>Which is more disturbing? Someone who cannot possibly see that they are inconsiderate, selfish, obnoxious and demanding, or someone who suddenly asks you if they are selfish, inconsiderate, obnoxious or demanding, and you say, well, sometimes a little, but it’s no big deal, and then they try to force their personality to fit into what you may want like some kind of shapeshifter?
I had an, well, acquaintance, who has already tried to make himself a boyfriend, even though he will never admit it, acted like a semi-stalker, and then wonders why I won’t tell him my deepest, darkest secrets. The other day, he said he was having some trouble connecting with people and wondered if he was doing something wrong. He said to me, “I always feel like I’m unloading on you. Am I?”
I thought. and thought. and thought. I’m a terrible liar, and I like to be honest with people wherever I can. I admit sometimes I stay silent, not saying what I think, but if someone asks me a question point blank, well…I have a hard time squirming away from the truth. I thought some more. Sometimes it does feel like he’s unloading on me and not leaving me any time to talk. He’ll message me late at night and scream that he has a computer question and he needs help right now. Sometimes he’ll call and talk for long times and talk about nothing, or ask vague questions where you know there’s more to it.
But then again, he’s not exactly someone I feel comfortable unloading on. You know how you have certain friends who just make you laugh, but you wouldn’t tell them anything serious? Maybe you have some friends who you can always lean on, and they lean on you too, and then there are the friends who seem to lean on you more than you lean on them, and part of the reason is you’re pretty sure they can’t handle it, or would say something that would hurt. He’s one of the third type, and I keep him at an extra distance because of the creepy factor that he’s shown me before.
But he does ask me how I am, which is more than I can say for some of my friends who just talk and talk and talk and they might as well be talking to a machine.
So I thought some more. I decided to tell him, “Well, sometimes, when you call late at night and need computer help right now, without asking if I can do it, it feels like you’re demanding. But part of it is me just giving in and helping you without standing up for myself. Sometimes, you just call and rant and you don’t even ask if I have time or whatever. But at least sometimes, you ask how I am, which is good. So don’t really worry about it. It just might be nice to be asked at 10 at night if I’m up for helping with the computer before dumping the problem on me. Other than that, no biggy, don’t worry.”
Next, I get this creepy email that says something like, “Do you want me to change, or just stay the same?” Um, what do you want to do? It’s not about what I want, it’s what you want. I don’t want to order you to change your personality, and I don’t want you to put on an act for me. I told him to just be himself, I didn’t want any kind of forced change. I said if change was going to happen, it was going to be an evolution.
Then I get this call. It was so fake. It was like he was holding himself back, thinking about every single sentence as if it was a move in chess. It was mercifully short, interrupted by a call waiting beep, but even as short as it was, It was creepy. It was, just, ug. And part of me wonders if it was ug on its own merits, or if it was ug because of who he is, who he has been.
What is it with people who think a friendship is like a scientific or mathematical formula, and if they just add x and subtract y, it will all work out? It makes me sad, because they must have 0 ability to read social queues, so of course they must be confused. But how does someone learn something like that? How does a person grow a gut instinct? Are they doomed to wander around lost, unable to really take direction and apply it without it looking fake? And then I wonder if I’ve created a monster by being honest, when I probably should have known that he couldn’t possibly take what I said the way it was intended and said “oh no, not at all. Don’t worry.”
ThenI wonder if I’m doing what I always couldn’t stand about dad. No matter what you did, it was wrong. If you were silent when he was yelling at you, you were just being stubborn. But if you said something back, you were being argumentative and lippy. If you helped out, but not precisely the way he wanted you to, you weren’t doing it right. But if you tried to stay out of the way, you were being lazy. If you played outside on a Saturday, you weren’t doing enough schoolwork. But if you did homework for too long, you weren’t getting enough fresh air! Arg! So here I go. I can’t count the number of times I’ve said, “I wish the people who are so inconsiderate would realize how they’re driving their friends away and stop to think of others for a second!” Now this person has, and I just want him to go back to being himself, because this new way of acting just seems forced, and fake, and…well…manipulative! I wonder what he’s up to! I can’t trust that this is genuine! So what do I really want?
Then I think, maybe he’s trying, in his own misguided way, to be a better friend, but he’s clueless about how to do it, so I shouldn’t be so hard on him.
Finally I wonder if I’m making this way too complicated and I should just follow my gut. So am I nuts? Is one worse than the other? Or maybe the key is to meet in the middle somewhere.