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#488: My friend’s new hobby is grossing everyone out, and, he likes it that way.

Dear Captain Awkward,

Things have started getting *awkward* with a good friend of mine, and I need advice on how to handle it. He’s this really quirky guy – I met him through my boyfriend – and since we all have a silly sense of humour we enjoy having a laugh (usually with a good dose of toilet humour). 

In the past couple of months, though, he’s being getting more extreme in what he finds funny and getting into some really gross stuff. I think this is partly because he hooked up with a girl who is the same way, and they spend a lot of their time together visiting the kinds of websites that are deliberately designed to make you gag (disclaimer: it gets a bit more specific further down, you’ve been warned!). He doesn’t get off on this stuff sexually, he just finds something really hilarious about it and I think he takes pride in locating the most disgusting things ever created by man.

The thing is, now every time we go out, and there’s a computer around, he’ll take the opportunity to pull this stuff up and make everyone watch it. I can handle a fart joke here and there, but this is way beyond that. He’s made us watch an explicit anal sex video, shown us fetish-y photos of women who are “on the rag”, and played a video of people putting eels in places that eels should *not* go. He does this even though the rest of us (there are usually others around, including my b/f) are clearly not into it. But whenever we tell him to cut it out, he gets really pissy and goes into a “why are you guys so lame” rant. I know that he keeps trying it with us because he really wants us to share in his grotesque new interest, and when we don’t he perceives that as us rejecting him. I have no problem with his new “hobby”, but he pushes it on others and doesn’t get the hints to stop. Last time, it got to the point w here I had to tell him very sternly to cut it out and his feelings got hurt. (He’s a real oddball so he’s very sensitive to not fitting in.)

I need a way to shut him down when he tries to pull this bizarro business, while also not being too harsh or making him feel like there’s something wrong with HIM. A script or some ideas would really help. 

Thanks,

-Grossed Out

Dear Grossed Out:

Thank you for this timely opportunity to review the Geek Social Fallacies. Your friend is a strong #1 and #2 carrier.

Social skills can be learned, and here is an opportunity for your friend to learn an important lesson:

When you are super-enthusiastic about a new off-color hobby and force it on everyone around you and will talk about nothing else and totally ignore others’ communicated lack of interest and openly expressed revulsion…

The reason you don’t fit in is you. People aren’t being terrible and unfair by excluding and telling you to stop. You are being an ass, you are making a choice to continue behaving like an ass, and the group is correctly letting you know that you should stop it if you want to remain a part of it.

In the moment, when this is going on, it’s okay to groan and tell him to cut it short the next time he pulls out a computer. It’s okay to say “Really? Again?” or “Shut it down” or “I really don’t want to watch this” without qualification or apology, and if he won’t, I think it’s okay for you to get up and walk out of the room. I think it’s okay for everyone to walk out of the room, and to make a group decision not to give him any more attention when he pulls out his terrible party trick. He needs your attention for it to be fun, so by removing it you take the fun away. If you worry that you are somehow the one making it awkward, remember: He is getting off on your discomfort and horror at the images. He is enjoying making people uncomfortable. It’s fun for him.

And then, later, or before the next party, I think it’s a good idea to pull him aside and talk to him. “Dude, we like you, but if you keep pulling that shit, we will not invite you to parties anymore.” Or “I don’t know how to make it more clear – I’m not down with your new hobby of grossing people out. Please stop doing that around me, it makes me not want to hang out with you.” That doesn’t have to be a friendship ending conversation, if it’s one friend saying to another, whoa, you are out of line, please stop it so that we can keep hanging out. That is being straightforward and clear, and is giving him every opportunity to do the right thing. If he ignores it and keeps going, he is making a choice about how to behave.

And if he gets hurt and feels like he doesn’t fit in and that everyone is excluding him, it’s not your job to comfort him and say that everything is cool. It’s not cool. Sometimes shame and negative feelings and the harsh but honest words of your friends are there to teach you stuff, like how to stop acting like a jackass.

If you say “I hate it when you do that specific gross thing, please stop it” and someone says “But poor me I don’t fit in anywhere and am always excluded, why are you being so mean?” they are being manipulative. They are deflecting the conversation away from their own actions and a need to take any responsibility for them, and trying to get you to comfort them when really they are the ones who screwed up and you are the one being direct and cool by using your words. If you end up in a conversation like this, it can be maddening because the target is always moving. If you run into that tactic, I suggest ignoring the derail and bringing focus back to the behavior. “Okay, we can talk about your feelings later, but right now I need you to apologize for the behavior and reassure me that I won’t have to deal with it again. Until that happens, we can’t really deal with anything else. So, can I trust you to be cool?”

Consensual trolling between friends can be hilarious and fun, like when my friend Z. and I send each other Sex Kryptonite songs or links to (Warning! While hilariously curated and written, the following link contains things you will not be able to ever un-see and I do not recommend actually clicking it!) Scary Sex Toy Friday. That’s because everyone is in on the joke. It only works if you listen and have respect, which are big parts of that whole “fitting in” thing your friend needs to work on.

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171 comments
  1. Saz said:

    I think Jennifer is right on about this.
    LW: His concern about not fitting in is absolutely not your problem. If he chooses not to listen to your very firm “cut it out” comments, he’s a jerk. And you absolutely do not have to concern yourself with jerks. At all.

    My sister and I have a mutual friend who is similarly clueless of social cues. For the longest time, whenever we hung out, he’d make… what I can only describe as “sexual jokes/comments”. For instance, we were all walking past an art gallery, where there had recently been one of those things where people lay outside it naked. Friend looked at the (fully dressed) people milling around, looked at me and went “aww… Shame it’s not naked people like last time. Saz could have joined in!” I pointedly was terribly busy looking the other way, and ignored him. But he didn’t drop it.
    “Eh Saz? You saw that naked people thing? Bet you’d love that!”
    (I’d never shown any interest or inclination to do anything of the sort)
    I gave him a quick “you’re confusing me” glance and non-commitally “hmmm’d”. He then dropped it, when I didn’t rise to the bait.

    This kind of low-level sexual talk continued, but got much worse online. He’d instant message me, we’d chat and all of a sudden he’ll say things like “Oh, I’ve bet you’ve had loads of naked time with random men in your apartment.” Just totally out of the blue. Firstly that’s none of his business. Secondly, it’s insanely rude.

    Shortly after I started reading this site, I used my words, and told him that this sort of talk/banter made me very uncomfortable, I didn’t like it, and I wanted it to stop.
    And, to be fair to him, the worst of it, online has stopped. He was a bit huffy, all “I was only joking!” but eventually got the message. That if he wanted to be friends, which he clearly did. He needed to sort his interactions with me.
    Face to face, he’s also better. Not perfect, but better. All sexual comments continue to get either totally ignored, or just a baffled stare. Which shuts him down pretty quick.

    • JenniferP said:

      Your comment reminded me of this piece by Thomas at Yes Means Yes, about the ways people test boundaries. Your friend was making inappropriate comments to see if you’d join in and put up with them. You did a good thing by stopping him short in his tracks.

      • Ethyl said:

        YES. I don’t think it’s incidental that these videos LW’s friend keeps showing are sexual in nature.

        • Yep. This is not just his hobby- I am quite sure that he does get off on it sexually (but doesn’t want to admit that) but even more so, he gets off on showing it to other people.

      • Natheless said:

        Thank you so much for porting the link to yes means yes. It was so incredibly timely for me to read some things there. I do not have to respond to the email-laced-with-juicy-bait. (If I am defending myself then I am talking to him, and that is what he wants. The pretense that I have never told him what the problem is is absurd on its face. I have sent him numbered lists. He is only validating my distrust.)

        And thank you, Jennifer, you have given me much good advice via other people. I have learned a lot in this space. Cheers!

  2. Love me some Scary Sex toy friday, I’ve been known to pass around some links from that blog.

    I agree with most of what CA say above. He’s being bit creepy. I’d just add that IMO, using the term we, as in “we’ve talked and we need you to quit doing this” is likely to make things worse. Atleast for the feelings of gross hobby-guy. If he already feels left out, then his friends grouping together will just cement those feelings. If everyone in my friendgroup talked about me behind my back I’d feel pretty crappy. Granted, that may just be because of something I’m reading into in this letter. Not that his feelings are your responsibility but I get the impression that you like him in general. Talking to him one on one is less likely to make him defensive. Good luck!

    • JenniferP said:

      Agreed, “We’ve all decided this” is generally not constructive. “I am not okay with this” is better.

  3. Tired Caregiver said:

    It took me forever to learn this: being a nerd does not equal creepy. It is not a free pass for being creepy, especially if you have been directly told to stop. The same applies to quirky- not a free pass.

    I’m a card carrying, proud nerd and as such, I hang out with many other nerds and people who get the quirky label. Way back in high school I ended up friends with a kid who skipped two grades because he was just so *nerdy* and *quirky* that he wasn’t fitting in with his age group. The teacher sat us next to each because it was a forgone conclusion that we would be friends. Even I saw it as a forgone conclusion because hey, he liked video games and I liked video games, so you know, friendship is required, yeah?

    It took me decades to admit the guy was a creep. Having something in common (video games, humor, sky diving) does not mean friendship is guaranteed. Nor is it required. He would make profoundly unsettling sexual comments and I let him get away with it because of the geek fallacies…he’d never quite fit in, so it was MY JOB to give him a safe group, right? And if I made him uncomfortable with my uncomfort, than I was the bad guy for hurting his creepster feelings. Right?

    Wrong.

    Your friend being creepy is a separate issue from him being quirky. They aren’t the same thing, and you aren’t obligated to treat them as if they were. You aren’t obligated to be friends with him because of feelings. This is NOT about not understanding cues or not fitting in…you are communicating clearly AND you are giving him the tools to fit in (the tool being stop grossing us out.) If he chooses not to utilize those tools, the consequences are his to deal with.

    • Badger Rose said:

      Yeah, I’ve gotten a lot of the “…but it’s your job to make them feel included, because you have the same interest in X.” Which is goofy logic and makes no sense, but surprisingly common.

  4. arkadyrose said:

    “But poor me I don’t fit in anywhere and am always excluded, why are you being so mean?”

