#325: Reminder. Not everyone has to like you.

Angry kitten, photo by Neil G. Hamilton. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Photo by NeilGHamilton on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Dear Captain Awkward,

I recently have had the problem where I am involving myself in a new hobby, which is different from my other group of friends, whom I love and adore and have been really great to me since I moved over here a few years ago and didn’t know anyone, I can be really shy at first even though I have a bubbly personality, but thats not the problem.

I’m being nice to everyone, involving myself and helping out wherever I can, it’s a slow process making friends for me and I have a little trouble opening up. There is a small problem though, one girl who part of this new hobby i’m involving myself in (I’ve spoken to her a couple of times and she seemed nice) used to be part of my old friendship group, and long story short, they both hate each other with a vehement, in the past having public smackdowns in the past, hatred of each other. As soon as she discovered my association with them, she went from being polite to just ignoring me, making sure she is not even in the same room as me and when I do have to talk to her, I make sure I am nice and friendly and polite, but she wont even look me in the face and changes her tone and demeanour.

She’s a lot further into the group than me and I’ve told one or two people about the situation from both groups, and while they’re both understanding and I love that they aren’t getting involved or gossiping about it making harder for me, I just hate that someone has a problem with me that I didn’t cause and isn’t my fault and I’m not very good at confrontation (in fact barely despite again having a confident personality) so I don’t know how to broach this, and somedays I don’t want to show up and I haven no interest in making anyone’s life difficult or horrible. 

Long story short, how do I enjoy my second hobby and not get sucked into this? I’d like to note that my friends have warned me, but are understanding, supportive and know its not my fault so it’s not an issue with them.

Timid.

Dear Timid:

Stop.

Stop trying to get this person to like you.

I know that when you “talked to friends from both groups” about what was happening you thought you were doing the right thing, but what you really did was to make the Old Business into New Business at the Place of New Hobby where she felt comfortable and safe until you showed up. Let the subject drop. If anyone picks up on her behavior and directly asks you what’s up, give a quick “I never met her before this (activity), but we know some people in common and there’s some ancient history there.” Otherwise, shrug and go back to what you’re doing.

Her avoidance of you is not fair because the stuff that happened isn’t your fault. I get that it hurts, and I understand why you want to fix it. But she still gets to not like you! She gets to avoid the shit out of you. She gets to walk out of rooms that you walk into. You get to also do this with people you don’t like. She’s actually doing this is a pretty straightforward way – she’s not spreading rumors or trying to get other people not to like you, she’s not saying mean things to you, she’s just absenting herself and setting a boundary.

And when someone doesn’t like you, and is communicating very clearly that they don’t like you? Nothing is more infuriating than a Ms. Fix-It who decides to be extra-ingratiating. It will not help and it will not make her like you.

My advice is: Enjoy your new hobby. Don’t leave it because of her. Make friends with the people who are friendly. Avoid this lady as she clearly wants to avoid you. Completely chill out about her and what happened in the past. Over time, she may see that you are not a part of what happened and warm up to you around this shared interest, but right now she’s the cat hiding under the couch and you’re the toddler that drags the cat out because you want to pet the nice kitty.

Leave the kitty alone! She bites.

58 comments
  1. Sheelzebub said:

    LW, I don’t mean to come off as harsh, but telling the new people about the conflict between this woman and your group of friends is probably what she was worried about. It’s also coming off as somewhat gossipy–especially if you volunteered this information with no prodding from anyone.

    As far as advice goes, I am in complete agreement with the Captain. Enjoy your hobby and your new friends, accept the boundary this woman has set, and if anyone asks about the Thing With Her and Your Friends, shrug and say, “I dunno–it was a long time ago and I wasn’t involved. It’s not a topic of conversation among us.” (And if someone was to try and point out that this woman doesn’t like you/avoids you, etc., you can say, “Well, not everyone likes everybody else and that’s okay.” )

    • Agreed so much! And as we’ve just seen from the last three letters, sometimes women leave friend-groups because some really shady shit happened. Since this woman left the group before LW showed up, LW has no way of knowing what really went down and why the lady walked away, but whatever her reasons, no one leaves a group of friends without some kind of hurt.

