#204: Not everyone likes you.

Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy
Either I smell a bad smell or I am violently in love with you. Stay tuned for FEELINGSMAIL.

Hey Capt’n,

I am in a weird situation. I heard through a mutual friend that a person I consider a friend thinks that I don’t like them. Now I can understand where she is coming from, as how I act toward her could be seen as being a little stand offish. But I swear my reason make sense in my head! See her and her boyfriend (my friend and roommate) are on the second go round of their relationship. When they were broken up, I was also between relationships and I developed a crush on her.

However I did not act on it because of the unspoken “Code” of not dating your friend’s ex. So she and he got back together, and I involved in a long distance relationship, but when we are together I get a weird vibe off her, that something might of/still be there. I think that vibe is in my head but it bugs me sometimes.

So really this is just a long way of ask how/should I explain this to her?


Dear Reilly,

Not everyone likes you.

Not everyone will like you.

Not everyone has to like you.

It sounds like this lady picked up on your Firthing a while back and mistook it for dislike (which it closely mimics).

I don’t think you can fix this with a conversation. “Hey, I feel like you don’t like me or you don’t think I like you, but really it was just that boner I had a while back…but don’t have it any more, I swear! Hahahahahaha! Are we cool?” Also, while most people understand the whole “don’t ask out your friends’ exes, at least without having a conversation with your friend first” rule, nobody likes being told “I would have asked you out, but since you were some other dude’s property first I held back.” You missed your window. Since they are back together, you can feel pretty comfortable knowing it wouldn’t have worked out anyway. Be happy for your friend and let this whole subject die a quiet death.

Going forward, just be a basic level of pleasant and polite to her. Stop being so standoffish because you feel guilty about liking your best friend’s girl. Stop worrying about her opinion of you. Definitely stop listening to shit-stirring friends when they tell you how someone else feels. For the record, I HATE that, and the correct answer is usually “Why are you telling me this?” + “Well, until I hear it directly from x, I can’t really worry too much about it.”

If you really are friends everything will even out with time. Until it does, the less effort you make, the better. Nothing solidifies a vague dislike/discomfort like someone trying really really hard to make you like them.

34 thoughts on “#204: Not everyone likes you.

        1. Is it normal to watch the whole thing shouting “NO! NO! DON’T DO THAT! JUST STOP! NO!” like it’s a horror movie?

          1. Urgh! Two mins in and urgh, I can’t watch. My eyes, they’re bleeding. Oh God, no, make it stop!

    1. WHAT
      So many trees killed for this creepy, creepy message. And of course in Hollywoodland the woman is moved by the confession of his True Love™. Blargh.

      1. Can you think of anything worse she could have done than kissing him at the end of that confession!!???

      2. Seriously, though! And also, was anyone else troubled by her boyfriend being black and the Guy Who Understands Her being white? I mean, maybe it is presented differently in the movie as a whole, but to me, it was right off the same troubled bandwagon as Miranda July being the only one to understand the (really not worth it, in my opinion?) Misunderstood white man. Like, rather than his bitchy black wife or whatever. I just can’t help thinking that these things aren’t accidental.

          1. Just, SMH. You’re really going to run out onto the frosty street after some random schlub with an armful of posterboard and a boombox, when you’ve got the Objectively Hottest Afro-Brit waiting on the couch to snuggle and watch bad TV with? Girl.

          2. Also, That Guy is the only one who sees that Keira Knightley is “perfect”! Because a woman that beautiful has never had anyone idolize her before, ever!

        1. Yes. The context actually makes it worse, he’s Ejiofor’s best friend and she is newly married to Ejiofor. So he can’t stop carrying a torch for his best friend’s girl and for some reason feels totally entitled to get all up in her relationship and confess his Pure Lurve for her. Racial subtext? Uh, gee…

    2. Oh, I’d forgotten that scene! It’s such a blatant fantasy of how it will all work out exactly to a script he’s written in his head. It reminds me of the bit in ‘500 Days of Summer’ where he goes to a party to see his ex. One side of the screen is his fantasy where he is charming and suave and wins her over and the other side is reality where he’s awkward and inappropriate and she’s getting more and more annoyed.

