The problem: I have a know-it-all girlfriend. To make matters worse, she’s also a contrarian. If I say green, she says red. If I offer my opinion, or even a fact, she rebuts or denies it, to the point of insulting me. I’ve stopped calling her on it. I just let her spew her self-righteousness and her “No, you’re wrong”s.
Low road: Always carry around a color chart.
High road: It sounds like you have a long history with this friend. Because you have endured her jagged antics for so long, I’m guessing that she has redeeming qualities that far outweigh her exhausting communication style.
At some point, you have to protect yourself. But, first, please give her an opportunity to change. Think back to when you met. Was she a contrarian then? If so, did you just brush it off, find it funny? If not, has life beaten her down? She seems unreasonably determined to be right, which makes me think the world is fighting her. Does she even know she’s doing this?
Consider broaching the issue by, first, letting her win one. For example, when she shares an opinion that actually seems sensible, tell her so. “Good one!” Maybe all she needs is just to win once.
On the other hand, if victory does nothing to quell her regular insults, you, as her close friend, need to say something.
Try, “Wow. You feel really strongly about that, so I’m guessing you didn’t mean to bruise my ego in the process.” Assuming she has grown somewhat wise over the years, and also assuming she has an inkling of how lucky she is that you have hung in there, she might shed her false bravado and show a hint of vulnerability.
If she can’t, your wisest move is not just to stop calling her on it, but to stop calling her at all. Give yourself credit, though, for how hard you tried not to get to this point.
Send questions about life’s little quandaries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more of Gail’s “High Road” columns at startribune.com/highroad