Can I tell an acquaintance that she’s annoying?

I met “Buffy” at a party last year, and we drunkenly bonded because we have a lot in common. A couple weeks later we went out for a meal with a small group of mutual friends, and I realized that I find her personality repellent: she constantly name-drops, talks over other people, interrupts, tells stories about how wonderful she is, and when she isn’t blatantly interrupting she doesn’t so much listen to other people as she impatiently waits for that one-second gap where she can jump in and take over.

She is part of my social group and is often at events and parties that I frequent. In large groups, I have some success in avoiding her. In small groups, if she’s in full force, which she usually is, I find myself just making my excuses and leaving because it is impossible to have a nice time. Apparently I wasn’t as subtle as I thought because I have a text message sitting on my phone right now: “Are you mad at me for something? What did I do wrong?”

Do I tell her the truth or just gloss over things? She’s not a terrible person and I don’t want to hurt her. The truth would be pretty unpleasant, and I know it would cause gossip and bad feelings in our social group, but at least I wouldn’t have to tiptoe around and worry about making up lies about why I have to leave the party after one drink. I’m wondering if I said something the right way she might take it to heart and make an effort to change.

If it matters, I am definitely not the only one who finds her hard to deal with and I’m sure they’ve had a similar problem to mine, but I don’t want to bring it up in my social group because it would look gossipy and petty. Also, she gets a big pass from lots of people because she’s a bit of a local celebrity, and things like free drinks seem to appear when she’s around. I couldn’t care less about that but stupidly it makes a difference for some.

So, what would you do, and how would you do it?

I want to be a local celebrity. I have little interest in being a national celebrity (although I do think it would be fun to go on the Conan O’Brien show), but being a local celebrity seems right up my alley. Drinks magically appearing in front of me sounds amazing, and people inviting me everywhere based solely on the fact that I’m popular with other people is like a dream come true.

So before you piss Buffy off by being rude to her, can you please give me her number? I’d like to call her for some tips.

I’ve thought many times in my life that if I just explained to the obnoxious/crazy/mean person that he or she was being obnoxious/crazy/mean, that person would suddenly see the light, throw her arms around me, shower me with kisses and gifts, and thank me for changing her life. Unfortunately, the time or two I’ve tried this, I ended up getting into long, complicated, vodka-fueled arguments in parking lots at 3 am, or losing that person from my life entirely. It just doesn’t work.

Buffy is well-known and for whatever reason, people like to have her around. You seem like a bit of a sensitive sunflower if you have to leave a cocktail party because one person is talking too much. Maybe you should suck it up a little bit more, draw on that first fun night you and The Buffster had together, and try to be friends with her. Text her back, “I’m not mad, I’ve just been a little overextended lately!” and then be nice the next time you see her. It’s not your job to go around fixing people who don’t meet your standards.

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