Friend Poaching: The Social Crime of Friend Theft

Recently I was presented with two cases of severe friend poaching by friends suffering, as many of us have, at the hands of people who don't seem to check their rearview social mirrors when making their moves.

You've probably done it and don't even realize it. The time you spend not hanging out with a friend who was recently snatched from under your nose is a good opportunity to reflect on your past behavior in a new light. Watching my friends go through this recently has brought to mind my own experiences with this, as a poacher, a poachee, and of course the third-party victim of this sneaky art.

It seems there's some question as to the etiquette of befriending other people's friends, and over the course of the past few years I've re-examined what I think the Friend Poaching Bylaws should be. And we need Friending Bylaws because, let's be honest, the internet has put our social graces in the pooper. Society probably didn't need Bylaws before because people interacted in person in the past; now, the use of phone/Facebook/email has made it easier to sidle up to a new person instantly rather than earning that company through time and effort. It gives you access, after a quick Google stalking or similar, to someone who you wouldn't have seen back in the day until another event, where the Original Friend would be on watch.

As for the recent Cases of Friend Poachery that I heard about:
Situation A: The person had introduced a friend to their larger circle of friends a couple of times. That second person then planned an event to which all of Friend #1's social circle were invited. It was essentially a luncheon composed of people you might expect at, say, Friend #1's surprise birthday party... But it wasn't.

Situation B: This one was a double-whammy because, not only were friends poached, but ethics of female loyalty were crossed. A best friend was poached by another close girlfriend, who then proceeded to set up said new friend with castaways that the Hub Friend hadn't worked as setups. Ouch.

Now, as anyone who has ever come to any event I've thrown can tell, I LOVE mixing my friends. I do it all the time; which is why my college friends know my grad school friends, know my family friends, know my random friends. It's just what I do, almost a game in my head to figure out how I can connect people and who might enjoy each other's company. But there are ethics to befriending the friends of your loved ones. And here they are. Print it out and keep it handy.

1. Before poaching, ascertain status
Thou shalt not poach new friends, exes, or people your friend is currently on the skids with (romantically or socially). We have all watched many seasons of Beverly Hills 90210, and accordingly, we know these rules forward and backwards, so I won't go into them.

2. Ease into it
What is the hurry?

These days I will go to a party and come home to a 2am Facebook add. Is that really necessary? When you're befriending someone through an existing friend, determine whether you need to become instant best friends with that person. Because those are the most egregious poachings.

Connectors (aka. Hub Friends) are connectors because on some level, they *like* introducing people. Their ultimate intent (I say this as a Hub Friend) is for everyone to get along. No one is saying don't go to dinner or a movie or hang out with a new friend. But when it happens quickly or when it's done in a shady manner (which I'm not defining, because the short rule is if you have to ask, it's probably shady) is when it's a no-no. By cutting out Hubbers, it removes the fun for them, and then we'll have less of them. And God knows we already have enough selfish people.

Connectors want to build and expand the network, not create grounds for a disassociated rebel camp elsewhere, which is often what happens. To properly poach/acquire a new friend, it is helpful to retain respect for the original friendship, because no matter at what point you join in, by definition you can never have the history the others have.

The goal is to grow your social network, not steal it.

3. Exemption: friends in close geographic proximity to one another.
When a friend moves to a new town, I will often try to introduce them to locals. Logic dictates that those people might become close or that they will hang out more than the distanced friend is able to. My first group of San Diego friends (the ones who set me up blogging, actually) is based on friend poaching, something I constantly acknowledge and thank Hub Friend Amit for.

4. If you poach friends, there are consequences.
There always are. And you have to know this, because when you befriend someone else's friend, a quick calculation can be done in your head to figure out if it's worth it. It's cost-benefit analysis, with people on the scales.

There are people I would have loved to get to know, but out of respect for the friend who introduced us, I keep a distance until I get the signal that they're cool with it- or I ask. If an assessment of other people's feelings doesn't come naturally to you, err on the side of caution. Wait it out. You do not want to be the leader of a rebel camp, nor do you want your life story to read like cheesy US Magazine tabloid fodder.

In the cases where I have poached too quickly (Rule #2, above), the Hub Friend became more distant. Likewise, when my friendship grounds are poached upon, I tend to lose interest in both of the people involved, whether it's to a degree, or completely.

Now, this morning a friend mentioned a poaching situation in which a friend started dating a sibling... Being a romantic, I think some of these rules go out the window for love. But the distance is gonna happen and you better be prepared for it.

We all get excited about new people; the crime (and consequences) appear to come in two forms:
1) becoming so excited that you neglect your original friendship
2) moving in so closely/intensely that you railroad the Hub Friend (aka. The 7th Grade Popularity Contest poach maneuver)

I could write a book on this, but I have Facebook friend adds to attend to.

A Final Note
Most legislation has notes at the bottom, where Congress or whoever talks about the reasoning or the way the laws should be interpreted. For the avoidance of doubt, Friend Poaching isn't the same thing as "Befriending". You befriend a new person with time, shared effort, and generally some level of inclusion of the person who introduced you. If you notice yourself cutting someone out of the loop, chances are you are friend poaching. If you mumble the Poachee's name in conversation with the person who introduced you, chances are you're friend stealing. Maybe you're doing so because you're retaliating ("Poaching Warfare"), or maybe you're doing it because you don't think they'd be interested in whatever you are proposing to do with your shiny new friend. As always, err on the side of caution. Maybe Sid doesn't want to go get a pedicure with you and Nancy, but it's nice to ask.

Most of us have down pat the social etiquette of not moving in romantically on other people's crushes, exes and such. We don't think twice about the fact that it's wrong. The Anti-Friend Poaching concept is the corollary of that.

In closing, be nice to your friends, and enjoy their friends... But don't poach them, for the only things that should be poached are eggs. Because they are mm mm good.


Anonymous said...

You don't own your friends, therefore someone cannot poach them. Think about what the word "poach" means. It means to hunt and take a landowner's game animal possessions without his/her permission. Is this how you view your friends, as possessions on your land?

