Dear AMA,

I met a friend of a friend for the first time the other day, and I didn’t like her at all. Although I believe in giving people a proper chance, she behaved in a manner that was loud, rude and at times racist. Thankfully, she’s not my friend and I can at least keep my distance… but I also feel I should say something. I’ve told my friend that I probably won’t go out in a group if she’s there—but how should I handle her if I meet her again? The foreign community isn’t that big and I don’t want to be nasty.—No Offense

Dear No Offense,

We’ve passed your question on to the good people at TELL. Here’s what they had to say:

I can hear you are concerned about your friend and her new acquaintance. You are right: as foreigners in Japan, our community is very small and our friendships overlap, which can complicate the situation.

Finding people you like and maintaining friendships can be challenging in any country or community. As foreigners without extended families and regular friends, the friendships and relationships we make in Japan become even more important.

Your friend’s new acquaintance appears to have added a stress to your relationship, and your ability to socialize together. This has left you questioning how best to respond to your friend and this new person. I can hear that this person has many traits and behaviors that challenge your values and beliefs regarding acceptable behavior. These are often culturally defined and vary considerably. For example, someone from New York typically behaves very differently from a Japanese person, and also from a Greek person, and so on.

Friendships—like any relationship—take work, and I am concerned that your feelings toward the new acquaintance may damage your existing friendship, and I can hear you care about this friend. Our Lifeline counselors can explore your concerns and help you to work through your feelings and options that might work for you, should you meet the acquaintance again.

Answer courtesy of TELL. If you need to talk, they’re here to listen. Call the TELL Lifeline at 03-5774-0992 from 9am-11pm, 365 days a year. Or visit their website at

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