The Catoosa County News

Teasing among reader’s group of friends has become hurtful

- By Harriette Cole Harriette Cole is a lifestylis­t and founder of DREAMLEAPE­RS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriet­te@ harriettec­ or c/o Andrews Mcmeel Syndicatio­n, 1130 Walnut St., Kan

DEAR HARRIETTE: Sometimes it feels like no matter what I say or do, my friend group always makes jokes at my expense. Even though I laugh along, it still feels like the jokes are usually pointed in my direction. I don’t know if it’s intentiona­l or not, but it’s difficult for me to just sit there and take it. Everyone always tells me to lighten up and relax, but that’s getting harder and harder each time we meet up. How can I stop this from happening? What could I have done to become the friend in the group that everyone laughs at? — Butt of the Jokes

DEAR BUTT OF THE JOKES: Friend dynamics are among the most puzzling, second only to families. When you are part of a friend group, sadly there often is one person who becomes the punching bag. You are right to believe that the negative behavior demonstrat­ed by the friends is not always conscious or intentiona­l. It sometimes becomes a knee-jerk experience. One minute innocent banter is being volleyed about; the next, daggers seem to be tossed. You probably became the punching bag because you didn’t stop it immediatel­y the first time someone threw a jab.

Regardless of the reason, the way to get it to stop is to stop tolerating it. The next time someone says something inappropri­ate about you or to you, call them on it and walk away. Leave the group at once. If they continue to barb at you when you rejoin, leave again. Be prepared to exit the group for good if they don’t get the message. You deserve to be treated better. This could be a sign that it’s time for you to make new friends.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I agreed to model for my friend, who is an aspiring photograph­er. I trusted my friend to share the pictures with me first before putting them on social media, but he didn’t honor our agreement. The pictures that he shared were horrible. They weren’t even edited. People from school, friends, family and even complete strangers have seen the pictures — all of which were unflatteri­ng.

The experience was so embarrassi­ng that I wished I had never agreed to help in the first place. He eventually took them down, but I had to practicall­y plead with him to remove them. Was I overreacti­ng, or was he wrong for posting without letting me approve them first? — Unflatteri­ng Pictures

DEAR UNFLATTERI­NG PICTURES: You were not wrong to expect this photograph­er to honor his agreement. It sounds like his idea of what is flattering and yours are different. In the future, you may want to put your agreement in writing as to how photograph­s can be shared before a single photo is taken so that everyone is crystal clear about usage.

Good for you that you pressed him to take them down until he relented. Make it clear to him that none of those images can be used again. Ask to see the others to determine if anything is salvageabl­e. Remember that this person fancies himself an artist. He is likely extremely uncomforta­ble that you disliked his art so vehemently. Help him to see if he can use anything at all from the shoot, and tell him specifical­ly what you think doesn’t work about the images he initially posted.

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