I am an intense person! I have grown to accept this. It’s the way I am, it’s not going to change, and I’m in the process of working this reality into something like self-love.
Some people don’t like my intensity as much. One such person is a close friend of my boyfriend’s. This would be fine — I firmly believe that there are people in the world who are not meant to be friends, and that’s more than okay with me — except that he believes so firmly that we should be friends (on HIS terms) that it’s a conversation he has with me whenever we are in the same room. We have things in common like tangentially related careers, fierce intelligence, and, notably, my boyfriend; ergo, to this guy, we should be friends.
I don’t believe we make good friends. One critical reason for this is that I believe he is a manipulative person. This is evidenced, in my opinion, by the very fact that he claims the only reason we are not friends is because I am not friendly enough with him (“Well. You’re *my* friend”). When I am not being friendly enough with him, he grows sad and uncomfortable! (This argument held more weight with me when he lived with my boyfriend; it kind of sucks when your friend’s girlfriend is neutral to you in your own living room, I was told.) The heavy implication is that if I was a more emotionally generous person, I would already be his friend and then everything would be fine.
My not trusting him is not enough reason, to him, to discontinue the conversation, because again if only I were to change my mind about him everything would be fine (if only I would see him as a PERSON). I would prefer to reach a state of mutual understanding with this dude such that we civilly exchange hellos when we must share the same space and then go back to our respective lives without further ado. My endeavors to do so have so far been categorized as “unfriendly” and yield the same conversation. I am afraid of any attempt to freeze him out (e.g., repeating “I’m not interested in this conversation” over and over, as has been tempting) may result in all of my boyfriend’s friends disliking me, ice witch that I am. Community is important to him and it would mean the end of us if there was a schism between me and the rest of his crew. Do you have a good script for this?
Dear Intensely Ineffective:
This person constantly harangues and harasses you about how unfriendly you are and whyyyyyy are you not friends, and YOU are the person who is “too intense?” YOU are the person apologizing for your personality and worried that you might create social friction, and this person’s argument is that there is something wrong with YOU?
For those who can’t see or hear the video, there is a cat hiding under a piece of furniture while someone tries to pet it and laughs at its yowls of distress. Another person in the room also laughs along.
Letter Writer, you are the cat. This dude is the asshole trying to pet the cat even though the cat clearly does not want to be touched. And your boyfriend is the offscreen jerk who is laughing at this little scene instead of saying “Wolfgang, leave the cat alone.”
You don’t have to be friends with someone who constantly audits your behavior for sufficient “friendliness” and (barf) “emotional generosity.” You don’t have to be friends or get emotionally closer to someone you don’t like. You don’t have to make a convincing case for why you don’t like them or hear out their case in full. They don’t have to be on board with your decision to not be friends. You have done your part by being a basic amount of polite and cordial to this guy, and you have done more than your part by not biting his head off when he obviously tries to provoke you. You have fulfilled the social contract of how romantic partners need to treat each other’s friends. This dude has to learn to live with the fact that not everyone will like him, and he has to stop making his abject failure at this part of adulting into your problem.
He needs to be told.
“I’m not interested in this conversation” is a perfectly good script. Repeat it like a robot. “No,” is a classic for a reason. Try also: “I’d like us to get along at social events, for Boyfriend’s sake, but ‘friend’ is a strong word and I don’t appreciate the pressure you put on me about this.” Be super blunt about it. “I don’t want to have this conversation today.” “Let’s change the subject.” “Please stop bugging me about this, it’s very annoying.”
See also “But we’re not friends” and “But I don’t like you.”
Often I recommend a strategy of two polite attempts to redirect a conversation and then giving yourself permission to disengage if the other person won’t take you up on it. In your case, I say make two attempts to redirect and then activate either FIGHT or FLIGHT. How that might play out in real life:
Him: “Hey, why won’t you be more friendly?”
You: “Whoa, awkward question. But, how is work going? Are y’all bidding on that one job?”
Him: “I feel like you’re MY friend, why won’t you treat me like a friend? God, why are you so unfriendly?”
You: “I’m not interested in having that conversation. But, hey, what are you going to order for dinner? I think I’m going to get the crispy pork and Chinese broccoli.”
Him: “I just don’t understand why you won’t…”
You (Option A): “No, I don’t understand why YOU won’t get the fuck off it already.“
You (Option B): “Ok, good seeing everybody, I’m going to head out though.” Then, get up and leave. Make it obvious as to why.
Raise your voice. Be the Ice Witch you want to see in the world, be it Elsa or Jadis, Empress of Charn.
This guy is making gatherings horrible and awkward…for you, so I think it’s time to spread that around and return some of that weirdness to sender. You can’t “nice” your way out of this. The social circle, such as it is, is already broken as long as this guy is allowed to keep treating you this way with the consent of the others. I think he is doing so on purpose, as some sort of power play, to keep you “in your place” and to assert his importance relative to your boyfriend. Or because he enjoys needling you and making you uncomfortable for its own sake. Even if his behavior was once upon a time a sincere attempt to connect with you, it doesn’t matter – there is a level of obliviousness that is indistinguishable from malice. He is being an asshat and I don’t see any middle ground here. Prepare the freeze ray. Set your phasers to “STFU, ALREADY.” Permit yourself to get as visibly angry as you feel.
And if your boyfriend can’t handle your justified anger, or if he can’t see that his friend is the one making it weird, then he is the problem and you can kill two metaphorical birds with one unfortunate stone when you break up with his passive ass. Because some of this (a lot of this) is a boyfriend problem, not a boyfriend’s friend problem. What does he do when Intense Iago crawls all over you? Does he agree with his friend’s characterization of you as unfriendly, or think your “intensity” is the problem? Does he lecture you about “emotional generosity?”
You may want to talk to your boyfriend frankly about all of this before you attempt to engage with his bozo friend(s) on any level. If you want to try doing so in a more constructive, less break-up-y way, you could start with “I like most of your friends just fine, but X bugs me constantly about how I should be more friendly to him. I’ve really tried to get along with him, for your sake, but he puts my shoulders up around my ears…”
(and then choose your own adventure)
“…What do you suggest?”
“…Can you tell him to back off? He doesn’t listen to me.”
“…so I’m going to give myself a break from hanging out with him. Can you make plans with us separately for the next month or so? I need a cooling off period.”
“…he makes me really uncomfortable and angry, and I need him to leave me alone. Can you help?”
“…and I’m through being passive and ‘nice’ about it. I just want to give you a heads up that the next time he refuses to change the subject, we are going to have it out or I am going to absent myself quickly.”
Your boyfriend may not know quite what to do and may have been hoping that you all would work it out between yourselves. This is understandable, but it is not working. I think that if you talk to him about this, you need to be completely honest. “Your friend’s conversations about our ‘friendship’ have crossed over into harassment. He won’t accept my attempts to change the subject or be routinely cordial. He’s talking to me about bullshit like ’emotional generosity.’ It has gone too far, and I need it to stop, but since you never intervene to stop it when it happens, and since your other friends don’t either, I am afraid that you all think what he’s doing is okay or that you won’t back me up if I put my foot down. I’m so afraid of looking like a ‘bitch’ that I’ve been letting him walk all over me. But I am done with that, and I need you to know how awful he is making me feel and help me put a stop to it.”
Here are some actually helpful things your boyfriend could do, if he chose:
- He could hang out with friend one-on-one sometimes, without you and the rest of the group. This friend seems to be acting very possessive and territorial, maybe some attention and reassurance of his importance in your boyfriend’s life will calm him down a bit.
- You and your boyfriend could agree to make a better division between couple time, you-and-he and-the-entire-social-group-time, and time when you say “Have a great time, I’m going to be over here with my friends doing my thing” time. Your boyfriend is not the King of England, surely he doesn’t need his entire entourage present at all times, and surely you don’t have to prove your bond by continually dancing attendance as one of many.
- Best of all, he could actively intervene when his buddy goes after you. That could take the form of a subject change or the shape of “Dude, it would be great if everyone I care about could be friends, but you can’t force these things. Leave her be.“
This may take a little time to renegotiate properly, especially if you’ve been silently putting up with it until now. However, if your boyfriend chooses not to be supportive about this (a real risk, since he’s watched this unfold all this time), and if his other friends decide that you are the problem, please believe me when I say this: It was a viper’s-nest-of-assholes problem, not a you-are-too-intense problem.
*Essential reading: Five Geek Social Fallacies. I feel that your boyfriend’s social circle is a hotbed of all of them, and that this annoying dude is particularly a GSF 4 “Friendship is Transitive” carrier.
314 thoughts on “#681: Consent Basics: It takes two to decide to be friends and only one to say “Nope!””
Hell, print out the Geek Social Fallacies and pass them around BF’s friend circle… or just hand them to this guy before you leave the room.
LW, I’ve been in less boyfriend-y versions of this, from different genders and for different reasons. A lot of it is opposite from your so-called “problem” of being an alleged “Ice Queen,” in that I accidentally exude warmth and intense OMG-we-are-friend-soulmates-ness when *I* think I am being baseline friendly/polite. I’ve actually had to practice making less direct eye contact and smiling in a less beaming way in order to not give anyone the wrong idea.
I’m with the Captain in this, in that I want to know what on Earth your boyfriend is doing in all this. This is HIS friend, and therefore he needs to have a hand in the problem solving aspect of this.
While not exactly like this, I’ve had boyfriends with super problematic friends where the hope was that I would either play nice for the benefit of everyone except myself, or deal with it in a way that wouldn’t drag the boyfriend in. That’s not how it works. He needs to either more actively have your back or you need to more actively relieve him of the title of “boyfriend.”
Good luck! This jerkface boyfriend friend sounds like a real piece of work. You are FINE, this missing stair dude and all the friends expecting you to walk around him (including your boyfriend!) are the problem. Adjust accordingly.
*Essential reading: Five Geek Social Fallacies. I feel that your boyfriend’s social circle is a hotbed of all of them, and that this annoying dude is particularly a GSF 4 “Friendship is Transitive” carrier.
Yes, his behavior shouts GSF4 to me as well. He seems to be doing the ‘friendship test’ thing. A lot of GSF4s get anxious when they don’t like/are disliked by a friend of a friend, because they take it as a sign that they don’t belong in the social circle (or, alternately, must cement their position in the social circle by excising the person they’re not friends with). That, to them, is the only way to restore the ‘proper’ order of things, in which all friends are friends with each other.
Your fear that your boyfriend will leave you over this because ‘community is very important to him’ suggests that he’s got a case of the GSF4s too. Possibly a milder one than his buddy, but if he wasn’t a carrier, it seems like he would have said “bro, chill” by now. His silence is tacitly endorsing his friend’s behavior. You may want to talk to him to make sure that he gets that the problem here is not that you and his friend are not friends; rather, the problem is that his friend will not leave you the hell alone. If he’s carrying a hopeful torch in his heart for your future friendship with his friend, that torch needs extinguishing before he can back you up in any meaningful way (taking his buddy aside and saying “Man, you’re totally right, she should be friendlier to you, but…” is not backing you up). If it’s more important to him that you see his friends as friends than that his friends respect your stated boundaries, that important info to factor into deciding whether you want to keep having a relationship with him.
I just don’t get people who are shocked by the fact that not everybody likes/needs to like everybody else. I mean… that’s just reality. I get that knowing something intellectually and then being actually confronted with someone who doesn’t like you are different things and can be a bit difficult to navigate at first but I mean, do you honestly think everyone you meet likes you? Dude.
Yeah, but that’s why it’s a social fallacy. I try to have compassion for folks who don’t understand how to navigate social relationships with maturity and grace. It’s easy to say “gah, this isn’t high school!” when someone’s displaying maddening social anti-patterns, but humans learn at different rates. I was most of the way through college before I figured my shit out well enough to be a decent friend/party guest/etc.
That said, compassion is not the same as “putting up with bullshit.” If someone’s being an asshole, that’s on them. To me, the most useful thing about the “Geek Social Fallacies” essay is that it gives me a vocabulary with which to identify harmful patterns so that I can figure out how to react to them without getting sucked into someone’s bullshit-vortex. It might be unfortunate when someone gets all the way to paying their own utility bills without developing the sense of self and theory of mind in others to observe and respect boundaries, but that doesn’t mean it’s anyone else’s job to teach them the true meaning of friendship.
Eh, I think the “transitive” part is a big factor in why a lot of people get shocked; I catch myself doing it myself sometimes. This person is a neat person who gets along well with me! This other person is also nice and nifty and gets along well with me! They should get along with each other! But no, that’s not how it works.
I’m doing math editing this week, so I’m thinking in math analogies. Being similar isn’t always transitive. If you’re within four inches of my height, and someone else is also within four inches of my height, you could be eight inches taller or shorter than they are. I might share one person’s interest in science fiction, and another person’s interest in birds, but I’m the only one of us three who is interested in both. Any commonality between the other two won’t be connected to me.
It gets worse if two people are, perhaps unconsciously, looking for things like a friend who is a little smarter than they are, or a little more generous, or who wants advice on a certain topic. At that point, the relevant equation is A > B. Whether or not it’s true that A > B and A > C, it can’t be true both that B > C and that C > B.
[OK, I think it’s time to stop crafting inequalities and analogies, and go back to fixing the layout of equations.]
I think I get it – I think it comes from a belief that there’s a “right” way to be. If you’ve been taught that life is full of shoulds and musts and oughts, then you’ve been taught that people should be like THIS, social competence looks like THAT, politeness is acting in THIS way and should evoke THAT reaction, etc. Relationships are not based on what you feel, they’re based on what you’re supposed to feel. If you’ve been raised like this, you’ve learned that not following the correct procedure means you’re either Not Normal or mean (and you’ve probably been shamed for being weird and mean when you didn’t like a person you were supposed to like).
In a world like that, not liking people who act Correctly is the same as choosing to be hostile towards them. They’ve done nothing to “deserve” it, because they followed the rules! You can’t just DECIDE to be friends only with people you like, because that’s weird and mean. It’s like he’s inputting the right password, but LW doesn’t log him in, and he doesn’t get why, and he’s reminding LW of the rules, and LW’s basically saying, “I know, it’s on purpose”.
Tl,dr: Right and wrong depends on what you believe about relationships. According to rules logic, LW’s being hostile for no reason by refusing to cooperate. According to consent logic, this guy is invading LW’s boundaries by refusing to take a no.
I love your writing style. If I could go back along my own timeline, I’d take a stack of business cards with that second paragraph paraphrased on them. I would have no shortage of people to hand them out to… and one of them would go to past-CrankyHermit since I had a pretty bad case of the Geek Social Fallacies myself.
This smacks of a man whose expectation of the world is that all women will be ‘nice’ to him, no matter what he does, and believes that if he is (what he believes is) ‘nice’ and ‘friendly’, then he is entitled to the same behaviour by everyone else (but especially women).
Oh yes, there is def. the Dude Social Fallacy #1: Women Should Bend Over Backwards To Be Nice And Take Care Of Our Feelings at play here.
Oh gosh is there a list of Dude Social Fallacies somewhere because I need that in my life.
Alas, it’d be longer than most novels.
I may be projecting, but it’s hard for me to imagine So-Called Friend being this persistent or this obnoxious if he didn’t have some sort of sexual interest in LW. (Dude Social Fallacy #3: Yo, dude, don’t leave your property out in public if you don’t want other people using it, amirite?) He might not ever be open about it, but at the very least I would expect that if demands for friendship are met, they’ll be followed by demands for hugs, backrubs, lap-sitting, and other Do Not Wants.
Oh good, I’m not the only one that had that immediate thought. I’ve been on the receiving end of that one and had to deal with all the attendant “But he’s only being FRIENDLY!” The usual crap that anyone perceived to be guilty of appearing female in public gets from creeps and creep-enablers. I ended up walking away from that relationship because it just wasn’t worth the loss of self-esteem to put up with that.
I could see it. I’m not saying there *isn’t* some sort of interest going on, but from my experience I have definitely seen fully platonic weird stuff like this, where someone for whatever reason will decide someone else absolutely must pay attention to them. Non-sexual stalking/harassment are a thing. But yeah, it’s also possible something like that is going on, of course!
Yup. I saw something sexual, although it might be unmentioned projection toward Boyfriend. (“Since I cannot be his sex toy, I shall turn his sex toy into my puppet. Oh, stop acting like you think you’re a person, sex toy.”) Although this may sound like I’m being needlessly Byzantine, you’ll see it if he mutters “Yoko” and does a quick fade from your lives, and about fifteen months later another mutual friend will mention how Friend was rallying everyone to TRY to break you two up.
It is a novel! It’s called Middlemarch.
I am SO THANKFUL I had just swallowed my drink of water because I literally choked with laughter. Thank you. I am having a thoroughly shitty day and your Middlemarch joke made me feel so much better.
+1 high-quality joke would LOL again.
Aw, thanks guys.
