to tell her this, she took it to mean she inspired me to be a better person. No, being anxious and extremely self-conscious around strangers and constantly beating myself up over every little mistake is not an improvement!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Ding, ding, ding, we have a winning answer!

          Right. They have some power issues going on. “I grant you your sense of self-worth, YOU need me!”

          Drrrrrr. NO. My sense of self-worth comes from ME and no where else.

    3. MuseumChick*

      Now that I think about this not only did I work for someone like this once (see my post up thread) I had a “friend” like this for years. I had been scaling back the friendship for a long time (I remember I didn’t even know why until I went to therapy…) but she just could not take it. The final straw was when I refused to fly out (from across the country) 3 or 4 weekends in a row for her wedding. I was working a retail job at the time as a manager and her wedding was in December, our busiest time. She got so mad at me when I told I wouldn’t be able to attend. Her “compromise” was that I fly out for her wedding show, Bach. party, etc all of which would require me to fly out on a Friday (after I had been working until 9pm) and fly back Sunday, repeat for each event.

      I’m very glad that friendship is over.

      1. Allison*

        Why would you need to go there 3-4 weekends in a row? I know in some cultures you have a week long celebration, but what kind of crazy wedding takes place over a month? Who would expect even their local friends to set aside that many weekends? Couldn’t you have just gone on the weekend the actual ceremony was taking place? I mean, even if you couldn’t do that, because retail, a reasonable person would understand.

        1. MuseumChick*

          She had all these events, wedding shower weekend one, bach. party weekend two, I forget what the others ones were but yeah, that was her “compromise” if I couldn’t come to the wedding. It took me going to therapy to realize how unhealthy the friendship was. This person had no sense of boundaries and at the time (this where I was wrong) I couldn’t be straightforward with her and just end the friendship.

          Basically, with how the schedule was set up at my job I would have to choose to go to her wedding or spend Christmas with my family. That was not a hard call for me to make since my family is top priority to me.

          Really she needed a therapist more than a friend and I had basically served that function before moving to the other side of the country to go to college. I spend years in a push-pull kind of situation with her were I was constantly trying to pull back from the friendship and she was constantly trying to pull me back. Once the wedding stuff happened I got myself a therapist and things started to become clear.

          1. Allison*

            So basically, she booked her wedding close to Christmas, making some people have to choose between the wedding and family time, and then got upset that some people chose family? Sounds clueless and selfish.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              “Oh, but if you reeeally LOOOVE me that would not be a hardship for you to chose what you are going to do.”


    4. Rincat*

      A coworker in my former (yay!) department was exactly like this. We became friends quickly, but he wanted to be SUPER BESTIE FRIENDS, and I did not – especially because he was so toxic and negative. He gave up on me when I had a baby and dared to spend all my free time taking care of said baby. I was so tired of him by then, since all he talked about was how terrible his two remaining friends were, and why didn’t anyone understand him, why was he so different from everyone in the world, blah blah blah. So glad I’m in a new job and far, far away from him!

  16. Mazzy*

    As years go on I get completely sidetracked by the news ways to insult or show you don’t like someone. I can’t get it into my head that LinkedIn facebook etc are part of the “real world” so I don’t go there or to other sites to take out my feelings. Seems like a horrible idea. I guess I like more actionable ways to express my feelings.

  17. OP*

    I just want to say thank you all SO much for chiming in!!! Hearing others have gone through something similar is really helpful, and y’all are correct that I LOVE my current job and don’t plan on leaving any time soon, so I’m not like, in debt to her for a reference or something. I seriously appreciate the feedback and I’m feeling much better about the situation.

    1. Katie*

      I’m glad to hear that. It sounds like she might have done you a favor by removing herself from your life, honestly. As long as you have other options for a reference if you ever need one, you can just write this off as a case of an ex-boss who’s very immature and has some kind of major issues.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      You are doing very well. Additionally, this one will never sneak up on you again, you will recognized these people sooner and you will probably never have a similar issue.
      And it’s your turn to help people who are in the spot you were in.

  18. MommyMD*

    You cannot use the crazy person as a reference. Hopefully, you won’t need one. Do not let this unbalanced person back into your life. The signs were there. Even if she comes back on you friendly and apologetic, she’ll do it again. She’s a nut.

  19. Lord of the Ringbinders*

    She hasn’t gone from best friend to petulant child, OP, she’s gone from crazy to still being crazy.

