January 11, 2020 at 1:49 am #332647
I am keeping myself awake thinking about this terrible interaction I had with a former classmate through Facebook.
When I first met this person, he seemed like a fine guy. He had lots of friends in our class, he would sell his art prints and tapestries to people around campus. I thought it was cool he was making money off his art, but really I wasn’t seeking him out in any way. I found out we lived in the same dorm building by running into him on the stairs one time after class, so I thought it might be nice to make a connection, we could read each others essays or whatever.. But the whole time he just seemed uncomfortable, like I was creeping him out, like I had trapped him by stopping him to say hi. I remember thinking “does he think I’m hitting on him?” “is there something stuck in my teeth?” “do I smell bad?” you know, like what was wrong with me? he seemed so nice to everyone else..
It was my freshman year. I think I went back to my dorm and cried. I was having such a hard time making friends, and this was just another name to add to the list of people who didn’t want anything to do with me, Another person to avoid making eye contact with or to try to ignore when bump into each other in the laundry room, cafeteria ect.. It was hard.
We’ve sine had 2 other classes together, and I won’t lie it was fucking hard on me. Especially when he has a group of friends that make up a decent portion of the class, and I just have to sit there knowing that they don’t want anything to do with me. In groups like that, it seems like people won’t break the “code” of the group. It’s pervasive. I tried to join a study group with a couple of girls that he was friends with, and they treated me the EXACT same way. It’s like they had to grit their teeth even just to get through a 30 second interaction with me.
Anyway, he recently posted some long post on Facebook about being suicidal, having it rough from some trauma in his life (I think he came out as gay at some point and had a lot of rejection in his home town). He also started posting a lot of altruistic posts about how much and how deeply he cares for the planet and people. It really got on my nerves, because I felt in real life he was the same cruelty towards people that he expressed about experiencing himself and it damaging himself, as well as being a hypocrite.
I made the mistake of confronting him on this, basically asking “do you realize you treat people like shit just the same?” and needless to say, it got out of hand. We exchanged a couple of “fuck you”s, and then I realized this was not how I wanted it to go at all. He ended up telling me he has the right to be selective about who he’s nice too, that nobody owes me their friendship, that it was my fault for being hurt by reading his actions in that way, and that ultimately he doesn’t give a fuck about how I feel. He said that what I was saying was hilarious, to think that people would cater to my feelings. Then he said “good luck in college, farewell” and blocked me. I guess I don’t know what I was expecting, right? I guess I got what I deserved. But I realized at some point in the conversation that I wanted more than anything to make peace with the situation. And I feel stupid and powerless now. I made this 10x worse for myself.
I think relationships with people are important, and I seem to just fuck them up on all levels all the time. The truth is, I am mad at people like him. I think, why do they get to treat others poorly/lesser than?January 11, 2020 at 6:01 am #332661InkyParticipant
If he didn’t admit publicly to being suicidal, I would have say, “You go girl!” Unfortunately, you chose the worst time to confront him. People don’t like to be called out on their crap. Here he thought he was being altruistic by allowing you to be a FB Friend, but then you called him out. And worse, other people saw that you called him out. There is such a thing as the Silent Majority. He blocked you in case other people chose to voice their similar opinions.
Chances are, there are plenty of people who feel the same way about him.
Again, if he wasn’t suicidal recently, I would have said, “You go girl!” I always hated sanctimonious popular college bros.
Good luck walking around on campus. Hold your head up.
InkyJanuary 11, 2020 at 7:43 am #332683anitaParticipant
I am connecting your new thread to your previous one and to my own life experience at your age.
In your previous thread you wrote that you are repulsed by your mother. When I read it I figured (and expressed to you there) that a child is never repulsed by her mother before her mother rejects the child first, and repeatedly.
This guy, you felt rejected by him and by his friends, but what if you rejected them first but didn’t notice, maybe by your facial/ body language. Maybe you figured early on that he rejected you while he simply didn’t notice you, and from that point, you felt rejected, hurt, maybe angry and your hurt (and maybe anger) showed in your facial and body language.
When I was your age, the moment a person ignored me, I jumped to the conclusion that the person thought I was not worthy of positive attention, and so although I craved attention, I looked away, was not involved in conversations, did not smile at the person (and friends of that person), and maybe I looked angry. So my expressions and behaviors were not inviting. I probably looked like I was not interested in the people I believed rejected me first.
Can this be a possibility regarding what happened with this young man and his friends?
anitaJanuary 11, 2020 at 10:11 am #332703
The messages we send others through our interactions with them, whether intentional or not, can be complicated. I think a lot can be learned by what may be going on here.
