I have this family friend I work with that is driving me nuts. Anytime I mention anything, she has to one-up me. If I say I went to the mountains over the weekend, she says her husband is taking her on a one-week cruise to Hawaii. If I say my daughter is excited about going to college, she says her daughter won some big scholarship to a great school. If I mention my husband at all, she brings up how these head hunters are trying to recruit her husband for some huge-paying job. (My husband was laid off and is between jobs at the moment, so this one smarts a little.)

I don’t really buy into the status game or materialism thing or anything, but I find myself getting so irritated nevertheless. Please advise.

–Baffled (United States)


First of all, know that this woman must be very insecure and unhappy with her life if she constantly needs to one-up you on everything. This is probably exacerbated by the fact that you are family friends. I don’t know how long you have known each other, but sometimes family friends can light up a person’s insecurity and competition even more than general acquaintances or friends.

Second, know that resistance to competition (even when you’re not necessarily a competitive person) can sometimes make you stuck in the competition energy, AKA the good ole rat race. So whenever your friend tries to drag you into the one-upmanship game, just validate you and your life for exactly what it is and be grateful to all that is. If you want, you can also keep the details of your life to yourself so as not to give her any ammunition to use to try to pull you into that game. And give her space to be exactly where she is at, knowing she’s doing her best as she knows it to be.

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