    “Dude, you’re getting excluded because those links you keep showing us really aren’t funny – in fact, they’re pretty gross and you make everyone uncomfortable. People don’t want to hang out to feel uncomfortable – they want have a good time. Drop the icky stuff and then no-one will get excluded and everyone will have a fun time, ‘kay? Say, how about [that subject over there]!”

    Make it plain, simple, direct and to the point – then move on so he can’t bring it back to his feelings. If he does insist on getting feelings on the carpet, “Well, hey, dude, you know you’re making ME feel pretty bad having to watch that stuff. I’m not going to watch it any more, so just drop it and let’s do [something much more fun], hey?”

    Don’t take personal responsibility for his feelings – just breeze over it and make it plain that as long as he keeps it up, NO-ONE is having fun.

    • Jake said:

      I wouldn’t say they “really aren’t funny.” Funny is a subjective thing, and manifestly this dude does find them funny, so they’re funny to him. Rather than focusing on his taste being bad or invalid (which would get his dander up, justifiedly), I would just focus on what I need, e.g. “I don’t find them funny and they make me uncomfortable, so I need you not show them to me.”

      Which is not to say that he still won’t get his dander up, but at least if he does it’s not because he has a valid objection.

      • Or just “they aren’t funny to everyone else.” He needs to get that he can find something funny, and that doesn’t mean that everyone has to.

      • Seconded. The conversation shouldn’t be about whether or not they’re funny, or even whether or not they’re gross, because those are subjective. It should be about the fact they make the LW uncomfortable, and nothing else.

      • Maybe “What is so hard to understand about ‘nobody else likes them’? Why do you keep doing this when I/other people have repeatedly asked you not to?”

        I know he’s LW’s friend, but I’m of the “friendship ends NOW” mentality when someone’s taking pleasure in upsetting others. This guy’s been told over and again and he’s still doing it. I’d be asking why he likes distressing/grossing out people he supposedly values as friends, why he doesn’t give a damn about their feelings, if he got onto his “you’re so meeeannn” hobbyhorse. He’s either being a jerk deliberately or he needs a crash course in growing up.

    • remi said:

      That’s exactly what I came here to say. If he starts going on with all that “I feel so unloved and excluded, you guys aren’t being fair, why are you doing this to me,” just turn it right around on him. Point out that the only reason he’s feeling like this is because he chooses to do stuff to make other people feel crappy, and he’s being unfair by making people watch stuff they have absolutely no desire to see. He’s the one acting like a jerk, and if he just stopped doing this one thing that everyone has said they don’t like, nobody would have any problem. If is complaining about the group being mean to him because he does mean things to the group, point out how hypocritical he’s being. And if it still doesn’t work….just don’t invite him around any more, because clearly he cares more about getting a chance to gross people out by showing them disgusting porn despite them saying they don’t want anything to do with it (why hello sexual harassment, how are you today) and being kind of a massive douche than he does about any of you individually. Real friends don’t act like that.

      • Florian said:

        Thanks for spelling it out:

        What this guy is doing is sexual harassment.

      • Manatee said:

        Absobloodylutely.

        It really doesn’t sound like this is about the videos for him, it’s about showing you guys the videos. If it was just that he liked those videos then he would have cut it out when you first asked and kept it as a private hobby. If he keeps on forcing you to interact around them then it is the interaction he is interested in.

        • redgirl said:

          Yes, this! I’ll admit I have a propensity for trying to find the weirdest, most bizarre things possible on the web, and laughing about them with other people, but ONLY with other people who find that as amusing as I do. If someone continues to try to make you watch stuff you’ve already stated you’re uncomfortable with, then they are more interested in making you uncomfortable than with sharing a laugh with you. That’s pretty rotten, IMO.

  5. JetGirl said:

    Thank you for the Scary Sex Toy Friday link, Captain. I haven’t had a chance to frighten my husband in a while. BTW, we enjoy frightening each other.

  6. Epiphyta said:

    On a sad tangent, there will be no more updates of Scary Sex Toy Friday with which to send my friends screaming, as Sarah Klein died late last month (she was a FOAF).

    • JenniferP said:

      Oh my goodness, I am so sorry to hear that. She was a brilliant, hilarious writer who brought much joy to my life.

      • Epiphyta said:

        Fridays were fun!

        “Have you loaded the page yet?”

        “Nooooooo –”

        “heh heh heh”

        “What?”

        “No, go on, I’ll wait.”

        *click*

        “OMG MY EYES”

        “BWAHAHAHAHA!!”

        “Where the hell does she FIND these things??? How would you even . . . oh, wait. Now I am even more grossed out and I did not think that was possible!”

  7. mythago said:

    ” I know that he keeps trying it with us because he really wants us to share in his grotesque new interest, and when we don’t he perceives that as us rejecting him. ”

    No, he keeps trying it with you because he has a Script for Having Fun in his head, and when you don’t follow your assigned roles in the script – being grossed out and letting him continue to gross you out – he is pulling emotional bullshit to get you back in line.

    • Jake said:

      Yes. And oh my god, I have no patience for people who try to force me into a role in the play in their head.

    • Doe said:

      Oh my goodness, yes. In my more socially inexperienced days I would run these elaborate scripts in my head before every interaction because I was so unsure of myself. If people went off-script, I panicked and shut down and thought they didn’t like me. However I would NEVER have been entitled enough to try and force someone to stick to my script.

      Maybe not important, but is this a person who thrives on being the Oddball Friend, i.e. they use their perceived status as the weirdest person in the room to get attention and feel like they have a place in the group? Because if so, it might be time for a Come-to-Jesus talk.

    • Bunny said:

      THIS.

      But actually, also.

      It doesn’t matter WHY your friend is doing this. Maybe he really is the archetypal clueless dude who really does have absolutely no bad intentions and just totally innocently continues to push past your comfort level, ignore your stated boundaries and whine defensively when you try to enforce them, repeatedly*. Or maybe he’s doing it on purpose because being a boundary-crossing arsehole is fun for him and that matters more than your comfort.

      But that doesn’t actually matter. What matters is, you don’t like what he’s doing.and you’ve asked him more than once to stop doing it to you. He can either choose to stop doing it, or he can choose to not see his friends any more. But it’s HIM making that choice, by the actions he makes.

      Full disclosure, I am totally one of those innocent clueless people. I was BAD at people stuff for a long time, and am still not particularly adept at it. I spent a lot of my youth experiencing terrible foot-in-mouth syndrome, made awkward jokes, took jokes too far and so on.

      You know how my friends could tell I was doing it innocently? Because when they told me I was doing something they didn’t like, the FIRST time they told me… I felt awful, I apologised right away and STOPPED DOING THE THING. Or, if the thing was something difficult to quantify (like, stop taking jokes too far) I at least made a concerted, continuous effort to stop doing the thing (such as, in the case of jokes too far, stopped the joke a good, long period BEFORE I normally would and let the people I was joking with set the boundaries by waiting to see if THEY chose to take it further, until I learned where each person’s limit was.)

      I even wrote out a little script that went something like “I’m sorry I did [THING]. I didn’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable and won’t do it again. If I do anything else that makes you feel bad, please tell me, because I enjoy your company and want you to enjoy mine, but I am sometimes kind of stupid” that I would send to people after I apologised in person, because I was too embarrassed to say all that but wanted them to know I genuinely valued their friendship more than my own Armour of Oblivious..

      *Can you tell I’m not convinced on this one?

      • Lee said:

        I’m a bit like this as well – I’m a bit faux-pas-prone and can end up getting a bit awkward and stupid around people. But…like you say, my intentions are good and I will stop anything I’m doing immediately if people don’t like it.

        LW – you need to decide how many chances to give your friend. They may already have had too many.

    • hebbyn said:

      Seriously, yes. He’s showing you things so you’ll be grossed out and disgusted, and then when you are, he’s acting like you’re wrong for reacting in exactly the way he’s set up for you to act.

      What does he expect? “Look at this grossout porn”

      “Wow! I love the lighting they used there! Especially the way they use the blue tones to emphasise the unexpected vomit!”

      I think a lot of the time, this stuff boils down to a power play. What he wants is to get social leverage by being [morethan] at something –in this case, not being grossed out by grossout stuff. When you shut that down, he gets upset because this thing that gives him power in a social situation? His ability to tolerate grossout stuff and get ghrossout stuff for you all to watch? You’re not letting him use that! How lame of you! How can he shore up his position in the social hierarchy if you tell him that the currency he’s using, you’re not accepting!

      • Cadi said:

        “Wow! I love the lighting they used there! Especially the way they use the blue tones to emphasise the unexpected vomit!”

        That might be something LW could try, if they are able to, to be honest.

        • redgirl said:

          I was thinking the same thing. A response like, “Yup, that’s feces all right. Hey, do you think we should try that new Indian restaurant?” might be efffective. I have found that generally ignoring bad behavior, while rewarding good behavior, goes a long way. Whatever you think the person wants from their bad behavior (often attention), don’t give it.

    • Astral said:

      Oh, true, true, the scripts for emotional bullshit and power plays. For tangentially related reasons, reading everyone’s responses in this thread is really helpful for me today! Thanks!

  8. espritdecorps said:

    A wise woman once told me that the best thing you can do for certain people is to let them experience the natural consequences of their actions.
    I don’t see any need for a group intervention, but neither do I see a need to continue coddling this guy.

    I do think it’s important to differentiate between having social issues, and being an asshole.
    People who have social issues tend to be very receptive to direct input because other people are important to them. People who are assholes blame the people around them for not ‘getting them’ or not ‘being supportive’ because other people are not more important than their own passing whims.

    Person with social issues: “Hey, the other night we were talking about the influence of anime on modern cinematography, and I thought you might like this. The artwork is amazing.” *hands you a DVD*
    You: “I really don’t like hentai or manga.” *hands back DVD*
    PwSI: “Oh, sorry. The animation is really well done, I wan’t trying to be pervy.”
    You: “That’s okay. What do you think about Megazone 23?”
    PwSI: “OMG! Where to start?….”

    Asshole: “You like anime, right?”
    You: “Yeah.”
    Asshole: “Come look at this!”
    You: “Oh God! That is… I really don’t like hentai!”
    Asshole: “What are you a prude?”
    You: “No, I just don’t like that.”
    Asshole: “You know it’s people like you with your narrow mind that keep great artists in the gutter. Just because something’s not mainstream, you automatically shut it down. This is really well done. The least you could do is give it a fair try. I mean, is that too much to ask?”