Anonymous said...

nope i totally agree with this blog. i have a friend who always adds my friends on facebook after she meets them once and expects to be their friend after i do all the hard work meeting and building a friendship. she needs to find her own... i say this coz she uses them. if its a guy she asks them to pay for her and my guy friends think shes into them when shes into their money. and my girlfriends she uses them for lifts, she doesnt drive.what bugs me is she expects it and doesnt return the favour

Anonymous said...

I agree with this blog (and partly of the above comment)

• Friendship takes time to become a long lasting.
• Don't invite yourself into people's lives so quickly, it's creepy.
• Respect Boundaries of others.
• Don't put "new friends" in an awkward position by adding them after the first introduction (they may ONLY be adding you because you're on their friend's list, not because they actually want to be your friend)

It's all about etiquette and having manners.

Anonymous said...

This can be applied to people who keep their exes' family (who they don't really communicate with)

Anonymous said...

I agree with the first comment. Poaching is an offensive word, especially if you've made an introduction and the two people hit it off. I've introduced many mutual friends of mine who have ended up becoming better friends. I think that's fantastic.

People who guard their friendships are insecure. People are things that you own and can dictate who they should form a connection two cents.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Very interesting... I've been building friendships for years and sharing them very readily. Never even considered that this is a possibility until "B". I've always been open with sharing friends and maybe 2 years ago my husband and I go to her home to a dinner party and it was all of my friends! A bit odd and I even joked that she was trying to steal my friends. It has just become more and more common, but with almost every single friend of mine. I mean, really, I like many of my friends' friends, but come on... all of them? Really?

At this point I absolutely consider her a serial friend poacher. This so concerned me that I had to go online and see if there are others out there who have experienced such a thing. It actually reminds me of the movie something like Mr. Ripley.

Just posting this gets some of my angst out. She has gone too far and it is time to cut my losses. The challenge is that she has gone so far into my network, from high school, to college and grad school (and different states!) that this will not be easy to do. I'm a very friendly person and connect with people easily. I won't choose to leave my old friends in order to cool it with her, but I will definitely not share my new friends with the "B".

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with this. My husband and I are friends with another couple. She is a friend of mine from the age of 4. We became very close in the last 10 years, sharing confidences with them about all our other mutual friends. Eventually this came to bite us in the ass. We invited them to everything and mixed friends and family so they know all of our network. Over the years I began to notice that they would have an opinion on friends of ours as if they knew them as well or better then us. It would take to long to explain, but the other husband would make a statemetn about a friend of over 20 years of my husband when they had only ever met loosely through us. Next thing the other husband and my husband's friend were playing tennis regularly and my husband wasn't asked. They are better players and I felt very bad for my husband. This continued over the years with him playing golf with my brothers, tennis with my husband's brother. Then when we would meet up we would have to listen to all the things that had gone on and that they knew about that we mightn't know. I found it very hurtful. It then continued with my sister in law and my husband who we are very close with. They got to know each other through us but over time we noticed that when we were there, we were ignored as they were so busy talking about things they had in common that we didn't know about and generally trying to impress each other. I know what you say about being insecure, but I genuinely thought to myself this is my issue, I need to get over it. They are my favourite people in the world and went along to another night with the 6 of us, where to say we were completely cut out of the picture, was an understatement. I think they were aware I was upset and they haven't organised another night and I won't be mixing them again.
Its now happening again with an old school friend of my husband. He and the other husband are at matches toether with the kids, their kids are the same age. Mine is much younger. There are play dates etc... drop offs, pick ups, cups of coffee etc.. Our friends had asked us to their house this weekend. I had said yes. Then I get a text saying they'd like to ask the other couple as well. I'm so sick of this. My father is terminally ill and I have enough to deal with without this shit. I won't be going and they can all do what they want. I genuinely didn't have a problem until I realised that when we mix company we were totally ignored and for that reason I'm not prepared to put myself through this. I'm also looking back through all of the previous situations and thinking that this is just ridiculous. She is my oldest friend and I don't think I would ever say it to her, but I can't believe they can't see what they are doing.

Anonymous said...

You can thank social media for all of this. How one can have a friend circle of 4 girls for 10 years and all of the sudden, thanks to facebook, a long lost "aquaintance" to one of the girls befriends her and all hell breaks loose. IMO the girl was trouble. So the long short of it, I had invited another friend (who also had contacted me through facebook after 10 years of not seeing her) out with these girls. We got together a fews times and she thought the "trouble maker" was awesome. We met for christmas drinks at a bar and I invited my friend again to join us, when she arrived, she had "gifts" for everyone.(?) Fast forward a few months, one of the original girls picked up the trouble makers "attitude" which caused a riff between her and I. The trouble maker buds her nose in and puts an end to me and my girlfriends relationship completely. Then "troublemaker" proceeds to contact my girlfriend (the one I had invited out a few times with us)....and get this, she continues to go out with them. wtf? As far as I'm concerned, it's best to cut your loses and get as far away from these people as possible. They have no concept of peoples feelings, and are out for themselves. btw, these girls are in their 40's.

Anonymous said...

Aaargh, this all resonates with me. I loved the original blog post - so witty and thoughtful and sane - and everyone's comments have made me realise I'm not the only person who's dealt with friend poaching! Yes, I understand what someone said about how you don't own your friends - so maybe we need to find another term than "poaching", and yet it's clearly a hurtful and upsetting experience to have someone you considered a friend zero in on people you introduced her to, and end up better friends with them! I'm stuck in a particularly awful situation at the moment because the friend poacher (for want of a better word) moved her son to my son's small school because we were attending it ... and now we've had a falling out (when she suddenly stopped speaking to me) and she has overtaken all the friendships I used to have with other women there!! The worst thing is that I've been totally relegated to the B list - I don't get invited to any social gatherings anymore, and I've had to scramble around and try to initiate new friendships with other mothers at the school - I really thought I had a good friendship base there, but clearly they are all on Team Poacher and don't want to make an effort with me. I've tried to move on but there is something really awful and high school about this ... it's like I've been rejected by my peers, and it's at the point where I'm considering switching my son to another school. Btw I know I will probably sound self-serving but I am a classic "Connector" type with lots of friends and acquaintances, and this is the first time I've ever come across someone who has been so open about friend poaching and who seems to have turned other people against me. I honestly don't know why I'm so rocked by this, but any feedback and insights are welcome!!