      LW, please please stop further hurting this woman by gossiping about her to her new friends.

  2. I identify with this. There’s a woman that I interact with regularly who just doesn’t like me at all. She won’t say more than two words to me and only acknowledges my presence when it would be awkward not to (like if I see her out and say “Hi, [person]!”) she just ignores it, but in a meeting or whatever she doesn’t make it weird).

    This used to eat me up so much that I went to a mutual friend of ours (who is sort of a mentor figure in the group) and told him all about it. He listened carefully, paused, put his hand on my shoulder and said “Apeman, not everybody has to like each other.”

    He was right. The only thing that needed to be resolved was that I had to accept this. Now, this woman still ignores me and makes it clear she doesn’t like me, but now it’s not weird because I’m not making it weird.

    • The Shorter Dinosaur said:

      Hero!

    • seenonflickr said:

      Thanks for this, ApeMan. I have one of those people in my life – she’s my sister-in-law.

      I tried to “make her like me” for the first five or so years, and when I realized I was getting nowhere, I decided to give up. It pains me*, and I know it really upsets her mother (my mother-in-law) but I’m slowly coming to realize there is nothing I can do. I am polite, I am civil, but we are not friends. (She barely talks to my spouse, her sibling, either.) She doesn’t like me. I can’t change that. So I leave her alone 99% of the time, and it seems to work fine.

      *I have been considering a Captain Awkward letter, but now I think the answer is “not everybody has to like each other”!

      So thanks, ApeMan, for putting it so clearly. (And to your friend for putting it so clearly to you.)

      • Yeah, he’s a very cool guy. The funny part, though, is that wanting to be everyone’s best friend is one of his self-admitted personality problems, which goes to show that just because you can state the principle clearly doesn’t mean it’s easy to apply it in practice.

      • PomperaFirpa said:

        Oh, God, I have one of those, too, except I think that I am the irrational not-liking person. I keep wanting to write a CA letter about it, except that it would go “here are the buttons that this person pushes, even though zie is polite and civil to me at all times, I know I am being irrational and I know I can’t actually get out of dealing with this person because zie is half of all the family my husband has left, so basically could you please wave a magic wand to keep me from having to spend Thanksgiving with this person?” And, yeah, I know there’s no magic wand.

        So from one side of the irrational disliking in-law spectrum to the other, I’m so sorry, and I just want to say that you’re doing the right thing by leaving her alone 99% of the time, because believe me, getting pressured to spend every other holiday at a disliked inlaw’s house just makes the situation a lot worse.

        • seenonflickr said:

          Oh, the other side of the spectrum is sucky, too! I’m sorry.

          My SIL is pretty anti-social with most people, and it’s no secret that she doesn’t like me. (Or maybe has no opinion? Just denies my existence, looks through me, ignores greetings, etc.)

          We have “solved” this by not doing things like Christmas or (Canadian) Thanksgiving at the same time as her. We stagger our visits to the in-laws’ with hers (they live a few hours away, my parents are local so there are always two dates to be traded off between them) so there is no overlap.

          Doesn’t sound like that is a solution for you, sadly.

    • Apeman, did it fill you with relief to hear it? For me it was such a huge release of pressure the moment I realized “oh hey, I could not possibly be friends with all 7+ billion people on earth!” (Similar to the moment I realized “oh hey I will not collapse into a tiny even horizon for being wrong about stuff”)

      • NB: EVENT horizon

        • Jinian said:

          Note that you did not collapse!

  3. Andie said:

    LW, I agree with the Captain’s advice. Keep being polite, but don’t go out of your way to try and ingratiate yourself with this woman. And she’s allowed not to like you.

    About a year after starting my current job, they hired a guy who just happened to be one of my worst high school enemies. I mean, he was mean to me, and I was mean to him and it was just not pleasant at all.

