How to Handle a Dominating Friend

Updated March 23, 2017

In an ideal world, friendships would be mutually respectful and cooperative, consisting of two individuals both equally attuned to each other's needs and responsive to each other's want. In many friendships, however, this balance simply doesn't exist. If you find yourself engaged in a relationship with a friend who tries to dominant you, you may feel as if you are constantly being coerced into doing something that you don't want to do. To stop this feeling and strengthen your friendship, put time and effort into navigating around the issues created by your friend's dominance.

Evaluate the problem independently. Take some time to think about the issues that your friend's dominance creates before trying to do anything about it. To put your thoughts onto paper, divide a sheet of paper into two columns and list problems associated with your friend's dominance on the far left side, and any benefits of it on the right. Your left column could, for example, contain, "She tries to tell me what to do," while the right column may contain, "I never have to make a choice about where to eat lunch."

Discuss the problem. Sit down with your friend in a private place and explain any problems that you see as existing in your friendship. Use the list you made in your left column as your guide, committing it to memory before you have this sit-down. When telling your friend of these problems, make it clear to him that you do value him as a friend and that you want your friendship to continue, but that the dominance problem is too big to ignore.

Thank her for the good things she does. To ensure that this sit-down doesn't feel like a round of "Attack the Friend," mention the things you listed in your right column as well, telling her what you appreciate about her and what you enjoy about your friendship.

Commit to exerting your independence. Remind yourself that no one can dominate you unless you allow it to happen. So make a personal commitment to not allowing it to happen.

Revisit the issue if it continues to be problematic. If your friend remains just as dominant as on day one, even after your discussion, and you feel that you can't stand up to her powers of persuasion, discuss the issue again.Tell your friend that you still feel it is an issue and that perhaps you need to think of a new way to deal with the problem.

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About the Author

Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.