Anonymous said...

I have a friend who never introduces me to her friends but tries to muscle in on my new friendships. . Get your own I say! Seriously do I have to share everything?. .grrr

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with everything on here. There are so many freaking social poachers out there i actually call it "disgusting" - in my opinion these people cannot form their own genuine, bona fide friendships which take time, effort, risk and did i say EFFORT to introduce, create the bond and sustain? these people literally ride your wave of all the work you had done (i think it is sort of like stealing your diploma from college even though you did not put effort into taking exams, meeting professors, sweat and tears, and telling everyone you graduated from that college.).

i have a few thoughts on this - (1) does this mean the friends that go along with the social poacher are equally at fault? does this mean they are disloyal friends and cannot be trusted?, and (2) does this have any reflection on you, the poachee?, and (3) why is there not more articles on this, given the explosion of social media and the incredible amount of derailment I believe this has caused?

i find it hard to stick around social poachers and the people they take from you. i think a few close friends that are YOURs and loyal are worth much more.

Anonymous said...

Thank you all for helping me realise I am NOT crazy or insecure!!

I have a wide circle of amazing friends with whom I have cultivated deeply satisfying friendships over years. It took us effortless work to build our friendships, and I am very grateful to them. We celebrate our successes and cheer-lead our failures together. My friends (and family, needless to say) are my life.

Only lately did I realise I have a friend-stealer and I haven't known what to do. I've known her for two years (which for me is a very new friendship, as my average friendship is about 8-10 years, though I have friendships that are in a twenty-year+ range and I'm only in my early thirties!) and recently realised she has formed separate friendships with literally every single friend of mine that I have introduced her to. She even went so far as to request social media friendships with my friends from home WHOM SHE HAS NEVER MET IN-PERSON!!! She hangs out with my friends and talks with them on the phone and completely excludes me. When we do hang out as a group (that I initiate), she turns the conversation to herself and is so dramatic. She has a fun personality, which is why people are drawn to her, but I honestly feel like she has narcissistic personality disorder, and I'm not trying to be mean.

I felt so childish for taking issue with this because I have thought myself to be a pretty secure person. However, after talking with a few friends and doing a little research, I realise I am completely within my right to feel this way.

My friends are my life, and by stealing my friends she is essentially taking over my life. Feels like I'm living the movie "Single White Female"... oh.the horror.

I am so glad I found this blog and now realise it's time to cut her off. Good luck to the rest of you!

Anonymous said...

I am in a similar situation. But it involves a (past?) close friend and my younger sister. I took me a while to identify that I felt excluded, embarrassed (afraid that her friends would think I am jealous) and betrayed. It is difficult to talk about it with my sister, because of past sibling issues (we come from a dysfunctional home and experienced a lot of drama, so we tend to avoid it in our adult lives.). And she feels attacked very quickly. I eventually did tell my friend that I felt excluded, although I am not sure if the friendship can be saved. In the meantime I have quietly been withdrawing from both my friend and my sister over the past year, as the situation is so painful for me. I have yet to talk about this situation with my sister. My parents support me though and encourage me to bring it up. I met my expat friend a few years ago and she quickly became one of my best friends. She did not have a job and struggled to make ends meet after splitting from her pot smoking boyfriend (she has no family in my country). I felt sorry for her, and realized it would be almost impossible for her to build a career during the crisis, especially as her credentials are not accepted on Uni level in my country and she was forced to work in a low level, (illegal) low paying job at a bakery or go back to MX. I contacted my sister who arranged a job interview for her. She was hired and later moved on to another, more glamorous job in fashion. She has very good work ethics, good social skills, worked very hard and landed a permanent contract. In the meantime my sister asked her to house sit for her a few times (to help her out) and from there they quickly started to meet up without inviting me, including her in her social circle, leaving me out most of the time. They were colleagues for a short while, and this is why I hesitated to bring it up. I do not want to damage their careers. Or limit career opportunities.
My sister is single and she hardly ever invites me to her girly nights out (which I think is absolutely fine, she has her own life after all), but it did bother me that my so called best friend was quickly (always) invited and has now become one of her best friends. I am now almost out of the picture. It does bother me that this friend never felt obliged to invite me! And I cannot wonder if she is a social leap frog, intentionally or not.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I am not the crazy, insecure headcase I was made to feel like after my COUSIN social media poached a male friend of mine. They have never met in person yet insist I 'introduced' them. What actually happened is she commandeered my phone while I was texting him and wouldn't give it back. I didn't want to appear pathetic so didn't tell her how uncomfortable this made me. Several weeks later I find out by accident that they gave been snapchatting behind my back (use your imagination as to content) and when I express how upset I am as I also find out they have been talking about me, I am verbally attacked by my cousin. This article is right, social media had made it somehow acceptable to cross long established social boundaries. It still hurts the same as it ever did though.

Maria said...

I've been exposed to a serial friend poacher, it is disturbing me quite a lot and has done for months now. I can't ditch her, because I work closely with her - I would really have to find a new job, which I don't want to do. I moved to the town we're in not long before I met her - let's call her U (her initial). U lived in this town all her life, but despite this, I already had more friends than she did. She told me all her friends were married, and she felt lonely.

I liked her, so I introduced her to some of my friends - a good friend from university, and another group of friends who I knew less well but still hung out with.

She instantly inserted herself into both groups. Betraying me - divulging confidential information I explicitly asked her to keep between us - then said she'd "made a boo boo".

The other friend she started seeing without me, and talking about me behind my back.

I despise her for this, but it has also made me question the other friendships. It has happened twice - alongside several other smaller things that I have found so strange. I got asked by our bosses to do a special course at work, although she's been there longer. She couldn't handle this and enrolled for the course herself, before me. I spoke to our bosses and we all agreed it was a delicate situation and there was no point us both doing it, so we'd let her do it.

I'm infuriated - but I've got to keep it civil. When this girl gets upset, she pulls a sickie at work. It happens fairly often, and we do a high pressure job that can't cope with this. So I can't rock the boat.