    I stayed polite, didn’t dredge up the past and he did the same. We were excruciatingly polite to each other. It’s not entirely comfortable even four years later, but we’ve both managed to remain in the situation without feeding the drama llama and causing problems.

    I also agree with Sheezlebub that volunteering the information doesn’t help your cause and that yes, you should kind of approach it with a ‘Meh’ type of attitude.

  4. Britt said:

    LW, would you feel differently if this woman was avoiding you but you didn’t know why, or would you just shrug it off? Because really, it’s the same thing. It doesn’t matter, fundamentally, why she doesn’t want to interact with you. I understand that it’s frustrating, since it feels like you’re being punished for something you had nothing to do with, but it is her right to decide she doesn’t want anything to do with you for any reason at all under the sun, up to and including “nanana booboo I don’t like you.” Avoid her like she avoids you, if it will improve the situation for you. If you do have to interact, be polite but avoid coming off like you’re trying too hard to make her like you.

    One thing to consider is that it is entirely possible (and indeed sounds likely) that she doesn’t necessarily have any beef with you personally but still feels the need to protect herself by avoiding association with you because of your connection to a group that it sounds like she has (or at least had) serious beef with. She has no way of knowing what you’ve heard about her, what you would potentially take back to your other friends from her conversations with you if she were to have them, or maybe it’s just an unpleasant reminder of an unpleasant experience if she does interact with you (even if that’s not your fault).

    Bottom line, it doesn’t matter. She is unilaterally the Supreme Leader of Planet Her and she gets to decide how and when she interacts with anyone and for any reason and you don’t get any kind of appeal or veto power. Best thing you can do is shrug, mentally make note of how much a shame it is that she’s missing out on the awesomeness of your company, and move right along with your life. Also, give yourself permission to be just as unilateral and unflinching in your own decisions of whether or not to interact with other people. Self-determination is awesome!

  5. CL said:

    Great advice. Even though you weren’t part of the initial conflict, honestly it makes sense that this person wants to avoid you. The conflict was probably a very unpleasant event in her life, and you remind her of it. She probably assumes (correctly) that you’ve been told about what happened from your friends’ point of view, which understandably makes her uncomfortable. Even if you’re not judging her, just being around someone who knows the story could cause her anxiety. She probably assumes you take their side (or at least, don’t agree with her that whatever they did was horribly wrong) which seems to be true. And worse, you’ve told someone else in her group about the conflict, so now the story of this really unpleasant incident has become known to at least one in her friend group. If I were her, I probably wouldn’t want to be friends with you either — not because you’ve done anything terrible but because of the situation.

    I think the Captain suggests the perfect approach here — drop the old news completely, respect that she doesn’t want to be friends, and focus on making friends with other people in the group.

  6. Daisy said:

    related question:

    There’s a woman at work who is rude to me and looks through me, and ignores what I say, and generally gives off all the I Don’t Like You signals.

    I don’t want to be her best friend– I don’t really want to be close friends with anyone at work– but the rudeness rankles a bit, and sometimes I’m really nice and cheerful to her and wish her nice weekends and good holidays and take pains to greet her. Not to make her like me, but on some level I want to show her I’m not affected by the rudeness, or possibly just to annoy her, because I do in fact resent it. I try not to be bothered by it, but I’m a bit insecure sometimes, so it niggles.

    My feeling is that if I ignored her and pretended she didn’t exist in the same way she basically does to me, it would be making her problem into my problem. It would be us both being rude to each other, instead of her being rude to me. And I don’t want it to look like I have an issue with her. I want anyone who picks up on it to be very clear that she’s the one with the issue. I want her to be clear that she’s the one with the issue. Our office isn’t very politic-y but acting like I dislike a longstanding employee just doesn’t seem like a great idea to me.