    In both interactions someone did something that made you uncomfortable.
    The difference is, that the person with social issues apologized, owned the discomfort, and allowed you to move the conversation along.
    The asshole made his social error into a referendum on the value of certain types of art to avoid having to apologize and take the two nanoseconds of introspection needed to realize he should not put explicit material into people’s faces without a heads up.

    • Badger Rose said:

      “the best thing you can do for certain people is to let them experience the natural consequences of their actions”

      This rings really true to me. One of the things that seems to run as a corollary to the Geek Social Fallacies is the idea that friends protect friends from the results of their own behavior–which is really not healthy at all.

      • staranise said:

        In other contexts, in fact, it’s called “enabling”.

        • espritdecorps said:

          Enabling is a problem for me.
          It was very useful for helping my alcoholic step-dad function so there would be food and shelter, and keeping my mom from falling into depression too badly.
          It’s toxic in my adult life though.

          The worst part is when you finally stop surrounding yourself with broken people to take care of, and start trying to break the good people who’ve stuck by you because your whole identity is being the competent one. I’m a work in progress.

          • staranise said:

            Yeeah, I have resembled your last paragraph just a bit. As a therapist said to me once: “If you always have to be a healer, you’re always forcing other people to be sick.”

            I accompanied a friend to an Al-Anon meeting a little while ago and was impressed by how solid (and Awkwardian) the stepwork they were talking about was. It’s a lot about giving up on trying to fix other people, and about learning to look after yourself.

        • Badger Rose said:

          Ooh, good insight. I hadn’t ever thought of it in those terms, but you’re spot on–and a lot of social circles not only do a lot of enabling but expect and enforce everyone in them to participate in the enabling. Bad all around.

  9. Sarah N. said:

    I don’t think it is possible for you to be too harsh about telling your friend that you don’t want to group-watch porn with them at parties anymore, so LW, just assert the boundaries you want and don’t worry too much.

    • First time I visited a new friend’s house, he blasted porn on his TV. True story. Took me a while to visit again.

      • JetGirl said:

        I wouldn’t blame you if that had been your last visit.

        • Jake said:

          No kidding. Gross.

          (Not that all porn is necessarily gross, but I think inflicting loud and non-consensual group porn watching on your guests is pretty gross)

          • JetGirl said:

            Well, any intense medium, really. I would be equally uncomfortable if someone put on a blood and thunder sermon, or a very gory movie, or even something really political. Then again, I am very private about sex, politics and religion.

          • Lee said:

            Absolutely – anything can potentially offend and it’s very important to be sure that you’re not making people uncomfortable with what you’re sharing. I do a *lot* of testing the water before letting people know about my edgier interests.

          • @ Lee: I wouldn’t go so far as to say that — as you say, ANYTHING can offend, and I don’t think we all have an obligation to be so bland as to render offense inconceivable.

            There’s a huge difference between deliberately setting out to disgust/horrify/offend people, and accidentally offending someone because you did not know their religious or political views, their life experiences, etc. And yeah, you should do a mental check before introducing an opinion you know will be controversial, or possibly triggery — in some situations the conversation/screaming match you know will ensue is totally inappropriate. But no, we should not all self-censor to express only those sentiments that we know everyone already agrees with.

          • JetGirl said:

            I agree, AlphaKitty. The examples I was thinking of aren’t exactly bland. But I also come from the school of polite chit-chat with new acquaintances. I don’t want to hear about someone’s sex life, political or religious views in excruciating detail immediately. It feels like forced intimacy. Blasting porn on a first visit seems extreme to me.
            But I am Swedish, so I am more reserved than most.

      • I had an ex who would show me the “gross porn pic of the day” every time I went to visit him at his parents’ house (when I was in my late teens). Most of it was hentai manga stuff involving bodily excretions and naked people. Most of it really disturbed and upset me because he’d always say things like, “I want to do this!” as though it was some sort of TUTORIAL. Sure enough, after desensitizing me to it (and I tried to be “cool” about it because seriously, the non sexual parts like hanging around eating ramen and watching anime and making silly jokes were fun and all my friends disappeared because they were all dating people and my mom was being a control-freak and threatening to seriously commit my sister to mental institutions for talking in a snotty voice and I had to placate her and defend my family from my mom and this left me drained and I was alooooooooone except for ex-dude, who let me just not think about all that crap for awhile).

        Of course, this eventually led to me actually doing some of the gross stuff I didn’t want to do, but at the time my brain rationalized it as “well, he wants to do this stuff and I like the perks of being around him when we’re not doing this gross stuff, so I’ll just endure it, and at least I’m not home with my horrible abusive mom making me feel all emotionally exhausted from keeping her from drugging my sister into a catatonic state and bullying my dad into suicide and telling my brother he’s fat and ugly.”

        To be sure, I did a bit of that whole “I’m a sexy lady now that I’m 18 and am totally cool with sexual things no matter how gross or weird and that makes me cool and worthy of love” thing for awhile, but now that I’m in my late 20’s, I’m simply glad that I got out of that relatively unscathed, only having dealt with a couple online chat creepers and that one ex who ended up raping me at some point later on because I was dumb enough to “stay friends” after the relationship ended.

        I echo all the other points- this person is boundary-testing and wants to keep pushing those boundaries so you’ll accept more and more intrusions on your body and your mind.

        If my memory serves, this kind of behavior is known as “grooming.” And he needs to fucking cut it out if people don’t want to see that shit. If he stops being a friend, then he really wasn’t a friend in the first place.

        • Yeine said:

          Hey – your ex who raped you didn’t do it because you were ‘dumb’. Trying to stay friends was a compassionate thing and it’s absolutely in no way your fault that he decided to hurt you like that. You are a good and kind person and nothing you could have done could ever have made it okay or even remotely your responsibility that he did that. *Jedi hugs*

          • Erin said:

            Best username!

            @oninotenshi
            I agree with Yeine, there is nothing you did that makes you responsible for what happened.
            I am still angry at my parents that they crushed my sense of boundaries because I think otherwise, I would have felt more secure to stop some asshole people in their tracks earlier. Still, what asshole people do is neither my nor your fault.

          • Lonespark said:

            What Yeine said.
            And you can bank on it, because she is the goddess of dawn and twilight and life and lots of things.

          • Co-signed! oninotenshi, your ex didn’t rape you because you did something stupid; your ex raped you because he’s a rapist. I’m really sorry all that happened to you.

          • Passerby said:

            This is exactly so–as many have already said. Rapists rape because they’re rapey. Rape victims become rape victims because they wound up in proximity to a rapist. Fault is not appropriately apportioned to victims.

        • Astral said:

          It’s also important to remember that people like your ex often intentionally look for people who are so overwhelmed by the other crazy crap going on in their lives that they don’t have the emotional energy to set boundaries. Been there a few different times over the course of my life. When there’s so much bad, yeah, of course we will continue to hang with someone who is at least giving us some positive times like your anime and silly jokes time. You weren’t dumb to need some positive human connection during an overwhelming time when your defenses were down; he, however, was horrid to manipulate in the way he did.

        • espritdecorps said:

          It took me a long time to accept that my ex raped me. It’s hard to admit that someone you feel so much for is capable of that. Even while I was packing my things and changing my number and cutting all social ties with him, I couldn’t admit that what had happened was rape.

          You were not stupid. Your good, strong, beautiful, heart loved and trusted because that’s what hearts do. You were betrayed. Your love was used against you by a bad person.
          That makes you a grown-up who takes the risk of putting themselves out into the world even though you know that the world can hurt.
          It makes you brave.

  10. I can’t help thinking of this in Parenting 101 terms, distinguishing between the behavior being bad and the child being bad. As a parent, one often has occasion to say, “I love you. But that thing you’re doing is not ok.” In this case, “Because it makes people feel grossed out and uncomfortable, and friends should not do that to friends on purpose.”

    For this supposedly grown up (but clearly still immature) person, I’d add “It also makes people feel unsafe, because they’ve told you they don’t want to see that and you keep shoving it in their faces anyway… Which means you’re not respecting a pretty reasonable, clearly articulated boundary — which is always kind of creepy, and is all the more so since some of the stuff you’re pushing at them is both gross and sexual. If you keep it up, I wouldn’t be surprised if it cost you some friends.”

    If he gives you the “but this is who I am! If you were true friends you would accept me as I am!” you can say “Really? Making people look at pictures of stuff that squicks them out is so integral to the person you are now that you’d choose to make it the price of admission to your friendship?” And if he says “yes! I must be true to myself!” Then y’know, he’s the one who has prioritized that aspect of his personality over all the more endearing ones, and he’s the one who will have to bear the consequences of that. You can’t save him from himself. Nor is it your job to parent him.

    • Yeah, “I must be true to myself!” sounds all well and good and in many ways it really is important, but if “yourself” is an asshole than… well, then you’re an asshole, and it’s not actually small-minded or judgy or whatever for people to not like you.

    • P.S., this comment takes at face value your assessment that your friend is a basically decent guy, just socially inept. Unfortunately, I think it is entirely possible the fellow absolutely DOES know what he’s doing, and DOES know better (in the sense that folks have tried to teach him better), he just doesn’t care. Because making people (particularly women) look at this stuff, watching them squirm, makes him feel powerful.

      How he responds to whatever friendly little advice you give him will be very revealing. If he is chagrined and embarrassed and tries to cut it out, ok — maybe he was just inadvertently inappropriate because he is not well socialized. If he works too hard at making it all about how you and everybody else and your intolerance and lack of humor are the problem, not him? Stop cutting him the “doesn’t know better, socially awkward” slack. He knows. His friends’ feelings of discomfort just aren’t as important to him as the icky little thrill he gets watching you watch and making y’all feel uncomfortable.

      • staranise said:

        His friends’ feelings of discomfort just aren’t as important to him as the icky little thrill he gets watching you watch and making y’all feel uncomfortable.

        So stark and so true, in such people.

        • Astral said:

          Yep…and once you spot the facial expression evidence, laughter, etc. that it’s an icky little thrill, it is a haunting thing indeed.

      • Erin said:

        From what’s been described in the letter, he didn’t respond well to being told to cut this stuff out. So chances are high he will react really defensively.