I am so angry and livid - and I feel I can't really tell people what she's done, as if I do I'm kind of badmouthing her.

I think she is so utterly strange, like she's trying to steal my life (she constantly asks me where I buy things then goes out to get them). I think of 'Single White Female'. I am so disturbed, upset and fed up, and just don't know what to do. If I confront her she'll cry, then be off work, then it will be horrendously awkward.

I really want support, but it's so hard to badmouth her....

Ugh... HELP!!!!!

Anonymous said...

This blog has been so comforting to read. An old old friend "poached" an important social and professional contact and friend, and it has been oh so painful. (We are in the same profession.) The comments expressed here have helped to validate my feelings: betrayed, jealous, embarrassed by my seeming "insecurity," rage, and needing to distance myself from these two people. The person who commented that we don't own our friends is correct, but I think what we are talking about as social poaching is something different. That is why it is so crazy making!

Before this experience, another friend, for many years, worked her way into my network on many, many occasions. I cared deeply for her and could never face the fact that she was a user and opportunist. After nearly 16 years, I finally faced the truth. Once when I denied her entrance to a situation, because I knew from past experience what would happen, she began to treat me with such disregard that the friendship ended. I stood my ground.

The more recent experience has gone on for a much shorter time. I think the first experience with the 'user' helped me to understand the inappropriateness/hurtful ness in the second experience.

I too have wide circles of friends that I enjoy, and I also enjoy connecting people. I will be more careful with this in the future. Additionally, I have inadvertently "poached" in the past, without clearly understanding that my behavior might have been hurtful to friends who introduced me to friends of theirs I happened to hit it off with.

It comes down to boundaries and respect for people's feelings. I believe if I had been included and respected more, not shut out, in the recent experience, I would not be feeling as I am now. (For instance, something like the scene from When Harry Met Sally and Marie asks Sally and Jess asks Harry, "do you mind if I call________?")

I also want to mention that I have two other friends and we three get along splendidly. No triangulation occurs and no one's feelings get hurt. We have discussed how we three have managed to get along so well. We attribute this to taking good care of ourselves and not overstepping boundaries. Respect and good boundaries are the foundation of healthy relationships.

I just wanted to say that this blog has really helped me to know I am not crazy! The recent poach that brought me here feels as if it has been eating me alive! It is nice to read that others have had similar experiences and feelings.

Anonymous said...

I have found reading this post and the comments so cathartic. It's reassuring to know that I am not an insecure crazy woman!

I too am the victim of a serial friend poacher. About three years ago, we moved into a toht knit community. I quickly made friends with a number of local mums.

About six months after we arrived, M and her family moved in next door. She is the same age as me, lots of fun, and has kids the same gender and age as mine. We hit it off instantly.

I am a real connector, and love getting people together. It has always been my thing (although my closest friends are those from school - 20 year plus friendships even though I am only in my 30s). M was all over me like a rash to begin with. And I was only too happy to organise events and include her in anything I was doing so she could meet other local peeps - all good I thought.

But then odd things started happening. The first inkling was M approaching our builder (who was doing some work on our house) and seeing if he could do some work for them. No issue there - but the weird thing was M then suddenly trumpeting to the neighbourhood how amazing their builder was, and what a good guy he was (usually I front of me, and as if we didn't wen know him despite the fact he was a personal friend of ours). It was just a bit weird.

This behaviour has continued and has culminated in M recently setting up a dinner party with family members who have moved in one street down (who she has only met once) - without inviting us.

Anonymous said...

I've actually been looking, for more than a year, for a blog providing some comradery. Today, I must have finally entered the right combination of words into my search engine and found this. I was able to break ties with a serial poacher a couple of years ago, and the relief was palpable. Even if there are a couple of social media friends in common, I don't have to see or deal with it anymore and it was immensely freeing. She would even corner my friends at one of my parties, find them on Facebook from her phone and insist they add her immediately. She was, in general, socially awkward. So I did have a conversation with her but the productive effects were short lived.

On the other hand, there is my sister. She is 10 years my senior and has a history of meeting people once at a birthday party we are throwing, then adding them through tags on photos. I realize it shouldn't bother me as much as it does, but I guess I just don't see the reasoning or logic behind it. I just want to ask her why she feels it's necessary, or even acceptable. If this were the eighties instead of today, one would not sewn up and individual socially after just having met them a day or two prior. So why is it okay now? Maybe age plays into it, and it's seen as more of a big game, instead of an actual evolution of social society. and to a degree, that's probably not wrong. But she crossed the line when she trolled my Facebook page and saw, on my About section, someone I have listed as family, because they are very much like family to me, and vice-versa. she proceeded to ad these few chosen family members, even though she is never met them and they live halfway across the country. When I lightly brought it to her attention, to gauge her reaction, her response was simple: well, you and I are sisters. So I figured if they were your family, they must be my family too.


At the end of the day, we can moan and complain until the proverbial cows come home... But the truth is that very few of us want to initiate the conflict it will inevitably stir up by addressing the issue. Perhaps we could all collectively make a pact to compassionately, as grown ups, address our problems with the people causing them, knowing that we have our anonymous each other here, for support.

Anybody else on board with this idea?

Also, it was much easier to dictate this, so my apologies in advance for any decoding which might be necessary in this post. :-)

Bookmarking now...

Anonymous said...

I’m so thankful for finding this blog and all your stories, even though I’m sorry to hear of course that people are so disrespectful and a bit crazy. I have quite a dilemma on my hands that I would like to share.

I have an older sister (by one year) who has decided to become best friends with my mates girlfriend…I’ve had this mate for over 10years and my sister and his girlfriend have now known each other for about 4-5 years. (I introduced them) This usually wouldn’t be an issue, but over the time where my sister has infiltrated my network, she has met quite a few of my other friends, and actually complained to me about them, which is just really rude and upsetting, also makes me think, fine then fuck off out of my social group. She has also gone on holiday with my mate and his girlfriend, without inviting me along. You know, it’s one thing to become besties with someone within my social circle, but go on holiday with my mate and his girlfriend? Boundary maybe? My mate’s girlfriend’s loyalties obviously lie with my sister, which is fair enough, but it’s not very relaxing for me now because I can’t speak freely about anything relating to family as now my whole family history has been told and my mate and his girlfriend already has formed an opinion. So it’s affecting my relationship, when I’m doing couply stuff with them, because I have to censor things and constantly think before I speak. The point of friends is that you can talk to them and complain about your family and get objective feedback. I have now lost this part of the friendship, as they can’t be objective anymore.

