Archive

Tag Archives: Geek Social Fallacies

Hi Captain!

Tl:dr – What do you say when someone needs you to tell them that you care about them more than you do care about them? Is there a way to be honest but not make them feel like you actually dislike them? Is there a way to lie so that they actually believe you? Is there a way to get them to knock off asking you?

Longer-then-400-words-version:

My partner has a long-time friend who is lonely, isolated, sporadically employed, and who has some mental health issues. Friend is smart, funny, usually well-meaning, and knows how far to push friendship and charity without pushing too hard. My partner gives Friend lots of time and occasional money.

None of this is a problem. Friend doesn’t intrude on our family time too much, and my partner’s friendships are theirs to manage. Partner doesn’t bring Friend into every conversation or insist that Friend is at all of our events. Friend doesn’t usually inconvenience me at all, and if they do it’s in ways that I’m happy to do to for my partner, and because I have goodwill to Friend and I don’t mind hosting them or hanging out.

My problem is that Friend will sometimes initiate conversations with me about what a burden Friend is to me, and how Friend feels ashamed to be included in events that are important to me when they are Partner’s Friend and not My Friend. I don’t think Friend actually wants to be my friend – they don’t usually ask how I am, or talk to me when my partner isn’t around, or seem to care about me except as someone to listen to them (although they are like that with my partner, too, because Friend is very self-absorbed). I think that Friend would like it if **I** really felt a true friendship-like connection to Friend that would cause me to **really** want to invite Friend to stuff not as a charity, and to **really** want to hang out and chat with Friend, even though I don’t think Friend feels that way toward me or wants to feel that way toward me.

Friend is very smart, and certainly is very sensitive to how people feel about them and react to them, so Friend knows that, in fact, I don’t feel those ways. I feel charitable good will, Friend isn’t an unbearable pain to have around, and I love my partner and don’t want to keep someone out of our home who matters to my partner. Friend also knows when I’m lying.

So when Friend asks me these things, I usually do some combo of lie and deflect. I say that Partner and I both brought lots of our own friends and family to the relationship, and that we each hang out with and play host to each other’s peeps. I say that it’s my pleasure to have Friend over. But even though both of those things are true, I’m not answering Friend’s real question, which seems to be something like “don’t you care about me,” or even “why don’t you love me.” I do think that my partner loves Friend. Love is a wonderful mystery, because I can see that Friend is not a very good friend in a traditional sense, but that if you love a person, you just do love them. I don’t love Friend, and I like Friend only in a casual way.

Friend’s need to be loved and to be reassured both touches me and also annoys me. Friend is not good with social conventions like “don’t make people choose between lying or saying mean stuff,” and when they ask me these things I usually fall back on really strict social conventions like, “I am at best saying empty nothing right now and at worst lying because That’s What We Do,” but I don’t like it. Moreover, it doesn’t give Friend any of what they need – it’s neither honest nor kind.

Is there a better, more honest, kinder way to respond?

– Not Your Friend, But Not Mean About It Either

Read More

Hi Captain Awkward,

I find myself in a very awkward but relatively low-stakes situation with a classmate. There is a woman in my cohort at college who has this weird habit of rescheduling other students’ social events (not just mine, but mostly mine). For example, someone invites the group by email out to go hiking, and she’ll respond saying let’s all go bowling instead. Once I invited everyone to a dinner party I was hosting at my home, and she tried to change the event to be a restaurant outing at a different time!

I understand that in the course of group planning, sometimes people negotiate things like whether to meet at 8 or 9, or whether to get Mexican or Italian, but her behavior is going way beyond that. And frankly, sometimes I don’t really care if everyone can make it – I just want to go see this awesome concert and it’d be even more awesome if others wanted to join.

There’s obviously a lot of GSF5 going on here. How can I talk to her about this without making it seem like I don’t care about her presence? I do care, and I love spending time with her, but I can’t accommodate her on every social outing. Also/alternatively, what is a polite way to indicate to the group, after she inevitably makes some “helpful” suggestions, that my invitation is not up for negotiation?

Just Send Me Your Regrets
(she/her)

Read More

Dear Captain Awkward,

I think my partner has a big Geek Social Fallacy problem.

We live together in a small house in an expensive area where lots of people live with parents or roommates. So, ever since before we met, he’s hosted huge blowout theme parties for his entire geeky friendgroup. He always encourages them to bring new people and expand his social circle. Partner enjoys being The Cool Fun Host.