Delurking to say: ON POINT! Eliot has a fantastic eye for boundary-crossing behaviour, and I like to think that she would be a fan of captain awkward, since she knew about overcoming a fair few DSF/GSF herself. Also worth noting that ‘Daniel Deronda’ contains a horrifyingly astute portrait of a psychologically abusive marriage, beautifully written – the woman knew her shit about relationships…
Yes yes yes, this is what’s written on the giant red flag this dude is waving around. He seems really intent on getting LW to behave in a particular way towards him, and he’s using some seriously dirty tricks to get the treatment he thinks he deserves.
Also DSF #2: “That just means he likes you.”
“Every Interaction Is Flirting Until Proven Otherwise,” with the corollary “If She Didn’t Explicitly Say No, How Was I Supposed to Know? It’s Not Like I Can Read Body Language And Polite Social Cues.”
OMG, I had a brief friendship with someone who actually said “Well, she didn’t say to [specific thing], how was I to know? Women are so complicated!”.
I say friendship, but you know… not.
oh gosh, now I’m thinking about the persistent DSF that Women Are Never Rejected For Dates And They Cannot Know Our Heartbreak. And I’m realizing how many rejections I’ve avoided over the years by picking up the social cue to not ask in the first place…
That is an incredibly important insight you have there, that the social cues keep you from being rejected in the first place. I am quite sure this has also been the case for me and is the sole reason that I have suffered much less rejection than many geeky men I know.
I will have to think on this and integrate it into my worldview, because I have never had a very good counter for that particular dude sad!feel.
yeah, this really just clicked into place for me yesterday – I’ve been annoyed at the Sad Dude Because Rejected Romantically So Many Times trope for a while, mostly in this context:
Women: [discussing harassers and creeps]
Sad Dude: But how am I supposed to meet women?
Women: Don’t do that stuff. Do this good, friendly stuff, and it’ll work out eventually.
Sad Dude: But I can’t stand being aloooone!
Women: Trust us. We have been romantically rejected. We have also been harassed. We know which one feels worse.
…and I think, okay, to be fair, I haven’t been actually turned down for dates that many times. But oh dang there would have been so many more if I had jumped straight to “ask out” instead of pausing at “see if a nonzero number of flirts are being reciprocated.”
And, yeah, obviously the culture I live in assumes man-woman dating is initiated by man asking, woman replying, so a 50/50 rejection ratio isn’t likely to exist. But uuugh the Dude Social Fallacy of “It is so hard to approach women and be turned down! You don’t understand!”
And its sequel, Woman Are Never Turned Down for Sex and Can Have Sex Anytime They Want. Also untrue, and a really stupid thing to say about other men, to boot.
Then there’s By “Women” I Really Mean “Women I Would Consider Attractive.” Because overweight and other not conventionally attractive women don’t exist in that worldview. Probably explains the “Women are Never Rejected” fallacy.
UGH. the last time i had sex, i asked him to stop multiple times. and then realized that i needed to CLARIFY by stating, in super explicit detail, *exactly* what i wanted him to stop. to him, such a simple command is actually complicated & laden w/layers of meaning.
same DVXB once argued that there were many nuances of teh word “no”.
I’m so sorry. UGH.
Every interaction is flirting – unless you call a dude out on his flirting, and then it’s Oh But I Wasn’t Hitting On You Egotistical Much?
And DSF #6: It was just a joke!
ooh, and perhaps the overlapping Geek/Dude Social Fallacy: She’s a Woman Who’s Into [video games/RPGs/comics/other traditionally male geek obsession], She Is Therefore Cool With Our Jokes.
(I hope we are not derailing too much by coming up with these; they’re great fun/venting!)
Hey, I started it. Generate on!
Speaking AS a dude, allow me: DSF #7: I am single and bitter because all women are [sexist epithet here], not because I need to up MY game.
Drew, for some reason I can’t respond to your comment, but I must let you know that rule #7 is SPOT ON.
I request this compiled as a column, please. If CA can’t, maybe someone else is willing?
Yes please to the column idea. I would read the heck of it.
Yup. I’m lucky enough not to get called a “fake gamer girl” much, but some of the guys I’ve gamed with have made awful awful sexist jokes around me, then defended them with “You knew what you were getting into” when I joined the D&D circle. Uh, yeah. Rolling dice and fighting dragons OBVIOUSLY MUST come with a huge side helping of nasty sexist jokes, and if I didn’t want them why did I come? Thankfully I found other groups that did not seem to share that assumption, but the groups who DID think that way were not rare.
“Dick pics are a fun way to show respect and admiration.”
In a similar vein: She Is Lesbian Or Bi, Which Means That She Will Happily Join Us When We Make Gross, Objectifying Comments About Other Women. That was the creepiest attempt at a bonding experience I’ve ever ran across.
OMG I hate that, haaaate. No, I am not your co-ogler just because I like ladies. Especially because I like butch ladies that you are happy to talk smack about all the live long day.
In fact, if she is lesbian or bi, she will be just thrilled to be propositioned for a threesome with your girlfriend, especially if you’ve pressured your girlfriend into it. I mean, sex is sex to us filthy lesbos, right? If it matters to us that our partner is coerced or we’re being used as non dishwasher-safe sex toys, we’re not really into sex with women at all.
DSF #3: All women are the same. If at some time some woman permitted a certain thing, all other women must permit the same thing, or else they are being cruel and unfeminine.
DSF #3.5: All women are the same. If one woman did something incredibly stupid and ridiculous, all women are at risk of doing this same thing.
DSF#3.5 (corollary): All women are the same. If one woman did something stupid and ridiculous, it’s just a matter of time before this other woman over here does the same damned thing.
DSF#3.6: All women are the same. If one woman did something stupid and ridiculous, all women everywhere must make it up to me to prove they aren’t like THAT WOMAN.
DSF # 8: Women like it when you introduce yourself by attacking something they like.
@piny1 Isn’t convincing someone to share your tastes just the greatest foundation for a friend/relationship?
DSF#3.5.1 (subnote): If a woman in fact does not do the same damned thing, be sure to tell her that she’s “not like all the other women.” Since you are not like all the other men (who are jerks), this means you should date. And probably bone. She’ll be down for that because she’s not a _______, like all the other women.
All women are the same, thus if my best friend’s ex and some randette I overheard on an airplane agree that it’s lovely to be cat called and you disagree, you’re not a (real) (normal) woman.
DSF #9: (though a bit offtopic for this particular post, it just jumped into my brain) – All women are the same. My first wife liked it when I did X in bed, you’re being unreasonable if you don’t like the exact same thing done at the exact same intensity.
DSF #3.x: If one woman consents to (sexy thing), then all women must consent to (sexy thing) and all prior acts on the sexcalator* or they are cruel and unfeminine and guilty of the unspeakable crime of… MIXED SIGNALS.
DSF #Whatever: If a woman was mean to me, THIS IS A FAILURE OF FEMINISM. I will now hate feminism and feminists, and feel justified in that, because I have been oppressed.
Don’t forget, “All feminists are the same,” contrasted with “There are ‘good’ feminists who act like women by making me comfortable, and bad feminists, who structure their feminism around reality, rather than my feelings.”
Also: “When a woman does something, she must be doing it AT me. There is no conceivable motivation that doesn’t involve me if it also involves a reasonable possibility of a uterus.”
And, “In any space I care about, a non-white, non-male, non-straight is an intruder, and must NOT try to alter it.”
DSF #12 or something:
Dudes are entitled to have boundaries, and even to defend those boundaries with violence if they catch so much as a whiff of encroachment, without ever being perceived as unstable. Gals, on the other hand, do not get to have boundaries. If someone who is a gal attempts to establish or non-violently defend her boundaries, she is totes the most unreasonable, unstable person on earth.
@ona555: That one plays out in some unpleasant ways in criminal law. Men can sometimes get away with less punishment for killing because they did it in the “heat of the moment.” Women who wait until their abusers are sleeping or off-guard before killing them, however, are cold calculating killers who deserve more punishment. I would think as a society we should be more worried about people who pop off and kill on a whim, but no. Men have the right to exercise their feelings murderously more than women do.
DSF#Whatever+1: The best way to tempt a woman into sleeping with me is via a long, detailed, preferably obscene list of the faults of my ex-wife/the mother of my children/the partner that I cheated on and now I am in an unhappy relationship with my former side-piece, who just doesn’t understand me like you do, baby.
DSF #3.x^2: If a woman consents to (sexy thing), she’ll totally consent to (sexy thing) with anyone else who asks too.
DSF #3.x^3: If a woman consents to (sexy thing), she’ll totally consent to doing it again. She couldn’t possibly try it once and decide she doesn’t want to do it again.
DSF #3.x^4: There is a hierarchy of sexy things. If a woman consents to one level of sexy thing, that implies consent to all lower levels of sexy things. (eg, somebody who consents to play at 3rd base automatically consents to play at 1st and 2nd, whether she says so or not.)
DSF # 8.5: Women like it when you prove you’re better at what they like than they are.
^yes to this one!
DSF#8.75 What women really, really, very seriously, truly like is when you not only prove you are better at their likes than they are, but you conclusively demonstrate that they are, in fact, not at all good at the things they like. Heck, they probably don’t actually like those things. And when you complete this conclusive demonstration, the woman will reward you by jumping on your boner and landing on it with her vagina.
And not with her combat-boot-clad feet?
This is also coincidentally Dog Social Fallacy #2.
DSF #9: If I stare at it long enough, it will be mine.
DogSF #10: “No” really means “not while I’m looking”.
One of my cats subscribes to the social fallacy “Any Attention Is Better Than No Attention.” And I’m pretty sure I’ve had conversations about street harassment with his dude-human equivalent.
CatSF: You should react with delight when I present my butt to your face.
CatSF #1: This thing is mine, and that thing is mine, and you are mine, until you move or do anything else I don’t like, in which case I will stalk off in a huff and try to make you feel guilty for not sitting perfectly still and trying to type with one finger while I nap.
…I just made my cat sound like the worst relationship ever! I think it evens out because I can pick her up and snorgle her tummy.
CatSF #5: warmth is consent.
DogSF #9.1 If staring doesn’t work fast enough, try licking it.
I read this, and then looked over at my dog. He’s lying on the end of the sofa, next to a measuring tape I was using to estimate curtains. And he keeps sticking out his tongue and very gently tasting the tape. Then he stares at it and licks it again. Cracking. Up.
laughing SO hard
The guy referenced above seems to be invoking Dog Social Fallacy Prime: pissing on it makes it mine.
Ugh, this guy. No thanks.
1) I had the same question as the Captain did: where is Boyfriend in all of this? It’ll be easier to get advice if we know where he is in all this, in terms of what you and he have talked about with his irritating friend. I don’t believe that significant others should *always* be the people to mend fences in these situations, but I find it suspect if he’s 0% involved. He needs to be a part of this conversation with you, and then with his friend (separately).
2) One of the reasons why you’re frustrated, and why we’re all frustrated on your behalf, is that it’s actually OKAY to say to someone, “Hey, you seem to dislike me, can we talk about how to maybe fix this for [mutual friend’s] sake?” But he’s not doing that. Or if he did, he’s not satisfied with the fact that this is just your personality.
More than that, “friendliness” is an intangible, undefinable thing. What are you doing that’s unfriendly? Did you like … not smile enough at him? Do you not ask him enough questions about his day the last time you saw him? Did you stay home when he and your boyfriend went out? (Here, “enough” is ill-defined on purpose because they’re his standards, not a universal standard).
He’s demanding that you be friendlier, but there’s no explanation for how you haven’t been friendly. Instead, he’s accusing you of having a major personality flaw. No wonder you feel stressed and attacked: he’s telling you that you’re a bad person, instead of letting you know behaviors that make him uncomfortable.
But honestly, all this feels like it’s stemming from:
3) When you’re in a serious relationship, you often spend more time with your significant other and less time with your friends. It’s not a BAD thing, and it’s not necessarily isolation. I live with my husband, so I see him every day. We also often hang out with people together, whether we’re going out, or having people over. And when we need social interaction to maintain our emotional health, we don’t have to leave the house for it, so we don’t need to go out and spend face-to-face time with friends as much.
We prioritize each other, run plans by each other, and so on and so forth. And if he doesn’t get along with one of my friends, or I don’t get along with one of his, that might mean we each spend less time with those friends, not because we don’t like them anymore, but because I see ALL of my friends less frequently, and when I do see them, it’s often with my husband. Etc.
So honestly, I think that what’s going on is that this friend feels like he’s losing his friendship with your boyfriend because of your relationship. His solution? Make you be his friend, too, so that he can have the same happy friendship experience with two people instead of one, and not lose your boyfriend. And it’s not working, because that’s just not how it works, and he’s blaming you.
So basically, do not bend over backwards pleasing this guy, not just because it’s impossible and unreasonable or really your boyfriend’s problem to deal with, but because it’s not even about you. It’s about this guy, his own insecurities, and his own problems.
^ good point. Obviously every couple has a different pattern of how much time is spent together [with/without other people] vs. alone [with/without other people]. But every variation on that ought to be able to accommodate “sorry, Partner, I just don’t get along with ___” without resulting nastiness.
Hm, that’s a good point. Maybe Boyfriend isn’t spending enough time with his other friends, or at least as much time as they want, and instead of those two working their stuff out, that friend is quietly panicking and the panic is leaking out into other interactions. Even so, said friend is doing not-called-for stuff, but Boyfriend should be stepping up too I’d say.
And uh … how is this guy being friendly to LW? It just seems like every conversation revolves around how LW is Doing It Wrong, whatever “it” is.
The phrasing was “make you be his friend”, which to me expresses just how forced this guy’s attempts are.
“We must be friends now. Why are we not instant friends? You must be friending wrong. FRIEND MEEEEE!”
You sound like a very nice and perfectly reasonable person. Even a polite and self-effacing person. And I am suspicious on your behalf that you preface this totally normal, reasonable response to objectively unfriendly behavior with a reference to your strange and difficult personality.
I think that you deserve relief from this guy, and help from your boyfriend, but I think you also have the right to see yourself as a sensible woman with an accurate sense of social boundaries and good behavior. In general. Because it seems like you are.
This. I don’t know the LW, obviously, but nothing about her letter suggest that she is an intrinsically difficult person to get along with (I myself am a difficult person to get along with, but I don’t often have this particular problem because I am usually much nastier much faster than it sounds like the LW has been).
LW seems perfectly reasonable and polite. Boyfriend’s friend is acting like a twerp. It sounds like high time she rain a little fire down on his ass, and if Boyfriend is worth keeping around, he’ll back her up.
This! This is exactly what I came here to say. LW, your first two sentences combined with the title of the post made me think I was about to read a very, *very* different letter from the one you actually wrote. I am another person who thinks your completely reasonable response to jerkface behaviour is in no way evidence that you are somehow difficult and bad. Just reading about Jerkface McNoBoundaries makes me want to smack him until sense gets in, and here you are trying to be polite in the face of incredible rudeness and blatant disrespect for your boundaries!
I think what this guy wants you to believe is a personality flaw is actually you having standards. Go you for recognizing that jerkface is hugely manipulative and deciding that he doesn’t meet your standards for friendship.
Oh! Speaking of which, I have a theory about why not-friend is being so pushy – maybe on some level he recognizes that you think he’s too much of a jerk to be best buddies with (you’re allowed to think that! He is in fact acting like a total jerk!) and having to think about whether he really is a jerk is super uncomfortable for him so he’s trying to browbeat you into being friends with him so he doesn’t have to confront the terrifying idea that he might have flaws (giant glaring ones!).
Precisely none of that means that you’re obligated to put up with him or that your boyfriend shouldn’t back you up. I know it’s scary to think about losing your boyfriend, but if he doesn’t have your back when a friend of his is unbelievably rude to you, what are you really gaining by having him as a boyfriend?
I wish someone had given me this exact advice every year of the last decade until I DTMFA.
Free now for over a year, but it would have saved me so much asshattery.
Yup, I read this letter and thought “LW may have an intense personality, but I don’t think that has anything to do with this dude’s asshattery.”
Might well be the intense personality that makes him determined to put her down. Reminded me of this song satirizing that sort of self-loathing behavior: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxuGoPXH6VM
So, I rarely pull the “I’m going to give you some sage advice from an older person’s point of view” (notice “wiser” was not in there – lol) But here goes/take it for what it’s worth… there’s no indication that this is a long-term thing leading to other long-term things like marriage or what-not, but I’ll say this from experience: if your BF is not on your side in situations like this with his buddy and friends, how do you think he will back you with his FAMILY. (cue scary music as MIL makes entrance/stage left). There’s honestly nothing worse than having your SO’s family treat you like crap and he/she does nothing about it. Add kids to the mix, stir vigorously, and you have the makings of one seriously nightmarish cocktail.