        • I agree. That’s what gelled for me between comment 1 and comment 2. LW wrote asking for ways to shut him down, so the Captain provided some coaching for that, as did I (and others). But I realized after I wrote the comment that some attempts had already been made, without success. Which made me think, “this guy isn’t clueless, he’s getting off on squicking people out.” But I don’t actually KNOW that, so I figured I’d go with raising the possibility, and let the LW decide.

      • Ethyl said:

        Unfortunately, I think it is entirely possible the fellow absolutely DOES know what he’s doing, and DOES know better (in the sense that folks have tried to teach him better), he just doesn’t care. Because making people (particularly women) look at this stuff, watching them squirm, makes him feel powerful.

        Yes! Also, I bet he banks on the fact that he’s set himself up in this friend group as “socially awkward” so he can get away with this crap. I’ve seen this shit enough times that I’m afraid I’m completely unsympathetic to this guy, despite the LW’s assurances he’s basically a good guy. Good guys don’t force their friends to watch porn of ANY kind, let alone extreme or edgy porn that makes them uncomfortable.

        • Agreed. This bloke’s had his chance, he’s been told clearly this behaviour’s not on, and he’s persisting with it. Boundary-pushing arsehole – and boundary-pushers always have me wondering just how far they want to go. Untrustworthy, in other words.

    • Pterinochilus murinus said:

      I have a former friend who kept making the same racist and ableist jokes. I asked her to stop. She didn’t. I told her I’d have to defriend if she didn’t stop, because I really didn’t want to hear those jokes. She said that Real Friends Don’t Try To Make Their Friends Change, and that I obviously wasn’t her friend to begin with. I had no idea reposting the Which Personality Disorder Do You Have? quiz once a year was so fundamental to her identity, but I regret nothing.

    • Re. the ‘if we were true friends you would accept me as I am!’ belief, I’d like to point out that you *are* accepting him as a person who likes to look at really gross stuff. What you’re *not* accepting is his insistence that other people look at it whether they want to or not. It’s ultimately up to him to decide whether he wants to keep ‘Insistence On Making People Who Are Supposedly Friends Do Things That Disgust Them’ as one of his integral character traits or not, but, if he really feels he wants to do that, then it isn’t exactly terrible of you not to accept him as he is.

      • Roman said:

        My response to that is always along the lines of: then please go hang out with other people who will enjoy that passion of yours! If someone doesn’t believe that friends should have to change, I think it’s on them to find the very very small number of people who are willing to put up with every single one of their quirks. No one, in any type of relationship, is going to like every single thing you do. That’s just humanity.

      • Emmers said:

        Isn’t “Friends accept me as I am!” a Geek Social Fallacy? (The site’s down as a reported attack site at the moment, but the Google Cache implies that it’s GSF #2.)

  11. ChildOfMedia said:

    A formerly very good friend of mine, years ago, got heavily into kinky sex. Now, our social circle was and is very liberal and non-judgemental about such things. A not insignificant percentage of us are involved in the various fetish communities; basic point is none of us reacted beyond, hey cool, enjoy yourself.

    He INSISTED on talking about his interests exclusively, very loudly and bringing out PROPS in public places. Cue appalled, grow-the-fuck-up reactions from everyone. Cue ‘you’re all prudes!’ tantrums from him.

    Within a year, he was a ghost with no friends. I still hung with him until he got mad at me because no one else would talk to him and he wanted to know why. I walked him through the whole thing from beginning to end, with examples and suggestions.

    He wound up yelling at me in public about how unfair it was that no one wanted to watch him apply nipple clamps in a Denny’s.

    We don’t talk anymore.

    Your ‘friend’ is walking a rope that’s going to get him cut off from the whole group. The kindest thing you can do is follow CA’s advice, and accept he might be hurt by it. He’ll be hurt worse when no one will talk to him.

    • 51stC Refugee said:

      Ugh… as someone who is fairly heavily into kinky sex, that kind of behaviour does my nut. Talking about sex with people who have not said they are up for talking about sex is just plain shitty. It also makes the world less safe for kinksters because the rest of us get tarred by with the same boundary-violating, sex-obsessed, getting-off-on-nonconsensual-powerplay brush. Hell, I would have stopped talking to him for that.

      And I get that it is the kind of hobby that’s very easy to get massively geeky about, but the big difference between getting Magic cards out in public and getting sex toys out in public is that the latter can get you arrested. If you (generic you) want to geek about kink, go find a munch. That’s what they’re set up for.

      • Erika said:

        People who do this are basically forcing other people to interact with their sex lives. It’s a really crappy thing to do. I’m reminded of a person who wrote in to Dan Savage whining that she should be allowed to collar her boyfriend and lead him around by a leash at Thanksgiving dinner becasue that’s who she was. Dan Savage told her that she did not have the right to force others to participate in her sex life, because that was basically what she was doing. I do think it’s a form of nonconsensual power play.

        • Ethyl said:

          YES! The guy I knew who pulled shit like that turned out to be boundary-pushing and ultimately assaulted me. These sorts of red flags are REAL.

        • Emmers said:

          SO MUCH THIS. There’s nothing wrong with having kinks, but involving other people in your sex life without their consent is…pretty damn awful.

          And if the very *nature* of your kink is that it involves other people not consenting, well…

      • Yes to your entire comment. I hate it when people make all kinksters look like self-centered douchebags because they need to advertise how cool they are and how their sex life is (they think) better than yours. I swear we’re not all jerks with no concept of boundaries!

  12. felicityanne said:

    A small practical suggestion too: you say this happens “every time we go out, and there’s a computer around”. If these are computers that don’t belong to him, why aren’t they password-protected?

    That probably sounds like a small, fiddly, reactive suggestion but I am serious. If it’s a laptop, it’s a great idea to have it password-protected anyway, but it’s also a very clear boundary for not only this guy but other boundary-impaired people. No, my computer is not public property, it’s my own space with my own data. Which you don’t get to see or alter for “hilarious pranks”, and you don’t get to use to gross me and my friends out and get awful sites in my history (or even infect me with malware!) “Dude, unlock your computer so I can show you this thing.” “Oh, the sort of thing you always show me? No, [scripts already discussed].”

    A password is a boundary that enforces itself, which is pretty convenient. It doesn’t mean you don’t have to have every awkward conversation, by any means, but in a case like this it might mean you don’t have to see something awful before the awkward conversation.

    • It’s possible that the computers were password-protected, but they were already open and running for other non-gross reasons, like if people were ordering food online or playing Internet radio.

      Also, while my laptop is password-protected and any apps on my phone that involve my financial information are as well, this is all “in case I lose it” rather than “to protect myself from my supposed friends.” I don’t lock my smartphone, which occasionally used to mean my douchebag friends would steal it and send prank texts to mutual acquaintances. This doesn’t happen anymore, because I no longer associate with people who pull shit like that.

      • felicityanne said:

        Sure, there are lots of reasons computers wouldn’t be password-locked anyway: certainly a lot of people don’t do it on desktops, in any event.

        Like you, I don’t think any of my current friends would do anything malicious or deliberately invasive (I used to have some who would make free to use it for innocuous things, which still gives me hives from a privacy perspective and can be accidentally invasive)…but I’ve become an evangelist simply because I have recently substitute-taught high schoolers and was aghast to discover most of them don’t password/code-lock anything. I may have become over-preachy!

  13. Lee said:

    Interesting one. I won’t judge anyone for their interests, but there is a time and place for all of them, and everyone’s standards are different. What may seem quite innocuous to one person may be completely beyond the pale for someone else, and it’s important to be aware of this. As an example, one of my work colleagues is into some of the most gruesome and graphic horror I’ve ever seen and some of it is incredibly hard for the average “normal” person to cope with. But…she fully understands what most people will make of it, and will only discuss or share it if she’s sure she’s not going to shock or offend (unless she wants to do that!)

    Be firm with your friend, and be honest about what you can’t cope with. Most of us have a dark side and there’s nothing wrong with exploring it, but you need to make it abundantly clear that there are times and places when sharing is woefully inappropriate.

  14. staranise said:

    Funny double standard this guy has. The LW has to accept him “the way he is” by passively sitting through viewings of gross material. He, on the other hand, does not have to accept the LW the way zie is, as a person who hates that shit.

    • Annafel said:

      “He, on the other hand, does not have to accept the LW the way zie is, as a person who hates that shit.”

      Repeated for emphasis! INDEED.

  15. Vicki said:

    I’m feeling cynical here: my reaction to LW’s friend would be “your kink is OK, but it’s not my kink,” except that I am getting the feeling that “making people watch stuff that makes them uncomfortable is his kink, and that’s not OK.

    I suspect that if LW put it as “your kink is OK, but it’s not my kink, and I am not going to participate. Turn that off now, or I’m leaving” they’d get some version of “It’s not my kink, I just think it’s interesting” while leaving the video on. Because if he’s enjoying making people sit through things they dislike, denying his intentions appears to be part of the scenario/appeal for him. Regardless of the specifics of his denial, if he doesn’t stop the video/close the window I think the appropriate reaction is to leave, or turn the video/computer off, if it’s LW’s home or hardware, or that of someone who shares the distaste for this stuff.

    As the Captain said, this man is getting something out of pushing this crap on his friends that is more valuable to him than their feelings. LW and the rest of their friends can either get through to him that whatever he’s getting out of this is not more valuable to them than their collective comfort and enjoyment, or move away from him without his understanding why. Or continue to suffer, but the fact that LW wrote in tells me that they don’t think this clown’s feelings are more important than everyone else’s feelings.

    • Dante said:

      This was also my reaction. That it’s not that he has this hobby and it’s (incidentally) gross to everyone else, but that grossing everyone out IS (intrinsically) the hobby. If it were otherwise, you’d think that he would restrict it mainly to people who share it. Talking about cross-stitch with other cross-stitchers is 100x more enjoyable than talking about it with people who couldn’t be less interested.

      I think how I’d react would depend on how lovely this friend is in other respects, and how much I wanted to salvage the friendship. I tend to not value friendships with people who intentionally and non-consensually use me as a means to attain their own ends.

  16. duckbilledplacelot said:

    There seems to be a lot of discussion about the Very Best Way to tell your friend about this stutf: making about the action and not him, not insulting his taste but explaining yours, etc., etc.

    LW: It doesn’t matter if your boundary isn’t stated or enforced in the kindest, best way possible – people still have to abide by it.