    But this post has made me wonder: am I being a dick by not completely ignoring her the way her social signals suggest I should? I don’t try and engage her in intimate conversations, but just basic interactions of the kind I described above, which she doesn’t reciprocate. And I’ll join in a group conversations she’s part of, even though she shows every sign of not liking that.

    • JenniferP said:

      I think you’re mostly handling this very well, and work is different because it’s not a voluntary situation like a hobby or social activity. You have to be a baseline of a little bit nice, right?

      So.

      Talk to her only about work.
      Go ahead and join other people’s conversations if you want to, and if you greet everyone else, greet her too.
      When the two of you are alone, and there is nothing work-related to talk about, don’t engage.
      DON’T be extra cheery in her presence. It’s grating.

      People will figure out that she’s the rude one, especially if she’s a longstanding employee. The best thing you can do is let it go. Decide in your mind “X doesn’t like me. Who the hell knows why. I will just be professional and give her space.”

      • Daisy said:

        Thank you so much! It’s good to see this all written out in a list like that, it seems to have some kind of anti-worry magical properties.

        One extra awkwardness to the situation that I forgot to mention. Sometimes her kids show up in the office. I’m not a big fusser-over-kids, I don’t abandon my desk to rush up and coo over them the way many people do, but I’ll stop and chat to them if I’m in the general vicinity. But the other day I was saying something banal to her little boy, as I made my way through the doorway they were all standing in, and I looked up and she was making a bit of a lemon sucking face.

        I think that bothered me more than the other dislike signals she’s sent out. Should I avoid chatting to the kids when they come into the office? I mean, they are her kids, but they’re not her.

        • Esti said:

          Same as above, I would say? If you are walking by her kids, you can say hi or respond to anything they might say to you, but I wouldn’t try to initiate chats with them. For whatever reason, this woman doesn’t like you, and respecting her boundaries about that means respecting that they apply to her kids as well.

          • King's Rook said:

            Disagree! Her kids are not her property; they are human beings in their own right. I’m aware that LEGALLY she gets to treat them more or less like she owns them, but that is, to me, an offensive concept. Kids are allowed to decide for themselves who they like and don’t like!

        • JenniferP said:

          If you see the lemon sucking face, or she says something nasty to you, use your “Wow.” + (long pause) and then laugh as you walk away.

          • Daisy said:

            Thanks! I don’t think she will say anything directly nasty to me. But I feel much better even imagining doing the wow-laugh-walk away thing. 😀
            I was more upset than I realised by seeing that reaction to me talking to her kid; it was much more bothersome than just thinking that she doesn’t seem to like me very much for whatever reason. I feel better now I have some validation that it was a bit OTT.

        • Leslie said:

          Man, whether she likes you or not, that is some poor role-modeling. I’m not saying that you have to make the world sunshine and roses for your kids, but making faces? That smacks of a lack of maturity. Keep being cheerful, she sounds like she has problems.

        • Redgirl said:

          If she doesn’t want her children interacting with her coworkers she can certainly shell out for a babysitter. Otherwise, I think she should deal with the terrible, horrible fact that her colleagues are making pleasant, inoffensive small-talk with her children. On the rare occasion that I bring my child to the office I worry about annoying/offending my coworkers (who are there to WORK, after all), not the opposite.

          Bringing them candy and crayons might be over the line. Stopping to say, “Hi, how is school going?” is absolutely not.

    • madam x said:

      hrm, being extra nice just to annoy isn’t going to make the situation any better. if you had to walk by a house every day where a mean ferocious pitdobershepard threw itself at the fence at you every time, would you walk up and poke a stick thru the fence at it, or would you perhaps just walk a little faster or step across the street? stopping and trying to sweet talk the dog isn’t likely going to change it’s mind, and will only possibly get you bit.

      fwiw, i have developed over the years something i like to call ‘personal squelch’. there are people i simply do not like, and so instead of getting involved in drama or arguments or non-sense that i want nothing to do with, i just completely ignore them, to the point i sometimes don’t even realize they are in the same room. other people have complained to me about it, that it is rude, but really, would they rather an extremely uncomfortable confrontation or argument? why do i have to engage with someone i do not like for *their* comfort? i kinda think i am doing everyone involved a favor…

      • Redgirl said:

        I think in the workplace, it’s different, however. In a social setting you should be free to engage or not engage as you wish. However, at work there are plenty of people that I don’t actually like that I have to be polite to and even make small talk with. You get paid to be at work, and sometimes that means you have to do things you really don’t want to do.