Partner was a late bloomer socially, had terrible ostracizing experiences and some related depression issues, so now he’s trying to make up for lost time. He wants to be as inclusive and welcoming as possible. Which sounds great in theory! He’s big-hearted and just wants everyone to be his friend.

When I first moved in with Partner, I enjoyed these parties — organizing them, coming up with themes. But the more comfortable I became thinking of it as “our house” instead of “partner’s house”, the more protective I’m becoming of my living space. The more I dread the thought of prepping the house for a destructive messy horde of nerds and cleaning up after them and yielding my space for a night. I’m finding I’m enjoying hosting smaller, more controlled gatherings.

On top of this, our good friend recently pointed out a Missing Stair in this friendgroup. Missing Stair has made a few people uncomfortable, and, who knows, may be driving away others. But we just know a couple of anecdotes, and while Partner admits Missing Stair is a jerk, he doesn’t know where he should draw the line. Because inclusivity. And Missing Stair hasn’t done anything egregious and maybe a few people just don’t like him. Partner isn’t comfortable disinviting _anyone_, much less this specific Missing Stair, because he knows how it feels to be uninvited and it’s evil and horrible.

So how wrong and awful does Missing Stair have to be for Partner to disinvite him? And how do we balance how much control over the parties I get to have? Obviously I think Missing Stair should be uninvited right now. But these are still mostly Partner’s parties, even though I help host and I live here too. I hate feeling like I’m trampling all over Partner’s fun and trying control everything now that we live together.

Normally Partner and I are great at communicating, but he has a terrible blind spot here.

— Killjoy

Read More

Dear Captain Awkward,

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

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

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

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

Thanks,

-Grossed Out

Read More

Dear Captain Awkward:

I’m a transman – reasonably attractive, fairly extroverted, early in my transition. I have recently moved to a new city and found a group of people who are both awesome (sharing similar interests and drives) and supportive of my transition. I even started dating a nice young man in this group. Then he called it off. We took time apart. I was distressed, but realised I’d rather have his friendship than nothing because he’s important.

Since then, however, he’s been flirty, possessive (both verbally, when someone else hits on me, and by keeping my things), mis-gendering me publicly, and generally a combination of acting like a jock out of an 80’s movie and like we’re still together. It’s unattractive, unlike him, and causing me a lot of distress. I’ve tried talking to him and it feels like, short of cutting myself out of our shared friends circle, I’m stuck with this. He’s even telling people that we’re still together! I am stuck looking like the asshole who can’t deal and I am at a loss.

At a Total Loss

Dear At A Loss:

I am so sorry this is happening to you, and that it feels like a choice between your own safety and comfort and your new-found friends. You are correct that if he keeps doing this and your other friends won’t check him or back you up, you will have to leave the group. It is heartbreaking and unfair.

A lot of people will jump in and say “DTMFA!” “Get new friends who appreciate you!” and yes, it may come to that, but I won’t insult you by suggesting that’s an easy thing to do especially when you are in a new city. Those of us who live away from our families create families with our friends. Those relationships are primal and very important, and they can change and grow and survive hard times if there is love and a willingness to work at it.

Read More

Dear Captain Awkward:

I appreciated your advice regarding being open to the possibility that two siblings can grow up in the same home but have completely different experiences and interpretations of the environment.

As I was reading I found myself identifying with the sister, whom the question-asker describes as still being stuck in the abusive situation but not seeing it as so.  Last year our small and close-knit church community went through a very painful split, with a handful of people leaving with claims that the head pastor was spiritually abusing them.  It’s a very (VERY) long and complicated ordeal, but I found myself wondering what sort of advice you might give to the “sister” who is still connected to the parents (or in my case, authority figure/pastor) whom other people have experienced as abusive.  In my personal interactions with this pastor I’ve actually felt very well cared for and respected.  He did our premarital counseling and has provided a great deal of encouragement, mentoring and advice to my husband and I in the first 4 years of our marriage.

Because my experience of him has been so different than theirs, I find myself really struggling to know how to connect with them in a healthy and productive way.  The feeling I get from these friends who’ve left is that the only version of reality they accept is their own, and any other possible explanation is just a symptom of the abuse.  In their eyes I am a naive automaton, enabling an abusive and evil man.  It’s really quite insulting and saddening.

Any advice for the other side of this question?

The Other Sister

Dear Other Sister,

Intern Paul and I have been Googling spiritual abuse, and it’s taken us to a dark and scary part of the Internet.  Can you help us define the concept and be a little more detailed about what your friends say happened?

Read More