When you ran into this guy in the stairwell and discovered he lived in your dorm building, you had all kinds of thoughts run through your mind…that the two of you could be friends, could read each other’s essays, etc. So you stopped him with the intention of making a connection with him there in the stairwell. In other words, you had a specific goal behind the interaction. But he seemed creeped out by it all, leaving you feeling rejected.
Now let’s look at it from a different perspective (maybe his?). He’s on his way to where he needs to be, walking down (or up) the stairs in his dorm building. He’s got a dozen things on his mind as people often do. In the stairwell he sees a girl who he’s met before but doesn’t really know (you), and she stops him to start up a conversation. So there they both are, standing in the stairwell. Perhaps others are coming and going up and down the stairs, or maybe the two are all alone. Regardless, it’s an awkward conversation, seems almost forced to him. It feels that she may have some expectations now that she’s discovered they both live in the same dorm building, but he’s only trying to get to where he needs to be. He feels uncomfortable.
This “friendship” has started off on the wrong foot.
Another way to have handled this interaction would have been to have simply said hello when you saw him in the stairwell, and then continued on your way without stopping him. No expectations. No forced conversation. You think he’s a cool guy and would like to be friends with him, but you can’t force these things. You’re bound to run into him again and again since he lives in your dorm building, so a simple “hello” would have sufficed at this time.
And as you already know, confronting him publicly on FB was the wrong move. This was an impulsive decision on your part, but it’s a good lesson to learn, that our actions have consequences. So you now have to live with these consequences. Before you make a move, think things through. Learn this lesson.
This will pass but the lesson is a valuable one. Hang in there, Janine. You’ll be okay.
BJanuary 11, 2020 at 1:24 pm #332735
oh, it was not a public confrontation, for anyone wondering. it was through a private messageJanuary 11, 2020 at 1:38 pm #332737
I was wondering, when I talked to him I asked him “why wouldn’t you just say you’re stressed/busy/have to go?” or a simple “see you in class”, I said that this would have made it a lot better for everyone.. he wouldn’t feel trapped and could get on his merry way, and I wouldn’t take it personally. He laughed at this, saying “it’s hilarious that you think anyone in the world owes you that”. Is that true?January 11, 2020 at 1:42 pm #332739
I don’t know what to say about the suicidal thing, it seemed to me it was more of an awareness post of something he had experienced in the past. It was more like “I’ve overcome this struggle, if anyone else is struggling, please reach out” type thing..January 11, 2020 at 2:12 pm #332743anitaParticipant
I am trying to understand: the two of you are not friends and have no relationship. It is just that you wanted to make a connection with him, but none was made. You lived in the same dorm building. You’d see him once in a while”running into him on the stairs” of the dorm building you shared, and you’d see him elsewhere.
At one point you expressed to him that you were angry at him for ignoring you and you asked him: “why wouldn’t you just say you’re stressed/ busy/ have to go?”.
He answered that it was much to expect of of him (or anyone), to stop for every person he comes across on his way down the stairs and everywhere he goes, and explain why he doesn’t have the time to talk to this person and that person (i.e., that would be too many people to stop for and he’ll be late to class or the bus or whatnot if he stopped for everyone).
Did I understand correctly?
anitaJanuary 11, 2020 at 5:46 pm #332775
I was wondering, when I talked to him I asked him “why wouldn’t you just say you’re stressed/busy/have to go?” or a simple “see you in class”, I said that this would have made it a lot better for everyone.. he wouldn’t feel trapped and could get on his merry way, and I wouldn’t take it personally. He laughed at this, saying “it’s hilarious that you think anyone in the world owes you that”. Is that true?
You’re not going to like my answer: Yes, it’s true.
Why did you feel it was okay to stop him in the stairwell to talk when he was headed somewhere? Have you ever experienced that yourself?…You’re on your way to say dinner or class and someone you hardly know sees you and expects you to stop and have a conversation with him? Did it not cross your mind to ask “Do you have a few minutes to talk?” before automatically engaging in a conversation with him?
Janine, I’m sorry, I’m really not trying to make you feel worse; I just want you to see another side of the situation.
BJanuary 11, 2020 at 6:18 pm #332781
Well, I know we were both at least headed to our dorms, since it was right after class and we had walked into though the door to the building at the same time. But I am not even sure if that’s important. If someone engages with me for more than a couple minutes, I assume they are now an equally responsible for participating the conversation. If they didn’t want to talk for even a second, why would they stop in the first place? Why wouldn’t they just keep walking? It’s not like I am able to hold anyone captive by talking to them. I usually am trusting the other person to end the conversation whenever they want to, if I don’t end it first.