    I can guess (but it’s a strong guess) that your friend* does not carefully plan in the kindest, best way how to share his gross-out fetish with you. EVEN IF HE DID: if you say, gross, stop it, I don’t to see that, you perv – he should not do it ever again. If you cursed him out and blamed his secret soul for being horrible and disgusting and evil? He STILL shouldn’t ever do it again. Don’t stress too much over the delivery of your boundaries; good people will immediately try to follow your rules and apologize for making you uncomfortable.

    *I typed ‘fiend’ instead of ‘friend’, originally, which feels more accurate in this case….

    • Jake said:

      This is a good point and I appreciate you making it.

  17. Yes. This is not about him being quirky; this is about him disrespecting explicitly stated wishes. I have *so many* deeply, deeply weird and awkward people for friends, and can honestly say that not one of them enjoys making other people uncomfortable in this way. You have zero obligation to let him make you a part of it.

  18. Zillah said:

    LW, have you ever heard the term, “The right to swing your fist end at my face”? Your friend may not be physically assaulting you, but the same principle holds: your right to not do something will always, always supersede his right to do it with you.

    It’s not your job to coddle him. You don’t need to go out of your way to be mean, but at the same time, given that he is 1) clearly not putting the same energy into whether or not he’s upsetting you and 2) presumably an adult, which requires being able to navigate interpersonal conflicts, I don’t think you should be spending energy worrying about not being too harsh. If he truly reads “I don’t like this and don’t find it amusing, stop” as a deep rejection of who he is as a person, he has much bigger issues than occasional hurt feelings.

    He may just be a little clueless. He may not understand that what he’s doing is genuinely upsetting to you. If that is the case, you’ll probably get the best result by being firm and clear, not by introducing qualifiers and softer language to spare his feelings. If it’s not, and he does understand what he’s doing… well, that’s also something you want to know.

    • Every word of this is golden. Cutting people slack and making allowances for human error are all well and good – however, those people have to actually knock off the inappropriate behavior. If they don’t why spend time with them?

    • The version of that I use is “Your rights end at the tip of your nose.”

  19. Eugh, ditto to the doucheyness. Like, I am the person who talks about sex A LOT, and when someone told me about eel porn I was like “woah, I haven’t seen that”, so we all sat around and Googled and I showed the people who had missed it.

    The fact that (a) he’s showing you stuff that isn’t even that weird, just explicit, (b) he knows damn well you’re not a fan and in case I was at all unsure, (c) he’s actually a jerk about being asked to cut it out means I am confident that what he’s enjoying is making you watch it because you don’t want to.

    I can understand maybe being like that once, because you thought people would think it’s funny and you’re embarrassed. But he hasn’t cut it out, so I’m inclined to think he’s really a self-absorbed douche and you’re probably going to have a bad time making him stop.

    Hopefully he will see the error of his ways! Good luck.

    • JenniferP said:

      Can I just say for the record that a) I did not know about eel porn until I read this letter b) ignorance was bliss, because the phrase “eel porn” makes me want to run around in a circle while screaming and then set something on fire.

      It’s okay to just say no to eel porn.

      • Yeah. I have made the choice NOT to google that and check out the pictures.

        I would not appreciate a “friend” taking that choice from me.

        • JenniferP said:

          I shudder to think of our search terms.

          • hrovitnir said:

            You must have the BEST search terms. And it’s probably exactly as disturbing as you imagine. :P

            We watched a documentary on fish/eel porn: it was bizarre but interesting. I appreciated that the dude who started the business said he didn’t expect any of the women to do anything he wasn’t prepared to do (and had done). Also, being Japanese, it has a much closer fish=food=food porn aspect than westerners would automatically think of.

            Was pretty sad for the fish and eels involved though. 8(

      • Pterinochilus murinus said:

        I’m not going to google eel porn, but not googling it can’t stop my brain from making horrible Princess Bride references.

        • JenniferP said:

          Yep.

        • Sarah said:

          And now my brain is making them, too. At least it’s making me giggle at work?

        • staranise said:

          AUGH.

        • Leela said:

          I’m scarred for life now. I loved that movie. *cries*

  20. THIS. So much. If someone is repeatedly doing things that make you upset or uncomfortable, and gets angry when you try to tell them to stop, they are deliberately ignoring everyone else’s feelings in favor of their own enjoyment.

    The guy I live with has this friend, Nelson, who loves to make extremely obscene jokes about bodily functions. I am a person who finds toilet humor disgusting and not at all funny, and I asked him to stop several times, but telling him to knock it off would just make him do it more because he enjoyed my reactions. I finally got fed up, took my laptop and went elsewhere until he left. That kind of clued him in, and the guy I’m living with told him to tone it down around me because it really frinked me off, and would genuinely make me sick. He does it a lot less now…still a bit, but he knows that if he goes too far I will just flat out leave, and since he thrives on attention he doesn’t want less of an audience. You guys need to make it clear, under no uncertain terms, that this guy’s behavior is unacceptable and if he wants to continue being your friend and hanging out with you, he’d better knock off that behavior immediately, or he’d find himself left alone. If he wants to whine, let him. But don’t give in.

    • Laughing Giraffe said:

      A friend of my roommate once said to me, “You’re not one of those people who thinks racist jokes aren’t funny, are you?”
      I was almost more astonished than anything, probably due to the sheer nakedness of his statement. I said, “Well, I don’t think *racism* is funny, so, um, no?”
      Very slightly to his credit, he didn’t make any actual racist jokes that night, but I halfway think he was expecting me to backtrack and say, “No, of course not! Do I seem uptight to you?”

      • Ugh, I don’t see how anyone can find racist or sexist jokes funny…but then, I don’t find toilet humor funny either, and a lot of the guys in our gaming group ADORE that kind of crude humor, so maybe I just don’t get it. Either way, I’d rather not be exposed to it.

        • Brooks said:

          Unfortunately, I often do find them funny. It’s an involuntary reaction. I am also appalled by them, and very deeply uncomfortable and embarrassed about finding them funny, but that doesn’t prevent me from finding them funny sometimes.

          So I tend to consider “is it funny?” to be a separate thing from “is it acceptable to be telling this joke?” Offensive funny jokes are still offensive — perhaps more so because they’re funny, and humor is insidious about getting ideas into people’s brains.

  21. letternext said:

    “And if he gets hurt and feels like he doesn’t fit in and that everyone is excluding him, it’s not your job to comfort him and say that everything is cool. It’s not cool.” So good to read this, it’s such an important point.

    He reminds me of someone I used to know, except in this case it was way too graphic and detailed stories and other behaviors like invasive questions in the form of “jokes” that made me and other members of the group annoyed, then uncomfortable and creeped out. It was usually in the context of getting dinner or drinks after meetings or events for various lefty political causes, which made the sexism even more hypocritical (although not really surprising.) Since I wasn’t really friends with him, it was easier for me to ignore him or just leave. In hindsight I really wish I’d been more assertive from the start, since it only got worse over time until someone else spoke up. I guess watching other friends periodically try to tell him to stop and be met with variations on the “but this is who I aaaam!/why are you so mean??/you’re all prudes/we’re not in a meeting now, lighten up!” responses didn’t help. Later on somebody new to the group labeled his behavior as bullying and something clicked for me. I wished I’d realised that earlier. I don’t know why articulating it that way made it easier to stand up to it, but bullying is what it was, and I’d say the person in the LW’s life sounds like a bully too. I guess the takeaway from my experience is that it’s more difficult to stand up to this kind of behavior on one’s own, having some backup and support can make it a lot easier to articulate and enforce a boundary.

    “Making” you watch explicit vids, fetish-y photos and stuff that sounds like animal cruelty, then ranting when you say no, is actually an aggressive way to act towards your friends and social group. It indeed doesn’t matter why he does it, whether he’s getting a kick out of it or not (although I also think he’s pretty disingenuous if he claims he doesn’t.) What matters is how it makes you feel. It would make me feel tense and constantly on edge, like I couldn’t relax around this person or really enjoy myself. In other words, unsafe. The Captain’s scripts are really good, as is the other commenters advice. LW, you mention that your BF and other friends are usually present too. Can they also state clearly that his behavior is not acceptable, because it’s making people (you and others) uncomfortable and grossed out? And support you when you say what you need to say? I hope you can get some backup and that this guy stops his inappropriate, bullying behavior.

  22. I’d suggest that a part of this behavior is self-fulfilling “I am quirky and nobody gets me” behavior this guy does, consciously or unconsciously, because it’s become part of his identity. He spent some of his life catching shit for not fitting into the Normal Guy mold, which can suck, and reacted to it the way a lot of us did – by amping it up and soaking in it.

    Maybe that meant getting even more into marginal BBC television shows (or would have when I was a kid and you didn’t have to turn to odd-hours PBS to catch Doctor Who) or comic books or whatever. But this guy might not be able to turn it off as part of his way of fitting into the world even now that he’s found some people who accept him. He’s got to be the weirdest dude in the room, by grod, and he’s going to show it AND put on his hurt feefee hat when he gets what he’s earned.

    I agree with those above who say you don’t need to coddle the guy, but if you want to you could reassure him that, look, we like you and your weird obsessions and whatever. But we don’t want to share them and it’s super rude to inflict them on us when we’ve asked you not to. Maybe a side of reassurance will help the meal of “knock it the fuck off” go down easier.

    • H.Regalis said:

      “I’d suggest that a part of this behavior is self-fulfilling “I am quirky and nobody gets me” behavior this guy does, consciously or unconsciously, because it’s become part of his identity.”

      This is exactly what I did for a really long time. I was the weird kid and then by high school had taken that on as my thing, and then had a difficult time stopping intentionally trying to weird people out long after it had become a problem. It was not fun.

      • Be glad you figured it out eventually! My kids have a white-haired high school teacher who I swear is emotionally still stuck in the shock-for-attention stage. I’m sure he justifies it now as “engaging kids’ attention” or “making kids question their assumptions,” which are obviously good things, but it is so obviously not that.

    • staranise said:

      This is pretty insightful. It sounds to me like it’s definitely an old coping mechanism that petrified–he’s stuck in a story of being weird and rejected, so even when no one else knows that’s what’s supposed to happen, he enacts it himself.