My biggest problem with all of this, is my sister and I don’t always get along. She is an emotionally distraught person who can be unpredictable in her mood, so I don’t always know what I’ll be met with. She has a tendency to be nasty and spiteful towards me even when we are in company with friends. So now I’ve actually cancelled coming to a few of my mates parties because my sisters been in a mood that I can’t handle and it’s made my so nervous and uncomfortable. She also does other things which makes me suspect that she must be angry with me. Over the past few years, shes lured me into social ambushes at family gatherings, where she will loudly interpret something and make what I’ve said into something outrageous, which offends people, so they start arguing with me. She will make over the top statements, yeah well you are like this, or think like that or have that opinion, which are usually taken out of context, and people look at me like I’m a complete bitch.

What to do? Am I being a dick her? Is it appropriate for me to say that she can still be friends with my mates girlfriend and not see them as a couple? Or can I tell her to get the fuck out of my social group? ...I’ve tried talking to her about how I feel and what kind of damage it has caused me, and all she says is “fine, shall I just tell **** that I can’t be friends with you anymore because my sister won’t have it”. I don’t know what to say to this response. I’m just not going to give up a mate I’ve had and get on with really well, because my sister can’t find her own mates. I really need help to sort this out…

Anonymous said...

That really sucks for you. If is a very similar situation to one I have with a good friend who is an epic friend poacher, but the luxury I have (that you don't) is that I am able to distance myself from her.

I will tell you what had helped me with that friend and hopefully you can apply it to your situation. I shifted my mindset from feeling pissed off about how she made ME feel by cutting me out of things with friends (and relatives of mine!) that I had introduced her too, and decided I would get smart about my mindset. I can't change her behaviour, and the conclusion I came to was that confronting her would have the opposite effect in a perverse way (I am convinced that part of the reason she engages in this behaviour is to elicit a rise from me).

So I thought to myself hang on, I can't change her actions and I can't achieve any meaningful improvement in the situation by confronting the issue, so instead I am going to just accept her limitations as a friend and enjoy the good bits she has to offer.

On a practical level that means she is a mate who I like to have a drink with every now and again, who I will call and check on if she's sick, but in no way am I going to lay my life down for her (and I won't expect that from her either). Because in friend stealing she has shown me that she has some pretty severe limitations and a person like that cannot be in my inner circle.

Weirdly, I felt better about the friendship straight away. I took control of it and decided to run things on my terms. Sure, it still hurts when she invites my friends around for drinks and doesn't invite me. But because I have made a conscious effort to unpick her motivation for this sort of behaviour and not just that, accept it and move on, it's pretty empowering.

Anonymous said...

This article said EVERYTHING I have been trying to explain to a chronic friend poacher in my life! I forwarded it to her in hopes of saving our friendship with new boundaries and a respect for the sisterhood.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one that feels this way! I've had a friend, we'll call her "E", for the last 20+ years that constantly "poaches" my friends. With nearly every introduction to a friend, she charms & befriends them. The real issue is that she bends over backwards to do so, and inevitably my friends become distant from me (I suspect she says little jabs about me, in her very charming way) until we have little to no contact and then she "dumps" them a year down the road.

Most recently, "E" called and said she was in the area and wanted to stop by. I told her I had company, but that she could come after noon (when company was about to leave). She came a bit early and my other new-ish friend, we'll call her "B", was staying for lunch. Not wanting to be rude, I invited "E" to stay for a little while and introduced them. After a few minutes I felt like the 3rd wheel, chiming in when I could get a word in edgewise. "B" invited both of us to her house for a visit & playdate at the end of the month with our kids. I felt like I was invited only out of courtesy. Not sure if I should go and just ride it out until "E" gets bored and dumps "B", or cut my losses and move on. I hate to give up on a friendship so early on; we have a lot in common and live only 15 minutes apart (big deal in the country) with kids the same age. "E" lives about 40 minutes from "B".

It's a small community with lots of overlap, so avoiding "E" isn't really an option. And, even though she does this (and a number of other things) that drive me nuts, we have a long & deep history. Not sure it will be a friendship that ever really disappears.

Anonymous said...

Is this still an active blog? I.d like to share a friendship dilemma!....anybody out there?

Anonymous said...

As person called away on duty who got injured, I was away from home for 10 months longer
than expected. The entire time my close friend A called me daily. My other friend B started asking A to do things, saying 'well...maybe our mutual friend won.t come home at all..."..implying I was somehow choosing to stay away!!. Nope!! Impossible to travel entire time. Finally I could come home....but in my absence...dynamics changed.

A is a great friend while B very on the sly worked on A's fear that I.d not come back, to finally cause A to be upset that maybe I.d truly abandoned coming home!! Far from any truth, both knew I was far away and injured. Yet one friend aimed at a new best friendship by manipulation, while the other remained very supportive of me.

Now all three when disaster. I trust one not the other. Any advice appreciated! !

Anonymous said...

It's hard to be friends if you don't trust someone. That's the bottom line. Advice would be either to try to repair the trust by talking with friend B or just involve her less in your life

Anonymous said...

I love this post so much. This has happened to me and my husband. The sad thing is that my husband helped guy A get a job and later introduced him to his fiends. Later on guy A ended up taking all my husband`s friends and it seems as if he is having a good time all the time with my husband`s friends. But when you look at it, we realize that guy A is actually subservient to all my husband`s friend. He has gone far to buy expensive house, cars, expensive trips etc to be part of the group.For people who have experience this, be happy. You are winners, because sometimes with friend poachers, look at their lifestyle. They spend so much money trying to show off and buy presents to buy love. You are better off leaving these people and find people you have the same values.

Anonymous said...