  1. LW, there’s no way you can explain your behavior without upsetting her. It sucks, but sometimes context matters. You feel weird around her, she feels weird around you, and this might go on for some time. The best you can do, as the Captain said, is being friendly and polite with her. It won’t necessarily make her like you, but at least you won’t feel awkward every time you see her.

  2. Sigh. I had a similar situation, only with no crushy feelings involved. My roommate and close friend X told me that a mutual friend’s wife, O, didn’t like me and thought I was annoying and confrontational. I have trouble keeping my mouth shut when I disagree with people on certain things, and O seems to be the same way, so we clash sometimes. I already knew that O and I weren’t the best of friends, but it kind of hurt to hear that she actively disliked me. But since I heard it from X instead of O, there wasn’t anything I could do about it. It just made things weird and made me feel bad.

    The problem is, O’s husband A used to be a good friend of both X and me, but we haven’t spent much time with him since he married O. Because they’re now a package deal, X seems to think that O’s dislike of me is what’s keeping them from spending time with us. Which sucks, but I’m not sure what I can do about it, because I can’t make O like me. I miss A, but I’m not sure if anything can be done to bring us back to the level of friendship we used to be at. The four of us used to live in the same building and we would hang out often, but now that they’ve moved into their own house, we hardly ever see them. X sees them more often than I do, which I suppose is a result of O not wanting to see me, but it hurts to know that they’re all hanging out without me.

    The worst part is that X seems to agree with O that I am too confrontational/argumentative, and she basically framed it as my fault that O doesn’t like me and therefore O and A no longer spend time with us. I know I don’t have the best social skills ever, but I also know I’m not horrible to spend time with. To hear that X, one of my best friends, thinks I need to change my personality so that people like me more is what hurt the most. We haven’t really talked about it since that conversation, which was a couple of months ago, but I still think about it fairly often. I do have other friends, but most of them don’t live around here so I can’t just call them up to hang out whenever. I know, I know, meet more people! I’m working on it.

    1. Oy. The drama, it burns. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with that mess.

      In a perfect world, you could invite Friend A out for lunch/coffee on his own now and again–and possibly drop the backbiting Friend X?? But I know some married couples are just inseparable, especially newlyweds.

      Meeting more people sounds like a really great idea. Best of luck finding awesome friends who appreciate you.

    2. The person who annoys me the most in this scenario is “X.” You can’t change your personality, really, so what the heck are you supposed to do with that information?

      I hope you meet some great new friends. Jedi Hugs.

      1. Well, I think X just hoped I would… stop speaking up so much when we were all out together, or something? Since I’ve been getting more and more involved in social justice blogs and the like, X has gotten more annoyed with me calling people out on their ableist/fatphobic/sexist/etc stuff. She thinks I should pick my battles and save the calling-out for “important” issues (I think what she means is “issues that most people in our group of friends recognize as important”), but to me these ARE important issues and I don’t know if she gets that. She’s a very non-confrontational person, so she doesn’t understand why I can’t keep my mouth shut in order to not make waves in our group of friends. She also does the whole “it’s just a TV show, why can’t you just enjoy it instead of pointing out the problems all the time” thing. She watches TV to escape from real-world issues, but I watch it to analyze the real-world issues reflected in it.

        I don’t know. She’s my roommate, and we’ve lived together for eight years and been friends for even longer, so we have all this baggage built up over years of getting up-close views of each other’s flaws. We’re like family, in the way that there are years of history behind every conversation. Fighting with her really upsets me and makes me doubt myself and wonder if there’s something wrong with me as a person. I usually get over that pretty quickly, but it hurts like hell in the meantime. I have issues with depression and X has hinted sometimes that she does too, but she’s of the “I’m too strong to take an advil for my headache” type so I don’t know if she would ever ask for help.

        Anyway, that was more information than you required! Thanks for the hugs.

