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June 24, 2012 11:01 AM   Subscribe

How would you handle a person who after being introduced well over 15 times, still acts as though it's the first time. And after being reminded you've met before, still doesn't remember you the next time?

And I want all nice AND asshole ways to deal with this person, because I think at this point he's just a self absorbed ass and I'm not interested in conserving his dignity.
posted by Unred to Human Relations (66 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Are you sure he doesn't have a problem recognizing and remembering people? Try to find out if it's just you he forgets, because if it isn't, he may well have a problem that it's wrong to call him on.
posted by Jehan at 11:07 AM on June 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


There is one human being on the planet who does this to me. I went through being enraged to finding it hilarious to just sort of being fed up with it, and now I just say "Louis, we've met. Fifteen times" Smile, and shake his hand. For the 16th time.

You can also not wait to be introduced but do the "LOUIS! How are you?!?!? I haven't seen you since Alex's party!" with a big air kiss or arm whack or whatever.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:08 AM on June 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Actually I would rather err on the side of considering that it could be how the person's brain is wired (and thus be compassionate about it);you can listen to hear about cases of prosopagnosia. I would assume that some people with this disorder may not want to admit this to the rest of the universe.

As a polite way of dealing with it,"Hi Bob.You may not remember me but we previously met atX and I also do Y. How is your dog, JoJo? (or whatever casual conversation that you know). Just leave it at that. So in other words, maybe someone may or may not have an underlying problem. In your on head,identify it, flag it and move on.You may decide to just introduce yourself every 100th time, or just give your brief 2 sentence greeting and never give any more thought to the person.
posted by Wolfster at 11:09 AM on June 24, 2012 [11 favorites]


He doesn't have a problem remembering people, in fact he insisted to my friend the last time we "met" that he had met her previously, even though he hadn't. And I've tried saying hello to him, only to have him introduce himself to me, ignoring the fact that clearly I already know him.
posted by Unred at 11:10 AM on June 24, 2012


Well, please keep in mind there is a condition called Prosopagnosia. I guess I have a mild form of it, because if I meet someone that I don't see every day I often simply cannot recognize them. I usually try to memorize specific features about people, but because I have a generally bad memory that often fails too. Just saying it might not be willful ignorance, so please don't assume the worst.
posted by Nightwind at 11:11 AM on June 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


(PS: 2.5% of people do have Prosopagnosia. If you know at least 100 people, 2+ people of your acquaintanceship may not be able to remember your face. You might give your guy the benefit of doubt.)
posted by DarlingBri at 11:11 AM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


in fact he insisted to my friend the last time we "met" that he had met her previously, even though he hadn't

That sure sounds like he has a problem to remember people or faces. Just sayin'.
posted by MinusCelsius at 11:12 AM on June 24, 2012 [22 favorites]


Could be this person just has some type of face blindness: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosopagnosia

Your best best is probably to just give this person (and most people) the benefit of the doubt anyway. No one likes anyone whi intentionally acts like and asshole, right?
posted by nattyd at 11:14 AM on June 24, 2012


I've seen this kind of thing used by salespeople when they meet their competitors. It is a deliberate technique. Is it at all possible that this is intentional on his part?
posted by sciencegeek at 11:14 AM on June 24, 2012


See how he responds if you start the conversation with a follow up on your last one.
posted by Coventry at 11:17 AM on June 24, 2012


I should point out that he remembers the pretty girls in our group of acquaintances that he meets, no problem. If I thought he felt at all like he was slighting me by being reminded we'd previously met, I would give him the benefit of the doubt on his disorder. It seems to me like a power thing.
posted by Unred at 11:17 AM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, and after we are introduced he does not bother to have a conversation wit me, even if I've started one with him.
posted by Unred at 11:18 AM on June 24, 2012


I think you really can't go wrong with a smile, a handshake and an enthusiastic "Hi! I'm Unred! Great to meet you again!" Then, just move on. Done. He doesn't deserve any more of your time.