Again – not saying that we should be superimposing LTR status on everyone’s dating situation, just something to think about if longevity is what you’re after. If you can’t trust someone to support you, I’m not sure that’s a healthy relationship to pursue. Good luck – you sound like you have a real grasp of what the real issue is (the BRO, not you!). Report back with the results!
Something my partner has been saying lately, due to some issues people he knows are having… if you have a problem in your relationship and your partner is not an ally you trust to help you work on it together, but is instead someone you are worried about how to approach and how to deal with your issue with, then you have two problems in your relationship.
I personally believe that the ability to work on problems together is one of the most fundamental important things in a relationship. My own first relationship broke up largely due to that not working. There were other issues that obviously mattered, but a large part of why they mattered is that we couldn’t work things out when problems came up. Sooner or later, there will always be some sort of problems. So, whether or not your boyfriend will support you with this and help you two work out solutions together is a pretty big indicator, in my mind, for the well-being of your relationship.
Also, I am so glad the Captain pointed to the Geek Social Fallacies. I was reading the letter and my mind was screaming, “Geek Social Fallacies” at several times. Then my mind was screaming, “Dump the knowledge of the Geek Social Fallacies being fallacies directly into the heads of this whole social group!” Alas, direct knowledge transfer is not possible, but I really, really think you may have fallen into a rather common nest of GSFs. Some GSF carriers can change though. If your boyfriend is a carrier himself, then maybe the document will help to give you a place to start talking about it and let him think about why he believes them and whether he might want to change his mind. Most people who are GSF carriers haven’t really thought it through, so much as absorbed it culturally. We often don’t think about basic assumptions we have. And there are a lot of ex-GSF carriers out there to show that some people do improve on it. But it’s a choice each individual has to make for themself. If you’re with people who think about it and then decide to insist that no, everyone must be friends with everyone or else they are bad, then you don’t have much choice but to accept the misery of a GSF infested dynamic or leave that group.
I agree with this 99.5%.
(The remaining 0.5% is a kind of “can we stop vilifying MILs? I have straight-up called a distress line about a fight with my mother and had to spend time establishing with the worker that yes, the issue is with my mother and not my MIL.)
It’s possible that you’re admirably self-aware of your flaws and are working on them. We all have room for development.
But… You sound an awful lot like past-me in the throes of an abusive relationship. I am really wondering if there is more going on here. Can you name 3-4 people, from separate and distinct circles, who have indicated that you have this specific problem? Or is it one person, saying it over and over and over until you believe it? (Or perhaps one person and his/her circle of people)
If so, please consider reading “Why Does He Do That: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men”. (It focuses on men as abusers, due to the author’s connections to the courts; but a guy friend said it applied equally well to his girlfriend.) It opened up my eyes and removed the fog of confusion.
Either way, this bf’s friend is toxic. You don’t owe anyone friendship, especially since their ‘winning’ pitch demonstrates what an awful friend they would be!
LW here — you hit on something here that didn’t totally occur to me before. My current guy is really great and so far from abusive, but I grew up in an abusive household and then lived through a few friendships and relationships with people that were manipulative at best. I know my reaction to my boyfriend’s friend is partially that I am recognizing something in him that looks familiar and that I need to disengage from, and that maybe I’m radiating something other than the regular kind of indifference because I perceive him as a threat but can’t figure out why. Maybe he’s right that I’m intense with him in ways that I don’t realize.
I have been told for a lot of years that I am too intense, from a lot of people — in part because I am a smart, ambitious woman in a society that can be hostile to same — but in part maybe because I lived through some stuff! My boyfriend’s friend is one person in a line of people over 16 years telling me I’m the problem. It’s bad luck for me that, yes, I can count 5 circles of people who have told me this about me. Either it’s false and I try to accept that I’m actually mild-mannered and the world is full of liars and assholes, or it’s true and I can own it and rock it. I can be the problem, as long as people respect the problem and I get to keep the healthy relationships I’ve worked really hard to cultivate, ja feel?
Boyfriend, now having been told what his friend said to me in private (for the man chooses his moments), has told me explicitly and repeatedly that I am not the problem and that everything I am feeling is rational and valid. I’m having a hard time believing him with consistency! He keeps trying; I am grateful. I am not in an abusive relationship now, but I have been in a series of them for a long time, and I’m still living in those shadows. This is good knowledge to have about myself going forward. So thank you for your comment.
Wow, that’s a great reply from your boyfriend! I’m so glad to hear that he is supporting you in this (though I hope he’ll tell his friend to back the fuck off if the guy still refuses to listen to you…).
As a fellow smart ambitious woman (with a bonus big mouth), I often get called “intimidating” and there are a fair passel of people who do not like me instantly. Some of those people eventually come around when they realize I am also trustworthy and fun and supportive of colleagues and friends. But some don’t. And some of those people have tried to co-opt me in the way that your boyfriend’s friend is doing to you, by trying to cut me down and make me more acceptable to them.
It used to bother me, a lot, that some people just don’t like me. Why couldn’t I be quieter/”nicer”/less braggy/less scary? What was wrong with me????
But after some time, I realized that most of the people who didn’t like me were people I didn’t want to like me. Of course, feedback is important, and a little self-reflection never hurt anyone, but the people I liked and trusted and respected were generally okay with me. They might have suggestions from time to time, or corrections when I stepped on their emotional toes being my “intimidating” self, but they weren’t trying to change me from the ground up. And I don’t mean just close friends, either: co-workers, acquaintances, friends of friends, many of them have said something like “you were a little scary when I first met you, but now I think you’re cool.”
The ones who don’t come around like this usually reveal something about themselves that means that we are incompatible: they are quiet people, or ones who think it’s rude to talk about oneself, or into traditional gender roles, or whatever. Sometimes, they are awful — manipulators, incompetents, abusers — but usually they’re just incompatible with me.
Here’s the thing: those people are no good for you. You know it, your spidey senses are telling you that, and you are believing them. I’m so glad that your boyfriend is believing them, too.
If your hackles are being raised by a manipulative vibe in the bf’s friend it is worth considering that you aren’t the only one he’s manipulating. It is pretty likely he’s manipulating your bf, particularly given that the not friend ‘chooses his moments.’ Kudos on talking to your bf. I’m glad he responded to you positively.
I think it might also be worth letting your bf know what you’d like from him in regards to support. He’s already signed on for believing you, which is a huge first step. It isn’t always clear what is a request for emotional support and what is a request for intervention. I know I have a hard time with that, especially with people who come off as eager and willing to take care of themselves.
I think it’s worth distinguishing between intense feelings — which are valid and part of you and to be owned 100% — and intense behaviours, which you could perhaps alter *if you so decide*.
The last part of that is crucial; you don’t owe it to this dude to act in ways that make him feel comfortable.
“Smart” and “ambitious” != “too intense”
They equal successful. Or should.
Your spidey senses are serving you well. I’m so happy your bf responded as he did. You do you, LW! You sound awesome.
The talking to your boyfriend and him backing you and validating you is so awesome. I’m really glad for you.
Best wishes going forwards and dealing with the creepafriend.
Oh, that poor cat! What is wrong with those people. Argh! I want to stop something.
You may be intensive, LW, but I believe it’s a red herring here. This is not your fault!
LW, I wish you’d do be like an angry cat and scratch him right back. He’s kind of behaving like an annoying kid now, all “I’m not touching you but my friendship is totally here right by you, if only you’d accept it. Take it, take it. DOOOOO IIIIIIIT.” It’s annoying and rude and a bunch of other less kind words. I’m team Fight for this one.
I could hope, I guess, that he doesn’t know what he’s doing it, but I doubt it. Seems more like a case of that his feelings are more important than yours. Entitlement, we meet again. Give him a rude awakening.
I skipped down to the cat video and kept waiting for it to become a cute cat video, and nope, still just assholes! Poor Cat! (And LW!)
Can’t hug every cat. 😦 It’s very sad, but most of us learn to deal. The rest of us apparently think posting it on youtube to show off what jerks we are is funny?
what’s super sad is that in my experience, cats like that can become cats you can hug if you just leave them the hell alone. My cats were originally hide under the bed, and now I cannot do anything at cat-level without getting a cat face on my face or a cat ear in my hand in a demand for petting. Cats, they’re basically people.
When I got divorced, I couldn’t keep my cats and my ex-husband threatened to put them in the pound (my sister’s expert manipulation and crying on command resulted in their living with our parents). One of them was always a weird little doofus, but my husband being awful to him made him way worse. For the first few weeks, he hid behind the entertainment center and would run immediately back behind it if someone made eye contact. It took a long time before he was okay with being outside around humans. Even now, he gets anxious (and scratchy) very quickly around strangers. However, he sleeps on my mom like a little furry stole and is all up in her business all the time–because she was patient and let him calm down on his own time.
The other aggravating thing about that is that given a little bit of canned food and a few weeks*, most kitties are pretty tolerant of most people, even individuals they were originally dubious of. CATS ARE LIKE WOMEN: not actually that mysterious.
* YMMV. Parents’ clinic cat did, in fact, take about two years to get to the ~loves all the people, must seize any opportunity to cuddle~ phase.
To be fair, I volunteer with a feral cat rescue and we definitely touch cats that DO NOT want to be touched. We do it all the time, repeatedly. It’s part of our socialization method, and it works, and it saves kitty lives. And yeah, we laugh about it…because otherwise it’s kind of scary to grab and snuggle a feral kitten that wants to scratch and bite the crap out of you, or syringe feed a pissed off adult feral cat. Sometimes with animals you have to do things that are distressing for them in the short term but will ultimately give them a longer, happier life. But that doesn’t seem like what’s happening here, that cat looks like someone’s poor harassed pet. Let kitty hide!
I hope that cat shredded their underwear and left treats in their shoes. Poor thing.
This might just be a case of geek fallacy, but since these are friends who are very close and were living together, you might be dealing with something a little different. Is this the kind of best friend who would be the best man at a wedding? Are they the kind of best friends who have talked about long term plans together: “someday you’ll be my kid’s godfather.”
If your boyfriend’s friend is this kind of best friend, he may be genuinely afraid that if he isn’t friends with you he will lose a place in your boyfriend’s life, long-term. Of course, it’s not your job to be friends with him. You aren’t doing anything wrong. Unfortunately there is way more pressure on women to make nice.
I think the Captains advice about the boyfriend doing some work on reassuring his friend is spot on. It also might help if, as you step back and set good boundaries for yourself, you reinforce the positive aspects of boyfriend and his friends friendship. “We are never going to be close friends, but I appreciate what a good friend you are to boyfriend.”
Ugh did anyone else see the other suggested videos of the cat? They are really, really mean to the cat.
But LW, really, I saw nothing that would suggest that you’re doing anything wrong. This dude is being WAY out of line and WAY overbearing. And if you’re a woman or read as such, he could also be a bit sexist. Either way, I’m angry on your behalf!
You know, I am too? It took me about five minutes to go from, “That’s no good!” to full-on Valerie Solanas in response to this, and I think maybe that’s important.
I really don’t want to detract from the advice, here, or the fact that the letter writer has a specific problem with a specific guy, but I think there’s a whole lot of sexist abuse bound up in this unwanted attention and in the way it’s being framed. Her people are treating it as a response to a personality defect that she has, this failure to accommodate this guy’s feelings suavely enough that he can’t even tell he’s being coddled.
She seems to have bought into that to a certain extent, the idea that being a better or more easygoing person might pre-empt this problem. The problem where he’s harassing her, very much on purpose, demanding attention that she doesn’t want to give, and turning her relationship into hostile territory. At the very least, she feels embarrassed that she is so resistant and upset in response to aggravating behavior rationalized with some very insulting judgments of her as a friend (and girlfriend) and person.
I think that’s a very common, very abusive dynamic.
Yep, he is that annoying as fuck persistent dude who either
a. likes making people (usually women or anyone he perceives as below him) uncomfortable or
b. genuinely doesn’t get why a woman wouldn’t be nice back to him when he is being nice.
Whether he is doing it on purpose or not he is the problem and the behaviour is sexist, even if he’s secretly doing it because he wishes he could hang with the bf more often like the old days.
Except he isn’t really being nice, is he?
I love “Be the ice witch you want to see in the world.”
Me too. That, plus the cat video, perfectly sums up my feelings about a couple of people that I have to deal with on a regular basis.
Shorter bf’s friend:
“You appear to have established some personal boundaries. Let me relieve you of those.”
This is the best tl;dr
LOL, phone posts are a gift to brevity.
FWIW, I caught a pretty pungent whiff of “I wanna make you mine”, with emphases on the *make* and the *mine*, from the buddy. Which is a good reason to ride the NopeRocket.
Now, I’m not saying that ‘mine’ means romantic/sexual (although it could). I think it indicates a possessiveness that is un-good. I.e. Bad.
“But we ARE friends. Or I would’ve stabbed you by now.”
“This is my other ice chariot.”
True friends stab you in the front!
As the philosopher Reynolds once said; “If I ever kill you, you’ll be awake, you’ll be facing me, and you’ll be armed.”
In which I would act surprised. “Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!”
The give an idea of how it should go: I have a good friend, J, who has two girl friends (myself and A.N. Other) for entirely arbitrary reasons due to personality, me and A.N. do not get along. She’s a totally nice person, but we clash. Because we both like J, we both make an effort to be cordial when we meet, and he makes an effort to meet us separately so there’s less chance at clashing. Happy people resulted.
My bff has a dude friend that he and I just don’t…click. We can actually be in social situations together and not make it weird or awkward, and we can have fun as part of a group, but we do this knowing that we don’t really like each other and both making an effort to be nice because our friend really likes to have everyone hang out together sometimes. We’re doing it for her, not for us. I think that’s an okay way for these things to go, as long as one person isn’t feeling unduly pressured or upset about it. The second someone feels really shitty about being made to hang together, the hanging together needs to stop.
I actually feel relieved and more able to be chill in x’s presence when it is acknowledged that x doesn’t like me and I don’t like x. It’s the forced pretense that we like each other that strips away my patience. Civility demands certain behaviors, it doesn’t demand certain feelings.
> Civility demands certain behaviors, it doesn’t demand certain feelings.
Need that embroidered on a pillow.
Yes, so much. So very very much.
Some of the best set of advice I ever got was from a neighbor who informed me that one can be friends with different people for different reasons, that not every friendship has to look like one’s other friendships nor contain similar levels of intimacy and intensity, and that it’s just as okay for some of your friends to not be friends with each other as it is for you to just. not. like. some people, and for some people to just. not. like. you. I had seriously made it all the way to my late 20’s never having gotten permission for any of that from anyone before. It was very liberating in a terrifying sort of way. People are allowed to not like me for no discernable reason? I don’t have to make everyone I know happy all the time? My friends are allowed to not like each other and still be friends with me? I can have superficial interactions with some people and intense connections with others, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that one friendship is more real than the other, just that they each serve a different purpose? I am allowed to like a person more than they like me and vice versa? NO FUCKING WAY. Seriously, it’s still blowing my mind as I try to come to grips with these 17 year old facts of friendship.
LW’s boyfriend’s friend needs to have a nice long talk with my former neighbor in order to have a few things cleared up for him.
I was lucky enough to have this instilled in me via cartoon as a kid (Recess’ “Nobody Doesn’t Like TJ” episode). Interestingly, that is one of the cartoon’s most reviled episodes on the internet: there are people who think it sends a terrible message, because if I don’t like someone for no reason, obviously it’s me who has the problem.
Missing the point…
Seriously, isn’t it the best when you realize that it is ok to not like someone for no explainable/logical/etc. reason. Sometimes this happens and it is ok! The first time this happened to me was in college and it was mutual. I still do this day have no clue why I didn’t like her and she didn’t like me, but I came to accept that it is a thing that happens sometimes and we were still able to behave in a civilized manner when we had to interact (both in the marching band together in the same section, so somewhat frequently). And I was going to make a mental note to talk to my kids about this when appropriate, but just realized I already have now that I think about it! Good, hopefully they can have it a bit easier when they run into someone who is a decent human being that they just don’t like.
The asshole the LW is dealing with, there are plenty of reasons not to like him. Maybe initially LW is right and her intensity was making him uncomfortable, but he’s since proved why she would never want to be friends with him, good grief! Glad your BF is backing you up LW!
For me, my biggest aha! moment was I don’t have to try to make everyone like me. Not that I don’t still get distressed when I discover that someone is not my biggest fan, but I have permission from someone I respected, who understood what social shit can get like for women, to shrug my shoulders and say “Oh well that sucks what you gonna do though?” I don’t have to cede space. I don’t have to shrink myself into a tiny dot. I don’t have to be my Best Funny Gal to try and win them over. I still get the urge to do those things, to contort myself into knots vying for someone else’s approval, but I have permission not to act on that urge! I do not have to be the maintainer of all relationships, nor the one to bend! People can not get along with each other and not like me and I don’t have to fix it unless it is something we all– including me– agree I can fix, and that seems like something I possess the energy to do. Yay!