        • I think that only depends on whether or not you *have* to talk to the person to do your job. It’s not entirely clear from Daisy if the two of them have to talk to each other to get their work done. If they don’t? I think simply leaving her alone is probably for the best. In a lot of work places, there are employees who don’t have to interact with each other in order to do their jobs and if they don’t want to interact with each other, that’s perfectly okay. Also, Daisy’s *choosing* to talk to this woman despite being well aware the woman doesn’t want to talk to her. That doesn’t fit “being at work sometimes means you have to do things you really don’t want to do.”

  7. I love the kitty analogy (I have scars from picking up my cat when she Did. Not. Want. to be cuddled and made her feelings clear on the subject)!

    I’m the kind of person who wants everyone to like me and finds it stressful if they don’t, but one of the things I learned from managing difficult people at work was that working super-hard to make them like me (Daisy – your story rang so many bells!) was that it just wasn’t fair on the others I managed. If I’m bending over backwards to accommodate difficult people, then those who behave with respect and politeness got left out. No wonder that my difficult team members kept on being difficult – they got exactly what they wanted out of me! I’ve learned now that if I think someone doesn’t like me at work, I don’t give them any special treatment – I have to shrug and accept it, and only address it if their behaviour doesn’t meet professional standards. LW’s situation is a voluntary one, unlike work, so as long as she’s just not wanting to interact and not making a drama out of a crisis, then leave her alone. You don’t have to like her either – maybe she’s being ridiculous for blaming you for something you weren’t even present for. But as long as you can peacefully co-exist, just shrug, laugh, and get on with your new hobby and your new friends.

    • enness said:

      I also have a friend with a highly antisocial cat (she came out of hiding once, saw me, gave me that “You’re STILL here?” look, turned around and went back under the bed) and I loved the metaphor too. I have watched young oblivious children hectoring annoyed cats before they learned this, too. Respectful distance can apply equally to people.

  8. Macky said:

    While it’s definitely true that not everyone has to like you, it may also not have anything to do with you. I’m the kind of person who ends up disliking others for reasons that are probably not logical in the slightest and wouldn’t make sense to others. There are some people who are in my friend group that I choose not to interact with much because they make me feel shitty about myself. They might be totally innocent, but their presence reminds me of some bad situation in the past. Don’t obsess over what could be wrong with you, just act neutral and let the person come to you.

  9. AshKW said:

    Thanks for this reminder, CA! Any suggestions for the person on the other side of this equation? I’m the kitty under the couch, hissing furiously and spitting at the Person Who Pushes All My Buttons, but he does not take the hint and continues to try. Aside from telling him to fuck off, which I’m leaning toward, any other ideas?

    • When I was in seventh grade or so, a show like 20/20 or something showed a Real! Live! Exorcism!!!ELEVEN! Because, news. Or something.

      Anyway, *everyone* watched. The poor lady who was being exorcised was adult. At one point she turned to the priest and said, in a creepy little-girl voice, “I don’t like you.”

      It was one of the memes of the year.

      (The other meme of the year was STOP HAMMERTIME, in the form of someone coming up to you in the middle of homeroom and shouting STOP! and if you didn’t answer HAMMERTIME, everyone laughed at you. Sigh, middle school.)

      You can say, “Go away.” You can say, “Leave me alone.” You can say, “I don’t like you.” You can say, “Bugger off, you asshole.” And when you have to say it again, you can say it louder. You can count if it entertains you. “I HAVE TOLD YOU SEVENTEEN TIMES TO LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE.”