    1. MommyMD*

      Exactly. She’s crazy and even petulant children don’t act like this. She’s got a diagnosis in that brain somewhere.

  20. Alton*

    I’m sorry you went through this. I agree with the consensus that it’s not your fault.

    In a way, though, I think there may be a silver lining here in that at least you know now that you can’t trust her. You didn’t do anything to compromise her as a reference–she was already unpredictable and unstable. Better to know about it and make a break now than to find out because she gives you a bad reference or something.

  21. babblemouth*

    Hindsight is 20/20, I’m sure, but for the record, here’s my story to know what a reasonable boss would have done:
    I had a couple interns a few years ago I really liked as people. They were just a bit younger than me, and I truly felt we could be rgeat friends. *Because* of that, I made a point of keeping my distance a little bit, so that if a professional issue arose, I wouldn’t have a problem shifting from friend to manager. There were a few times when I was glad to have kept myself in the manager position (“No, Betty, if your work hours say 9 to 5, you can’t just wander in at 10. If you’re delayed, I expect you to text me” etc).

    After their internships ended, I invited them for a drink to celebrate them and an awesome internship. They are now amongst my closest friends. I have zero regrets.

    1. babblemouth*

      And re-reading myself, I feel like I come off a bit condescending. My apologies, I didn’t mean to.
      My point was: she was never really your friend, because if she was, she wouldn’t have put you in this position.

  22. Rolling*

    This makes me feel better. I ended a toxic friendship with a colleague last year. We became super close after a week, but then, after knowing her for a month, I forgot her birthday. Not on the actual day. I just forgot the exact day it was several weeks before it happened. She retaliated by texting me a list of everything she hated about me. :/

    Our paths cross sometimes but I’ve learned you can’t fix crazy and to be suspicious of people who seem to hate everyone except you because eventually they’ll hate you too.

    Life is a lot more productive when you’re around positive people.

    1. Boop*

      Was she testing you by asking if you knew her birthday? That’s pretty crazy.

      Also, I sometimes can’t remember my own birthday, so….

      I’ve definitely known people like this, mostly women. My feeling is that if Everyone Ever is So Unfair and Betrayed you and Treated you So Horribly, you need to really consider the common factor in all of those situations. Hint: it’s YOU.

      Not to get too political, but this thread is really reminding me of someone.

      1. Rolling*

        She asked when my birthday was, so I told her and then I asked her when her birthday was. I regretted the question immediately, haha.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I remember when I first met my husband. I was 19 and not really thinking bigger picture. He said one of the things he liked about me was that I had long term relationships in my life. I took him to meet neighbors, friends, and extended family, people that I had known for most of my life. He felt that these long term relationships said something about me. I was just doing what I ordinarily do. He said, “yeah. That’s the point right there.”

  23. Anonymous Poster*

    I’m envisioning Sarah McLachlan playing behind a sobbing person dramatically unliking old photos of food and untagging herself from awkward work function photos.

    You can’t fix crazy. Glad to hear you’re liking the new job.

    1. Spoonie*

      I’ve seen too many ASPCA commercials. Just seeing Sarah McLachlan’s name immediately puts images of sad puppies and kittens in my head.

      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        Man, one of those commercials can wreck my whole damn night.

  24. Joan Holloway*

    Strictly addressing the concern about getting a good reference from your ex-boss, Alison’s advice to use someone who worked closely with you instead is excellent.

    My last boss was incredibly temperamental, and I would spend months thinking we were on excellent terms before he would have a meltdown about something he’d never mentioned before, completely out of nowhere. Until the next-to-last day of my work there, I assumed we were going to part on good terms. I had spent the past month prepping training materials and the past week training the new hire, and I was sure that I was special and had finally engendered his goodwill.

    That Thursday, he put me on blast about checking my phone at the office (while he went over new bills with the new hire and I helped as necessary), waxed wounded about how it kept him up all night and how he didn’t want to come to work that morning because I had so offended and disrespected him. He went so far as to say that if I couldn’t behave properly then we should just part ways then and there. I worked out the day and then told him that I would not be working the last day of my notice considering our previous exchange (of course he was shocked and wounded yet again).

    TL;DR No matter how amazing you were at your job, no matter what you did to mollify your boss during your work there, you cannot count on someone that temperamental to be a good reference in the future. You just can’t fight that kind of crazy. Best of luck in your new gig, and I’m certain you have a coworker who will do you justice in a reference in the future.