There was an episode of a kids show (Weekenders) that has always stuck with me. In it one of the main characters (a ‘good’ person) finds out that someone doesn’t like him for no particular reason and spends the episode annoying the shit out of said character in his attempts to get that person to like him. At the end of the episode? THAT GUY STILL DOESN’T LIKE HIM. In fact he probably dislikes him more by that point because the main character was acting like a little shit. He finally realises at the end that actually yeah, its OK that this person doesn’t like him and they can in fact be politely neutral to each other.
It sounds like dude-friend in this equation either never learned this lesson or just thinks it doesn’t apply to him and he needs to grow the fuck up and get over it.
I loved that show! Recess had a similar episode, where TJ keeps trying to befriend a guy and it keeps going horribly wrong (“I made you these brownies!” “I’m allergic to peanuts!” “…oops”, etc.). At the end, they end up having a good time stuck in detention, but the other guy’s still like, “Eh, I still don’t really *like* you.” I was a little surprised when I was a kid, but I think having “not everyone will like you, and that’s OK” planted in my head at a young age helped me as I got older.
One of my neighbors is an intelligent, strong, beautiful woman who has/is dealt with/dealing with things that would break many people. I admire her greatly, and enjoy the company of her spouse, children, and friends.
If we have to spend more than an hour in each other’s company, every single nerve we possess will be worked beyond all bearing. In the abstract we like each other, but in practice? NOPE!
We tried for several years, but it’s not happening. Giving ourselves permission to be cordial and care from a distance, has done wonders for everyone’s comfort at neighborhood get-togethers, and kid things.
Sometimes good people don’t like each other.
Your comment sparked a thought. In our society, it’s expected that you like/be friends with all “good” people and therefor if you don’t like someone, you must think they are a “bad” person. I wonder if LW’s BF and friends are all thinking that by rejecting friendship, she’s declaring him a bad person? (Of course, he’s ignoring boundaries and being an asshat, so there’s an argument to be made that he is, but that’s beside the point.) I don’t know if helping them examine their assumptions would help but it’s a data point.
I’ve gotten a lot from a lyric off the new Fiona Apple: “We can still support each other / all we gotta do is avoid each other.” It really helped me accept the losses of some important friendships lately.
A good friend once said to me, point blank, “I think you don’t like my girlfriend”. And I was like, “well, it’s not that I don’t LIKE her. She’s a MUCH better partner for you than your ex-wife and you’re so happy with her! It’s just she’s not exactly my type of person. And that’s OK! She’s YOUR partner and I love seeing you happy! I just think we are not going to be hanging out type friends.”
She said OK, and since then, it’s all been cool. Girlfriend-now-wife and I can have nice conversations at parties, and feel pleasantly interested but not invested in each other, and my friend is my friend and her wife is my friendly acquaintance.
it was an awkward conversation, but I am glad my friend was brave enough to have it.
In my experience too, sometimes if you acknowledge that you’re just not a natural good match like this, you can come around to a mutual understanding and start to like each other over time. My SIL and I are completely different. Like no way would we even try to be friends with each other ever. It has taken us around 10 years but we now really like and respect each other, can easily hold a conversation, give thoughtful gifts because we really want to, and even message each other occasionally without going through my brother. Because we weren’t forced together too often by anyone, and we both kind of knew we were awk and didn’t understand each other, I think in time and with space we could find what worked for us.
Oh, god, this is totally me and my sister-in-law too!
Objectively, she’s great. We just have zilch in common. Even the interests we have that have some overlap (living in a well-decorated house! Reading a book!) are so different that we just… can’t click.
After years of being polite and cordial but not clicking, we had kids within 2 months of each other. Now, we just talk about our kids and the books our kids are reading. There’s way more overlap there. I don’t think we’ll ever be friends, but we’ll continue to generally get along while in the same social space. Personally, I think that’s good enough!
People who don’t think that companion animals are entitled to a base level of respect, or are worth the time to learn to understand (and respect) their animal’s body language, should not have animals. At all. And I’d be worried about how they’d treat children.
Imagine what it would feel like to have a being 15 times bigger than you poking and prodding you when you are trying to put yourself out of their reach and are quite clearly communicating that you don’t want this attention.
This reminds me of the rhyme that I learned from David Carkeet’s wonderful mystery, DOUBLE NEGATIVE:
I do not like thee, Doctor Fell
The reason why, I cannot tell
But this I know and know full well
I do not like thee, Doctor Fell
This dude doesn’t have to know Reasons. He just needs to get the hint, er, big glaring neon sign that you helpfully erected.
FOR THE WIN!!!
My late husband had a lot of friends. Some of them were men younger than him, many around my age or a few years older. Many of these men did not like me. I’m not sure why, although “she’s a bitch” was thrown around a lot, even though it took me about five years to get to the point where I was Just. Done. and actually DID let my inner Jadis out. (At which point, I wasn’t just a bitch, I was the queen of all bitches, and I was going to drive my bitch army across the plains of your puny kingdom and smite everyone with my bitchy wrath, which is kind of what happens if you bottle up your very reasonable indignation at being treated poorly for five years and then one day wake up and find you’re in the Fuckits.)
What I’m saying is, dearest LW, you have been doing what I did, and I can tell you from experience that it doesn’t work. No amount of reasonable is going to reasonable this prick into leaving you the fuck alone, because you can’t reason with pricks. If your boyfriend loves his false impression of congeniality more than he loves you, eventually he IS going to break up with you, whether it’s over this prick or not. So I think probably I would not worry too much about that, though I’m sure he’s in every other way great and you really like him, this one thing is kind of a big thing.
I’d suggest a multi-pronged approach: 1. Talk to your boyfriend and tell him this isn’t okay and you are going to be Taking Steps to make sure it stops. Secure his support if possible but make it clear that regardless of his feelings, YOUR feelings are your priority and this prick is no longer tolerable. If you aren’t on Team You, nobody else knows where to find it or what the jersey looks like. 2. Let this prick know where the line is and what the penalty is for stepping over it. He will do it immediately. Feel free to smite him with your wrath if you want, or else just leave, letting your parting “JESUS THIS GUY IS A TOOL” echo behind you as the door closes. 3. Actively cultivate your own pals. Model good pal-having behaviour for your boyfriend by spending time with your pals without your boyfriend, and not letting your pals be shitty to your boyfriend in your presence.
And from this Jadis, let me tell you: you are not the problem here. You have a boyfriend problem and a boyfriend’s friend problem, but you seem fine.
“If you aren’t on Team You, nobody else knows where to find it or what the jersey looks like.” beautiful.
I misunderstood your multipronged approach as a multi-pricked approach and it made me lol.
Didn’t that guy have an AMA on Reddit a few months ago? 😉
“then one day wake up and find you’re in the Fuckits.”
This is a PERFECT description.
This came up in Answer #583 The Worry Wyvern and the Dragon of Disappointment and it is fabulous. https://captainawkward.com/2014/06/04/583-the-worry-wyvern-and-the-dragon-of-disappointment/
I vote CA post the image of “Behold, the field in which I grow my fucks…” Because, seriously. “You must BE my FRIEND!” ‘Nope, I give no fucks about being your friend. Now, push off.’
I feel like I’ve just been delivered a sermon and here’s the part where I stand up, full of righteous awe and shout Hallelujah!
LW, maybe you are an intense person in some other circumstance, but the behaviors you describe here are not intense. Being cordial, but not warm, to people you don’t care for at social events isn’t intense, it’s pretty much the opposite. If you had unloaded all the reasons you dislike him in front of the whole social group, THAT would be intense. If you were trying to get your boyfriend to cut him off, THAT would be intense. Nope, you’re just coolly disinterested.
I think you’re mistaking “intensity” with “lack of bubliness”. I wonder if maybe you’re running into that old chestnut that women who take care of their emotional needs before they worry about anyone else’s are troublemakers. That being warm and cheerful and giving is the default, and any other way of being requires some weird label (I got stuck-up).
I mean, maybe you threw the cumin across the kitchen last time you made dinner or followed a guy for three miles for cutting you off or whatever. Maybe you go all Tracy Flick whenever you have a new work project. Maybe you’re legitimately intense and that’s coloring the way you/your boyfriend view your interactions with this guy.But give it some thought. I think you’re just good at boundaries.
If she was crawling all over someone, begging for their friendship and more and MORE emotional involvement from someone who clearly wants nothing to do with her, THAT would be intense. Oh, wait….
AHAHAH so yes, that, exactly.
“If you had unloaded all the reasons you dislike him in front of the whole social group, THAT would be intense.”
The aging Valley Girl in me actually loves this sentence, with the slight change that “intense” means “totally fantastic.” I do wonder what would happen if LW actually told BFF, “This. This behavior that you’re doing right now, where you totally ignore my personal boundaries and slap labels on me, THIS is why I don’t like you and want to be your friend.” A bit of womansplaining, as it were.
I suppose it would stir up a Big Bunch O’ Drama, which is maybe not what the LW is looking for, but DUDE, it would be TOTALLY INTENSE!
I will treat the entire Awkwadeer Army to popcorn if you’ll let us know when to be there so we can cheer you on.
This is a really good point. I realized reading it that whenever I firmly enforce boundaries, even around people who back me completely and agree with my boundary and my setting of it, I usually get described as intense or fierce. Particularly against pushy guys.
What even is “being intense”? Intensity is not a personality trait, it’s a measure of strength. Women who are focussed, determined and independent are often called “intense” because they don’t fuck about faking the kind of vague, incompetence at life that so many men find charming.
I had a bunch of people (all part of the same group) insist I was “too intense.” I never could figure out wtf they meant and when I asked the ringleader, the one who decided this and convinced all the rest of them that I was “too intense,” she said she couldn’t explain it but I just was. And that I made everyone uncomfortable. And I was obviously even more faulty for not knowing wtf they were talking about. Uh, yeah. Turned out the issue was that SHE didn’t like me.
I’m sorry to be making this even more distressing than it is, but from my own, very personal experience – please be prepared for the possibility that this man is grooming you for a sexual assault.
Way back in the day I had a lovely, sweet, but very insecure and passive boyfriend. And he had this friend, who was more aggressive, more forward, more confident. I didn’t like said friend much, and this was a major bone of contention, to the point that said friend cornered me and insisted that we Talk This Through. Boyfriend went off to bed. Asshole did…some stuff…and the next morning when I told other people, I was Just Being Unfriendly Like I Always Was.
This man is gaslighting you and your boyfriend is, at best, falling for it. Please be careful.
I’m so sorry this happened to you. And even if it isn’t the case here, I think it is important to note that this level of manipulation can and does promote physical and sexual abuse.
Oh yuck, I am sorry to hear that. You did not deserve that.
You do have a good point that people who will cross one boundary are more likely to cross others. Grooming (or evaluating a possible victim to see if they think they can get away with it) consists of increasing levels of boundary crossing. It’s a major red flag.
LW here — thank you. This thought had occurred to me, not even as likely but as one possibility among many, and I dismissed it out of hand as Me Being Intense and Untrusting As Usual. Among my problems with this guy is that I have red flags about him for reasons I can’t pinpoint. I’ll listen to those flags closely.
I’m so sorry this happened to you. Thank you for the warning and validation of concern.
ALWAYS listen to those feelings. Always. It’s so hard to, I know – the pressure to give the benefit of the doubt, innocent until proven guilty or what-the-fuck-ever is, intense – but actually? Those feelings are right 95% of the time, anyway, and even if he’s not a rapist (spoiler alert: he probably is though) all you lose by doing your level best to keep him the hell away from you is a relationship with an unpleasant person who makes your skin crawl.
I know that sounds intense. Ungenerous. It makes me sound like a *sexist slur goes here*. But I learned this from experience, and now I spend 1000% less time being “generous” and “friendly” with creepy fuckers who are probably rapists.
Seriously. Fuck the benefit of the doubt.
The only time anyone owes the benefit of the doubt to a person who makes them uncomfortable and afraid is when they’re sitting on that person’s jury. (And even then, if you tell the court the defendant makes you feel uncomfortable and afraid and you doubt you can be impartial, you will probably be replaced.)
Just from reading your letter, I was picking up on some red flags, so I agree with the others who suggest that you trust those feelings. If you want help pinpointing some of those red flags, here are the ones I noticed:
1. He is relentlessly pressuring you for more emotional intimacy than you want to give. When he wears down your resistance to emotional intimacy, is he going to just stop pressuring you for anything, or is he going to relentlessly pressure you for something else?
2. He already does not listen when you say no. I am including social cues and “soft no” responses under the category of “you saying no” because he appears to be perfectly capable of reading social cues, body language, tone, etc.* So he knows that you are telling him no, and he is deliberately choosing to cross the boundaries that you have implied and/or stated already. Will he respect your boundaries in other areas? Or will he cross those boundaries, too?
Also, if you don’t trust him, that is reason enough for some distance. Even if you have no specific reasons at all, asking for space is a totally reasonable request for you to make. If he wants you to trust him, he needs to start acting trustworthy by backing the hell up and staying there until further notice.
* It sounds like you have been polite (even if sometimes just “politely neutral”) to him, and it sounds like you haven’t been telling him exactly how much you dislike him, so I am fairly confident in saying that if he were incapable of reading social cues and body language, he would also be unaware of your feelings about him. I spend the majority of my time with people who really truly are not good at reading social cues, and there are big differences between someone who lacks social skills and someone who chooses to ignore social boundaries when it suits them. He is socially adept enough to read between the lines of your polite behavior and detect that you do not want to be close friends with him, and he is socially adept enough to manipulate situations to work out in his favor. So if he (or your boyfriend) try to use the excuse that he is just “not good at reading social cues”, then he is a lying liar who lies.
And if he really was incapable of picking up social cues, I’m not so sure he’d keep pressuring her. Since he wouldn’t pick up the politely neutral for what it is, so he wouldn’t know that she doesn’t really want to be friends. In other words, he wouldn’t be asking why she’s not being friendly because in his view, they’d be kind of friends (since he would have missed all the clues that said that they aren’t). There might be other general cluelessness (like “we’re not friends so I’m not really sure why he keeps inviting me to stuff like we are?”), but there wouldn’t be any of this “you’re the bad guy”.
So heed your uncomfortableness. People like this love to use “I don’t pick up on social cues” and other such things that some people are legitimately bad at as excuses for their bad behavior, and to push the blame off onto the other person (“why are you being mean about something I ‘struggle’ with?”).
Oh my gods, THIS. Thank you for putting this into easy words that I could, if I were inclined to do so, print out and hand to people who try and argue me down because the people I don’t like are “bad at picking up social cues”!
3. He picks his moments – if he really just wanted to be friends, he’d bug you about it in front of your boyfriend.
He will declare someone to be his friend without giving a damn about what they think, showing he’s 100% not invested in reciprocity.
He will hound and harrass and whine at and browbeat people he declares to be his friend (namely you).
He will do this at carefully picked times so that your boyfriend is not around to witness it. (When someone always engages in bad behaviour in the absence of witnesses, they probably know pretty damn well that it’s bad behaviour. (See also every abuser who “just can’t help themselves” and somehow only lashes out at spouse or children and never at work supervisor.))
Seriously, I read about this guy and my shoulders were up around my ears so hard that they damn near met in the center of my head. You are not being Untrusting TM. You are being sensible. Take care.
I’m so sorry.
Oh man, we had a somewhat similar and unfortunate falling out with one of my husband’s friends when I UNFRIENDED HIM ON FACEBOOK. Because frankly, as good a friend as he had been to my husband and I and as much time as we had spent with him in the past, he was my husband’s friend from LONG before he met me, and I got tired of his status updates. I had no idea it would be such a huge deal, but at every social gathering we attended he would bring it up again in an awkward and accusatory way. My husband doesn’t engage on any social media outlet and doesn’t particularly like them, but the friend started haranguing my husband about why I had unfriended him on Facebook every time they spoke. We’d actually been very close to him for many years, but suddenly every encounter turned into the great finger-pointing of the fact that I unfriended him years before. We hardly see him now, and my husband hardly speaks to him anymore because it turned into such a hassle. So my question for you is one other people have asked, which is, where does your boyfriend lie in all of this? I feel terrible that my husband and his friend are no longer close (I’ve offered multiple times to friend him again on FB just to put it to rest, but my husband has firmly said that is ridiculous and unnecessary, since he’s not my friend and I shouldn’t feel the need to cater my social media presence for him) but I will admit that I appreciate he has stood up to his friend on my behalf. I would speak first to your boyfriend, and let him know how uncomfortable his friend is making you and the fact that you have no problem being civil to him but have no desire to be this man’s friend. I wonder if your boyfriend has any insight into the situation (maybe there’s some crazy back-story that you’d benefit from hearing?) or if he’d at the very least agree to spend time with that friend without you (and hopefully address the situation in some manner!). If your boyfriend refuses to participate in the solution, that would raise red flags to me. But I think you’re perfectly within your right to tell the friend (and make it clear that you’ll address it this one time but then you’re done talking about it) that his attempts to force you to be one way are actually sending you in the opposite direction, and that you would like it if he could back off and tone it down because you have no problems being civil to him, but you’re not interested in a relationship with him. GOOD LUCK!