        1. I also have a tendency not to keep my mouth shut when folks say busted stuff. I am sure this gets me read as confrontational, but as a person who wants to banish social injustice I figure there are worse things than making waves. Less friends, maybe. Better friends, hell yes! Friends who are committed to being less busted, who engage me if they see me saying something bogus (and I tell them when they slip up too), who take microaggressions seriously (cause jokes, stereotypes, and irrational fear are tools of oppression).

          Is your friend open to talking about why this is so important for you? If so, offering zines, blogs, and a personal story about why this is really important might be what she needs to understand why you might be confronting oppression at your friends cocktail hour.

        2. Maybe you could tell your friend/roommate that this stuff is important, and you know that people all make mistakes, and that you figure that as good people, your friends want to get things right. And then maybe pick which things are most important to you, either by area or by how badly they get it wrong.

          Using myself as an example: I do some Trans 101 stuff now and then, but people getting that wrong doesn’t hurt me as directly as sexism, homophobia, or some kinds of ableism. So I might decide, in some context, to focus on calling people out on sexism. Or I might decide that correcting people on trans* stuff is easier because it’s less emotional to me: yes, it matters, but I don’t feel personally threatened when people get it wrong.

          I hope you aren’t dealing with people who are racist or sexist or otherwise prejudiced enough that you have to call them out on something like using the n word for the president. On that, I think you say your piece and cut the person out of your life barring a really good apology. (“I was drunk” is only relevant if it includes “and since that sort of nastiness is somewhere in my subconscious and can come out when I’m drunk, I’m not going to get drunk anymore.”)

          Beyond that, I think “pick your battles” has to be about how much energy you have. Also, it’s perfectly all right to say “That’s not funny” or “I beg your pardon!” to someone who makes an inappropriate remark, rather than explaining again why it’s not funny.

        3. Well, while it’s really not cool of her to be trying to control your interaction with people, maybe a compromise on commentary during TV shows might be in order? Speaking as someone who was the conflict-averse roommate of a woman who was incapable of not bluntly criticizing or correcting, (not just stuff like sexist or racist remarks, but factual errors or opinions she disagreed with,) I was constantly slightly stressed, which got exhausting. I coped by not having my friends or boyfriend around, because she annoyed them, and when it came to stuff like TV shows, if she had been a less selfish person with a larger serving of social skills (I could give examples of terrible behaviour, I am not basing that on the fact that she was conversationally combatative,) I would have probably asked her if she’d consider picking one or two of my favourite tv shows that she didn’t pick apart or criticise around me. Hell, my boyfriend has had to do that to me about wrestling. I do a running commentary about all the levels on which it is stupid which ruins it for him.

      2. Oh, me too! Sure, A and O are less available. They got married! They’re living somewhere else! X’s acting like it is something where there must be blame to be assigned for their reduced availability and lighting on you to assign it to makes me distrust X’s perspective.

        It seems as if X is taking on a role no one asked her to. Is there any suggestion O or A asked X to speak up about their (or just O’s) supposed “true” but unspoken feelings? Or did you ask X, “I’m not sure, does O totally hate me, or what?” If not, you should give her unsought opinion an extra squint.

        Because what strikes me is that the real issue isn’t so much your relationship with O, but your relationship with X. Is X truly playing the role of loyal friend, calling you on genuinely obnoxious behavior you need to be called on, for your own sake or the world’s? (Actually, if you’re objecting to off-color jokes, etc., it sounds like it is YOU who is doing that — though yes, there is a judgment call to be made about when to let stuff go). Or is it just that you two have been together for so long that she feels a kind of ownership of you and your behavior and thinks she has a right to try to make your behavior conform to her social judgment about which issues to speak up about and when to let things go?

        I’d say there’s a good chance X, as your roommate for so long, is feeling a little burnt out on your vocal activism simply because it is greater than hers, and is projecting her own feelings of “enough already” on other people (consciously or not). But who says she is objectively right, and you objectively wrong?

        Maybe, if you can talk it out, you can figure out what’s what and go forward. Maybe the best thing for your friendship would be to stop living together. (Oh, especially in light of what you’ve said below, about you having depression and her being the kind of person who says “oh, me too,” but acts like it is “strong” to ignore medical issues instead of getting help!)

