What We Can Learn From NeNe And Marlo: Dealing With Controlling Friends

February 27, 2014  |  

NeNe Leakes is right. There are rules to friendships, but one of them should be that grown folks shouldn’t be allowed to dictate who their friends kick it with. Especially when said dictating friend isn’t paying anybody’s bills.

On Sunday’s episode of Real Housewives of Atlanta, Marlo became the subject of NeNe’s ire when she started getting a little too friendly with Kenya. In previous episodes, whenever we saw Marlo, she was side by side with NeNe. But in the last two episodes, she’s been laughing it up with Kenya, arriving with her at events and meeting up for drinks. NeNe did not appreciate this, and she made it clear via her behavior that she was pissed off when she decided against inviting Marlo to her “Team Rich” group for Cynthia’s Bailey Bowl. This left Marlo to be picked up by Kenya’s “Team Twirl” when the beauty queen was shocked to hear that NeNe had shut Marlo out. Marlo tried to speak to NeNe throughout the Bailey Bowl, but at every turn, she was ignored. Kenya, always one to be nosy, tried to intervene to get the ladies to talk (as she had just buried the hatchet with NeNe at Peter’s birthday party), and before we knew it, all hell broke loose. NeNe wound up cussing out both ladies, who bumrushed her, throwing a water bottle near Marlo, and storming off. But not before Marlo followed her, angry at being scolded and trying to confront her about the real reason she was treating her so poorly–because of Kenya.

I can understand NeNe’s feelings and reservations about Marlo getting so buddy buddy with Kenya. She has good reason to be skeptical. Kenya, on more than one occasion, has been NeNe’s enemy on the show, and seeing as Marlo knows all of NeNe’s business because they’re so close, it makes sense that she wouldn’t want one of her closest confidants fraternizing with the enemy.

However, the major issue with this whole situation is how NeNe handled it, and herself. You feel some type of way about Marlo dealing with someone who continues to show her behind? Fine. Tell her. Instead, NeNe immediately threw a whole gazebo worth of shade at Marlo, barely speaking to her at Peter’s birthday party, and trashing her to Porsha: “One of my good girlfriends did say that Marlo is an opportunist.” The final straw was the fact that she treated her like a leper in public (the ultimate NO-NO), inviting all the bridesmaids that could come to be on “Team Rich,” except for Marlo, and walking away from Marlo every time she approached NeNe. Instead of speaking to her woman to woman, both women ended up acting like children.

This whole issue of one friend trying to throw a massive guilt trip on another friend for getting to know or even just being seen with someone they don’t like is something you would hope folks would be done with after high school. I’ve been through it, I currently have a good friend going through it (and she’s stuck in the middle of a mess), and I never get it. I’ve always been under the impression that as an adult, you can hang with who you please. Once someone expresses an issue with it, you take their feelings into consideration as a part of being a loyal friend, and keep that in mind when it comes to your interactions (whether you decide to cease contact or not) with the “enemy.”  However, taking the route of being pissy and then expecting for people to not only read your mind, but ditch this newly acquired connection because you seem to have an issue with it (but won’t open your mouth) is ridiculous.

And therein lies the problem. Communication. While being a “good friend” does involve being a loyal comrade, it also involves communicating your feelings before they bubble over and cause you to be childish–ignoring your friends, their phone calls and their presence. I don’t know why some people feel that to have best friends means that they have to walk all over them or that the decisions said friends make have to be run through them first, but as friends we should be focused on supporting one another–not stifling folks.

Sometimes you meet people through your friends who you hit it off with immediately. And as someone who has felt like NeNe before, I get that it sometimes makes you feel some kind of way when your good friend starts getting close with someone you cut off long ago. But as someone who has also been treated like Marlo in the past, I can say that someone’s interactions with an individual you don’t like don’t always mean your friend is up to no good. And at the end of the day, if you start telling people who they can and can’t be seen with or talk to, you’ll have something to say about everything. When will it stop?

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