UGH SOCIAL MEDIA AMIRITE. I also have a partner who refuses to do the Social Medias and have a lingering friended someone like this in my life that I don’t unfriend because I know it’ll just be Yet Another Way I Done Hir Wrong. 😦 😦
Unfollow is the best for these type of FB friends. You are still technically FB friends, but you don’t see any of their posts or things they’re tagged in. They are invisible to you.
There is an old friend’s spouse whose every single post made me angry. I often forget he exists now unless he’s in a pic with friend.
Unfollow, and add them to your restricted list. It’s like they don’t even exist.
I’m probably a terrible person because I unfriend people who are not friends and who I have zero contact with. I’ve only ever been asked about it once and I just straight up said “It’s not personal, but we don’t hang out and we barely know each other. We’re not friends”
I think I have already unfollowed, and with only the very fewest exceptions post only to specific groups (rather than ‘friends’), so there is very very little of mine they see. Unfortunately, we have great overlap in an activity we both participate in, so I cannot completely block them without causing problems in that activity and neither of us are going to leave. The best I can hope for is superficial civility. I’m not sure how that interacts with the restricted list.
I did this to the most recent guy whose whiny, entitled Facebook existence was killing my social media buzz. I didn’t want to outright unfriend him because he comes to a club I help to run, and I was afraid of being taken to task for alienating members when I should be making them feel welcome, so I unfollowed and restricte, feeling very smug about my Facebook smarts.
Within 24hrs I had a message from Mr Entitled in my Facebook inbox, wanting to know ‘if I was okay’ because he couldn’t see my posts anymore. And I was like, Yikes. For him to notice that fast, he must have been stalking my timeline on a daily basis.
I never replied to his message, and he hasn’t been seen at the club since. A couple of people have wondered aloud if he is okay. I make vague noises about maybe messaging him to check, and then I quietly don’t.
@Old Dan Tucker: Ergh. Um. That makes me wonder if he was going to those events to creep on you. O_o;;
I have done this to a cousin, because she “hates Facebook drama” so naturally she would be the first one to post all kinds of vague dramatic statuses were I to unfriend her. And I’m not just saying that, that’s what happened when our grandmother did exactly that.
I got your back here, LW, along with the other folk in this comment section (and the Captain, of course). Jeez, but this guy needs to back the fuck off. I’m with you on being an intense person, and yeah, there are some folks that just don’t work with us. Sure. But this guy seemingly has no concept of “hey, we don’t click, but we can treat each over like civilized human beings while being distant acquaintances that happen to see each other once in a rare while.” This has long since left any pretense of your fault and settled right with Mr. Hanger-On there.
I don’t even know what these folks’ problem is, but it’s probably an inability to see themselves as someone *anyone* can dislike. Hanger-On probably thinks he’s not an asshole, because most people tend to think they’re not assholes, and as such he is utterly confused as to how anyone else can ever possibly object to him, and now he’s determined to win you over because Clearly You Just Need To See The Evidence. He’s trying to logic you into being his friend. I’ve seen people do this, and it’s hair-pullingly annoying, because all the logic in the world is no substitute for “hmm, that friendly spark just never caught.”
But you two have so much in common! You both think this boyfriend of yours is great! You see each other somewhat often! OMG there’s no reason for you not to be friends, and if you can’t prove there’s a good reason, your feelings have to follow the logic or you’re just a defective person! Grah. I’m guessing that, in addition to him doing this naggy debate club conversation each time he sees you, he also has a self-professed and dismissive lack of emotional understanding, and that he thinks that emotions can be perfectly controlled, or that we should all aspire to be Vulcan-esque individuals because Emotions Are Silly Trifling Things. I could be wrong, but this guy just reminds me of a pattern I see in my life there. “If I logic with you long enough, once I run you out of debate fuel, you’ll HAVE to agree with me, and your emotions will follow because that’s what happens with people (or “good” people).”
I too hate conflict with people who are going to have to show up in my life a lot (uuuuugh does it suck), but in the end, I’m on the Cap’s side that some bluntness is in order. I know you’re scared that the entire social group is going to pull an Ostracizers Are Bad GSF and hurl you out the door, but in the end I bet that Hanger-On has bothered some of them, too. People are *really* good at covering their objections to others in the friend group, and I have my guesses that Hanger-On has pissed off many of them and they’re just either ignoring it or bottling it. Worst possible case, you might indeed have to do some restructuring…but then the weight of this weirdo hanging off your shoulders will be gone.
I’ve had this happen before when I’ve been the first person in a group to point out that Creepy Person is Creepy. Suddenly this provides permission for several other people to say they think the same thing, when before they seemed totally cool with the situation.
Long-time lurker, first-time commenter.
I knew a man who sounds very similiar to the LW’s tormentor. I’d moved to a new state & was staying with my best friend & her husband while I looked for a job and apartment. The husband had a work friend, “Kyle,” who was over at their house a lot. Every time we were thrown together, Kyle would berate me for not being friendlier to him. Like, I’d be talking to someone else, or on my laptop sending out resumes, and he’d always take time to say, ‘JEEZ, don’t even say hi to me, Veronica! You’re so rude! I’m just trying to be nice!’
Like the LW says, it’s annoying, but also weirds you out, because you don’t know:
1) Why he’s doing this
2) How to make him stop
3) How you ended up on the wrong end of the social contract
The dude I knew clearly had lady issues; he had a baby daughter with one woman — they’d accidentally gotten pregnant after dating for a short time. THEN, he announced that he was expecting again with a different woman…after ‘accidentally’ getting her pregnant too, also after a very brief relationship. I suspected him of being a reproductive abuser.
I strongly agree with the Captain’s advice on returning the weirdness to sender, then severely limiting contact.
Oh, LW, that sucks.
I think you are well within your right to invoke your ‘please leave me alone, I meant NOW’ boundaries. As for your boyfriend…well, he might decide that he doesn’t want to date you if you tell off his asshole friend. That is a thing that could happen, and it would be sad, but you should not have to spend all your social time pleasantly deflecting someone who’s a jerk to you, and if your boyfriend doesn’t see that, he’s in the wrong.
I do want to bring up a possibly better outcome, though–if he’s a very non-confrontational person, he may not have the desire or the skills to tell his friend off, but may be perfectly okay with you doing it. My husband is like that–he won’t defend my boundaries for me, but he’s never given me a hard time about doing it myself. I don’t know your boyfriend, so I don’t know how likely that is, but it is a possibility.
i find ‘i’m not having this conversation again’ and ‘we’ve had this conversation already’ quite effective.
I once used the phrase “And I’m going to be a million times worse if you don’t BACK. THE FUCK. OFF.”
It was my finest moment. Board game night was totally ruined though.
Board Game Night was ruined by Asshat being an asshat, not by your crazy-awesome comeback. Which was crazy awesome, and I wish I had said exactly that once or twice.
Really? It sounds to me like board game night had a highlight :p
It is fine. Board game night will probably be better from now on, and you’re not the one who ruined it anyway. It was ruined by the other person’s pushiness to begin with, you were just the one brave enough to say so.
I regret nothing.
Now you’re talkin’…
I feel like LW could benefit from really internalizing this: http://i.imgur.com/n5HHJAC.png
Your friends are your friends. Other people’s friends are their friends. Your boyfriend is your boyfriend, and his friends are his friends. If you cultivate a friendship with one or some of them on your own, then they will also be your friends. If you don’t bother, it makes breakups simpler, but you can be friendLY with someone (basic level of polite + giving half a fuck) without actually being FRIENDS (friends help you move and are there with a bowl of cereal and a shoulder to cry on when a relationship ends.)
You don’t have to be friends with people who don’t make you happy, LW. And if your dude dumps you over that, as painful as that will be, that’s him showing you that he’s not the person you want to be with. I know that “if he does that then you don’t really want him anyway” is REEEALY obnoxious advice when it comes from Smug Married Ladies, but I promise you, it’s true. You deserve better than someone who would throw you away over your unwillingness to fake friendship and let his buddies verbally paw at you, and maybe this guy deserves some blunt force honesty in the form of “your creepy friend is freaking me out: make him stop or I will.”
My very strong inclination would be (after talking to Boyfriend about all this) to give this dude my best icy stare the next time he starts in and say “You seem to think that harassing me every time we talk is going to make me want to be your friend. I can assure you that this is not the case.” If necessary, I’d reiterate it later with, “Again, harassing me will not make me like you. Back off.” Another variant would be, “All you ever talk to me about is that I don’t like you enough. That does not make me like you. It makes me want to avoid you. Stop it.” “The more you get on my case about this, the less I want to talk to you at all. Let it go.” All delivered with the Icy Stare of Iciness (and, if possible, the Disapproving Schoolmarm Voice of Grow the Hell Up).
“You seem to think that harassing me every time we talk is going to make me want to be your friend. I can assure you that this is not the case.”
Oh LW. I feel for you.
My ex-boyfriend had a horrid friend called Dan. At no point did my ex cover himself in glory (as he is the ex from this letter https://captainawkward.com/2014/02/06/547-is-it-my-anxiety-or-is-my-relationship-dodgy-spoiler-holy-fuckshit-its-the-dodgiest/) but, drugs and broken glass aside, the way he handled the stuff around Dan actually made me feel unsafe and upset me pretty much as much, if not more, than everything else in that relationship. I’ve whinged about this before in comments but it’s too on-point not to share again.
Let me begin by saying that Dan was a total freaking creepy asshole douche. He tracked me down on the dating site through which I met my boyfriend and sent me a) copies of trolling messages he’d sent to other women on the site and their angry responses and b) requests to meet the Queen of Feminism & Women.
He commented on women’s bodies constantly. He made a girl, a friend in their group, cry at my boyfriend’s birthday party by quizzing her on why she didn’t do more with her appearance because she could be really pretty if she tried. She was already suffering clinical depression and, not that anyone needs that crap, but that crap was literally the last thing she needed.
Despite knowing he had a clinical anxiety disorder for which he had only recently come off meds, he took trippy drugs that meant that he freaked out and I was the only one sober enough to look after him. I spent a few hours the morning of my birthday (my worst birthday ever, in fact) on my own in an alleyway with him outside of a party, while he lost his shit and got really upset and talked about why he should have married his ex-girlfriend even though he didn’t love her, because she would have been an awesome mother to his kids. My boyfriend popped in at times however when I mentioned it the next day HE DIDN’T EVEN REMEMBER THE ALLEYWAY WITH DAN (apparently). So I was on my own in an alleyway in the early hours with someone I found completely untrustworthy. Safety fail.
More on the feeling unsafe around this dude. He came over one day when I was alone in my boyfriend’s flat (we were half living together at the time), told me to “let [me] up, bitch” and didn’t leave even when I said I didn’t know when my bf would be back. I spent an excruciating 40 minutes waiting for my boyfriend, in which time Dan bitched about the date he’d just been on and how crappy women were and – wait for it, the defining moment – KEPT TALKING TO ME while he WALKED UNINVITED INTO MY BOYFRIEND’S BEDROOM and STARTED PISSING IN THE EN SUITE (there was another, communal bathroom in the flat) with the DOOR OPEN, still BITCHING ABOUT WOMEN. I would have thrown him out but I was afraid of what he’d do. I told my boyfriend that I didn’t feel safe, and he agreed that Dan could potentially be really dangerous to women and had serious issues, and then he discussed it with the friend group behind my back and said he’d changed his mind and that he and the group thought Dan was harmless. Thanks for having my back, ‘I’m a feminist but only as long as it doesn’t mean that I have to do any housework, stand up for my female friends/girlfriend or change my convenient behaviours in the slightest’ BF! You were ssooooo gr8!!!!11
What am I trying to say? I had a boyfriend problem (oh BOY did I have a boyfriend problem, like 2000000X boyfriend problems) as much as I had a Dan problem, and when I broke up with my ex one of the sweet, sweet sighs of relief I gave was the exhalation of Dan from my life. When I brought up feeling uncomfortable and unsafe around Dan, my boyfriend seemed to have my back briefly and then it just went back to the status quo of bf doing fuck-all to ensure the safety and comfort of those around him. BF was too off-his-face at his birthday party to notice that Dan was making their friend cry (great hosting, there) and when I mentioned it the next day he essentially DNGAF, despite previously having said he was concerned about her depression and general wellbeing. The one accommodation I ended up asking for was that BF give me a day’s notice of Dan showing up at any party or group event so that I could decide if I wanted to be there – if the cost of seeing Dan was worth entry into group fun times, basically. We thankfully broke up before it became clear whether bf could agree to and fulfil this one. fucking. minor. accommodation but I will bet you dollars to donuts that I would have shown up at an event and Dan would have been there and bf would have been like “Whoops! Forgot!” and I would have been in the position of either continually sucking it up or leaving an otherwise-fun party because of a creepy dick.
tld;r I increasingly think shitty pushy creepy toxic friends say something about the boyfriend. If your boyfriend doesn’t have your back, it tells you that he will back up his shitty friend/s but not you. I did my damndest not to put the pressure on my boyfriend about his friend and set it up as Me V. Dan so my boyfriend didn’t have to ‘choose’ – but guess what, he’d already chosen. Maybe the real reason why I didn’t push it harder was because I knew that, deep down.
WHATEVER DUMP THESE ASSHOLE/S YOU WILL BE HAPPIER I SWEAR
I remember your horrible horrible broken-glass exbf, and I’m so happy to hear that he’s no longer in the picture! Here’s to your health and sanity as you disentangle his awfulness from your life. I’m in the middle of a similar process after getting rid of a creepy housemate, and it’s a whole Kubler-Ross cascade of the feels. But his reign of drunken harassment is done, my house is returning to its equilibrium, and he’s receding in the rearview til he’s nothing but a footnote and few outrageous vignettes.
HE WAS INDEED QUITE AWFUL. Thank you for the well-wishes; my life today is so different from my life then that I feel like a new person.
Without the Captain and the Awkward community piling on, I woulda been well and truly effed and might have ended up moving to Europe with that guy. Yeaaaaaaaaaaaah. No.
I predict that once you have gotten rid of your creepy home invader (your termite?), after an initial period of decompression, you will be approximately twenty billion times happier, more relaxed, safer, more relieved and your life will be filled with sunshine and ducklings and little kittens will nuzzle you awake in the morning and your coffee will practically make itself in greeting.
Because life is so much better when there’s not someone close to you, in your house, undermining you, manipulating you, making you unsafe, treating you like shit. BONUS that when you get rid of this dude you lose a substance abuse problem………that was never – and should never – have actually been YOUR problem…………….
In the meantime, please take all this Jedi / ice-cream love I am sending you <3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3
Aaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh so so so glad you are not in that relationship any more!
I was thinking of you only yesterday! So glad to hear you’re away from that very odd man.
It’s so nice to hear updates from previous LWs! I’m glad you got out of that situation!
OMG I am so so happy for you getting out of that relationship!!!! I remember writing that letter and going “NO NO NO GET OUT RUN AWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He is awful awful awful!!!” SO many “you’re awesome” high fives your way!
A guy friend of mine says he tends to send african violets to men whose breakups with women were Not Nice because of something the boyfriend himself had done. His observation is, men who will treat their partners that way will happily treat their friends that way, too. Why would you want to be around someone who treats friends and partners badly?
Creepy. I get some people not picking up more subtle cues, but I think ‘no thanks, I don’t want to be friends’ is all anyone should need to say no matter what. And if necessary repeat ‘no thanks, I don’t want to be friends’, and repeat, and repeat, and repeat (though it shouldn’t be necessary).
Maybe it would be more obvious if you compared it to a sexual situation — ‘But I like you, so we should date’ ‘I’m trying to have a relationship with you, and you keep being so unfriendly’ ‘You’re so hard to get along with, you keep pushing me away, what’s wrong with you?’ ‘Well, _I_ see you as my girlfriend’. Taking the sex out of it doesn’t really change how wrong and disturbing this is.
Maybe I’m more cautious than I need to be, but I would not trust this person and I would try to avoid being in situations where I was vulnerable around him, physically or otherwise. He may never do anything other than pester people to be friends with him, it may be that he’s a gentle person with all kinds of moral lines he wouldn’t cross (and you are surely better equipped to judge that than I am) but he’s showing pretty clearly that he has some pretty twisted concepts of human interaction and other people’s personal agency and decision-making power. Personally, for me, I don’t think he’s passing the basic ‘this seems like a probably trustworthy human being’ tests.
Basically, it’s like with a romantic relationship. It takes two ‘yeses’ to make it true. One of you simply deciding you’re not friends is all it takes for you to not be friends. The other person doesn’t have to agree or something, you don’t bargain about it, it just IS, as soon as there are less than two yeses. One person deciding to be friends isn’t a friendship, it’s one person standing there.