        But the one thing I definitely think you need to do is stop valuing X’s opinion of you and your social interactions MORE than your own. It sounds a little like you’re in one of those pairings where both of you would agree who was the #1 friend (her), who was #2 (you). I was in one of those once, as the #2. When I stopped letting her opinions/choices take precedence over my own, the friendship fizzled — but I began to thrive.

        Good luck to you.

  3. I agree with almost everything here except that I don’t think hanging back when you have a crush on someone else’s girlfriend/recent ex is always because “[they] were some other dude’s property.” As long as you don’t send FEELINGSMAIL or make situations awkward for everyone else in the social group, it *can* be considerate and respectful of both the friend and the person who was dating the friend to scale back your hangouts if you have feelings for them. Even if you are perfect for each other and eventually date in the future, often people need a little time to process emotions after a breakup and don’t want to be in the frequent company of the ex’s crush-y best friend. I know that as chill as I try to be around people I have crushes on, I sometimes come off as intense or awkward, and I’d rather not subject people, especially people who are my friends or who have had emotionally intense relationships with my friends to my randomly occurring Crush Symptoms.

    tl:dr: Good advice overall, but I don’t think “hanging back on hanging out b/c I had a crush on you when you were my friend’s gf”=”I think you are a boy’s property and therefore I am not allowed to touch you.”

    Sigh, I hope that made an amount of sense. Mostly I think CA answered this well.

    1. I think you’re spot on there. It’s not always about ‘property’ but about being a respectful friend. Acting on your crush on your best mate’s ex is unkind to your mate, and makes it difficult to support them as they deal with the break-up they instigated, and potentially takes advantage of the emotional vulnerability of the broken-up party you’re crushing on. Although it’s phrased badly, there is often a reason for the ‘code’.

      But yes, spot-on with the now-is-not-the-time-to-send-feelingsmail. If the wierd vibe doesn’t go away after a long period of just being a nice, polite, interesting person then just let the interactions drop to a level that’s more comfortable, regret what’s changed and move on.

      I mean, you could go down the road of ‘hey, I got the impression you think I’ve been a bit stand-offish and I apologise. I didn’t mean to come across that way’, but then that puts her in the position of having to agree or refute your statement, which could be awkward either way.
      Either she agrees and says so, and it becomes more awkward, or you laugh it off and things go back to normal (unlikely). Or she outwardly disagrees but in her head does agree but feels unable to say so, which is also awkward. Or she disagrees because that’s not what was going on and the wierd vibe is all in your head (unlikely), and the two of you make it up, or you uncover something *else* that’s awkward! I know you’re hoping for the outcome where you two laugh it off and go back to being good mates, but I think it’s unlikely as it sounds like a lot of time has passed since then.

  4. Excellent advice! The only thing I would add is, “Discomfort is NOT conflict.”

    Just because you aren’t (or she isn’t) completely at ease around each other, it doesn’t mean that there is necessarily something there that needs to be addressed.

  5. I think a conversation about this could happen, under the following conditions:
    1) it happens face to face
    2) it is very brief.

    That is, if this lady says something like, “You know, for the longest time, I didn’t think you liked me very much!” or gets weird and accusatory (maybe with the aid of alcohol). In either case your response is, “I’m sorry if I gave you the wrong impression or came off weird. I think you’re really cool!” Then you change the subject. Maybe if you get to know her a little better and get more comfortable with her, you can bring it up, but you should still keep it brief – “Hey, I think we might have gotten off on the wrong foot in the past, which is too bad, because you’re really cool.”

    Point is: I think you can own up to there being some weirdness without getting into the reasons for it. Knowing why isn’t going to help her feel more comfortable around you, and that is your goal, isn’t it?

  6. Well a follow up to this. I didn’t have to have the conversation because my friend whom I found the original information out from told her, and she brought it up. I’m going to have to talk to my friend about what confidentiality means.

    But there wasn’t any harm just minor annoyance. The former crush has once again been broken up with and hearing about my past crush made her feel better.

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