I guess I am confused, should I not say hello to my classmates when I see them outside of class, out of consideration for all the things they might potentially be doing or feeling? I don’t know, I feel like you are then asking me to be responsible for the other person’s feelings here.
I can think of many times when I was rushing somewhere, or just didn’t want to talk or interact, and I always felt very natural saying whatever it was that was needed to move on. Rarely was anyone asking me “Are you okay to talk right now? do you have time?”.
I am wondering what you think should have been done here. Was it that I shouldn’t have said hello in the first place? Or acknowledge to him that we live in the same building? Or that I needed to ask him for permission to say hello to him?January 11, 2020 at 7:09 pm #332787
If they didn’t want to talk for even a second, why would they stop in the first place? Why wouldn’t they just keep walking?
To be polite.
It’s not like I am able to hold anyone captive by talking to them. I usually am trusting the other person to end the conversation whenever they want to, if I don’t end it first.
You said that the whole time you were talking with him he seemed uncomfortable, like you had “trapped him” by stopping him to say hi. Those were your words. If it were me I would have immediately ended the conversation once I picked up on his discomfort. To me it would mean he doesn’t want to talk. Maybe it was the awkward location (stairwell). Maybe it was that he had some place to be. Maybe he was feeling upset or down (you mentioned he had been suicidal). Maybe he has anxiety. Maybe the conversation itself was just too awkward for him. Maybe something was said that rubbed him the wrong way or “creeped” him out (your words again). He didn’t end the conversation because he was being polite, but he wasn’t able to hide his discomfort.
I guess I am confused, should I not say hello to my classmates when I see them outside of class, out of consideration for all the things they might potentially be doing or feeling?
I already told you that saying “hello” is good! It’s assuming that someone wants to stop and talk that’s not. You hardly knew him! There was zero connection! It’s not like he was a friend of yours when you stopped him. So you have to read the social cues that people you don’t know give you, whether the cues are intentional or not. You picked up that he was uncomfortable. It may have had nothing at all to do with you, but read the cues and act accordingly.
In your original post you stated: I am mad at people like him. I think, why do they get to treat others poorly/lesser than?
…and now you seem hostile when I see another side to it. I’m telling you honestly how I feel, and I’m sorry you are feeling so badly.
I sincerely hope it works out and that in time you’re able to feel better about this situation.
BJanuary 11, 2020 at 8:44 pm #332793
How am I suppose to feel better about the situation when everyone is seemingly telling me I’ve done this horribly wrong? should I consider myself a predator? should I walk around making sure I don’t talk to anyone because I will just make people uncomfortable and trapped? should I make sure I understand myself to be unworthy of kind human interaction?
I honestly try my best to stay out of people’s way as much as possible, for these things are already things I worry about. It is rare, and I consider it a risk for me to say hello to anyone without an invitation from them first. I’ve confusingly apologized to people after holding he door open for them because I didn’t know whether it was nice or was creepy for me to do so. I am constantly asking myself “was that wrong of me?” or affirming “I shouldn’t have done/said that”. I do not actually ever know if I am doing things wrong or not. Even people who chose to engage me first, I consider it risky to allow myself to talk.
Look, if I could take back every word I’ve said or interaction I’ve had with a stranger, I would in a heartbeat. I do not know how else to get this across. I do not even have enough apologies in me to express how sorry I am to those I have made scared or in other ways uncomfortable.
I already consider my human desire for social connection to be a major flaw within me. I obviously don’t do it right, but I wish it could be understood that I do not mean any harm. I think of myself as something that should be exterminated, for I have the extremely unfortunate dichotomy of wanting to be accepted while being truly unacceptable.
It’s hurt for a long time, it’s going to continue to hurt to keep hearing “yes, you shouldn’t have wanted connection, you were completely wrong in your attempt”.January 11, 2020 at 11:20 pm #332807
I’m here to support you. I’m also here to help you see your situation from a different perspective. We all desire a social connection with others. That’s totally normal; it’s not a flaw. Of course you don’t mean any harm. I understand that. I’m sorry that what I’m telling you is hurting you. It doesn’t make me feel good to know that.
When you say “I am mad at people like him”, I’m trying to help you see that maybe your anger is misplaced. I can’t in good faith jump on your “mad at him” bandwagon when I don’t see that he’s done anything wrong. He hasn’t been at all aggressive toward you. He hasn’t bullied you in any way. The way I see it, he’s simply living his life, a life that hasn’t always been smooth sailing for him, from what you’ve shared.
