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Question #77: Vacation Damnation

Hello, Captain!

My last question asked about friendship jealousy. Since your answer, things have been massively improved, but I am facing an upcoming trial by fire; my friendship group, including the new girl who was provoking a lot of jealousy, all going on holiday together.

I already plan to never talk to this girl again after the holiday is over; this is sort of the last hurrah of our friendship group before we scatter to the winds post-university, so I’m not really required to keep in contact with her. But basically I need some survival tips for living in the same house with someone who annoys the shit out of me for a whole week.

So far the planning of this trip has been filled with fire and drama and ridiculousness.

Me and the group prior to new girl had always talked vaguely about a holiday together, and when she arrived she took these vague plans and became the Holiday Evangelist. She tried to organise it, booked time off work before anyone else was more than half committed, and then got pissed at us when it fell through. Then another friend, who I will call here our Gracious Leader, suggested a cheaper, more-conveniently timed alternative, and things got off the ground again. The time that the HE wanted to do – this time booked when everyone else was at three-quarters commitment – was extremely inconvenient for one of my housemates, who eventually dropped out when the HE said she’d had to book work off twice, and it wasn’t fair to ask her to change it (which would be a slightly stronger point if she wasn’t actively wanting to quit her job anyway and strongly professes not to care what they think) and that my housemate wasn’t one of ‘the original organisers’ anyway, despite having been part of the original vague plans before the HE took them on, so it was unfair to inconvenience the HE in her favour.

This left the group relatively divided between me and my housemate’s boyfriend (still on the trip) on the one side, with HE still having vague support from The Guy Who Fancies Her and My Best Friend Who Really Likes Her (with our Gracious Leader putting out fires and the final trip-goers, Gracious Leader’s Boyfriend and Oblivious Girl, remaining neutral). But things recently got more heated over transport.

I have a car, and live in the same city as mostly everyone. Our Gracious Leader has a car and lives (with her boyfriend) halfway between where we are and the final destination. I had suggested that I’d be happy to drive, while others took the train, to our Gracious Leader’s home, and everyone could procede by car from there. I invited my housemate’s boyfriend, my Best Friend, and the Guy Who Fancies the HE to be passengers. Then the HE invited herself into my car, and instead of taking a polite hint when I said I couldn’t just kick an already invited passenger out, called up the guy who fancies her and asked him to give up his seat for her, then brightly told me good news, she could come in the car after all! When I told her that it was not okay for her to dictate my passengers, and I still preferred to have the passengers I actually issued invitations to, she got very upset. She did not want to go on the train with only Oblivious Girl, who she explained in a ‘no offense’ preceded rant she did not know well enough to have a good time with, and she felt that she was being excluded from the road trip – despite the fact that it’s my damn car and in any case we were all planning to proceed by car from our Gracious Leader’s house. She accused me of being disruptive to the holiday spirit and trying to selfishly have it all my own way when she couldn’t have it even a little bit her way. She threatened to pull out of the holiday. At this point I would have said good riddance, but the others in the group were hoping for a happy resolution, and my Best Friend agreed to go on the train with HE. Looking back on it, I can understand her wish to travel with friends, but if she’d just said ‘Hey it would be nice to travel as a group, do you all have to go by car or can one of you come on the train with me’ it would have had the same result but with much less stress than her explosion did.

I’ve carefully avoided her company since then, but the holiday is approaching and after all this stress it’s gained somewhat ominous proportions. I’ve come up with a couple of survival tactics – like me and my housemate’s boyfriend agreeing to share a room and to be available for angry ranting whenever the other needs it – and also it’s been made pretty clear to the group as a whole that sometimes we will want to do different things on a given day and that is okay! And I’ve taken into advice things you’ve said in previous posts about having mantras to deal with people – a brilliant move, one I plan to use fully – but I wondered if you have any other hints to keep me from clocking her?

Yours,
Already Holidayed Out

I am also holidayed out after reading that.