      The reaction of people around you to this kind of escalation will tell you a lot about whether the problem is this particular asshole or the group of people you’re near.

      • AshKW said:

        Oh gods above HAMMERTIME. I had forgotten about HAMMERTIME. Thanks. I’m battling the “women are supposed to be nice” voice in my head — sounds suspiciously like my mom’s — and now I feel better about saying “Leave me the fuck alone!”

  10. clairedammit said:

    There’s a game I play whenever someone doesn’t treat me well, whether it’s a snub because I’m friends with someone they’re on the outs with, as in your situation, or they’re talking behind my back, or whatever. The game is called I’m More Mature* Than You Are, (but I always say it to myself in a sing song schoolyard-taunty voice as “I’m more mature than you are, nah, nah, nah-nah nah.”

    The way you play is you take the high road. You don’t treat the person any differently than you would treat anyone else: you are civil, nice even, but you don’t go out of your way to get on their good side, because you don’t need to, being so mature and all. And then you win! And you win real prizes too, because your interactions with them (and everyone else) become less stressful. And eventually the bullshit passes.

    Which is the same thing Jennifer said – I just like to make a game of it.

    *I’m not suggesting that you’re not behaving maturely! It just sounds like the woman you’re concerned about is not.

    • human said:

      Hee hee hee! I like this.

      I recently had an enemy I would run into every now and again. It was not a good idea for various reasons for me to be rude to her. So I got a huge kick out of being sweet and nice so that she had to be sweet and nice back, because I could see on her face how much it pissed her off to feel obligated to be nice to me.

    • Obsidian Entropy said:

      I disagree. If I don’t like someone and want to ignore them, I reserve the right to ignore them without being labeled immature. I will still be polite and civil, when necessary, but nothing beyond that.

    • enness said:

      Cackling over this game…love it…thank you. 🙂

  11. Nanasha said:

    I have someone like this at work. It used to be ok because I only ever had to interact with her briefly when we covered for her department for events and stuff. But recently, she got a job in the department I work in and it is really tough for me. She laughs and jokes and has friendly conversations with everyone else in the department. If I dare to say good morning, even as a group greeting, she turns and stares at me with the “deadpan bloodhound” face. She only ever talks to me when she absolutely has to, even though I am nothing but professional with her, and she never seems the least bit happy about me coming over to talk to her about work related stuff that I have to talk with her about.

    But the most confusing thing? She sent me a Facebook friend request! WTF?!

    So she goes out of her way to ignore and single me out and then wants to add me to her friendslist? Blargh…it is times like this that I think I fail at human interaction.

    • Tosca said:

      Hmm, maybe she wants to creep on you anyway. Sometimes we have fascination with things we dislike. Or maybe she’s jealous because you’re awesome? 😉

    • azurelunatic said:

      There’s a really simple plausible explanation for the WTF friend request. Facebook has a tool that will semi-automatically send friend requests to everybody in someone’s address book. Someone who doesn’t realize the full implications of this can wreak social havoc by letting the thing go unsupervised and carelessly sending requests to everybody, regardless of appropriateness.

  12. The concept of “not my issue, not gonna get involved” seems appropriate here. If someone wants to see you as part of something that you had nothing to do with, that is their problem, not yours.

  13. Awkward Niece said:

    I don’t know if anyone else ever does this, but sometimes I meet someone and I can straight away tell we’re just not meant to be. And when the other person gets it? And kind of clearly but classily cooperates so that we don’t have to interact any more than politeness demands? And when we pass each other in the corridor or are at the same party or something just gives me this little “we still don’t like each other that much, do we?” smile and walks away? I kind of love that person so much for it I want to ask them to dance.

    • Quinrue said:

      I have definitely met people since who I had a visceral do.not.like reaction upon meeting them. So sometimes it just happens for no reason at all or no logical reason (I have my theories that maybe it’s some weird pheromone thing or maybe just the person subconsciously reminds you of someone else you don’t like for good reasons).

