Love hurts. But hate hurts worse. And disinterest may be the most painful of all. The other day I had a conversation that went something like this:
Friend*: Oh hey, I’ll see you tomorrow night at X’s!
Me: For what?
Friend (eyes widening in panic): Ah um, her dinner party? (As I remain silent she stutters on) Oh I guess you weren’t…
Me (putting her out of her misery): No, I wasn’t invited. It’s cool though. No worries, I’m fine. (And I was at that point)
Friend: You know how it is, her house is really small and it was kind of last-minute…
Me: Really, it’s okay.
Friend: Well just so know, I still like you.
And then I went home and cried. If you are a man you are probably wondering what the problem is – there was a mistake, we cleared it up and she even said she still likes me! If you are a woman you are likely cringing in sympathy. Ladies and gentlemen: I present to you the back-handed compliment. It was just like high school except this time I had the added bonus of watching it all play out on Facebook and Twitter.
As I dissected it the next day with my sister – that’s what I do when I’m upset (or angry or happy or worried or peeing funny colors) – she asked me why I cared. “Because I always kind of felt like X doesn’t like me and now I know she doesn’t!” My sister answered pragmatically, “So one person doesn’t like you, what’s the big deal?” And the light bulb went on. “Because I want everyone to like me,” I said realizing even as the words came out of my mouth that they were a) totally true and b) totally unrealistic. As a lifelong card-carrying member of the People Pleaser Club, I can’t stand it when I know someone dislikes me. I want to fix it! I want to show them that I am good and lovable and not whatever they think I am! But as a decade-long card-carrying member of the Adult Club (ha – that sounds naughty!) I realize that this is bound to happen and the thing to do now is to decide how I’m going to deal with it.
Here’s my current plan:
1. Cry and whine “it’s not fair.” Done! I’m great at this one.
2. Force myself to “not care” what other people think of me. I can’t do it. I’m sorry. I don’t know how. I’ve always cared deeply for people and I like to think that is one of the things that makes me who I am. But allowing myself to acknowledge the hurt is not the same as allowing it to torpedo me.
3. Realize that if everyone did like me that would mean I was doing something wrong. People have different opinions and becoming a social chameleon just so everyone thinks you agree with them isn’t fair to you or to them.
4. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps X doesn’t like me and meant it every bit as the slap in the face as it came across. But perhaps X just forgot me. Or perhaps she had a seizure at the exact second she was going to type my name on the evite and now associates me with a slight headache and an inexplicable vortex in time. But regardless of her intent, my response should be the same: grace, tact and generosity.
5. Acknowledge that I have done this and worse to people that I care about and quite honestly I’d rather be on this end of the situation than on X’s end. Mote:Beam, Pot:Kettle, Charlie Sheen:Mel Gibson and all that.
6. Forget it and move on. I have such a difficult time with this one.
OR, I could go with this:
1. Defame her to everyone who will listen*. Force all our friends to choose sides between us.
2. Throw my own party and not invite her.
3. Challenge her to a duel in which we see who can out bicep-curl the other. (What? I had to work fitness into this somehow… although she has serious guns so I might want to rethink this one.)
The second option’s tempting, I’m not going to lie. But. But who will that help in the end? Nobody. So right now I’m going to meditate on being water. Tonight I’m going to pray and thank God for liking me no matter how whiny I get. And tomorrow I’m going let my friends know how truly grateful I am for their friendship and support because being a good friend isn’t easy and I love them and their great big hearts.
What do you do when someone doesn’t like you? Does it bother you like it does me or are you able to just let it roll off you? Can I change from being a people pleaser to… (what’s the opposite of a people pleaser?!)? Any sympathy, advice or get-over-yourself smacks are truly appreciated.
*I do not think this qualifies as publicly shaming X or Friend or any of the involved people as neither X nor Friend read my blog,
I changed all the identifying details and in all honesty even if they do see this I doubt they will recognize themselves in it. And that’s how it should be. My intent in writing this was to seek comfort and advice in an area that has caused me a lot of pain throughout my life, not to “get back” at anyone. Like I said, I am as guilty of this as anyone. Stones: Glass Houses. And all that.