Yes, sad but true that this goes on. I realized that the friend stealer in my life is really a frenemy who I no longer want to associate with. There comes a time when we want to choose people who add to our life, joy and happiness instead of making it a competition. I feel very validated in my feelings after reading all of your comments. This frenemy has done things like call me up and tell me "so and so and I have been hanging out". She then asks the other friend if I'm bothered by them hanging out. It has been a malicious pattern for this frenemy and I finally had enough.

Prime Q said...

wow.. and my wife and I thought we were just being territorial or selfish feeling that way (described in this blog post)! It is interesting though... maybe this is just something different that we all have to learn to adapt to. mainstream social media is shy of nearly a decade of use. however, the pervasiveness of social really exploded with the convenience and affordability of smart phones (7ish years?).

at any rate, it is kinda annoying, and a new reality to factor for social in the "real world."

in some ways our comfort zones shrink and others expand with social media. this is kinda like the age of friend orgy, but without all the nasty STD's after "hooking up" with other friends. :)

Anonymous said...

My friend befriended all of my local friends. Now she doesn't ask me to do anything with her, because she's so busy with my friends. As soon as I make a new friend, she shows up and moves in on them. There's no way to keep her from my new friends, because she always shows up when she hears there's a possibility of making a new connection at my expense.

Anonymous said...

My friend befriended all of my local friends. Now she doesn't ask me to do anything with her, because she's so busy with my friends. As soon as I make a new friend, she shows up and moves in on them. There's no way to keep her from my new friends, because she always shows up when she hears there's a possibility of making a new connection at my expense.

Sara E said...

I just have to jump on board and vent! Please and thank you. I had to cut ties with friend of 2+ years because of her narcissism. She had insulted me and some of my friends that I introduced her to; yelled at me in public for "wasting her time"; called me names; told me i was rude because I sent a rushed text message asking if she'd like to go to an event with me; left me in the desert after she decided to hike her her own without telling me (she was super pissed because I said I preferred to avoid something she had on her vacation agenda and was really pissy most of the vacation).

But anyway before all of THAT happened, she was was a newcomer in town and I introduced her to all my friends. I helped her move. I send her the job info for the job she currently has. I looked after her cat. I took care of her when she broke her arm, even taking time off work to drive her to her appointments.

I joined the local civic association here in town to meet new people, and I'm glad I did! met a lot of locals, around my age, cool people. Introduced my friend to this group and we went to a halloween party, where she got totally wasted and hit on the party dj (she fell later and that's how she broke the arm). party dj asks host to ask me for contact info- so they are in contact now, and she's hanging out with party dj (who she is not really interested in because she told me he's old and gross) and party host. Meanwhile, party host and neigborhood people have social get togethers all summer, and my ex-friend goes to (at least as confirmed by facebook). I refuse to go because I only know the people that I introduced her to- they are the same people and now she's BFF with the whole fucking neighborhood? awkward. I went to one summer gathering and it was awkward because I couldn't even stand to look at her.

She's not only friend-poached, she's effectively cock blocked me from investing in these relationships. This is my neighborhood, my efforts, and it was through me that she has all these new "friends" and oh my god it angers me so, so much. In my head, I imagine her taking shit about me behind my back telling everyone how awful I am. If only they knew!. I am biding my time waiting until they get close enough to her so that her ego feels threatened and she lashes out with her passive agressive (or just plain aggressive) fucking bullshit. She said she hates Ohio and "no one likes me" so why the fuck is she still here? Yes, it's true, no one likes you. Go away. Go home. Go somewhere else and ruin someone else's life with your 5 year old ego.

All right ladies. the facebook makes this 1000% worse of course, so I need to figure out how to hide some people I guess. This keeps me up at night and I just have no idea how to deal with it.

Anonymous said...

you can change privacy setting so that you don't share your friends list. this basically prevents people from viewing who you're friends with on fb.

Anonymous said...

I have recently had a so called "friend" do this to me! I can relate to the majority of comments here. In my case, she has tried to befriend all of my friends that I introduced her to, and has even gone so far as to move in when my oldest friend and I were having a disagreement - now mostly because of her sneaky behaviour, we're not friends anymore!

She also, keeps her friends from our circle of friends because she wants them for herself.

I am disgusted with her, and have recently cut her off as a friend.

This is even more difficult to deal with because she is a cousin of one of my oldest friends, and now friends within the group have to consider not to invite the both of us at the same time to our get- togethers.

This situation is truly a mess, mainly because of her.

Anonymous said...

This blog has helped me so much today. Thank you everyone! A new person moved in to our area. We shared weaving in common. Soon she was friending all my friends on facebook, liking all my likes in places that there is no way possible she would have any knowledge of. I blocked her but unfortunately not before I told her about all the art shows that I participate in selling my weaving. One by one she has entered and become my competition. Other friends confirm she talks about me behind my back. She has copied and taken so many connections I jokingly have said to my husband, "I hope she doesn't take a fancy to you too." But wait, she did that already to another woman. She stole the father of 10 children away from his then wife. It feel like there is no where to hide or go without bumping in to her because this is a small community. Yep, friend poacher, good term.

Anonymous said...

Hi!!I am going through a very similar situation and I would like you to share your experience!what happened next?how did you handle it after being ghosted?didn't you feel upset and extremely hurt?

Anonymous said...

My best friend (who I will be referring to as 'E') will not leave me to have other friends. Every new group of friends I make she wants in on.
The next bit will sound like jealousy, and maybe it is...
I am a very confident and outgoing person but I have learnt not to rush into friendships with people and not to be too best friend does not follow suit.
When she first meets people (my friends) she is sooo forward (in my mind too forward) and chatty and completely overshadows me and it's so irritating!!!
If i'm honest I do not have the energy to try and win the attention of MY friends back from her...why should I?
It's really f****ng annoying when we're organising weekend plans and my friends ask if 'E' is coming, am I not enough?
I feel so bitter when I try and make plans without 'E' knowing, simply so that I can have a good time with my friends without her stealing my thunder.
I'm a student and go back to university soon, this particular group of friends do not go to uni and neither does 'E'. My biggest worry is that I'll go away and when I come back 'E' and my friends will be closer and I'll feel left out.