Sorry, two more thoughts in addition to my earlier essay.
1) I realise I may have been over the top in saying DUMP EVERYONE because so far your boyfriend doesn’t sound unsupportive or anything. But I think if you ask him for basic accommodations and support around someone who is making you uncomfortable and he can’t or won’t have your back on that stuff, then it’s a really bad sign for the relationship. You deserve support from your partner.
2) A huge reason why my comment focused so much on feeling creeped-out/unsafe is because I think you sound really uncomfortable around this guy, because he’s trying to push past your boundaries repeatedly. And right now it’s fairly small stakes, but if you ask for support around a person making you uncomfortable in small ways and receive your boyfriend’s/the friendship group’s “OH WHATEVER that’s just Dick-o, don’t take it personally/make it awkward/break the inertial forces which govern our friendships”, then that could bode very badly for bigger-stakes, safety stuff. Feeling uncomfortable around someone when they’re pushing your boundaries is GREAT. It means your anxiety signalling system is WORKING and you are listening to your mini alarm bells which will hopefully never grow to ring louder and louder. And anyone who tells you that your alarm bells are for shit, in a situation in which someone is demonstrably transgressing your boundaries in an entitled, smug way, is for shit. And they’ve also given you valuable information, that they won’t believe you/act to back you up/they will ignore boundary-crossing if it gets worse. If they can’t be there for you through the small stuff, I don’t think they’re going to be there with the big stuff.
I might be reading it wrong or taking it too far, but if any of this sounds even vaguely familiar/possible, please nip that shit in the bud with naught an apology and all due speed. Basically, don’t be me, in an alleyway at 3am on the worst birthday of my life, looking after someone who scared and revolted me and whom I profoundly disliked. Don’t compromise on ‘being around someone who goes out of his way to make me uncomfortable’ and time spent with bf & the group.
I maintain that one of the best decisions I’ve ever made is that if someone can’t deal with me setting boundaries over small stuff, I’m not going to trust them with anything bigger. Luckily I’ve managed to get a friend group that’s pretty supportive of this and I’ve been able to unfollow and block people on social media for what might look like something ridiculous and not had *anyone* tell me I was over-reacting. It is SO good.
“if someone can’t deal with me setting boundaries over small stuff, I’m not going to trust them with anything bigger.”
Trust isn’t something that you owe someone, it’s something that _they_ build due to their actions. If they build it, by repeatedly acting in a trustworthy way in small situations, then eventually there may be enough trust between us that I’ll feel safe with them in bigger situations (whether that means physically, like being alone with them, or emotionally, like confiding in them).
But someone who is acting untrustworthy or unsafe in all kinds of tiny ways like not respecting my ‘no’ on smaller things is not only not earning my trust, they’re actively earning my distrust.
Yep. It is so good to be in a good friend group. And we’ve seen in other posts on the site how bad it is in groups where individual boundaries are not respected.
And also, twenty thousand million dollars says that the same people who are like “eh whatever” when you tell them about the small stuff would be the people who are like “OMG WHAT?!?!?!?!? WHO KNEW!??!?!?!?!? I AM SO SHOCKED. If only there were signs!!!!!!!!!!!!” if their friend crossed serious boundaries/hurt someone/assaulted someone etc. Provided they even believe the victim and don’t play the ‘not taking side’ game (which the Captain has already revealed to be the total shite that it is).
Easypeasysleazy, I am loving this comment and I’m pretty sure your next birthday will be AWESOME.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…
I had this person, who so much wanted to be my friend and I wasn’t really all that interested in being their friend. At first, they went to all of the mutual friends and colleagues, complaining about why I was being so “cold” and “uncordial” to them, when I wasn’t this way with everyone else.
It progressed to the point where this person involved the social/work circle into asking me about it. Consistently. And always, always asking me for a reason other than: Just not that interested/Not looking to make any new friends right now.
It progressed to the point where it was annoying to the social/work circle, because the person. Wouldn’t. Let. It. Go. And continued to pester them AND me.
Finally, I confronted this person, asking why my friendship was so important to them. Why give me that kind of power, when clearly my “not interested” was making them miserable?
And then I walked away (because it really was a rhetorical question TO ME).
If your boyfriend’s friend is anything like the person pestering me to be their friend, be prepared that you’ll likely need to 1) be firm, 2) continue to be firm, 3) make it weird in front of witnesses, and 4) be prepared to ride the NOPE ROCKET right out of there.
Because pesterers? They can walk the gaslight-y and crazy-making line abusers do: If there are no witnesses, then *clearly* YOU are the “intense” and “cool” and “uncivil” one because YOU are “overreacting” to “harmless extensions of friendship”.
I just don’t…
“You don’t want to be friends with me? I’ll nag and harangue you constantly! Then you’ll definitely not dislike me even more! It’s foolproof!”
As Captain says, to have kept doing this for as long as he has, either he’s INCREDIBLY oblivious, lacking in a LOT of the bare minimum social experience you’d expect of an adult, and is somehow incapable of understanding the many ways people in general (and especially the LW) say, “no”… Or he’s a manipulative arschloch who is getting a power high from all this. One of these two options is much more likely that the other.
LW, I’m sure your intenseness is not the problem here. If your boyfriend didn’t like your intenseness, you two wouldn’t have decided to start dating in the first place. If this guy (urgh. Urgh urgh urgh. Incoherent rage about this asshole, please refer to the lovely advice of Captain & Army) wanted to be your friend, he’d embrace your intense intenseness as the coolawesome-to-be-friends-with trait it is* instead of, as you say, manipulating and harassing you.
Be as INTENSE as you want. You can intensely shut him off with a script of your choice**, or intensely explain to him everything that’s wrong with the way he treats you***, or even intensely leave the room while he’s in the middle of an un-intense sentence****.
And if the rest of the group can’t handle your intenseness (read: prefer to “keep the peace” with this asshole rather than cheering you on because they have to see his face everyday), that’s *their* decision (read: something you can’t change or influence, so in no way your fault).
And if your boyfriend prefers to break up with you over his friend’s “hurt feelings” (read: this asshole’s not respecting your boundaries). It’s a sucky decision for you, but I sincerely believe you’re better off being awesomely intense elsewhere.
So, LW: Keep calm and intense on.
*It doesn’t make any sense, saying you want to be friends with a person, while harassing them for the traits that make them the person they are (and, presumably, the friend they would be). A person who doesn’t like your personality traits doesn’t try to be friends with you.
** Ex: “I’ve already explained my reasons, so this conversation was over weeks ago. Let’s change the subject”. “Wow, won’t you even change the subject when I ask you to? That’s a kind of friend I’m better off without, to be honest”. “No, I’m not having this conversation”.
*** IE: “The problem here is not my “lack of emotional generosity”, but your lack of basic human respect”. “Friends don’t tell each other to change. You’re doing that, and that’s why we’re not, and are not going to be, friends”.
**** Ex: “I already told you multiple times I’m not having this conversation. Bye now.”
So LW you say you’re afraid of everyone thinking you’re unfriendly if you shut this guy down, and then losing your boyfriend if all his friends reject you. That’s actually a really serious and valid fear and I urge you to put some thought into it.
Because if these people will ostracise you for defending yourself, and then your boyfriend will leave you for the same reason, they are *not worth having*. I know it’s easy to throw those words around, and much harder to contemplate losing a boyfriend and all his/your friends and having a whole group of people think you suck. But to hang around in a group like that is to have your self esteem slowly eroded away until you constantly doubt yourself and think of yourself as a bad person and then bend over backward for everyone else to prove that actually you’re good. Trying to win the approval of toxic people is very bad for you (been there, done that, bought the t-shirt). It’s bad for you even when you consciously know it’s happening and are tolerating it for work or something, let alone in your social circle and intimate relationships.
The good news is, maybe that fear is anxiety speaking and the people who matter will have your back when you shut this guy down. Maybe. Maybe not. And it’s easy to find out. You shut this guy down and see how everyone reacts. If they shun you for this and are all very disapproving and encourage you to be nicer to this “poor dude who just wants to be friends and means well” (gag) then they are revealing they don’t actually see you as a fully human person with her own rights and needs. And you do not need those people in your life.
I get that that sucks beyond all reason, but don’t try to ignore it if it seems to be the case. You are totally allowed to shut down this manipulative jerk who’s trying to shame you into acting like you like him. Politeness is all that’s required here, not friendship, and it’s wrong and weird for this dude to demand it.
Be strong here and believe in yourself. Act to defend yourself from the weirdness, and if anyone thinks that’s not OK then that’s good information about them – it means they would rather you suffer than make a fuss. It means the situation in which you are grindingly uncomfortable and so pissed that you’re writing to Captain Awkward is OK by them and a status quo they’re happy with. Those are people to get out of your life.
Returning awkwardness to sender is a great art to learn. LW’s tormentor, or anyone else who fits the bill, puts other people in awkward and uncomfortable situations. Maybe out of ignorance and maybe on purpose. It doesn’t matter which. Either way, they don’t feel the awkwardness because their unfortunate target bears it all. Bearing it is automatic for most people, because we’re decent and nice and don’t want others to feel embarrassed or anything. But tormentors who do this over and over again need to feel the awkwardness they’re forcing on you or they’ll never stop. Think of it as negative reinforcement (for purposeful tormentors) or merely growing up and not having the consequences of their actions hidden from them anymore (for ignorant tormentors). The art of returning awkwardness is to learn to stop bearing it when they throw it at you. Deflect it back to them so they can “enjoy” what they created. At first, again from habits developed via dealing with nice people, you’ll feel as though the awkwardness is your fault somehow. The mantra of, “I didn’t create this awkwardness, that person did,” is very useful here. Having backup (e.g. LW’s boyfriend) helps a lot, also: in a group, people tend to side with the majority, for better or worse. If LW and bf both act (correctly) like the tormentor is the one making things awkward, the group will much more easily see things for what they are, and it’s easier for LW to execute her art.
Yes it’s an awesome skill to learn! Alas a lot of people will blame the person reacting to the badness for any ensuing drama and try all this “but you can be the reasonable one” BS. You should still do it anyway. Just be aware that dodgy people come with little posses of enablers who you will need to ignore.
All the other commenters have covered things beautifully so I just want to say,
Eww, this phrase makes my skin crawl!
It’s horrible isn’t it?
Like that asshole who stalked Emma and said if she were truly evolved and emotionally generous she’d probably keep fucking him to let him down easy.
FLAMES. ON THE SIDE. OF MY FACE.
Uhhhgh. I keep thinking of the scene in the play “Amadeus” by Peter Shaffer where Salieri is trying to seduce Constanze. He keeps smarming at her that he’d like to stop calling her “La Constanza” and call her “La Generosa.” Constanze is exactly as creeped out as you might imagine.
I found it interesting, because I think generosity involves giving people things they do not deserve. That feels very appropriate. I think when you’re doling out charity, you should feel free to pick the causes that suit you. I’d probably pick a worthier cause for my emotional generosity too. Like random acts of kindness toward strangers, Or one of the fun acts of emotional generosity I did once, entertaining a crying baby on a train. I did not touch the child at all, but I started doing little things like playing with my cane in the baby’s line of sight as a new distraction. The baby’s caretaker seemed tired and out of new distractions for the moment and seemed to respond positively, so I kept going and distracted the baby, from a distance, until one of us had to go. A much more worthy cause than this guy seems to be. Especially since he is demanding large amounts of emotional charity.
This is an interesting take because it highlights WHY the phrase is so creepy: it posits all attention to one another as transactional. Were you truly being charitable to that baby on the train? Or were you just having fun making faces at a cute baby and seeing the baby giggle? This whole weird economy of attention where LW isn’t giving this man the attention he “deserves” and deigning to grace him with her presence, so he calls her out for a lack of charity… to me that is just not how human interaction works. At all.
Well, I did view it mostly as an act of helping. Mostly what I got out of it was a train ride with a baby not crying, but it was work to figure out ways to keep the baby entertained. I figured it was of benefit to everyone in the train car for the baby to not be crying, a benefit to the baby for it to be happy rather than annoyed, and a benefit to the caregiver to have a happy, entertained baby. I don’t really like babies. I’m not against them or anything, but I mostly consider them work until they can talk and be more interesting. Valuable work and an investment in the future, but work. Nor do I have a problem with viewing such things transactionally. I spent years being paid to babysit, and while I often enjoyed a lot of it, it was also hard work. This time I gave some of my care away for free, because it would benefit people. But my point is more that it’s really obnoxious and disturbing to constantly demand people give you stuff you have no right to, and “generosity” highlights the “have no right to” aspect. Sometimes one chooses to help out others or be extra kind to them, and that’s a great thing to do when you have the energy/ability/emotional reserves for it. But it’s really disturbing to have somebody demanding you give them more than they have any right to.
I guess, to me, it just struck me because it both asserts that he is not entitled to her friendship and yet is demanding it at the same time.
I also think some forms of attempted emotional generosity just don’t work well and aren’t healthy. Like friendship… it’s not a healthy friendship if it’s motivated by pity and generosity. That you are deigning to be someone’s friend as an act of charity, which is what he is asking for. That is a deeply disturbing basis for a friendship. I think it makes sense that people are creeped out by someone asking for friendship on the basis of emotional generosity. It is definitely many levels of wrong.
That’s an interesting take. I’ve always thought of generosity as the emotional content of the giver, rather than the worthiness of the receiver.
I’ll have to think about this
As if this person is somehow entitled to a share of LW’s emotions, and she is withholding that? Like, a feelings hoarder? What would that show even look like?
I hope that if you speak to your bf about his appalling friend he will respond with one of the Captain’s good responses. I fear that he’s more likely not to recognize that his friend, and his friend-group – including himself – are the problem.
In which case, oof, well at least that’s clear.
I also really don’t think you’re the intense unfriendly drama-llama here.
Your boyfriend and his friends are being unfriendly and unkind.
LW, you sound like someone who knows herself well (a sign of intelligence!) and the way you state your beliefs and values comes across as firm and considered rather than ‘intense’ or wildly off-key. You also sound quite hard on yourself, as if the responsibility to completely scaffold someone who seems socially clueless lies entirely on your shoulders. Newsflash: it isn’t! 🙂
You two clearly have divergent worldviews (life is full of different opinions – who knew??) and you seem to easily accept this. He does NOT. You’ll never dissuade another person from his/her fundamental point of view, and all the more so when they’ve so clearly demonstrated their willingness to attempt to force it down your throat. This is rank immaturity, and that means you’ll have to deal with it.
I’m inclined to agree with Novel Device who’s encouraging you to take the responsibility to nip this in the bud and wield some adult ‘these are the consequences of unacceptably invasive conduct’ responses. People who realise you’ll put up with their obnoxious behaviour typically escalate; they rarely cool it as a result of appreciating the depth of your patience and self-control in not belting them upside the head.
He may very well possess unseen virtues but it’s not your responsibility (or anyone else’s) to wheedle them out of hiding. Kids are given leeway to realise the consequences of their negative behaviour – he’s not a kid. Figure out a strategy, and be clear with your boyfriend about what your expectations are and then negotiate from there. It’s admittedly a tricky thing to find yourself unimpressed by your partner’s friends. It can sometimes migrate into the unfortunate territory of beginning to question your partner’s judgment, intelligence and standards, especially if he/she seems ok with the situation or refuses to talk about it or minimizes it or way behaves in a way that makes you feel like you’re on your own.
And in that case, I say it’s totally legitimate to then consider your partner and if you two really are a match (long term or not). These situations ARE a test of who a person is. In the face of arrant refusals to negotiate in good faith, this dude’s proven that he doesn’t merit any more of your time/attention/tolerance. Own it and do what you have to do. 100000% you’ll feel like you’ve gotten rid of dead weight that doesn’t even belong to you anyway!! Best.
I thought they were trying to get the kitty away from the cords, which as someone who has had a cat nearly strangle themselves with computer wires, is a good thing. Better an unhappy cat than a dead cat.
i couldn’t watch it, but even if it was a safety issue laughing at it yowling in distress wouldn’t be cool. especially while filming
Even when he wasn’t under the furniture with the cords they were grabbing his tail and stuff though.
IMO the annoying friend seems like the one who’s coming off as too intense in this scenario. The LW is withdrawing, and the friend just keeps pushing for more intimacy and making a big deal out of every conversation.
I’ve also met people that for whatever reason I just don’t get on with that well. They might be totally nice and innocuous, but something about them is like nails on chalkboard. It took me a while to find out how amazing plain civility is as a solution. I may not prefer a person, but at least I can be a decent human being to them and we can find balance. Unless they start overstepping boundaries, in which case unleash the Ice Queen.
