One of my friends, “Astrid,” stretches the truth quite a bit every time she tells a story. It’s starting to drive me crazy, especially since her stories are often about other people. What’s the best way to react to that when she’s doing it in a group? Just pretend she’s not doing it? Or say “I think that’s not quite true”? Or a better option?
Astrid is insecure and likes attention. If you’re all sitting around talking about your friend Betty, and the only thing Astrid has to contribute to the conversation is that once she saw Betty at the Price Chopper buying raisins and tea, Astrid feels sad and inadequate. She feels like she’s not going to have an impact, like no one will want to hear what she has to say, unless she has something really good to offer. So instead of saying, “I know that Betty likes raisins and tea,” something in the needy-cuckoo part of her brain clicks and before she knows it, out comes, “Did you know that Betty is a hooker who does kinky things to her clients with raisins and tea?” And then it’s out there, and Astrid has created such a brouhaha with her announcement that she rolls with it, because oh, boy, it feels good to have everyone looking at you and listening to you.
Astrid is annoying and potentially dangerous, but we must feel sorry for her. Calling her out in the middle of a group conversation will be awkward for everyone involved, and will make you look like a rude twit no matter what horrible things Astrid is saying. I’d say, for the most part, ignore her. It’s not worth it. But if your friend is saying something horrible and you know it’s not true, feel free to say, “That’s incredible! Betty and I have been friends for ten years and I’ve never heard of her doing anything bizarre with a box of raisins. What you just said is shocking!” You words can be polite but your tone and your face can say, “Shut the hell up, or I’ll slash your tires.”
I also think it’s perfectly fine to mention to your friends, should it come up when Astrid isn’t around, that Astrid sometimes bends the truth a little bit. Plant the seed of doubt; after that, whenever they hear a story from her, they’ll wonder if it’s true.