He was uncomfortable when you, someone he doesn’t know, stopped him in the stairwell to talk. There could be a million reasons why he felt this way that have nothing to do with you as a person. I’ve already listed some of those possible reasons. When people I don’t know stop me to have a conversation with me, I’m often uncomfortable. I automatically wonder if they have ulterior motives. I think wait, I don’t know you. What is it you want from me? That’s the truth. It could be a wonderful person trying to be my friend, but I don’t want someone to try to be my friend. I want it to happen organically. I want to meet a friend while playing tennis on an adjacent court, or at a party when we realize we’re the only two people there who aren’t totally wasted. When it doesn’t happen this way, when someone approaches me to be my friend, it scares me away. This is how I feel. This is the truth.
But this guy may not be like me. Maybe he was on his way up the stairs to get to his dorm to use the bathroom. Maybe he had to urinate so badly and he was too embarrassed to say that to you. There are so many reasons why he may have seemed uncomfortable when talking with you on that day.
Or maybe he IS like me. Maybe he felt that you were trying too hard to be his friend. I just don’t know.
But for whatever reason, I don’t feel that he’s a bad guy, and I can see why the FB thing set him off, especially when he was opening up about past trauma he’s had in his life. Like Inky said, timing is important.
But I’m not saying this to make you feel bad. This will pass and all will be okay, so be patient and try not to worry. Ten years from now when you are well into your career you’ll hardly remember this incident. Also know that it’s possible that all this anger you feel shouldn’t be directed at him at all. Maybe he’s not to blame after all. Maybe the anger comes from somewhere else. I have a sneaky feeling that TB member anita can help you figure out where it comes from much better than I ever could. She’s awesome with that kind of thing, but I’ll be here if you’d like my opinion on anything more. If not, that’s cool too, I would completely understand. 🙂
Hang in there, Janine.
BJanuary 12, 2020 at 9:26 am #332873
The specifics if the incident seem less important to me at the moment. All the possibilities for why this person was uncomfortable are just a factor. I feel like I want to argue that I wasn’t some stranger, I was a classmate and peer in a class of 20 or so students. We had conversation in class before, I don’t know.
But I think what I am trying to talk about is about the general social “code”. What I think is:
Each person is responsible for their actions and how they treat the other. If you treat someone poorly, you’ve treated them poorly. In some cases that may be more justified, but it’s not that they “made you do it”.
Each individual is responsible for how they are feeling and setting their own boundaries in an interaction (even if it’s just some stranger on the bus).
There is shared responsibility in misunderstandings.
I can think of my own interactions with a classmate that made me uncomfortable. She talked a lot and made some pretty gross sounds eating in class. But in no way did I ever treat her less than or rudely because I felt uncomfortable. I didn’t see it or make it to be her fault for me feeling that way, it was something going on inside of me and my thing to deal with. If she wanted to talk after class, it was my job to say “I’ve got to get going, I’ll see you next Tuesday”. I didn’t want her to feel ashamed of herself just because I personally didn’t like her. I didn’t shun her, especially when I knew it was already difficult for her to be vulnerable. That’s the last thing anyone needs. Sure, I didn’t want to be friends with her, but she deserved my respect just as a fellow human being.January 12, 2020 at 9:57 am #332875InkyParticipant
Is it possible you are on the Asperger’s Spectrum? My nephew and his wife are, and it’s a nightmare, especially for girls, to navigate socially.
I totally understand your anger. The ONE time you dared to say “Hi” this guy was rude to you. The ONE time you dared to stand up for yourself the same guy thought you were “hilarious” that you thought anyone “owed” you basic politeness. Please take it to heart that: YOU WON. The fact that HE got defensive and blocked you means that you HIT A NERVE. That yes, EVEN HE, Mr. Popularity, isn’t that cool! It doesn’t matter that anyone else thinks you shouldn’t have said it in that time, the way you did, YOU honestly thought you were fine. Your vote counts and you used your voice. You stood up. Right or wrong, for that I, Inky, for what it’s worth, am proud of you! Don’t be fooled: He did NOT get away with it!!!! Post THAT on FaceBook!
In fact, the next time you see him if he hasn’t graduated, say, in passing, “You’re not that cool.” And YOU keep walking!!!
Now, as for all the other social stuff: Look at other girls. What are they wearing? How are their hair/makeup? How are they talking? What are they talking about? What are their micro-movements? What are they doing with their hands? Copy the most normal girl and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
- This reply was modified 6 months, 4 weeks ago by Inky.