This post does not hint at this, but normally I LOVE intermingling my friends, however, usually said friends know where the boundaries lie and do not get too close. 'E' just dives in there without a second thought about how I may feel, it's really starting to get me down.
Any advice??

Anonymous said...

A relief to read this. A person in my town basically became best friends with my closest friends--with intention. It's clear that there have been conversations about me and there have been active efforts to exclude. I don't care if people get together without me--it's the deception and the omission that is disturbing in people who are all over 35 and are supposedly my friends.

Anonymous said...

Oh i'm also so glad that i found this forum. I'm pretty distressed about my closest friends hanging out now. Over the last few years i have become very close to an old uni friend (BF), i've been there throughout her pregnancies, hanging out and babysitting (only her family really do this for her), i'm her child's godmother and we've been in eachothers lives a lot. She had been there for me through some pretty rough times and vice versa.

BF recently met a friend of mine (SF) who i'm pretty close to but have reservations about her which i have briefly shared with BF before. Immediately they clicked and at dinner with them they talked to eachother and excluded me (this had happened a couple of times and makes me not want to be around them together) - this continued over a group chat with the three of us where i would wake up in the morning to shedloads of messages between them.

I was instantly uncomfortable and really upset and dismayed that BF would so quickly turn us into a threesome (we have chatted about how friend threesomes aren't the best idea in general) - now we can't see to do anything without SF and i'm heartbroken that this has happened. They've been quite rude to me at times since as i try to adjust to their new friendship. Now BF is asking SF to babysit and they hang out without me. BF doesn't talk to me the way she used to and when the three of us meet up i realised she's been talking to SF about the things she used to share with me.There's hugging and telling eachother they love eachother, suggestions of holidays together, pushing husbands to hang out

I've politely mentioned it to both of them in the early days, but it got worse despite them knowing my feelings. they both stay in touch, SF now contacts me constantly i think to make up for what she's doing - but i think i'm losing my BF....

If i extract myself from this, i'm alone - i'll have lost my two closest friends. I'm trying really hard to accept the new way but it's so painful (i'm having terrible anxiety). i just don't know how to be friends with either of them anymore.....

Anonymous said...

My sister-in-law moved away and doesnt have a great social life of her own (I assume, as she is so obsessed with mine). I moved to where she was brought up to be with my husband and have a great social life. None of my friends were friends originally with my sister-in-law. However she pretends they were and if i mention a name she pounces on it and pretends like she knows them. She refers to one of my best friends and bridesmaid "her friend X" to me (shes met X twice and X comes from my home town and we grew up together). We fell out about it years ago (she was following me around at a party making jokes at my expense when I introduced her to friends)and she made up lies to my in-laws so I will never discuss it with her again as it opens a can of worms. I controlled my irritation by avoiding social situations with her. However the latest is that my mother in law has contacted one of my friends that lives in her village to come and meet my sister in law as she has no friends of her own up here to see when shes up here visiting. My mother in law did this by mentioning my name therefore claiming a connection. I now feel that I dont have control of keeping my sister in law away from my social life as she is up here all the time. It is so destructive as your mind whirrs as to what could happen next and whether my sister-in-law will become part of my social life. Its a first world problem and so petty but I cannot stop getting cross. What do you do to stop the anger?? Any advice?

Thirdavenue01 said...

Hi there. I don't have the answers but I totally empathise because while other people might think it's petty, it can be really hurtful. I have a similar situation (above) where a friend has invaded my relationship with my BF and her children & husband. She has serious issues with boundaries, most of her friends live away and her family hate her. I've mentioned to my BF and she has reassured me but the social contact between them continues and my other friend is acting a bit stalkerish to my BF but I don't know if she sees it.
Would being 'busy' when your SIL is around be an option?? I'm trying to keep my BF as close as I can without being negative about SF but it's difficult for me to warn her about the crazy.

If you find any wisdom I'd be most grateful... I'm losing sleep x

Anonymous said...

My issue with "friend poaching" is lack of transparency. Of course no one owns anyone, and most of the time wouldn't a person want harmony and for all the important people in one's life to all meet and be merry together? That being said, a lack of transparency leaves a bad taste in one's mouth. It looks like they are sneaking around and feels deceitful. Why hide it? In my case i spoke to my sister and my friend on many occasions, but they failed to mention they were speaking regularly and hanging out. It started suddenly after I invited my sister along to an outing with that friend. Seems my sister is the poacher here as she then randomly sent my friend a surprise birthday gift in the mail (neither side to this day has told me about this - I heard from someone else). I don't expect a minute by minute report. But it would have shown a little respect for the existing sibling and friend relationships if each of them would have mentioned it to me. People normally can't shut up about what is going on in their lives, i find it peculiar that this topic never comes up when i meet either party. Seems sneaky. Anyhow, this rant just to say, I will try to live and let live. Lead with love and let others be, for better or worse. Peace all.

Anonymous said...

Hi, yes i agree with you. It's the sneaking that hurts and for me it's the way I've been treated while they form their friendship. Sitting at a dinner date that you arranged being essentially ignored by my two closest friends hurt pretty deep considering the trust i'd put in both of them.

BF will tell me when she's catching up with SF and often invite me along. SF is telling me ZERO about their meetings, conversations and her expensive gift giving.

So i am living and letting live while protecting myself. My friends have chosen something that's positive for them, and haven't given me the same consideration. The consequences of their decision is that they won't see me as much and I certainly won't be hanging our with the two of them together - I've tried this on several occasions and really did not enjoy it. I continue to be friends with both, but trust has been decimated. I'm open to forgiveness and building the trust back up. Doesn't change the hurt that's happened though.

Anonymous said...

Since I've found this forum so helpful and cathartic, here's an update on my sad friendship situation. Since expressing concern to my BF about our friendship and her subsequent reassurances that things were great between us. Nothing has returned to normal. She continues to spend more time and attention on my friend(?) SF.

I have begun to phase SF out of my life and felt better for doing that. SF continues to engage with me occasionally but given that she has already broken my trust quite badly by sneaking around, i don't feel too guilty about it. She has made several snide comments in the guise of joking about the situation and i don't want somebody like that in my life. The scary part is that she has said and done things in the past that make me extremely wary of her and i'm scared to make an enemy of her. She is extremely smart and in the past i have opened up to her about private things. She controls the people in her life extremely tightly and recently she started to get far to close to me - i tried to pull back a little and around the same time i introduced her to BF. She then went hell for leather to befriend BF while promising me that i had nothing to worry about.

