Dear Woo Woo Girl:

One of my best girlfriends of 22 years has turned into a mean girl. We used to have so much fun together, travelling, partying and enjoying life. Now all she does is give me snide remarks, criticizes everything I do, including how I look after my dog, letting my now enrolled in College son drop out of school, how I helped a friend and not visiting my mother who was dying during the height of Covid-19.

 I love her to death, but this is wearing me out. I did call her out on it, saying she was being incredibly judgmental. Her response was to say that our values were different. In fairness, I had gone through a ten year rough patch where I was completely stressed out and my choices were not the best. But I am on solid ground now and not sure what to do. I was particularly hurt that someone would criticize the way I said goodbye to my mother. Who gets to judge that?
Is it time to quit?  
Signed Hurt and Befuddled

Dear Hurt and Befuddled.
I think your girlfriend has forgotten that personal relationships, like life have an ebb and flow to them. Even through a pandemic. If you can get past this you will probably be friends for life, but the question is do you want to? Are you too hurt to move past it all?
If it were me I would take the “We need to talk” approach, rather than respond to each cutting criticism, or “Can we talk.” Use your big girl voice, and make a date.
Sit down and look at the overall picture with her. You could start off by saying,
“I get the feeling like you need to say something to me. Now is a good time.”
Let her have her say, all in one sitting.
DON’T try and justify yourself.
Listen, sip on a glass of wine, and even laugh. No matter how much it hurts. You are not laughing at her per se. You are laughing at the idea that someone isn’t getting you. Even incredibly smart people can miss the boat. Have fun with it.

Then, when it’s your turn, start off with “I love you dearly, but…”

Explain that the last 10 years were difficult, and not the best. That the decisions you made were not always perfect but based on what you were going through, it was all you could do. This would be a aha moment for a true friend. She needs to be reminded that everyone has a threshold and you were operating within yours.

But honestly, wouldn’t she know this? This is what I mean about people. Sometimes they can’t put two and two together. They are looking at your reaction and disproving rather than evaluating what drove you to do what you did. This is where relationships and judgement get tricky. It’s muddled because context is everything. So are extenuating circumstances.

When you keep it light even if the conversation is serious, it shows that you are in a better head space and her seriousness might be valid but, not over the top enough to be mean about it.
Seriously? It’s human nature to judge, but unless it’s life threatening or self destructive, no one has the right to intervene. Unless she is living with you 24/7, living in your shoes, then there are certain topics that are out of bounds unless you ask for advice or help. Then it becomes fair game, and she gets to act like the critical mother.

Sometimes it’s simply a boundary issue. Maybe over the years you have allowed your friend and others to intrude when boundaries should have been in place. You can look at it as a perfect opportunity to say let’s have fun, and unless I really need your advice, don’t give it to me.
If you can walk away buzzed from the wine, and feel like she has understood that life wore you out, and you are now on solid ground with a white chalk line circling your personal space, then you have a good chance of recovery. If you walk away feeling hurt, fuming, and need to drink another bottle of wine, then it just might be time to say goodbye. Keep in mind, though. Life is fluid. One year something is devastating and the next year, something else will hurt you dearly.