The Friendzone: Facebook Babies, Toxic Bitches, and Bestie Bosses

Welcome to Friendzone, Jezebel's new column devoted to dealing with the valuable people in your life who you're not humping. Got an issue and looking for guidance? Email friendzone@jezebel.com.

Am I obligated to "like" my best friend's baby photos? She literally puts up dozens each week, and it seems like each one receives loads of glowing comments from her work friends, old sorority sisters, and mommy group friends. It almost feels like a weird competition to show who is the more supportive pseudo-auntie or something. I mean, the kid is cute and I love it because it's hers, but I don't have time to keep track of its every recorded smile and frown.

No way in hell are you obligated to like all your pal's spawn documentation -– but I think you know that already. What's really got you in a tizzy is this weird competition to prove yourself as your best friend's #1 Super Duper Ultimate Online (And By Extension Offline) Best Friend 4-Evar. Whether or not these other chicks think of it as a contest is actually irrelevant. Your perception is your reality, and you feel as if you've been involuntarily entered in some kind of Race to BFF Mountain. That's what concerns me, and that's what I'm going to address.

My opinion? You need to take yourself out of the game. After all, you know your place in your best friend's life, right? And if you don't, well, let me enlighten you: she loves you regardless of how many times you leave a "SQUEE!!!111!!!" under her baby photos. She's posting them because she's excited and proud of her kiddo, and you can share in her delight in other, more poignant ways. How about giving her a phone call and asking how she's doing? How about writing her an actual letter, on paper, about what a cool chick she is? Because at some point in the midst of new motherhood, your friend is going to worry that she's losing herself in drool and diapers. Your job as her dearest pal is not just to love her offspring, but to love her -– regardless of how cute Junior's new onesie is.

In short: show your appreciation for mom and baby alike offline -– emphasis on mom. Embrace the little one, but make sure the mama knows she is always and forever your #1 priority. She'll appreciate the occasional reminder that she's more than just a cuteness factory.

I'm trying to do the slow fade on a toxic friend, but it doesn't seem to be working. I only answer every other email, never pick up the phone when she calls, and rarely respond to her texts. She seems to only have redoubled her efforts. This is a girl who never has anything nice to say about anybody, and talking to her really gets me down. I feel bad for her because she doesn't seem to have many friends, yet I've got to protect myself from her negative energy. What do I do?

First of all, cut the nicey-nice bullshit and realize that this chick deserves her lack of friends. It doesn't matter if her mother was a narcissist and her father was an emotionally remote houseplant; it doesn't matter if she was traumatized by that one time Pa had to shoot the horse on Little House; it doesn't matter if she did five to seven months as Linday Lohan's assistant. She has actively participated in the creation of her own loneliness.

You say she's "toxic," but you're being polite. Let's call a spade a shitty, shitty spade -– she sucks. Some people just suck, and this chick is one of that glorious category of humankind.

That said, I'm not about to give you permission to tell her she sucks. First of all, it will fall on deaf ears. Second of all, it'll result in blowback that will hurt you: crazy phone calls, impassioned texts, psychotic emails using TOO MANY CAPS to tell you how awful you are.

Therefore, we're going to speed up your slow fade into a fast fade! Here are your marching orders: continue to not pick up the phone when she calls. NEVER respond to her texts. And as for emails, well -– you can choose to respond to every third or fourth email instead of every other email. Make sure there's a lag time of a few days (or weeks!) between your receipt of said message and your response.

She may get creative with her attempts to woo you back. Stick to the plan even if she guilt-trips you by claiming that, like, she's contracted scurvy and needs you to get her some orange juice. Your job is to be steadfast in your resolution to get rid of her. Like commercial douches or Facebook stalking your ex's exes, she ain't no good for you.

I'm about to start a new job in which my best friend since college will be my boss (yes, our connection helped — but I'm qualified, I swear!). How do I establish the right boundaries and keep our work relationship from interfering with our friendship?

Whoa, congratulations! Because holy shit, you got a job in this economy! Don't you spend one moment feeling bad that a friendship connection led to this gig -– it's how most people get work. If anyone throws you shade over it, quote Jay-Z's "Dirt Off Your Shoulder." Then throw down an invisible microphone and go cash that paycheck!

Let's get down to the nitty gritty. You gotta dispense with any notion that your work relationship and friendship won't affect one another. It would be unrealistic to expect that a crapass performance review at the office on a Friday wouldn't influence the mood at a girly-girl brunch on a Saturday.

Second, establish some straightforward boundaries with your best friend in advance of starting your new gig. Here are some suggestions:

  • Don't use group meetings as an opportunity to crack inside jokes, roll your eyes at one another, etc. The surest way to alienate your fellow staffers is to flaunt your special relationship with their boss by speaking your creepy twin language.
  • When you and your boss inevitably have a disagreement about work, deal with it in the office (preferably with quiet dignity and professionalism, but if you've got to scream, at least close the door first.) Don't wait until you've thrown back a few drinks at the aforementioned weekend brunch. I do not want you to get banned from TGI Friday's for tossing an electric blue margarita in your boss/friend's face.
  • Conversely, when you and your best friend inevitably have a disagreement about something personal, deal with it outside the office. Don't have a sobbing shriek-fest next to the coffeemaker. Tears of rage make coffee taste bad.
  • If you overhear your coworkers talking shit about your boss, do not tell her. Bitching about the boss is a proud and honorable tradition, and you must allow them to let off steam in this fashion –- even if it makes your loyal blood boil.
  • However, your friendship with your boss should probably prevent you from shit-talking her managerial skills with your coworkers. Complain to your gentleman/lady caller, complain to friends you and the boss don't have in common, complain to your diary, but don't complain to your fellow staffers. If it gets back to her, she'll inevitably feel personally hurt.
  • One last thing –- keep your options open. If this is your dream job, I obviously want you to put your energy into it. But if this is a job you're just taking on your way to your dream job, well, keep your ears open for other opportunities. I'm not trying to be Debbie Downer, but I do think this is going to put some pressure on your friendship. In my happy vision for your future, you work at this job for a little while and then make a seamless transition to a new gig, allowing your boss to go back to her real job: being your best friend.

    Image by Jim Cooke, source photo via Timothy Boomer/Shutterstock.