      Story time: For a while when I fenced in the SCA, I had to go easy because of a knee injury so I spent a lot of practice times teaching and coaching the newbies. I noticed a repeating pattern in a lot of them. They were in their teens or early twenties, and had really internalized that they were weird. They’d say things like, “I’m such a freak” or “people are scared of me” in this really defensively cheerful way. They’d never been in a place so geeky and accepting before, where people just kept shrugging and saying, “We’re all kind of freaks here/I do that too, so?”. So I’d watch them test those boundaries. “You think you accept me NOW… but what about when I’m THIS weird and scary?”

      And because everyone knew what was going on, so unless someone in charge or in a mentoring position had to say, “Okay, _____ is inappropriate/dangerous/upsetting to someone here, could you please stop?” nobody rose to the bait. The bad consequences they expected for being who they were just weren’t gonna come. Which freaked some of them out a hell of a lot, because they knew there HAD to be danger here, and where was it? Was it right behind them???

      It was really sad and really wonderful to see, over the weeks/months, that their shoulders came down from around their ears and they started actually believing that here, at least, there was a different reality forming, around something other than the fact that they sucked and didn’t belong.

  23. H.Regalis said:

    LW, there is something wrong with this guy: he’s being a huge jerk and making all his friends super uncomfortable. Doesn’t mattet if he’s quirky or weird or a geek or whatever, that is not a lifetime pass to squick

    • H.Regalis said:

      THUMBS >_<

      *to squick everyone out, particularly when people in other galaxies could probably tell he is bothering you all.

      If dude gets butthurt about it, that's his problem. You guys are making it really clear, "We like you but the stuff you're doing really bothers us. Please stop because it makes us not want to hang out with you." It's not a dogpile on him; it's really clear instructions on how to not alienate his friends. I say this both as a person who has alienated friends/potential friends by being a total weirdo in ways that made people super uncomfortable and as a person who's a friend do low-level of this with TMI sex stuff. I hope your friend learns to cut this shit out before he drives too much of a wedge between himself and the group.

      Also, I like the way the captain titled this post, because it gives a really good double-meaning of, "My friend has a new hobby which makes us all uncomfortable" and "My friend has a new hobby: making all of us uncomfortable."

      • espritdecorps said:

        Yeah, little details like the wordplay in the title are part of what is so great about this site.
        Come for the insight and awesome moderation, stay for the snark and subtle puns!

  24. That In A Hat said:

    Y’know, taking the whole rudeness of how gross his stuff is…it’s still pretty rude.

    Imagine a person who just got a new fandom. Say, Avengers. Unoffensive, not gross. But if no one else in the particular group of friends they want to hang out with feels like watching Avengers vids or looking at art or hearing yet ANOTHER dissection of the movie…then a good friend doesn’t inflict all that on them. I mean heck, I sure do like slash, but I’m not gonna go and show all my friends who do NOT all the fic and art I find. Because that’s boring.

    If it’s something viscerally disgusting that no one wants to see, now it’s even worse–now you’re being boring AND gross.

    And this is coming from someone who does occasionally annoy her friends for kicks and giggles. But there’s a golden rule to being “the annoying one” in the group–when someone asks you seriously to stop…you STOP. Completely. Apologize. And Stop.

    • Pet Peever said:

      Yeah. This is why I hate when parties turn into this http://xkcd.com/920/

    • miss_chevious said:

      Yeah, this is along the lines of what I was thinking. I’m a hardcore baseball nerd. HARDCORE. I watch tons of games, and read tons of stuff, and follow tons of writers, blah blah blah. But my friends are not. Some of them are sort of casually interested, and will humor me to some extent, but if every time we got together all I did was geek out about baseball, they would stop inviting me to get together pretty damn quick. Because I am boring them, and am only using them to bounce my own interests off of, not actually talking to them at all.

      When you layer on, then, that the subject matter of his latest hobby is *very* likely to be uncomfortable or controversial or offensive to *most* of his audience, you’ve got a guy who is so socially awkward as to be unable to act as a friend (which doesn’t sound like the case from your other descriptions of him) or a guy whose hobby is actually enjoying the reactions of others (which is, IMO, worse).

      Either way, dude needs to cut it out or get gone.

    • staranise said:

      Yes, this. Even if his new hobby is collecting sparkly ponies, not everyone wants to hear about it. I think this guy doesn’t get that “his friends accepting him as a person who likes gross-out stuff” and “his friends also liking gross-out stuff” are NOT the same thing. Expecting other people to have exactly the same preferences and emotions as you or else they’re rejecting you is a sure way to burn friendships to the ground and make yourself really unhappy.

      I can get super-awkward about talking about stuff I love, since my default assumption is that nobody wants to hear about it ever (go home social anxiety, you are drunk) so when I make myself talk anyway, I have no intuitive feel for “enough” or “too much” because to me it’s always too much. But this means I end up using a lot of external props: thinking to myself, “She got me to watch this five-minute video of her favourite sport, so five-minute videos is okay to ask,” saying, “I’m really excited about this new thing and I could talk about it all day, but I won’t go into detail unless you’re interested,” and being willing to change the subject if they don’t leap in with, “Oh, go ahead!”, stuff like that.

  25. Commenter said:

    I’ve had some success with agreeing enthusiastically with “You’re so lame!/uptight/”. (In my case it’s usually been that I’m a ‘coward’ or “no fun”, but it’s pretty adaptable)

    “Yup, I sure am lame, and that’s why there will be no eel porn for me tonight!”

    Or if it’s asked as a question (Why are you so lame?), go into “It is truly a mystery. But there it is – no eel porn for me.”

    Other useful phrases:
    “That doesn’t sound like something I’m going to watch.”

    And last but not least:
    “Is it really that important to you to make me uncomfortable?”

    And LW: I agree with the commenters here: if this conversation gets weird: HE is making it weird. He is doing something unpleasant. It is not your job to find the nicest possible way to hint that he should stop doing unpleasant things. Especially since you’ve ALREADY TRIED to tell him to STOP. This is someone who is ignoring “No”. It’s not ok.

    • Celeloriel said:

      I do the enthusiastic agreement with their negative assessment thing too, but I add a “now you’ve got it!” sort of a tone, as if I’m so relieved they’ve finally understood this aspect of my totally no-fun personality that just keeps on setting & maintaining those boundaries.

      I really like your line “Is it really that important to you to make me uncomfortable?” Great question, and any answer you get to it will be extremely revealing of the other person’s intentions and desires.

    • Briznecko said:

      Slight nitpick, but can you avoid using “lame” in the future? It’s kinda like calling something bad “gay,” it implies someone with disabilities has similar negative valutes.

      • espritdecorps said:

        The use of “lame” is a reference to the OP who quoted the gross-out video guy as complaining that his friends were “lame” for not wanting to watch with him.

        It’s silly, but I have never considered it’s use from an ablest perspective before, as referencing someone with a physical disability. I’ll stop using in my day-to-day speech. Thanks.

      • I don’t think it’s nitpicky to object to the use of “lame” as if it were a synonym for “pathetic.”

        If one wants to convey “pathetic,” one can say “pathetic,” reserving “lame” for “walking with an irregular or uneven gait due to a physical debility.” Or better yet, perhaps we could just retire “lame” altogether. It’s a little like “retarded,” in the sense that a word that may have had a value-neutral, descriptive etymology has become so laden with insensitive baggage that it would be just as well if it passed from our lexicon entirely due to disuse.

      • Commenter said:

        Of course, I’m so sorry!

        It was (as someone mentioned further down in the thread) meant as a reference to the OP, but I still shouldn’t have repeated it.

        My sincere apologies, I will avoid using it in future.

    • SarahTheEntwife said:

      I use your first suggestion all the time. “Yep, I’m a wimp (when it comes to scary things)”. “Yup, I have the alcohol tolerance of a gerbil.” “Why yes, I do have the attitudes towards loud music of the archetypal little old lady. I knit, too.” When you don’t take it as an insult they get really confused.

      • This is actually a good response to almost any insult.

        “Why yes, my hair does look stupid! Thanks for noticing!”
        “Oh my gosh, I am totally a dorky loser! I can’t believe no one brought this to my attention before! This is great news! Do you think I should have new business cards made?”

        In my experience, this leaves the insulter conveniently speechless, allowing me to slip away while they stand there wondering what’s wrong with me and how their life became so surreal.

      • I use the side-eye and “I don’t need alcohol to have fun” response, usually with overtones of mildly amused contempt (or mildly contemptuous amusement, if you prefer). If someone’s going to try being negative about people who don’t like alcohol, they’re going to get it right back.

      • Nerdlinger said:

        Yes! I also like, “I’m ok with you thinking that.” It almost always gets a “whoaaa” response and usually the person either a) backs off or b) makes further comment exposing their true Jerk.

        • Badger Rose said:

          I like that one too. “I have no sense of humor? Okay, then I have no sense of humor. So?” It throws people WAY off if you don’t get defensive.

  26. Badsack said:

    This behaviour sounds like a certain kind of socially aggressive exhibitionism crossed with professed obliviousness that is just…yucky.

    I had a friend who was an old school 1980’s dyke who was very active in the local leather community. She was all about preaching “safe, sane and consensual” as well as being active and visible. So far so good. BUT – although my friendship with her was based on connections to this community, her behaviour outside of this community was really obnoxious. One time we went together to do some wholesale purchases from a supplier, and while there (wholesale place that sold things like thread and elastic) she talked loudly about last weekend’s sex adventures and how such and such item could be employed. This is a wholesaler I had been dealing with for over a decade – and will need to continue to deal with in the future. It was mortifying ! Not what she was saying – S/M whatever – it was where she was saying it, and how she was saying it (within earshot of anyone within 25 feet or so, clear as a bell).

    This is also the same person who regularly hosted large potluck dinners. This was great and generous of her. Many people from that community were invited, as well as the occasional neighbour and family member outside of that subculture. A bunch of women and a few men standing around in normal clothing with maybe a leather vest on, big deal, talking about normal potluck supper stuff. Except – I have a vivid memory of her elderly father sitting down having his meal underneath a large (like 16 x 20″) photograph of my friend’s genital piercing that was hung in her living room (I know it was hers because she had told me all about when it was taken, by whom, etc.). I spent the rest of the evening cringing. I just felt like my friend was so self absorbed that she was oblivious to basic, respectful boundaries.

