Nerdy female feeling bullied by extroverted female. I have trouble with subtle communication forms, so I imagining this? If not, how can I handle it?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (45 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I've rented a room in my brother's condo for the past year. My brother recently rented the other spare bedroom to another girl, Kristin, who neither of us knew before this. I am a rather introverted, relaxed person, with a calm, happy life with very few problems. Kristin is a very extroverted person. We are all in our late 20s.
Kristin began making comments to me very shortly after she moved in. These comments seem judgmental, and I've started to feel a bit bullied by them, but I don't know if I'm just imagining bad intent behind them. This is going to be kind of long, since I'm not good at interpreting these sorts of things, so I don't really know what details are important.
I work from home and don't keep regular hours. I sleep a lot as well. Kristin gets extremely early and works long hours and weekends. Her hours are so early that I might still be asleep when she gets home from work. She makes comments to me like: "What were you doing just now? You were SLEEPING???" "Sleeping AGAIN????" "Damn, how can you sleep so late? Are you sick or something?"
She knows I work at home and I'm not sick, but still says these things several times a week. Her comments really embarrass me and make me feel like she thinks there's something wrong with me. She's never made a comment like that to my brother, even though on the weekends he sleeps almost as late as I do.
My brother and I probably rate around a 6 for neatness and cleanliness; Kristin rates around a 9. We have compromised on specific things and my brother and I have been cleaning more. But Kristin still comments about it to me. Never my brother. She'll tell me she did extra cleaning, like re-doing things in the patio we haven't touched in a year. I'll say "Thank you," but that seems to be the wrong answer. She'll stand there looking at me. I am actually mystified as to whether she's trying to communicate something, since I do all the extra cleaning that we actually talked about (with words, not looks). When my brother and I leave occasional things in the sink, she'll always come to me and say "What would you like me to do with this?" I know that means "I want to you take care of this right now." She just always comes to me, not my brother, regardless of whether the item is his or mine. If it's my brother's and I say, "That's Nate's, he'll take care of it" then she'll just do it herself. And seems angry. I also don't know why she doesn't just ask me to take care of it instead of asking the question she does. That's one of the reasons I worry the things she says has double meanings that I have to figure out.
I am not a fashionable person and don't think about my appearance, and my boyfriend seems to think I look fine. So I just wear old jeans and t-shirts. Kristin will look at what I'm wearing and say things like "How old is THAT shirt?" I'll ask why she asks, and she'll say, "Oh, I just thought it was cute, I wondered if it was vintage." This is the sort of comment that makes me wonder if I'm imagining things. She could really just be trying to compliment me. But her comments make me feel really self conscious. I just wish she wouldn't judge my clothes either way.
The last thing is, Kristin loves to spend a lot of time chatting and getting drunk. When she comes home she always suggests we all have drinks together. My brother loves this. My brother likes to drink (I hate it). He has his own introvert tendencies that lead to him spending a lot of time around the condo, but I don't think he's really content with that, like I am. He's happy and excited when Kristin gets home and wants to hang out. I think he is really dazzled by her. (Not romantically though. He's gay.)
When she gets home I usually go to my room and spend the rest of the night reading, or online. Or I'll leave the house and exercise for an hour or two. I am very happy doing this. I find it difficult and tiring to concentrate my mind for hours on small talk or topics that I'm not interested in at all like reality TV, especially when the people talking are getting more and more drunk. And I thought I was being very accommodating too - I don't mind how drunk they get, how loud they get, how long they keep the lights on, any of that.
Apparently I am the rude one though. My brother told me that Kristin wants me to have drinks with them too, and is always asking why I don't. My brother said Kristin thinks I don't like her. (Which is actually not true. Despite how I feel embarrassed by her comments sometimes, I do feel completely friendly towards her and don't dislike her.) My brother said I am creating an awkward and unwelcoming environment in the condo. Whenever I see Kristin though, I'm always nice to her, no matter what she says to me. I smile and say hello. I don't just run out of the room when she gets home. Usually I'm already in there when I hear her arrive at the building. If I'm not though, I will hang around and talk to her as long as she wants, until she goes to change clothes or whatever. Then I will go to my room.
There are times I do go and hang out with Kristin and my brother while they drink. If I stay for half an hour and then get up to go to my room, Kristin will start pressuring me to stay, and acting like I'm hurting her feelings. Also Kristin will start pressuring me to drink, which I hate. If I drink a little she'll pressure me to drink more. She also got Nate to start smoking again even though he had just quit, which was very difficult for him. She just smoked all the time around him while they drink, and offered him smokes.
Sometimes I am so bad at reading social cues. And I don't pick up on subtleties in these situations. I have this feeling Kristin is trying to create a weird dynamic. Make me look like some bad person, or like there's something wrong with me, make me some sort of scapegoat, while cozying up to my brother. (Since he's the landlord here). Is that off? How should I deal with her?
By the way, I know my brother is not subtly trying to get me to move out, because I don't think he even knows how to be subtle any more than I do, plus just this week he suggested all these projects for us to start on here that will take many months to do.