Dealing with ‘friends' who only ever try to one-up you

Have friends who are overly competitive?

new realities.
2 min readFeb 28


You’re not alone in this.

It’s more familiar than you might imagine. How can a perfectly functional friendship go from collaborative to competitive?

Dealing with friends who constantly try to one-up you in conversation can be frustrating, but there are a few strategies you can try:

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
  1. Don’t engage in the one-upping behavior: If your friend makes a comment that seems like they are trying to one-up you, you can choose not to engage with it. For example, if your friend says "I ran a marathon last weekend," and you respond with "That’s great! I’ve been trying to train for a 5K," and your friend responds with "Oh, that’s cute. I’ve done multiple marathons," you can choose not to respond to their comment and simply change the subject. A sarcastic congratulations might just egg them on even more, so don’t do it, even if you want to!

2. Address the behavior: If the one-upping behavior is becoming too much to handle, it may be worth having a conversation with your friend about it. You can express how their behavior makes you feel and ask them to stop. For example, you might say "Hey, I’ve noticed that sometimes when we’re talking, you seem to be trying to one-up me. It makes me feel like you’re not really listening to me, and I would appreciate it if we could have more balanced conversations." And if they don’t see a problem? Well, now you know what you really mean to them. Chances are they are happier thinking you’re inferior to them, and so they will probably fake-apologise. Some comments along the lines of “Oh, I didn’t mean to!” are usually insincere.

3. Shift the focus again: If your friend is constantly trying to one-up you, it might be because they are feeling insecure or competitive. You can try to shift the focus away from the conversation and onto a shared activity or interest. For example, you might suggest going for a hike or trying out a new restaurant together.

4. Distance yourself: if you’ve shifted focus, or even addressed the issue as calmly and as rationally as possible — and they’re still using you as a conversational punchbag/accomplishment shelving unit, it might be time to let this friendship fade. It’s not you, it really is them.

Remember, communication is key in any relationship. If the behavior continues despite your attempts to address it, it may be worth reevaluating the friendship and whether it is a healthy dynamic for you.



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