      My first run in on the other side of something like this was in college I was a leader-type in the trombone section of the marching band and there was this girl 2 years younger that for reasons I still don’t know did.not.like.me. It was the first time I had ever run into someone disliking me like that where there seemed to be no reason or no good reason for it and she wasn’t a jerk, she just didn’t like me. At first I tried to figure it out, but eventually I just accepted she either had reasons or not for not liking me, but regardless she didn’t like me, so I just treated her politely when we interacted and kept it to marching-band-only stuff. Once I decided to stop worrying about it, it wasn’t a big deal as I suspect it won’t be that much of a thing for the LW once she can let it go. But yeah, it is weird especially the first time it happens to you (which it sounds like this may be).

  14. Tosca said:

    I’m the type of person for whom it’s very rare that I knee-jerk-do-not-like someone. However, the rare times it has happened, I’ve found that eventually a Very Good Reason will emerge for my instinctual feelings. Either we will be fundamentally incompatible for reasons that aren’t our faults, or they will reveal themselves to be Bad People.
    Like the sweet, nice, grandmotherly woman who was my coworker. Upon meeting her, I just didn’t like her. She grated on me in ways I couldn’t articulate. But she was so sweet and giving! I basically felt like a crappy person for “just not liking” her.
    Later, after I’d left that job, I was talking to another coworker and it came out that Mrs. Sweet Grandmother was stealing people’s tips and trashing her coworkers to the boss. Suddenly it clicked why I hadn’t liked her: her niceness was a facade, a way to trick people into thinking she was harmless. I’d picked up on it right away.
    So, trust your instincts, We don’t have to like everyone. And yes, I’ve been on the other side, where people “just don’t like” me. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, because when I was younger I definitely fretted more about this, but now I give myself and others total permission to like who they like. And if somebody doesn’t like me, I won’t let it ruin my good time. I admit there’s always that part of you that goes WHYYYY but if you really think about it, do you WANT them to like you? Do you really want to be friends with them? Most of the time, I find the answer is no. It’s an ego thing more than anything else, a need to think myself likeable. I don’t have any burning desire for this person’s friendship; in fact if I’m honest, most of the time I don’t really like THEM either!

    • Obsidian Entropy said:

      “In fact if I’m honest, most of the time I don’t really like THEM either!”

      Bingo! I figured this out at some point in college, too. It was great.

    • enness said:

      Yes yes yes…your gut is often the first to know things. I’ve listened to it and been glad a few times myself.

  15. Leslie said:

    My mom used to tell me the same thing, and I didn’t get it for about 20 years until one day it just snapped into place. About 5 seconds after that I realized that I didn’t actually care. No freedom like the absence of the tyranny of popularity.

  16. Another of OtherBecky’s Awesome Grandma’s Life Tips:

    Sometimes you don’t like people. Be polite anyway. Sometimes people don’t like you. Be polite anyway.

    Sometimes, for no reason you can see, your dog doesn’t like someone. Run like hell.

    • Your grandma: so so wise.

    • Tosca said:

      So true about the dogs!!

    • Agnes said:

      So true, on both counts!

      Behavior like this hobbyist is using towards the letter writer is totally appropriate towards the Creepy Dudes and Rapist Friend of the last few letters, so when it’s applied towards people who are generally Good People (like Aftermath, or this letter writer), it leaves them searching frantically for what they did that was that awful, so they can apologize and never do it again.

      LW, you have two options- either Hobbyist is being rude, or she’s right to see you as a threat because of your association with your friends group. Are you absolutely, totally, 100% certain that the falling-out was just for interpersonal reasons (hey, it happens, y’know?) and not because of reasons that should make you question your association with them? It’s worth some thought, even if just to eliminate the possibility.

      Unfortunately, Hobbyist has every right to be friends or not-friends with whomever she chooses, using whatever criteria to make that decision that she sees fit. It doesn’t make social ostracism any less painful, however.

      • enness said:

        You make a good point.