It was mostly hard to convince my extraverted family that my being friendly some of the time doesn’t mean I get on with absolute everyone on earth or that I never get tired or need a break. Is this one of the Geek Social Fallacies? “Friendliness levels must be maintained at a consistent level toward all people at all times.”
Hi all — LW here. Thanks for all the great advice. I want to clarify that I have now talked to my boyfriend about this but that I had made the mistake of believing it’s not his problem for a long time. He has never been witness to any of what his friend has done, which is part of the manipulation thing! There’s gaslighting in my past, so for a long time I didn’t talk to my boyfriend because I was certain he wouldn’t believe this was happening, there being no witnesses. Boyfriend said firstly, “I believe you, I will always believe you,” and then made various offers for what to do going forward, including not inviting his friend to the same social gatherings I can attend, opting to hang out with him one on one, as suggested. I strongly feel that if Boyfriend witnessed any of these interactions, he would speak up. Obviously since he wasn’t aware what was happening on any significant level, that was difficult before. We’ll work out a system to help increase my comfort in these situations, which he has also referred to as a priority. He’s also in the process of re-evaluating his friends quite separately from all this! A good egg.
The remark about community being important and thus perhaps causing a rift was also my assumption! He likewise assured me he’d never cut me out because of anything anyone else thought or said about me. He’s also super cool with my intensity; I’m the person most afraid of it still! Trying to own it is an imperfect process so again, thanks to everyone for weighing in. It’s good to have this database of comments to return to for when I’m doubting things.
Wow, the addition of info re: needy “friend” only harassing you without witnesses makes this guy seem extra special gross.
I’m glad your boyfriend has reacted in a supportive way.
Aw he sounds awesome.
I’m so glad! I know it can be super hard to talk to someone about this, and I’m really happy that it turned out that he is supportive and definitely wearing the Team You jersey.
Yay for you, and yay for your BF! I’m very glad to hear it.
Yay!!!! 🙂 Well-handled, LW! Sounds like you and BF are a great team.
This is like THE BEST POSSIBLE RESPONSE and I am glad that we’ve been kind of sitting here formulating answers and responses to worst case scenarios and outcomes whereas in fact meanwhile you’re talking to your dude and he’s like “sure, let me back you up on that’un!” and you’re like “sure that would be sweeeeet”.
And meanwhile, people who find themselves in the less-nice-scenarios-and-outcomes can check out the comments and get in their nope rocket.
LW, I’m so glad your BF is being awesome and supportive of you.
And the bit where you said that the guy has been doing it only when there are no witnesses — HUGE RED FLAG, THE REDDEST OF RED FLAGS. It definitely IS part of the manipulation thing, and 1000 percent deliberate on this guy’s part. He is setting up things so that you are alone with him and then he is pushing your boundaries HARD — this is a PREDATOR who knows EXACTLY what he’s doing.
This asshole friend is dangerous, even if his only goal is to cause you emotional harm.
Or to position himself between LW and her boyfriend because he’s insecure and jealous about his friend’s relationship. Still dangerous! Even in a most gracious and emotionally generous (hurk) interpretation of his behavior!
This sounds a lot like what I went through with a creepy guy last year.
He was new-ish to the group, so I was friendly and inclusive at first. That meant he constantly tried talking to me after I’d figured out he was a mansplaining, new-agey asshole and reset my boundaries accordingly. A few other women spoke of how “weird” he was, either in complimenting them or inviting them to hang out, because these things inevitably happened when he could get them one-on-one. Most memorable was one woman’s account of being out with some friends in a park where “he just showed up out of nowhere, maybe from behind some bushes?” PREDATOR-IN TRAINING, if you ask me, but they kept trying to excuse his behaviour and avoid him instead of confront/alert people to help.
The guy eventually had the nerve to confront me, spewing BS like “why do you hate me” and “sorry my presence offends you” first when he could get me alone, but then exploded at me in front of a large group where he claimed my earlier friendliness was me flirting with him. Either way, it made me look like the problem for aggravating him, and several women came to his defence that I should “just calm down”. Meanwhile, nobody spoke up for me and I was terrified that the accusations of leading him on would mean he’d later assault/rape me as retaliation.
I have no regrets on speaking up, but I am still PISSED at how much people will turn on you for it.
Ugh, g-d, I’m so sorry that happened to you. Is he safely out of your circle now?
YAY! I had hoped to get a sitrep, and this is an excellent one. I think we are probably all delighted to hear that your boyfriend is firmly on Team You – I know I am.
That’s great. It sounds like you two can work out ways to make this much better for you.
I’m so happy (and RELIEVED) to hear your boyfriend is on Team You!
Yay BF! That is awesome. All the luck dealing with the creeper now you know he’s got your back. ^_^
Yay! I wish you luck with any possible future interactions with BF’s friend, but it sounds like your biggest worry has been vanquished.
Yay! I love it when there’s follow up. I so worry about the LW’s sometimes. I really hope they’re all doing ok. Sounds like your BF is a keeper 🙂
Yay! It’s great that your bf has your back!
I am so glad that your boyfriend is on Team You. What a great outcome, and yay for you for talking it out with him.
The fact that his buttsnack friend is careful to do all of this just outside the field of vision of your boyfriend makes him seem even MORE creepy, btw. Your “gaslighting” sensors are fully operational.
I’m relieved you’ve written a follow-up, LW, because I had been just about to ask if you were me! And I’m super-relieved to hear that Boyfriend seems to be on the same page now. Belief is the bedrock of communicating between partners.
I’d gotten through my own phase (CA archives FTW) with a friend’s-friend who continually harped on how I didn’t seem to like him. Perhaps I’m being mulish about not telling him that, but I have an allergy to people who try to own *my* feelings, trying to turn my (supposed) interior world into what it’s like for them because of some presumed inadequacy on my part. They need to own that it’s their belief, not my feeling, that is the problem.
I wasn’t going to engage him on the “don’t seem to like” front: I’d seen LOADS of red flags, and had no wish to keep fighting skirmishes over them. Of particular interest were when FF repeatedly told me how very close friends he was with particular others in the friends group (which I was actually doing a not-so-slow fade from), or when he tried to explain to me how very much he was like my heroic spouse, based on a conversation that HS and I had thoroughly post-mortemed the day before. (And, you guessed right, HS’ conclusions were NOT that he was like FF. At all.) FF made a point of upping the intensity of his actions until he was buttonholing others to complain about “(Melanie’s) mental problems” (foolish me had once referred to depression) and why wouldn’t I just *talk* to him? My trawling here led me to https://captainawkward.com/2014/03/07/552-crossing-paths-with-darth-of-old/ – FF was in no way my ex, so I was re-drawing the scripts that felt right. (And the very last comment on that post, from azurelunatic, contains treasure.) Since THE final phone call, using the script*, “Take me off your contacts list; I’ll let you know when that changes,” life has been blissfully FF-free. (the * is pointing to yet another CA post https://captainawkward.com/2014/06/05/it-came-from-the-search-terms-the-jidoon-are-on-the-moon-in-june/ Look for point number 13… I must be a patchwork quilter at heart, *sigh*)
“Intensity” means many things and many of them good, as you’ve been reminded here: for me, observations, reactions, thoughts – all point to serious engagement with life and the world. They are also yours to share or not, as you need. Being injected into the role of nursemaid for someone else’s insecurity is not in that brief.
Holy cow, whoa. So he only does this when Boyfriend isn’t around? Yeah that turned this from “critically socially inept” to “malicious” in my book. He clearly knows what he’s doing if he knows he needs to dodge Boyfriend. And props to Boyfriend for being kickass.
A lot of people are celebrating BF’s mindset here… I just want to say, congratulations to you for how you’re approaching it. Knowing what you need to work on is such an important and scary step, and it seems like you’re doing a really good job moving on from some shitty stuff with patience and love for yourself.
Hey — thank you. This comment hit me in my heart-feels. I really feel like I made a TON of mistakes and gave this guy so, so much of my power and I’m finding it’s taking a lot of effort not to constantly berate myself for being taken in for this long. I’m trying to learn from what I wish I’d done differently and still come at this from a place of integrity, despite that I feel like I utterly failed at asserting myself effectively. This comment helped. Sometimes all there is to do is keep assessing and keep trying. Thank you.
You were generous and gave him the benefit of the doubt, which is what kind people do. You were nice. There’s nothing wrong with being nice when you want to be nice. There’s also nothing wrong with being not-nice when you decide you are done. Maybe consider this a good learning opportunity for when people really are just creepy assholes. You didn’t do anything wrong, and you did a lot of things right, like communicate clearly, ask for backup, and decide where your boundaries are. It can be super hard to violate that social norm of letting pricks be prickish all over you, and I bet next time you will question yourself less and draw the line sooner, and that’s really the only standard you can hold yourself to. You are okay, LW. 🙂
This is such a familiar thing to read. You’ve beautifully explained how it feels to be manipulated and then realize it. The thing is, this isn’t a you problem; this is a him problem. Try not to focus on things you did “wrong” which were really just interacting with him under the premise that he was a nice, normal acquaintance. We’ve all been there. It’s ok that his behavior threw you for a loop for a minute there. It was ok to be nice. ❤
First comment, long time visitor. LW, I think you need to tell “would-be friend” to leave you alone, in front of your BF and the whole crowd of people who know both of you, tell him to leave you alone, to stay away from you, because he is never going to be your friend, due to his lack of boundary respecting ability. Make sure that he can never claim that he thought you were friends, that he can never tell others that they knew you were friends, that he knows everyone is aware that you are not his friend and will never be his friend.
Otherwise he may well claim that his sexual contact with you was desired by you, and say that everyone knew that you were best friends. His ability to cut you off from the crowd to talk with you about his need for you to be his best friend shows that he has great social skills, which he uses to evil intent. Beware!!
Best of luck!!
I endorse all of this. Be public, be loud, be clear.
Glad to hear it!
A thought test you might find handy in situations like this: imagine the meekest, mildest, passivest princess-archetype of a person you possibly can. Then put them in your situation.
If the way they are being treated is creepy and un-okay, feel free to factor your intensity out of the equation, because it’s not affecting the result.
Thought-test: Yes! or imagine it’s someone you love and care about and think is awesome, like a good friend, or someone you really like from school, or a beloved sister, or whoever might be that kind of person to you. Imagine what you’d say to them (probably in this case: ‘oh sweetie, it’s not you, that guy’s being a jerk, or at best really weird, you are awesome’), and then try to imagine how that could apply to you. It’s hard to do this thought-test at first without short-circuiting when you get to the “and now if it’s you” part, but it’s totally worthwhile.
Just n-thing the responses of yay for the fact that your boyfriend is 100% in support and also that it is really really telling that this dude won’t engage in any of this “Wwwhhyyy won’t you be friends with meeeee??” shit when your boyfriend is around. Seriously, pretty sure everyone here thought your creep sensors were fully functional before that piece of info and now? Yeah no you are definitely not “overreacting” or anything in your refusal to give this guy the time of day, so props to you.
Also I too have been called version of intense (usually scary or intimidating) by people and the friends who thought that when we first met have told me that it’s because I look like I know exactly what I’m doing and I won’t let people get in the way. And this was told to me during a time when I felt horribly insecure about pretty much everything and like my life was falling to pieces, but I somehow came across looking confident and in control! Overly so, in fact, which is why they thought I was scary. Plus it probably has to do with stereotype as women (teenage girls in particular) being “silly/insecure/bubbly/high emoting” and women who are not are “scary” or villains in popular media.
So sympathies because some people will judge you immediately for it, but also congratulations on somehow looking/coming across like you are not someone to be messed with. (I say somehow because at least for me, I am a woman of average height and I’m fairly thin with obviously no muscle, so it’s all in the face and how I carry myself. And I have yet to figure out how the hell that happened. If you have any idea, fill me in because it still really confuses me.)
Own your ice queen. This guy deserves the full blast of “NOPE GTFO”, preferably followed with a snarky “Oh sorry, was that too intense for you? Good.” (I am overly sarcastic, would not recommend in all scenarios, but this seems like a good time for it imo)
The thing which strikes me in all of this is your boyfriend’s friend is attempting to dictate to you how you should feel about him. He is offended you aren’t obeying his dictates with regards to your level of emotional engagement with him.
That is NOT ON. It’s full-on emotionally abusive behaviour.
If you are behaving toward him in a normal, socially polite manner – cordial acknowledgement of his existence, polite conversation on neutral topics, etc, then he has nothing to complain about. No matter where he is, and no matter where you are, he is not entitled to expect more than normal, socially polite behaviour (that comment about “it kind of sucks when your friend’s girlfriend is neutral to you in your own living room” is way out of line).
You’re not giving him the Cut Direct (outright ignoring him), you’re not leaving the room whenever he enters it, and you’re not being blatantly rude in conversation with him. He isn’t entitled to demand more than normal social politeness, no matter how close his bond with your boyfriend. He is not entitled to more of you than you’re willing to give, and he is not entitled to dictate how you feel about him.
The impression I’m being given is there’s a certain amount of jealousy here – he’s jealous of your relationship with your boyfriend, and he wants the same thing from you. I should note: we’re jealous about someone else’s possessions. We’re envious of another person’s qualities or abilities. Consider what this may be saying about the way he thinks of both you, and your boyfriend.
As the Captain points out, this guy is demonstrating a sustained failure to Adult.
Ooooh oooh ooooh
Once there were two brothers. Jewish. (This is kind of germane.) Orthodox. Decent men.
One brother – everything goes well, loving wife, respectful kids, good profession, wonderful friends.
The other, pious though he is- life is a disaster. His wife points that out. His children laugh at him. And still he prays. He remembers HaShem.
Each day he prays for a tiny little bit of luck. Each day he calls on God and remembers his name
One afternoon the brothers walked down the street speaking with love for each other. The lucky one looks down and picks up a $100 bill. His unlucky brother smiles, trips, and lands in a pile of dog poop.
In despair he calls out “why Lord? Why is my entire life suffering? Why do you give me no joy? I pray! I’m righteous? Whyyyyyy?”
And thunder rolled. And the heavens opened. And the voice came out of the sky and proclaimed: “Because you’re a nudge!”
And that’s why your boyfriend’s friend can never be a friend to you (or God)
I don’t get it? should I be googling “nudge” (which I take to be something more gentle than a prod and more benevolent than a push… does this word mean something else in a different context?)
It’s kind of like a Shmuck (but slightly different).
It means pester.
I found it: http://www.jewish-languages.org/jewish-english-lexicon/words/417
It means pest or whiner. So God made him suffer because he was always FB poking God. Or something.
“Nudge” (pronounced “nooj”) is an American Jewish word that sort of roughly translates to “bore” or “pest”.
Nudge is Yiddish for “boring annoying person.”
Oh how I long for some of the people I dislike to ask me plaintively “Why don’t you LIIIIIIKE MEEEE”
Of course they never do. Because no one with any self awareness or self reflection wants to have this conversation.For an intelligent person who values the opinions and feelings of others, having your flaws revealed to you is way harsh. WAY HARSH.
So I think you are 100% right to avoid this guy, because this is not a conversation anyone with any sense would want to have once let alone over and over again. (I mean, I get once, if you just HAVE to know, but otherwise, this is 100% about making you uncomfortable and not at all about improving your relationship.)
So glad your boyfriend is awesome, I hope you guys can find a good balance with this “friend.”
This ice witch references made me think of a funny time in college: after refusing to go farther with a guy than I wanted, I received a long-winded letter about how much I hurt him, which culminated in him calling me a “cold-hearted ice queen.” My friends started jokingly calling me “frosty the snow-bitch” after that and I would reference it any time someone was called a string of slurs for not sleeping with someone they didn’t want to.
Wear your “frosty the snow-bitch” badge with pride! (if you’d like)
Now I want a “frosty the snow-bitch” badge. Hmm. I have a badgemaker here. *ponders*
that is EVEN BETTER than what I got called for not going farther with a guy than I wanted (“pathological virgin”). what is with some dudes?
“Reverend Preposterice, I’ve got the paperwork back from the lab. I… I’m afraid you have virgins.”
“Oh, my God. Have they metastasized?”
“No. Now, this is not a death sentence, although the symptoms can affect your quality of life. We’ll need to treat those annoying fundamentalists who will try to set up creepy ‘Daddy-Daughter Dances’ and treat you like it’s a part of your body and the moment you drive your genitalia off the lot, you yourself lose a third of your resale value.”
“But Doctor, what if I get… unicorns?”
“The moment you drive your genitalia off the lot, you yourself lose a third of your resale value.”
I have to steal this as soon as humanly possible.
Inspired by: http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/Your-vagina-is-not-a-car-Clemen;Australia
let’s face it, most everybody wants unicorns, tho
Does it come with terminal unicorns, because I could get on board with that. A buddy who will skewer the pestiferous sounds really nice some days.
This WOULD be an excellent solution to the OP. “I’m not being impolite, I’m telling him to go away before the unicorns stab him. Safety first!”