    Explicit genital photography: I have no problem with this. Pornography, art, medical documentation. Whatever. Should you have photos of your own genitalia in your livingroom ? Maybe/maybe not ? Should you leave the large framed photo of your own genitalia, with something being done to it that many people do not understand/are squeamish or uncomfortable about, that was done in a sexual context when family and neighbours come for an invited visit ? Personally no, I don’t think this is appropriate.

    I view behaviours like this as a sort of social questioning – like a person is really into a “thing” and wants to invite or lure other people into the thing they like without explicitly stating “I would like to explore —– (sexual thing) —- with you. Are you interested ?”. Like the friend/roommate who acts sort of weirdly flirty and does stuff like undressing without closing their door all the way in plain view or starts walking around naked in front of you or guests as a new thing. It attempts to be provocative or seductive, but when you call them out on it you will get called some sort of un-hip prude with the “problem” – though the problem is their non-consensual violations of social boundaries.

    That friend is not my friend anymore due to guess what: more interactions where I felt my boundaries were violated by her obnoxious and inappropriate behaviour.

    LW: I totally feel your pain/disgust. Your acquaintance sounds like an oblivious pest, particularly after you have asked him/told him not to do that and he acts like the victim of your what, missing sense of humour, reasonable level of revulsion, etc. ? All the stuff he is showing you is sexual, explicit. Unless you are all part of some I dunno, sex club, sexually explicit videos SHOULD not be shared with other people that you are not sexually involved with, especially after several people have been appalled and asked him to stop. This is creep territory, and he needs to keep it in his pants or stay home with his girlfriend or post ads on Craigslist for other like minded people to join them to share videos.

    I have one pal that I share the occasional YouTube video with, since we share a similar sense of humour about horrible things. Would I share it with my mother who would not understand or appreciate the humour and would instead worry about the guy being hurt (search: German Ice Cannonball) ? No.

    • Lee said:

      This and many other comments today have made me think a lot about boundaries and discretion, and it’s terrible when people lack them.A certain amount of boundary-pushing can be a good thing, and there’s nothing wrong with being proud and comfortable about what you are, whatever that may be. But…there are times and places where you just have to tone it all down.

      I have plenty of friends with quite “adventurous” sexual interests that would shock many a “normal” person. However, they all have the good sense to be discreet about it and only discuss it in appropriate places and with appropriate people, knowing full well that it could cause distress to others if they weren’t careful. They are comfortable enough with themselves not to need to force their kinks on others.

      That said, many of them do give off subtle clues in the way they conduct themselves, that many don’t even notice but that like-minded people will pick up on. This is, of course, the behaviour of someone comfortable with their dark side and who respects those who don’t care for it. The behaviour described by the LW could indicate that the friend is far from comfortable with their own fascination with unpleasant material and is in need of constant validation.

      • Roman said:

        I think this is one of those topics where people get confused between what is an appropriate boundary to push and one that should be respected. People like Badsack’s ex-friend always seem to give off this vibe like, when the revolution comes everyone will be this open/graphic about sex at potluck dinners with their parents and it won’t be a bid deal! I’m so 3000 and 8, you’re so 2000 and late! etc. because they misunderstand the difference between the repressing of sexual desires/urges and respectful understanding of people’s private sex lives. It’s like feminists who believe you have to be naked and sexy all the time to be liberated from the patriarchy.

        • KL said:

          I think the only appropriate boundaries to push are one’s own or those of someone with whom you are engaging in some kind of consensual pushing of boundaries. Other people’s boundaries aren’t for pushing; they’re for respecting.

          • KL said:

            Wow, that was an under-caffeinated sentence if ever I’ve written one. I think y’all get the gist, though.

          • espritdecorps said:

            “Other people’s boundaries aren’t for pushing, they’re for respecting.”

            I need to cross-stitch this and put it on my wall. It is perfect, no caffeine required.

          • Manatee said:

            This. So hard. Thank you.

    • Wow, Badsack, that’s just horrible. I’m thinking of the staff in that wholesale shop – that was effectively harassment, even if they weren’t the targets of your friend’s loud talk. They couldn’t get away, and how often are staff ever in a position to tell customers to get the hell out? What a disgusting thing to do.

    • Appreciative LW said:

      “LW: I totally feel your pain/disgust.”

      When I got to this comment I started leaking tears. It’s so fricking good to know that someone out there shares my feelings on this. But all the comments have been super fantastic and helpful. Thanks to everyone for being so understanding and providing much-needed clarification.

  27. Jolly said:

    I think it is also fair to also let him know that there are probably people out there who do enjoy that, and he if he wants to share this particular interest with people, he needs to find some of them so that he isn’t inflicting it you guys against your will. It might help if he feels like you guys are trying to change him/make him not like things, when really you just need him to accept that you don’t like them and to find someone else who gives a shit.

  28. My 2 or 3 cents…

    > He’s made us watch ….

    LW: this jackass is not MAKING you & your friends watch anything. You are all choosing not to leave the room; you’re not even covering your eyes like a little kid would. Please recognize that you don’t actually have to watch these things. Nothing is forcing your eyelids to stay open like in that scene in “Clockwork Orange”.

    LW: I also wonder about this girlfriend that you mention. Have you met her? Does she come to these gatherings? How does she react when those videos start up? >>Does she even exist?<< Do you know her name? Or is she just the jackass's excuse for how he's "suddenly" into all this stuff?

    • Badsack said:

      Good question about the girlfriend and her whereabouts, participation in or reaction to gross-out-pal’s video clip show.

    • swoozie said:

      Have you ever been in a room where you get up to leave when you are disgusted by the “entertainment”, and someone pulls or pushes you back into your seat to continue watching? I have. It was Austin Powers 2, and the utter stupidity offended me. And everyone else in the room kept pushing me back onto the sofa and kept the movie running.

      It has been over a decade, and I still can’t watch Mike Myers in anything, because I was so offended by that movie. I can barely watch the Shrek movies, because he voices a character that I actually like and I have to work to forget that he is the voice behind the character.

      It is frustrating and demoralizing when people you like or love and otherwise respect insists that you have to participate in entertainment that you find objectionable, for whatever reason.

      • “Have you ever been in a room where you get up to leave when you are disgusted by the “entertainment”, and someone pulls or pushes you back into your seat to continue watching? I have. It was Austin Powers 2, and the utter stupidity offended me. And everyone else in the room kept pushing me back onto the sofa and kept the movie running.”

        I have to say no, that has never happened to me.

        And oh my god, that is terrible. Your “friends” physically assaulted you to make you watch a dumb movie with them.

        As I commented to “FatCarriesFlavor”, I have come to recognize that I am not a usual sort of a person. If I had been in your situation I would have gotten quite physical and elbow-y and *loud* about wanting to leave. And if still restrained, I would have considered pissing on them or biting them. I’m not saying you were wrong to not do what I would have done, I’m sharing an example of how I can’t really project my own personal experience into most people’s lives.

        • Siobhanon said:

          “Pee on them” was exactly my first thought.

    • You do understand that emotional blackmail and manipulation is a form of coercion, right? You don’t actually think that physically forcing someone to do something is the only way to “make” them do something, do you? You’re not that bad at being pedantic, are you? Do you argue with kids who say their parents “make” them do their homework or eat their greens?

      One of the definitions of make (look it up; if you’re going to be a pedant, do it right) is “cause to act,” with the example use give in Merriam-Webster Online being “make her give it back.” It’s a totally legitimate use of the word. You may think you’re making a point, but you’re actually using a bit of semantics commonly used to victim blame. That’s not really what you want to do, is it? Maybe you should rethink using that phrasing in the future.

      • hrovitnir said:

        +1, great way of explaining it (and far more succinct than I would have been. :P )

      • > You do understand that emotional blackmail and manipulation is a form of coercion, right?

        Thank you, yes, I do understand that. There are lots of ways that LW and the rest of the group were coerced into not leaving the room but I stand by my statement that they still could have covered their eyes. Which will prevent the need for eyeball bleach and also make a point. Yes, the volume may still be on, but the point is still made.

        However, I do recognize that I am not a normal kind of person: I really don’t have any inhibitions against getting loud if someone is being an asshole to me and won’t stop, and that’s not usual, especially among women.

        I still wonder about that putative girlfriend.

        • You really, seriously need to understand that it is not that easy for other people, especially women. Social coercion is a huge force, and many people, again, especially women, are trained from infancy that it is not acceptable to leave or cover their eyes. Encourage people to stand up for themselves, sure. But that line is bullshit victim-blaming. Don’t do it.

          I don’t believe I know FaTGiRL. I’m more usually known as MadGastronomer.

          • And most particularly, women are socialised not to upset men; we’re supposed to support them in ALL THE THINGS.

      • Oh, and I meant to say that I think we may know each other from FaTGiRL days.

    • Emmers said:

      Great way to throw the responsibility squarely where it doesn’t belong! If stating boundaries clearly, using your words, isn’t enough, what makes you think physical separation would be?

  29. Badger Rose said:

    One thing that can also make it easier to say, “I’m not watching this,” and walking away is that oftentimes once one person does this, the rest of the group will go “yeah, me neither” and go with them. It can feel kind of… well, pathetic, to be the first to say, I’m not comfortable with this and I’m leaving. But often everyone else is sitting there hoping that someone will be brave enough to be the first so that they can follow.

  30. Ugh, the whole practice of showing gross-out or extreme stuff to freak people out seems to be a form of testing and marking one’s place in the hierarchy of Cool Kids, and even with people who don’t mean harm it can backfire in some really awkward ways. There’s nothing like the feeling of seeing one’s favorite masturbatory device on someone’s list of “OH GOD HOW DOES ANYONE WANT THIS” sex toys someone is trying to freak you out with, for example.

    • duaecat said:

      I think there is a subset of “Let me surprise you with something cool/weird and shocking and part of it being cool/weird is because it’s shocking and unexpected.” that is enjoyable, as long as you’re doing it in the right situation. Like there are a large number of adorable animals that do shockingly horrifying behaviors.

      And testing and marking one’s place is kind of the point of 99% of human interaction. Do you like the same things I do? Do you dislike them? How many interest points match up on our graph? I think it only becomes a problem when you’re looking at it in a negative “I need to find out this person’s buttons/weaknesses to gain power” as opposed to a positive “They like Batman and Superman, but not Flash, and I like Superman and Flash, but not Batman, so we can both watch Superman together!”

