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Serving the GW Community since 1904

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Officials to clear homeless encampment near campus in May
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • March 4, 2024

Ask Annie: How can I get my friend to stop stealing my ideas?

Corner a copy cat with compliments.

Facing a problem yourself? Annie has answers. Ask away!

                      Graphic by Nicholas Anastacio

Dear Annie,

A friend of mine keeps taking my interests and becoming super invested in them, to the point that it’s weirding me out. How do I tell them that it’s making me uncomfortable?

Help please,

A Cool Copied Cat

Dear A Cool Copied Cat, 

HBO Max rebooted the popular teen drama “Gossip Girl” only to cancel it two seasons later. While the reboot had the funds and critical clout, it lacked the dramatic flair of The CW Network series. It’s clear nothing beats the original. 

It’s reasonable to expect your friends to share certain interests, yet constant copying can feel threatening to your individuality. You may begin to worry about how far your friend will go in borrowing from your life. Will they steal research that could have helped you land your dream internship or position, as Serena from “Gossip Girl” does with Blair’s dream of going to Yale? Or will they seize your spot in the friend group, like when Jenny steals Blair’s identity as queen bee? Either way, tackle their mimicry with open dialogue. 

Copycats tend to choose people they admire. So, rather than watching them duplicate your notable traits, highlight your friend’s distinct attributes. Express how much you look up to your friend’s uncommon interests to remind them of their electric, enviable passions. Do they take early morning walks to photograph birds or have an eclectic music taste of niche artists? Ask questions, and compliment their skills. Aim to give them the confidence to develop their identity rather than engulfing your interests.

An Ngo | Graphics Editor

If your friend continues to invest in your interests despite your compliment-focused redirection, consider initiating a conversation. Start by framing your perspective as an observation, describing several concrete examples of when your friend overstepped their bounds. Express how much you value their unique personality. If it’s a close friend, perhaps ask if anything happened recently to shake their confidence in themselves.

As with any confrontation, your friend may take a defensive stance. Remember, you have your evidence — images, texts, or experiences — proving a pattern of mirrored behavior. Combat their denial with compassion. Acknowledge that there’s room for both of you to share interests in a way that doesn’t encroach on your individuality. 

Regardless of whether or not your friend takes kindly to your flurry of flattery or direct conversation, keep cultivating your own interests. Direct your energy toward developing your skills and connections. The copycat already has an uphill battle to compete with the original — make the hill steeper by becoming even better at what you do.

As frustrating as it is to have a copycat friend, remember that you are being mimicked because you’re doing something right. Your actions have led to attractive success. Keep building on your triumphs to show, as Blair says, that not everyone can be you.

Here first,


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