Oh yes, I remember being called a “cocktease” after refusing to sleep with a guy in college. After he’d explicitly said many times that we were “just friends”. Yeah, good times. I was less evolved than you, though; I felt hurt and bewildered by that episode for years. Meh.
I wish mine had been as creative as this! I just got “cold bitch”, and really it was only notable because this guy was still telling everyone what a cold bitch I was three years after I’d seen him for the last time. I still wore the title with pride! This wasn’t even a guy I had dated, just one who randomly decided I was the perfect woman for him. The day I chopped my hair all off, he started loudly telling someone where i could hear (but not technically ‘to’ me) how much he didn’t like short-haired girls and what was with women trying to act like men. Not my intent upon cutting my hair, but added bonus!!
“I really hate girls with short hair.”
“Noted. Siri, remind me to set a haircut appointment in one month.”
Frosty the snow-bitch
Oh, she dared turn down a guy
He whined and cried and guilt-tripped and sighed
‘Till she punched him in the eye
Sadly, “So she said, ‘Don’t let the door hit you on the way out'” broke the meter of the song too much.
*standing, applauding wildy, and shouting ‘BRAVA’ at the top of her lungs*
*claps and cheers wildly and sets this song on repeat*
*bows* Thank you, thank you both! I’ll be here all week.
One strategy I use sometimes is polite collaboration. Like, “OK, friend of boyfriend, we’re really different people, and I want to respect that. So if I want to have a small-talk-only relationship with you, what’s the best way for me to communicate that? Let’s brainstorm together.”
It frames the conversation such that “you should just like me” is by definition not a solution. It also forces him to sympathize with you, which can really help in the long term.
If he says something like “I need you to justify your reasons for not wanting to be X type of friend with me,” you can ask him to list reasons he would accept, which is similarly awkward in making him say out loud what he is implying. And you’re always free to say, “Huh, okay. Well, back to the real issue here, which is our communication.” Or cut straight to, “this isn’t about my personal decisions, it’s about how we communicate.”
Ugh. I’ve known that dude way too many times, and I’m entering a Fuck Being Nice phase of life, so the scripts directly from my gut are pretty much Nuclear Option.
Him: “Hey, why won’t you be more friendly?”
You: “Hey, why can’t you respect my boundaries? Do you have a problem with women telling you ‘No’? What’s wrong with you?”
Him: “Hey, why won’t you be more friendly?”
You: “Maybe it’s because you show a complete lack of respect for my boundaries and harass me constantly. You should probably work on that.”
Him: “Hey, why won’t you be more friendly?”
You: “FUCK OFF, JERK.”
Of course, YMMV.
Lol, Courtney, this is the best. I want to work on these kinds of answers for my own life. I love how quick they seem on the screen–I only hope someday I can think as quickly in conversation!
Sometimes the Gods of Snark smile upon us.
It’s easier to come up with these things on the fly when you give fewer fucks about what some people think about you or being seen in a certain way in general.
I’m in my early 40s and have realized in the past few years just how much I have limited myself in life and just how much bullshit I have endured because I bought into way too much of my “Nice Girl/Ladylike” upbringing. One day, I had the realization that…maybe I’m not “nice” and maybe…that’s OK.
Him: “Hey, why won’t you be more friendly?”
You: “I’m only friends with people I actually like.”
Courtney, thank you. Do you know that I have used the line about not being able to respect women’s boundaries! As quickly in the conversation as that, too, but part of my original letter to the Captain that I left out is that he gets offended, OFFENDED, by the implication that he’s being anything other than nice! And then, you know, I hate men, don’t I, why can’t I see him as a person, etc etc and we’re back to where we began where I am the problem. My ending the conversation with “I feel how I feel” and “I’m not going to change just to appease you” and “we will have to agree to disagree” winds up with him saying “well I’m going to keep putting the effort in.” I have an ex who refused to end a three-hour argument until I had come around to his point of view and that contributed to why I ended things with him, but this guy’s done a number on me in a bunch of ways I’m still coming to terms with. I’ll keep these returns in mind when I re-enter the foray; if I bring attention to myself when I say them maybe he’ll at least be cowed into backing off. Thanks again for the boost of bravery.
My ending the conversation with “I feel how I feel” and “I’m not going to change just to appease you” and “we will have to agree to disagree” winds up with him saying “well I’m going to keep putting the effort in.”
I…wait. What? No. Huh?
Well his threat to continue harassing you is just that. A threat.
Maybe when he says it you could point that out?
You: you just threatened to harass me. Please don’t. My desire to be left alone trumps your desire to be close.
“Well his threat to continue harassing you is just that. A threat.”
Harassment is also in the form of refusing to respect LW’s framing of her position: “well I’m going to keep putting the effort in.” when LW has made an unmistakable statement of a position that there is absolutely nothing to put effort into.
That’s where “I’m done” and an exit will be needful. Because he’s not making it about an exchange of opinions between equal partners, but one of you listening to him dictate terms. Or he’ll be offended.
I’m afraid this one’s not for cowing, although I’ll be happy to read a report that I’m wrong about that.
Follow your gut when it comes to when to vehemently stand your ground, when to use evasive tactics, and when to leave. I’m happy to champion bravery, but I am an even bigger fan of personal safety and self care. Only you can decide if a given meeting with Mr. I Find Your Boundaries Offensive is the right time to scorch the earth or not. You might not have the energy and just want to leave. You might get a weird feeling that if you scorch the earth with him, he will become scary or violent. You may be at your favorite restaurant and not want to make a scene in front of the staff who know you as a regular.
Whatever you decide in any given reaction, remember this: YOU are not in the wrong here. YOU are not the one being weird or mean or intense or inappropriate. YOU are not the one breaking the social contract.
Don’t let him make you feel like this is your fault. There is not a tiny piece of this that is your fault. Not one fucking atom.
Also, it’s OK to just cut off all contact with this guy. You said in an earlier comment that your BF is backing you, so you can enlist his help in just not seeing this guy anymore. You can make plans with subsets of the group without this asshole. You can say, “I don’t want him in my space.” You can block him on all media. You can choose to skip parties where he will be in attendance or enlist other friends to be “blockers” to keep him away from you at large gatherings. You don’t have to subject yourself to his odious presence.
oh God. oh dear God.
“i’m going to keep putting the effort in”…that’s a threat. Or maybe it’s a promise. Basically he’s told you that there is literally nothing you can do or say that will make him give up. This man is no better than the ex who trapped you into a three-hour argument.
Stay FAR FAR AWAY from him! Tell your boyfriend what he said, and that it’s very clear that this guy has no intention of leaving you alone. And DO NOT be anywhere near him.
And if he comes near you? Stuff like coming to the house when your bf isn’t home? Showing up where you work? Document, document, document. Let everyone–coworkers, friends, neighbors–know that you this man threatened you and that you don’t want to be around him.
I met a friend of a friend at a party. She was awesome. She liked the things that I like. She lives only a few miles from me. Let’s hang out! I said. Two months later, email from her! Plans to hang out! It was great fun. I liked it. We had supper together with partners. I had fun. Emailed her to say, lovely time, great fun, do again?
Got nothing back.
Emailed her to say, thinking of you, hang out?
Got nothing back.
Took my slightly saddened self off to hang out with other people and left her alone.
Thank you, Army, for confirming my decision, and reminding me that this is how it’s done. Even people who seem like the perfect friend do not, in fact, have to like me.
Don’t take it personally, though! I did this to many, many people before discovering that I had such a dicky thyroid, it was a wonder I got out of the house at all. Respecting a person’s decisions and space is a sign that you are a classy person, worth hanging out with— the exact opposite, in some ways, of problem dude.
I’m echoing all the other commenters who are mystified by the “intense” comment. When I think of intense people, I think of the Theatre Major trying to out-Theatre Major all the other Theatre Majors. Which may just be a long way of saying Theatre Majors. (I say this with the love of someone who was besties with theatre majors throughout college and stopped being a theatre major after deciding the culture was waaaay too, in fact, intense for me.)
It sounds like people who are leveling “intense” towards you are objecting to a certain amount of self-possession. Which reminds me of how women so often called “outspoken,” which seems like a compliment at first. Then you realize that it’s actually a subtle way of condemning your for speaking at all. Why Time can’t put “outspoken” in their banned words poll instead of racist and sexist bullshit is beyond me. But I digress.
I am really happy that your boyfriend is being supportive and saying very good things! I like him. I do not like this friend of his.
Here’s the thing: I don’t think that this “but why won’t you be my frrrriiiieeennnddd” nonsense actually has anything to do with him wanting to be your friend. He wants something from you or he wouldn’t be doing this, but I don’t think it’s your friendship. My first thought was that he’s trying to drive a wedge between you and your boyfriend honestly, but I’ve been known to have more paranoia about this stuff than is strictly healthy. But by any chance, did this behavior get worse or change in any tangible way when boyfriend stopped living with this dude?
Regardless of why, and it is ultimately irrelevant to the fact that this is shitty and needs to stop, it’s a tactic. He’s clearly not being oblivious if he’s only doing it when your bf is not there. This is intentional and manipulative and abusive. Those warning bells that go off when you’re with him? You are right to listen them, and I am glad you are! Dude is bad news.
Possibly this would be a terrible idea, so feel free to ignore, but I wonder if when boyfriend tells dude to knock it the fuck off (which it sounds like he will; go boyfriend!), he should ask why dude is so fixated on you being friends with him. I don’t think he’d tell the truth to be honest; I think he’d try and play your boyfriend in some other way to keep boyfriend in his social sphere. But it might be useful to know what he’d say to your boyfriend to put his actions in the best light. I don’t know if that would clarify things with your boyfriend or not, so like I said, take that suggestion with a grain of salt.
I don’t know, I’m very much in Camp Boyfriend Should African Violet the Emotionally Manipulative Douchenozzle in the Room. And in Camp You Should Stay the Fuck Away from that Guy. Like seriously, I think any effort to be near this guy at all is a waste of energy on your part. Plan to stay away from him, and I bet you will feel happy and relieved as a result. But if you accidentally run into him at the grocery store, feel free to sing him own version of “Let It Go” about the fucks you no longer give about him and his creepy ass. Otherwise, there is zero benefit to you spending any more time with him.
Intense means nothing as a personality description. You could be intensely articulate, intensely funny or, in this case, intensely disinclined to put up with someone approaching your boundaries like Germany blitzkrieging Poland.
Oh wow, he reminds me of my ex-housemate. This guy kept giving me weird, intervention-y talks about how “we feel like you’re not bonding with the house” and “when we’re in the backyard having a drink, you should join us sometimes”. I then pointed out that:
– They tended to drink in the late evening, Monday-Thursday, since one of them was a bartender and worked weekends, and the others had irregular schedules
– I was in an office for 9 hours a day, every weekday, necessitating I wake up at fuck-my-life AM
– Therefore, not wanting to join them for a drink wasn’t a deliberate snub, but a fundamental conflict of life scheduling
The first time he brought it up, I felt bad – I didn’t want to give my still-newish housemates the impression I disliked them! The second time this came up, I was a bit more blunt, because “I would really appreciate it if you made more of an effort” – which is both a summary of his tone, and a direct quote – struck me as really patronising. Also, none of the other housemates had said *anything* to that effect when I did bump into them, so I couldn’t tell if his “we” actually included more than just himself.
Had there been a third such discussion, I would have at least been able to say, “I was polite but blunt, and it worked/didn’t work/went horribly awry/went better than I expected,” but shortly after I got back from my month-long vacation [long story], he and his girlfriend moved out abruptly due to a family crisis. I then found out the landlord didn’t even know he was living there (his girlfriend was officially the sole tenant of that room).
LW, I’m so glad your boyfriend has your back in this! I’m betting this friend of his *won’t* pull a convenient disappearing act, so when he starts pushing you again, you will be WELL within your rights to push back.
“Bond with the house”? What does that even mean? Were you supposed to tell your life story to the stairs? That sounds so much like that awful, awkward scene about the flair in Office Space, where Jennifer Aniston’s boss doesn’t just want her to wear more pins & crap, he wants her to *want* to wear more and to *enjoy* wearing it.
*snort* I began to suspect “bonding” was a codeword for “smoking”, since “Californian who doesn’t smoke weed” didn’t quite seem to compute. I definitely should’ve just started chatting up the refrigerator – “Hey, me and the appliances are *plenty* bonded!”
I haven’t seen Office Space, so I looked up the flair scene on YouTube and AHAHAHAHA, yup, swap out a drunken pseudotherapist for the wacky boss and you have it.
This is a bigger social problem than the Geek Fallacies. It’s part of the social lying we’re taught at a very early age. “Truths people won’t want to hear” = “being rude”. If someone asks, “Do I look fat in this?” no matter the reality, it’s considered better to reply “No,” than, “Yeah, do NOT wear those pants, they make your butt look huge even though you’re not fat at all,” or “OMG that shirt make you look pregnant, what is wrong with those designers?!” Even though I’d much rather hear about something like that from the friend with me in the clothing store than my mother or sister (who will be honest about that) after I’ve paid $50 for the shirt.
Telling someone “Look, I’m sorry, but we don’t get on, I’m not hanging out with you,” and then just not dealing with them (except at group gatherings where you happen to both be there and you give general greetings) is not rude. Pretending to be someone’s friend and then being nasty behind their back is rude. As someone who’s had a lot of the latter, I much prefer the former. And the fact that this “friend” doesn’t get that and won’t back off says a couple of things:
a: either he’s never experienced that or is too dense to have noticed
b: he’s so full of himself that he can’t imagine it would ever happen (no one could possibly not like MEeee!)
c: HE’s more than likely done so in the past, because people who insist on everyone being friends with them and ignore everyone else’s feeling are usually not looking for friends, but rather ego props and toys. And they’re not careful with their toys.
Next time the conversation comes up, try “I’m not friends with assholes. I’ve been polite even though I don’t care for you and you’ve ignored my boundaries. That makes you an asshole. Fuck off.” If this is anywhere remotely private, make sure to say it as loudly as possible. Call attention to his bad behavior. Their may be quite a few other people who think this, but everyone is so afraid of being “rude” that no one will say anything. And if nothing else, HE may be afraid to continue once you’ve publicly denounced him. And confronting him on his behavior publicly can also head off some of his “I’m trying to be nice and she just ignores me what a bitch” whisper campain. And like others have said, if another person/entire group/whatever still side with him, it’s a giant sign to cut the whole rotting limb off.
Here’s who it’s supposed to work. Person A is being creepy and pushy. A ignoring your boundaries makes you uncomfortable. You tell A to back off. A pretends that he’s trying to be nice/helpful/friends/whatev and that it’s something wrong with -you-. Your actual friend X notices you being uncomfortable and A being an asshole. X tells A to never darken your doorstep again.
If they’re really amazing, they do it while you’re still trying to figure out why you’re so uncomfortable and “hey, no, this guy’s being an asshat.”
The thought which stands out to me is: Why would you want to be friends with someone who doesn’t even like you? What on earth would you expect to get out of that relationship?
This guy is weird, OP. It’s not you.
The situation reminds me a bit of a disagreement I had with a friend, about a used-to-be-mutual-friend-that-I-no-longer-liked-because-he-did-something-really-shitty.
Friend: You know, it would be REALLY CONVENIENT if you’d just get over Incident, so that all my friends could hang out together again.
Me: I’m not obligated to make your life convenient.
Friend: I just don’t know why you can’t forgive him and move on!
Me: I don’t have to forgive him, and you seem to be the one who hasn’t moved on. Let it go. Hang out with everyone without me. Really, I won’t be hurt.
LW, you’re not obligated to be convenient, or nice, or friendly to anyone. You have some really good alarm systems that were installed by some real assholes, and those alarm systems are ringing! You’re doing great in listening to them, and asking for help. You did your best, you did nothing wrong by treating this dude like he was normal, but now that you know he’s a gaslighting jerkface, it’s ok to move forward and just stop trying with him. At all. I would nth not being alone with him at all, as well. He makes me really uncomfortable and I don’t even know him!
I think one of the first alarm bells for me in this was the sentence “It kind of sucks when your friend’s girlfriend is neutral to you in your own living room.” Not anything that could possibly be construed as negative, just…neutral. Not even “when she trashes the TV shows I like to watch”. Just ‘neutral’. Hell, my own brother didn’t get more than ‘neutral’ most days, when we still lived in the same house. (My brother’s also got some flavour of ADD for which he is now, thankfully, medicated because back when we were kids and he wasn’t medicating for it, he’d think it was hilarious to chase me and my sister around the house with knives and set fires (in the fireplace, thankfully, but he’d then wander off and forget he set them, which would be a problem in itself if Dad did not then proceed to flip out over it). What I’m saying is, there’s reasons why I don’t particularly want to be close and sibling-y with my brother.)
LW, I’m n-thing the comments that your alarm systems are working just fine. You don’t have to be more than just ‘social politeness’ neutral to someone, especially not in this case.
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