    1. Annonymouse*

      Oh my GOD do I second this.
      My control freak boss (the one who climbed a mountain at a meditation retreat to get internet on his phone to check I was responding to work emails) was like this.

      I left in good shape – at least 6 weeks to 2 months advanced notice that I was looking and interviewing (which I blamed on work injuries that where impacting my ability to do my job and not because he is a colossal ass hat) helped train my replacement, worked hard until my leaving date.

      When I was job searching again 7 months later (new job was not a good culture fit) I inadvertently applied to a franchise location of his company. (Different company name and head of that location. Also this franchise opened a bit after I left.)

      I applied then realised it was the newest one of his franchises. Franchisee calls me up and says he wants to hire me but has to get ok from Control Freak as I’d have to be trained by Control Freak for the first month and attend the monthly all staff meeting.

      Control Freak is “not interested in working with me again.” Because I’m the first person to ever voluntarily leave instead of being fired or forced out.

      I thank franchisee for their getting back to me, wish them the best in their search and congratulate myself on that lucky escape.

      As a side note Control Freaks business has declined by 30-40% since I left and customer complaints have drastically increased because he is an ass hat to clients as well as staff.


    This is why sometimes now I get hesitant of becoming buddies with office mates. I’ve got a similar scenario involving a former colleague who turned on me so bad that I had to speak with my boss (and thus speaking with my boss’ boss) about hearing how she would trash talk about me to other employees. She sent me a scathing letter to my private email, with verbiage that appalled both my boss, her then boss, and eventually our publisher upon reading it.

        1. Annonymouse*

          Imagine if the boss did write in though!

          Dear Alison,
          A worker I thought was my BFF has left working with the company and ME for another job.

          She never told me she was job searching or that she was unhappy here with the job or other people (not me of course, we were BFFs despite our 15 year age gap).

          I was so betrayed but kept up a professional facade to hide how hurt I was that she was abandoning me.

          She seems to be doing well and doesn’t want to come back at all! She was never really my friend.

          I unliked all her stuff on Facebook and she still hasn’t gotten the hint to call me, beg for my forgiveness and get her old job back (not that I’m sure I’d give it to her as she broke my trust so badly and has completely betrayed me.)

          How to I get her to come back? Do I call her boss and rescind my reference? Tell them we fired her for theft and drinking on the job?

  26. Nathaniel*

    I’m going to offer a different perspective. Stop worrying about who friends you, unfriended you, liked you, didn’t like you, etc.

    I unfriend people all the time. It isn’t because of resentment or bitterness. I simply keep it close and try not to share my world with everyone.

    Sometimes people move on. It is only drama if you let it continue to bug you. Take this as a sign she has moved on. If you want to be kind, remember the good times and be cordial when you meet again.

    1. Zombii*

      Yeah, but do you make a habit of going through everything you’ve ever liked on someone’s profile, and then unliking it, after unfriending someone (not out of resentment or bitterness, obviously, just completing the ritual Unliking Of All The Things to really drive the unfriending home—assuming they notice)? That’s the excessive part.

      When someone is overdramatic in all their interactions, even their work interactions, and it might impact your own worklife in the form of a bad reference in future, not recognizing that is naive to the point of being detrimental. It doesn’t take any more energy than lining up a different reference.

    2. Annonymouse*

      It takes a lot of energy to be as petty as D is (is that an oxymoron? It feels like it should be an oxymoron).

      If D had simply moved OP to restricted view or unfriended her I’d agree that OP is getting way too involved in petty old work drama and to let it go.

      But this goes way beyond that. OP has right to be concerned that an old boss (who might be in a position to trash OPs rep if it’s a small industry or a small town / local market) is acting this way after OP has made an effort to be friendly.

      So setting up the different reference and cutting D out of her life both seem reasonable in light of what’s going on.

  27. Fiennes*

    On the bright side: this person sounds histrionic enough that even if someone did ask her professional opinion, she’d probably betray that it was personal in .08 seconds.

  28. The Supreme Troll*

    OP, I think that, instead of referring to your former boss as “D”, perhaps it would have been more appropriate to call her “F minus” instead.

  29. Amy*

    Thank you for this! I left a time bomb of petulance a few months ago and was devastated when she explicitly revoked a long-standing offer to be a positive reference, among other petty nonsense. It’s comforting to know she would have done it any way, regardless of how gently I tried to leave.

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