Unfortunately they now appear to be a package as since i now refuse to socialise with them together and in situations i would normally be part of i'm being left out by my BF. [i'm refusing because they ignore me when we're all together and i realise they're talking to each other all the time and not so much to me]. Instead of arranging things with me, she accommodates SF. She even lied to me about it recently for the first time that i'm aware of.

continues below..

Anonymous said...

Despite my role as godmother to BF's child and participating largely in life events such as Christmas etc - they spent Christmas at our house this year plus some of their extended family - I no longer have the same rapport or interaction with BF, it almost feels like she is going through the motions, i suspect because our husbands get on so well and we have been such a large part of their lives. She will interact with our group chat with husbands but i generally don't hear from her on a 1-2-1 basis anymore, if i do it's very general and short. I have tried to arrange a night for us to catch up but excuses were made about things that i subsequently realised wasn't the case and she met up with SF a couple of times (that i know about).

The lack of congruence in BF's actions is confusing me. I have figured out the reason for this discomfort. It seems like she would like to retain all of the benefits of our friendship (my babysitting, cooking regular dinners, picking up a take away, birthday gifts, hanging out as a foursome etc...) but without investing in our relationship any longer and instead chatting/socialising with someone else.

It is for this reason that i now realise that i need to protect myself from both of them and put myself first. My breaking point has come and gone. If BF refuses to honour our friendship by maintaining our rapport and contact them i'm out and i'm devastated.

I'm not asking her to unfriend SF, she had many other friends also... What i would like is for the friendship that we built up over years to follow through and not so easily be tossed aside for someone new who she barely knows. I would like her to stop allowing SF to come between us and taking my place in her life as her confidant and someone she chats to daily about whats going on for her.

It is absolutely heartbreaking for me to even conceive of letting go of my friendship with BF - It's been one of the best things in my life over the years. But unfortunately i must choose myself and my well-being over this and move on. It won't be easy as i'm still expected to be around for my godchild and the occasions they choose to spend with us. I'm exhausted from feeling hurt, neglected and used.......

I know this thread isn't very active but if anybody has any insights or advice i would be most grateful. I'm pretty isolated since this has happened with my two closest friends.

Hot Southern Mess said...

Love this post! Yes, I agree we do not own our friends. They are free to befriend whomever they choose. However, it is completely different when you are dealing with a serial friend poacher! Those who had NO friends prior to you and now every one of their friends came from your circle. Planning events that include your entire circle, except you. On purpose. I struggle with being mad, or just being sad for them. I am mostly to blame I guess. Including these serial poachers before I really got to know them.

Anonymous said...

This line really hit me: Thou shalt not poach people your friend is currently on the skids with. I'm a single male in his 40s and can be quite social but also know that it's a lot of work (and pain) to build true long lasting friendships. Especially for guys and even more so for older guys. I was on the skids with a friend about 15 years younger than me but we were slowly starting to hang out again about a year after a blowout. I met him through another friend but waited two years before "poaching" him from my original friend. The three of us always respected one another and hung out together. The guy I poached him from was glad that we were becoming friends. As you said: "To properly poach, retain respect for the original friendship. Err on the side of caution. Wait it out."

Now I have a relatively new friend who is close to my age, he dates but is often single and likes to crash house parties of college age frat boys partying until 7am. That's a bit of a red flag regarding his maturity level but I'm all for fun times too and people my age can be dreadfully boring. So I invited my new friend and the one I was on the skids with to a concert. Within 3 seconds of meeting they were "besties" going for long smoke breaks, ignoring me at the concert and chatting in the back. It was true to their nature and character. So a few months pass, they bump into each other at a grocery store and make plans to go out drinking. I find out somewhat inadvertently as I don't talk often with the guy I'm on the skids with. He invited me and so I thought it would be great for all of us to sit at the table and have some beers.

We had a predetermined meet-up location and time. My bus was literally 4 minutes late but they didn't call or text. The just started walking (we hadn't settled on a specific bar). I called him a bit snarky as it was getting dark and I didn't want this to be a wild goose chase. He phfewed me as if I was making it a big deal. We meet up, go to a bar of their choice, an hour passes, I'm basically being ignored. Buddy makes small talk with me and I come across a bit pissed off (feeling ignored). I finally score a table and see the two of them talking off in the distance while looking at me. They think I'm upset because of their new friendship when I'm more upset about not being included.

The writer states "Don’t move in so intensely that you railroad the Hub Friend. Connectors want to build and expand the network, not create grounds for a disassociated rebel camp elsewhere."

They reluctantly sit at my table, we make small talk. They mention wanting to go bar hopping and getting pizza. I said I wanted pizza too. Poacher says he'll bring me some back and I give him some cash. In the meantime, I invited a girl I recently met who lives close to where we were as I was seeing the writing on the wall and didn't want to be a tag along. Poacher takes this as a queue that he can ditch me with the friend I'm on the skids with.

3 hours pass. No pizza. I finally text them both. Things just get worse and I end up call blocking skid buddy. I realize that poacher friend is highly cunning and just in it for fun. He's moved in quite intensely on some of my other friends. He hasn't even messaged me in a week. This entire situation sounds so juvenile. I've been the poacher but I did it slowly and with the Hub Friend's approval. There's so much dirt under the carpet with skid friend and he ignores it saying I'm too sensitive or whatever. There's no reason why the three of us can't sit at the same table and enjoy each other's company. Poacher should have waited until things were a bit better between me and skid buddy.

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Michtou M said...

My sister goes through my FB friends list and my Flickr friends lists, and add people I have known for years to her list. She then butts in on conversations, making me very uncomfortable. She also has met up and had lunch with some of my friends, bringing her very badly behaved grandson along. She imitates my hobbies and goes on and on, bragging about her skills. And she puts me down a lot. Since we're both in our 60s I doubt there is anything I can do but bite my tongue and smile, and hope she doesn't make my friends into my enemies.