You did the right thing by kicking her out of your car. I feel like that was a bold move in your friend group, where the geek social fallacies reign supreme, but there seems to also be One Geek Social Fallacy to Rule Them All And In The Darkness Bind Them, namely, it is not okay to ever express displeasure or dislike and everyone will just magically always get along because you are all mind readers!

As for surviving the weekend, there are two paths you can go by:

1. Just focus on hanging out with the friends you like and ignore her as much as possible. Have fun, bite your tongue, enjoy yourself and remember that it’s okay to just walk out of a room when she walks into it.

2. If pushed – she picks up on your animosity and insists on talking about the car situation with you in a “I get the feeling you don’t like me” sort of way – level with her.

Well, since you bring it up, you’re not my favorite person ever, and you made me really angry when you pulled that stuff about rides. But my friends really like you so I try to be polite for their sake. I hope you can do the same.”

Don’t be cruel, and don’t feel the need to justify or explain.  And watch how much venting you do to others – you don’t have to be poisonous, it’s probably better to just treat the things she does with a shrug.  Then just go back to being cool and polite to her.

I get the feeling that this woman gets a lot of satisfaction (and carries a lot of insecurity) about belonging and being at the center of things.  She is constantly measuring herself against other members of the group and needs reassurance that she belongs and is accepted – “But I want to ride in the cool car!”  So if you don’t accept her and you say it out loud, you’re probably stepping on an insecurity land mine and exploding a dramabomb.  And she is no doubt aware of the culture of your friend group to want to include everyone and not have open disputes – she both capitalizes on it and dreads it, in that maybe you’re all just pretending to like her.  In your case, you ARE just pretending to like her. So that’s a loss of face and a sense of identity for her. If she throws a big crying drama-storm on your holiday (not impossible) and your friends end up pressuring you to “make up” with her, just say, “Look, I would never have brought it up if she didn’t ask me directly. Sorry to hurt her feelings, but maybe the less we all talk about this the better.”

Your friend might work really hard to “make peace” between you, and it might be time to clue her in to your dislike.  “Look, I know you love her, and I want you to be happy, but she and I don’t really mesh, so I might just bow out of things she’s doing sometimes – don’t take it personally.”

There’s a hard lesson in here for her, in that it’s okay to not like people. It’s okay to not be liked by everyone. There is a woman who went to graduate school with me who hates my guts. When I first got the feeling she didn’t like me, I tried to figure out what I’d done wrong and tried to be super-nice and ingratiate myself, which just made her hate me more. It was painful. Then I realized: I don’t actually like her or want her good opinion, and maybe it’s better if we just have no time for each other. So we have no time for each other. We didn’t make people who know both of us choose between us, or talk about each other (well, I don’t talk about her, except for right now, many years after the fact). When I talk she makes a cunty wincing face, and I probably make the same face when she talks, and when interacting is unavoidable we keep our conversations to a curt “hello.”

I am here to tell you, my quality of life has not diminished since being disliked by this person. In fact, it is improved.

You are figuring this out before the rest of your friend group. It’s not easy, because it’s not the culture of your friend group, but it’s okay. Stop making nice. Be curt and direct and minimize contact. If she tries to make you admit you don’t like her, admit that you don’t like her. Do not make the people who like both of you choose – they will resent it.  But hold your ground.  The world won’t end.

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About JenniferP

Chicago filmmaker, teacher, and blogger.

6 comments on “Question #77: Vacation Damnation

  1. I would also like to point out that you don’t have to go. I know you want to for many reasons, but if you change your mind? It’s a legitimate choice.

  2. I want to put out a word of interest here: you say that this is a “last hurrah” for this friend group. Does that mean it’s YOUR last hurrah or the entire group’s last hurrah or a certain subset of the group’s last hurrah and another subset will be living in the same city?

    Because if your tribe is truly disintegrating anyway, I see no reason to stir it up on this Last Time. The Cap’s assessment that HE is potentially freaking out about being abandoned feels right to me, and the “Last Time”ness of events is going to heighten that freakydeakyness. So, chances are high that there will be drama.

