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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » An uncomfortable friendship

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Author Topic: An uncomfortable friendship
Lalalie
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Member # 107397

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I feel like this is a silly, unimportant question, but I've actually been uber stressed about it and I thought this would be a good place to ask for advice.

I've been friends with this guy for a year or two. For a long time I've felt uncomfortable around him, but until now I've tried to ignore that. I feel uncomfortable because I have some boundaries that he violates. For example, I don't like having my hair touched by most people. I don't like being followed back to the place I live when an I've mentioned that I want some time alone now. I don't like being cajoled into spending time with someone when I've said that that's not what I want at that time.

The reason I've been trying to ignore this is that I felt like I would be a bad person if was more forceful about defending my boundaries. This is because this guy is quite socially awkward (like me, I guess! So I don't say that as an insult) and I thought that maybe he just didn't pick up on subtle social signals. Also, I thought it would be mean and confusing to suddenly act differently around him.

I feel a bit differently now. I feel like my signals weren't that subtle - sometimes outright "no"s! I feel that maybe women are actually constantly told that it's not okay to defend their boundaries, and that maybe those messages are completely wrong (I read an article by a woman called Harriet J that I thought was really good about this, which is pretty cool because now I've discovered a really great blog!).

Anyway, at this stage, this is what I want to do: I want to send this guy an email and say that I don't want to spend time with him any more. Because I don't.

Except I can't, because what if I actually am I really bad person? And what if I hurt him irreparably or something? I know he doesn't have many friends. And I don't hate him or think he's a terrible person, I just feel really uneasy around him.

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CSandSourpatch
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If you're feeling uneasy around him, whether your uneasiness is "all in your head" or not, this is probably not a person that you want to be friends with or spend time with.

Considering that you have made your social boundaries quite clear (saying "no" should make it very clear), and he still doesn't respect them, it is perfectly okay to let him know that you no longer wish to spend time with him. It does not make you a bad person to follow what your gut and your brain are telling you about which relationships aren't working for you. (This may also be what it takes for this person to realize his behavior is unacceptable to you. This still does not make you a bad person.)

There are a lot of misconceptions out there about how "no" means "yes" and women just like to be chased or play hard to get. Sometimes, it feels like the line of thought goes something like, "She's probably just saying no because she doesn't think it's okay to want what she wants, but it's okay that she wants that (Note that the person is completely assuming in this case that whatever it is is what the woman wants), and I want it, too, so I'll keep on trying." On the whole, I'd say that's really, really wrong. If I'm teasing my boyfriend or something, he knows it's all in fun. Put another way, your feelings and boundaries are completely valid and you have just as much right to act on and defend them as men do.

I guess the main thing I'm trying to say is that you need to take care of you first, because this friendship clearly isn't working out for you as it currently happens. Were I you, I'd essentially say this: "I feel uncomfortable around you because you have not been respecting my boundaries, even when I have clearly stated them. [maybe an example or two] I no longer feel that I can spend time with you and feel respected at the same time, so I need you to respect what I'm saying now and refrain from contacting me."

Something like that would make it clear that these are your feelings, and just because they're your feelings doesn't make them any less valid than his. There really is no way to assure that he wouldn't feel hurt if you choose to take this course of action (and even if you choose to keep spending time with him, I think you should make it clear to him sort of as you would above), but I don't think it would damage him irreparably. Most people are hurt by something they perceive as a sudden cut-off, but time will heal it if he is hurt.

[ 04-25-2013, 09:42 AM: Message edited by: CSandSourpatch ]

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Lalalie
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Thank you for the reply [Smile]

That makes a lot of sense. Rationally, that's kind of what I've been thinking, I just can't quite get rid of the feeling that I'm being oversensitive/over-defensive. In any case, I think it might be a good time to ignore that particular voice in the back of my head (the "you're overreacting" one, I mean).

The idea of hurting another person doesn't make me feel great, but the trade off is being part of a friendship that sometimes feels kind of scary. So.

Also, wow, that example ("I feel uncomfortable around you because...") is virtually identical to the message I have composed myself (but not yet sent). If I believed in signs...

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CSandSourpatch
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Glad to help. [Smile]

Yeah, I know how even potentially hurting someone doesn't feel good at all, but these are your feelings, and you have every right to both feel them and do something to feel better.

As to the example, I took Second Step as a kid. Very big on the "I feel" statements.

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Molias
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Lalalie, I hear you on not wanting to upset or cause discomfort to other people, but think of this this way - this person is already upsetting you and making you uncomfortable. And all you have to lose is the esteem of someone who seems to be pretty disrespectful in the first place.

A note on socially awkward folks - all the socially awkward people I know, people who really do have a hard time with cues and body language, are pretty glad when someone spells out a boundary for them. That way they know they can avoid further awkwardness with that person or in that situation! If you tell someone "no" or set boundaries and that person just rolls right past them, in most cases that's a pretty clear sign that they just don't care about respecting you. And when that happens, I don't think you need to worry as much about hurting them by saying "I don't want anything to do with you any more."

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