      • Well, I think there’s a difference between “Hey, watch this, I think you’ll like [feeling the way I felt when I watched it]” and asking someone to watch something just because you’re interested in seeing their reaction to it. One is “I think you’ll enjoy this experience,” the other is “I think you WON’T enjoy this experience and that will be funny.”

        And yes, obviously everyone wants to feel out new people and look for things we have in common, but there’s looking for things people enjoy and sharing cool stuff and there’s being The Winningest Person In The Room by being the MOST grossing-out or having the BEST stories, and that can come from somewhere toxic.

    • Miette said:

      I actually rather enjoy that feeling. I am willing to explain to the extent that someone is willing to listen, and that usually causes people to stop trying to sexshame around me.

      I also tend to know more about nonstandard sexual behaviors than most people, so I can probably say something like “Oh yes that stallion wang dildo is something. Have you seen their glass dolphin penis?”*

      But if you’re not feeling entirely comfortable with information about your and others’ sex behaviors and also feeling willing to be frank about them, it would completely suck to see your favorite toy on the list. If that happened to you I am sorry! Because your bits should get their jollies without anyone else’s shame-attack.

      *A real thing, and it is in fact quite lovely, a work of art.

      • Oh, in the wild I can usually just eyeroll, but this was specifically someone I thought of as a friend/friendly acquaintance on a social media site taking an entire post to mock the idea that anyone would want to buy this particular toy. To which I kind of felt obligated to stick up for myself, but…

        I’m pretty well informed about non-mainstream sexual stuff myself, it just tends to startle me when people haven’t heard of, well, those three or four outfits that make replica animal penis dildos, or the wide range of stuff available for bondage or torture, or home medical play kits. When I have the energy I don’t mind explaining what exactly people have in mind, but a lot of the time my response to “You’re going to be SO freaked out by this!” is “No. No I’m not, and I kind of resent you treating me like a freak.”

  31. Anon said:

    “If you say ‘I hate it when you do that specific gross thing, please stop it’ and someone says ‘But poor me I don’t fit in anywhere and am always excluded, why are you being so mean?’ they are being manipulative.”

    And this is why kink-shaming is bullshit. No, actually, it is not okay to show your friends eel porn if they keep telling you to stop it – not even if that’s your kink! It is not appropriate to put on nipple clamps in a Denny’s! It is not okay to talk about your rape fetish in front of people you don’t know (how we learned I have triggers)! There is a time and a place for these things – and consistently disregarding people’s boundaries isn’t funny or subversive, it’s abusive.

    • Edoro said:

      That’s not actually what kink-shaming is, though?

      Kink-shaming isn’t saying “Please keep your kinks to yourself and like-minded people who have consented to discussing or acting them out with you and don’t force them on people without consent or against their expressly stated lack of consent”, it’s when you, you know, shame people for their kinks.

      “Don’t get your nipple clamps out in Denny’s” isn’t kink-shaming, it’s a basic boundary that people should really already know not to cross. “Oh my god, what kind of sick twisted freak would ever find nipple clamps exciting??? Ewwwwwww” is kink-shaming, because instead of saying “I’m not into that” or “This is not the time or place”, it’s saying “The thing that you’re into is disgusting and weird and you’re disgusting and weird for being into it.”

      Kink-shaming is bullshit in that it’s totally bullshit to tell someone their interests are gross and they’re gross for having them just because you, personally, don’t share them, but it is an actual thing that really sucks to have done to you and contributes to the general sense of shame and secrecy society likes to build up around sex.

      • hrovitnir said:

        Yuuuuuuuup. Do people *actually* think people aren’t shamed and marginalised for not being vanilla, or monogamous, or just different?

        We’re not talking boundary-pushing, we’re talking normal conversation about sex with friends which is all fun until you mention you like being tied up and suddenly you’re a victim who can’t be trusted to describe their own experiences.

        More importantly, we’re talking about BDSM being viewed as so innately deviant and wrong that people who *are* abused don’t get access to help because of it. And that is Not. OK.

      • Anon said:

        Dude? I know what kink-shaming is. I also know that every single time I try to tell people to stop telling me about their kink – no matter how nice I try to be – I get told I’m a prude, I’m repressed, and I’m kink-shaming. Even from the people who run their mouths about how important consent is to them. Makes no difference.

        What I’m trying to say is that there is no magical ~nice~ thing to say that will make Eel Boy have a change of heart if he’s decided freaking the mundanes is more important to him than the LW’s desire to not see eel porn. It’s not. And your kink is not more important than the mental health of everyone within earshot.

        • staranise said:

          I think the problem is, kink-shaming is a legit problem, but the people you’re around are using it in an abusive way (the way “tone argument” is sometimes used to mean “I get to treat whomever I want like shit, because they are above me on this axis of oppression.”) It’s just that “kink shaming” as the people you know mean it is not how it’s generally understood by the wider community.

          • Anon said:

            This has happened in three queer groups in two cities, none of whose members knew the members of the other groups. I think, at this point, that IS the wider community.

          • staranise said:

            I can name as many disparate queer/kink-oriented groups where people said, “Telling vanilla people they’re having sex wrong is just another form of kink-shaming.”/”Being okay with kink means accepting that other people find your kink gross.” The plural of anecdote is not data.

            The abusive misuse of “kink-shaming” is shitty and I’m sorry it’s so endemic. But even though you’re legitimately angry, you don’t get to say that the concept itself is “bullshit”, and even though you’ve had bad experiences, you don’t get to say that they define an entire international subculture.

        • Edoro said:

          I agree with exactly what staranise said. I know a lot of kinky people too and have never seen anyone who wasn’t a blatant asshole trying to use social justice buzzwords to get out of having to respect people’s basic boundaries say that not being into/wanting to hear about a kink is kink-shaming. The people who did that to you are assholes and aren’t representative of the entire kink community.

          (I have, however, had complete strangers who did not know my kinks because I understand what boundaries are and don’t disclose my sexual proclivities to random people I meet sit around me and discuss how disgusting and weird and creepy a thing I’m into is, which is what real actual kink-shaming is.)

          If what you meant was “There is no magical nice way to make him stop being a dick”, then you should have said that. That is a completely different thing from “Kink-shaming is bullshit!” No one is arguing that he should be allowed to force people to participate in his kink or that telling him what he’s doing is inappropriate is kink-shaming. In fact, up-thread a little you’ll find several different comments about how this sort of behavior is what gives kinksters a bad name and how decent people who happen to be kinky find it really frustrating because it makes everyone think kinky = boundary-violating asshole.

          Your beef with kink-shaming is based on an incorrect premise to start with and furthermore, pretty unnecessary to shoehorn into a thread where literally no one has brought it up except for a couple of oblique references along the lines of “it’s okay to be into whatever you like, but don’t force it on people.”

      • I read Anon’s “kink-shaming is bullshit” as meaning “squealing that you’re being kink-shamed when you are pushing your stuff onto unconsenting people, and in totally inappropriate settings, is bullshit”.

  32. Cait 482 said:

    Call me a prude, call me overly sensitive, but this guy seems to be straight up sexually harassing you and your friends. He’s engaging in nonconsensual sexual conduct with you because he derives some pleasure from it and doesn’t particularly care that you do not. In fact seems to be eve more excited that you don’t. Sure, it may be about boundaries and the pushing thereof, but in the end, he’s using you to derive pleasure. It’s no different than a flasher. No one worries about whether it would upset a flasher to tell them to cover up (save of course if you’re the flashee and you’re worried flasher will get violent). That really gets my knickers in a twist, having people get off like that and think that it’s okay.

    Don’t cry for his feelings. Either stand up for yourself, remove yourself from the situation, or, and this is what I would do, exclude him.

  33. I have had people like this in my friend communities. I’ve since distanced myself from them from other reasons, and I have never missed this behavior. I think it’s been part and parcel of the other problems that I could not handle, about respect, about enjoying cruelty. I was really hurt when one of those friendships ended, because I thought it was close… and then I was like “Wait, my life is a lot better now, look at the missing stair I’m not stepping over. Huh.”

    So, you know, you can use this opportunity to see if actually you maybe do not want to be friends with this guy at all. Not that you have to drop him, of course, but it’s good to check if you’re making other excuses for appalling behavior.

    Someone can be a good person deep down, can mean well, can have a good heart, but if they act like a jackass all the time, you still have to put up with a jackass to hang out with them.

  34. It’s actually kind of a red flag to me that eel porn is one of the things the guy likes AT ALL, even without the issue of the manner in which he’s sharing it.

    Whether he finds it sexually stimulating or just funny, he’s enjoying watching people abuse animals. His amusement is more important to him than the suffering and death of animals who were bothering no one.

    I DO have a problem with his new “hobby,” and I think you should, too, LW. Because that right there is already creepy. And also just plain wrong.

    • THIS. And eel porn seems to be fond of rape stories, too, going from a quick Google.

  35. Vicky with a Y said:

    LW, you asked, “I need a way to shut him down when he tries to pull this bizarro business, while also not being too harsh or making him feel like there’s something wrong with HIM.”

    I think there is something wrong with your friend, and it’s not that he likes gross stuff. It’s that he is self absorbed and oblivious to others’ feelings. Keep in mind that he is the one who is in the wrong here. You presented him with a legitimate concern, and instead of apologizing, he made it all about himself. You’re very concerned about not hurting his feelings, but why doesn’t he have the same concern about hurting your feelings? He can’t just throw a fit and expect to get his way all the time. My advice is: if he wants to take his ball and go home, then let him. It doesn’t sound like you’ll miss him very much.

  36. Sissa said:

    Hah.. we have a similar situation with the group of friends I like to hang out with. There’s this one guy whom I find either irritating, gross or creepy, and I know most people are not 100% okay with it either, but somehow they end up playing along with his jokes to KEEP him in the group. Moreover, I’ve been excluded for not wanting to make racist jokes or whatever. I guess you could say it’s their loss, but there goes 90% of my social circle…

    Just for clarification, everyone else except this guy are totally awesome. Maybe they are a bunch of insecure nerds, which means this gross person displays his abusive verbal dominance every chance he gets.

    These kind of things are hard to figure out. I’d like to hang out with these people way more, but this one guy is definitely holding me back from trying to do that.

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