AdviceHey, Bonita!

Bad Luck Friend

Hey Bonita,

This sounds crazy, but I think one of my friends is just bad luck in my life. We’ve been close friends for about two years, and they’re one of those people who always has some kind of conflict or problem going on (and not necessarily ones within their control). I started noticing a pattern that whenever they’re around a lot, something bad or largely inconvenient happens in the strangest ways. I should note that it’s not like we hang out SO much that the odds are more likely. Examples are: I got a flat tire after leaving their house; they got their car stuck in a ditch leaving my house; while we were hanging out I had a medical emergency with my dog; we got stuck outside their house because the unlocked front door got wedged closed; and so many more big and small things. Am I over-exaggerating these coincidences, or have you ever had someone in your life that seemed like bad luck?


Hey Anon,

I’m not sure that it serves any good purpose to believe that an entire person can be “bad luck.” That would mean that I believe that there is some omnipotent and malevolent force in the universe that causes harm to people for no reason besides the fact that it likes to hurt people. It doesn’t help anything to search for reasons that inconveniences occur when we’re around certain people. I definitely don’t think that they are some supernatural force that created a medical emergency for your dog. Do you think that they wouldn’t have gotten stuck in a ditch if they hadn’t been hanging out with you? Do you think that whatever punctured your tire wouldn’t have been in the road if you hadn’t been driving away from their house? To believe in bad luck is to believe that the universe shifts nails onto the road and puts chocolate bars on a dog’s path just because one person is present.  

I don’t believe in luck. I am not superstitious. I believe in privilege and bias, and I believe that life is not fair and that none of us are special. We are all just stepping on each other’s faces while trying to climb into the sunlight, so let’s not assign “harbinger” to someone who just wants to hang out with us. Life is already so frickin’ hard, and I can’t encourage you to look at this person as if they are the cause of things like punctured tires and slippery ditches—with respect, it’s way more likely that someone hasn’t been driving for long enough to know how to better avoid ditches. Also, sharp things fly out of truck beds all the time, and some people are also just jerks who throw nails onto the road. Simply put, individuals do not have the power to shift the universe’s will. Does the universe even have a will? Emily in Paris got renewed for a third season while Sense8 is still off the air, so I see no evidence of it.  

Bad things happen all the time, no matter what. I don’t see bad luck or misfortune at play here, but I do see a great opportunity for you to be a better friend and to deepen your relationship with this person. They might feel like it’s always raining on their head, and I would just tell them that shit happens but they’ve still got a friend in me. Repeated misfortune can indeed make a person feel like they’re destined for terrible life experiences, and I think you should be supportive and logical in your approach to all of these bad things happening to your friend.

We don’t ask for bad things to happen to us, and we don’t will negativity into our lives. I think it’s a better use of your time to cultivate a mutually positive relationship with this friend and to be supportive of them when they need it. And certainly don’t blame them for your own bad times. Did they feed your dog a chocolate bar? No? Then what good is there to blame your dog’s bad health on your friend’s mere existence?

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