        • Agnes said:

          Thanks!

  17. FriendlyFreckleGirl said:

    Oh, Thank You for this. I really needed it today. I’ll be seeing my ex in a few weeks at an event, and we are not friends (she moved away and silently unfriended me on FB) and I keep feeling frustrated by this. I am friends with many of my exes and I kept feeling like “Everyone else likes me! Why don’t you like me?” and I really needed to hear “She does not have to like you. Get over it.” today. Thank you.

  18. jonty himsworth said:

    (first time comment, yay.)
    I got a new job in a high-stress office where my new boss basically said “I’ll give you three days and see how it goes… and every three days for about a two months she kept saying, “Not sure, I’ll tell you at the end of the week.” I needed this job, it was a major career move and student loan muncher. But more than anything, I wanted rapport with my new associates. But the receptionist! Each morning I’d chime “Hello” and if I got more than a sulk I was lucky. She was the first person anybody would see, and all the other entrants were greeted to the royal treatment. It went on for weeks. All I wanted I guess, was to feel welcomed to the new company, and yet she made me feel like a total creep each time I came through the door.
    There would be gatherings in the board room and she’d be like a glee-club leader to everybody else… but ignore me.
    I complained to my friends, and the wiser ones who’d been in similar situations said: Look, the problem lies with her. Allow her to have her problem. And so I stopped sucking up, saying ‘hello’ each morning. Just came in like I was entering a bus or a train and got on with work, who cares about the receptionist.
    Oh, and then my boss confirmed I get the job. And then over time other colleagues developed a liking for me which helped to confirm that maybe I am not a monster, and am in fact pretty ok, and finally, I guess it was at the three month mark, ALMOST BY MISTAKE, the reception blurted out a beautifully whimsical ‘Good morning Jonnie!” and the siege was over. I still to this day cannot figure out why she was so aloof to me. In the end she became pregnant and left and was replaced by a totally different character, teaching me another lesson. No office in the world is a permanent gathering.
    As for the LW in this case, prollum is she brought up the business with the new group. She should just follow the main vein of the advice here–steer clear, chin up, and keep cool. However, those were dark days, being desperate for that job, wondering if today was gonna be the day I get the chop, and have the receptionists sullen face greet me. Then change like a traffic light for the person coming in behind me.

    • Agnes said:

      The employment version of “Goodnight, Wesley, I’ll most likely kill you in the morning,” ARGH!!!!!

    • Redgirl said:

      I almost wonder if it was self-defense. Maybe the people in your office knew your boss’s policy of giving people three days, and didn’t want to get attached just in case.

  19. Xenophile said:

    The flip side: you don’t have to like everybody. Sure, within reason you should be polite to everybody, but it’s ok to admit to yourself (and even out loud!) that you just don’t click with someone’s personality. We’re so socialized to think, ‘If you can’t say something nice, don’t say something at all,’ that it feels kinda guilty at first but it can be really liberating. It means you don’t have to invest lots of energy into that relationship.

    I recently went to dinner with my boyfriend and his old roommate and couldn’t figure out why I was so stressed out, until halfway through the meal I realized: I. Don’t. Like. Her. That’s all. I wish her the best, but I don’t enjoy talking to her and think she’s snobby and rude. If I keep trying to force myself to like her I’ll just get exhausted and resent my both her and my boyfriend. Next time they hang out, I’ll excuse myself from going and they can have a jolly good time without me. I think we’ll all be happier. Maybe she won’t notice, maybe she’ll be relieved to be rid of me, or maybe she’ll wonder why I don’t like her, but hopefully she’ll read the good Captain’s advice and feel okay about the whole situation. I can still hear my mother scolding, “That’s not nice,” but I can deal with a rude imaginary voice better than a rude real one.

    There’s a bit in Fiddler on the Roof:
    “Rabbi! Is there a special blessing for the czar?”
    “My dear, there is a blessing for everything. May God bless and keep the czar…far away from us!”

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