    How to get through if the dramabomb drops? Well, it depends. If you are never going to see her again, then I would actually NOT have the “we are not ever friends” conversation. It’s irrelevant, and will only increase the drama and potentially ruin the holiday for everyone as HE freaks out all over everything because you don’t like her and said it aloud. So you smile, and say something to the effect of “I need to be over here now” and imagine the glory of never seeing her again after the next few days. Nothing she does or says has anything to do with your future, so don’t let it get to you. Take a deep breath. Her actions are not your problem.

    If you are going to see her again, potentially a lot, then yeah, have that conversation IF SHE INITIATES. But otherwise the same advice applies. Her actions are not about you, they’re about her. Don’t get caught up in her problems. Some phrases that may help:
    - “Huh, that sounds rough. I’m going to get a margarita.”
    - “Yeah, too bad. Hope that works out okay!”
    - “That sounds great, I’m going to go do [thing] and get some alone time/ with [person] ’cause I haven’t had any one-on-one time with hir. You (guys?) have fun!”
    - “Sorry, I’m doing X. Have fun!”

  3. Whatever happens, can we get a report? I would love to hear how it all goes!

  4. Captain Awkward, you really understand Geek/Nerd/General Young, Smart People social groups like no other advice giver I’ve ever read. I wish I would have read this 3 years ago. I would swear maybe myself or one of my friends could have written this series of letters. I have also seen my guy friends really cling to these Social Geek Fallacies. It’s been difficult to learn how to navigate around them, and I do see a lot of my friends being friends with “toxic people.” I personally try to enjoy these people for their good qualities, in small doses, but I know they wouldn’t be good as close companions in my life. Needless to say, this is a lesson I’ve learned the hard way, but it’s a lesson that was worth it.

  5. It sounds like at least part of the time you’re getting riled up on other people’s behalf. Remember, it’s their right to decide whether/when the things that are fun about her outweigh the things that are annoying about her, and act accordingly. You’ve given no indication your other friends aren’t perfectly capable of sticking up for themselves if they cared to. So stick up for yourself and let the rest of your (enabling-or-tolerant, depending on how you see it) crew fend for themselves. Your mantra: if it doesn’t bug them, I’m not going to let it bug me.

    It also sounds like you’ve gotten so sick of her games that now you’re hyper-sensitized, primed to catch her next offense and call her on it (at least in your own head or with those who share your low opinion of her). You probably get irritated by behavior in her that wouldn’t bug you in another friend because you wouldn’t see it as part of a larger pattern of annoyingness. Try to be less vigilant — you’ll be happier if you just don’t notice her games and feel like you have a moral obligation to get pissed off about them. Give her the benefit of the doubt whenever you can, and take things at face value rather than speculating on her “real” motives. When there’s no avoiding what she’s up to, try to be amused by the lengths she goes to to get her way, and/or pity someone who interacts with the world that way. It must be exhausting!

    Of course, you have every right to resist when her machinations do directly involve you. But like the Cap’n said, don’t get involved in arguments or justifications. Just say “That really doesn’t work for me. I’m going to [whatever does work for you].” But don’t be stingy-spirited about excluding her every chance you get. It costs you the moral high ground, and probably only leads to her taking ever more desperate measures.

    If she or anyone else confronts you about not seeming to like her: “Just because two people have friends in common doesn’t guarantee they’re going to click. It doesn’t mean either one of them is a bad person, or that they have to hate each other and try to make all their shared friends take sides, just that the magic is not there. I think that’s the way it is for us. I’m perfectly willing to politely coexist, though, so as far as I’m concerned it doesn’t need to be a problem.” That’s all true, and if it ever does come to taking sides, it makes it clear that the drama is not originating with you.

  6. This is making me flash back on a Saturday morning cartoon too hard, I can’t resist it.

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