You don't have much to gain by being rude/sarcastic/snarky - if he's as oblivious/jerkish as he seems, he's not going to acknowledge your efforts anyway.
posted by WaspEnterprises at 11:20 AM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I know someone like this. She's not a particularly pleasant person in general. I wouldn't mind reintroducing myself except that I don't want to answer all the same boring questions about my job from someone who is clearly always looking for an angle to help herself yet again.

X: Hi, I'm X.
Me: I'm grouse and we've met before. Please excuse me. *walks off*

If you behave in a jerky way in response to his potentially innocent behavior (we know better, but other people don't), you are the one who is going to look like a jerk.
posted by grouse at 11:21 AM on June 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


It's a power thing. You're the little man in this scenario.

Next time, shake his hand, don't say your name, give him a smile and turn on your heel.

No need to be aggressive, but no need to be polite, either.
posted by MuffinMan at 11:21 AM on June 24, 2012 [17 favorites]


I have prosopagnosia and it is a right old pain, esp if you go to lots of networking events.

Not only do I not remember people's faces; I don't recall we've ever met. I've done it at least twice to one lady, but I don't know how many times to other people. So you can't even do all that memory association stuff because you can't trigger a story about getting someone's name when they appear to be a total stranger.

There are also classes of people I have real trouble with, and I get pairs of people mixed up, too, if they have vaguely similar characteristics.

And maybe the pretty ladies have something else about them, like a particular coat, earrings or a scarf that they often wear? We often joke that I only got together with Mr LB because he has a distinctive hairline and beard and way of walking, so I could distinguish him fairly quickly.

I have often been with someone I have met a few times then panic that it's not actually them.

It is also embarrassing, and I am apt to make a hasty exit if I have discovered I've done it.

He may be an a*hole but I just wanted to give the prosopagnosic viewpoint from inside, so to speak.
posted by LyzzyBee at 11:26 AM on June 24, 2012 [15 favorites]


If I thought he felt at all like he was slighting me by being reminded we'd previously met, I would give him the benefit of the doubt on his disorder. It seems to me like a power thing.

Why you? What would his motivation be to have this power over you specifically? It sounds like he recognizes everyone else (including your friend he's never met) just fine, so why would he single you out to be purposely forgotten? That seems to make no sense unless there's more to your relationship, like if you're competing for something.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 11:27 AM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Could you give an example of what he does, and in what relationship you are to one another?

I have to interact with this guy periodically in two different settings, in one of which I'm quite senior to him, and in the other of which he's quite senior to me. He CANNOT manage to figure out that I'm the same person and I have decided it cracks me up. He's pretty deferential when we're on my turf, but when I ran into him on his and said, "Oh, hey Joe," he looked through me like I was a tiny bug unworthy of his notice.

The thing is, other people who are with me when I'm on his turf usually come away with the impression that he's kind-of a dick because of how dismissive he is towards me. I usually just say, "He doesn't seem to recognize me out of context, it's kind-of hilarious," and let it go. People draw their own conclusions, which is basically that he's rude and dismissive to people who can't do him favors and he only bothers to be polite when he thinks it can benefit him; people don't like it. I don't have to point it out, I usually just sympathize with how hard it can be to remember names and faces. Which is true. But good people aren't jerks when they can't remember.

If your "friend" is being a self-absorbed asshole, people will figure it out, and the best thing to do is be pleasant. Let terrifically rude people diminish themselves. Participating in diminishing them only makes you look petty and mean-spirited.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:27 AM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Your previous posts indicate your are a single woman. If this is a situation where this guy is basically blanking you in favour of your hotter friends, I don't know what to tell you except that he's a dick. Either short circuit this interaction by pre-emptively greeting him first with "Hey, Louis, how have you been?" and a limp wave before turning away, or just... stop greeting him.

There isn't really a way to embarrass him with the fact he's ignoring you unless you want to pull a complete psycho, like "How can you pretend we've never met after THAT LOFT PARTY? And how am I suppose to pay for all of this PRE-NATAL CARE?" Which is, you know, crazy.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:27 AM on June 24, 2012


I like to give these people something to remember. (And you're not crazy: this is a thing that happens, and even if he is faceblind, he's totally just a schmuck too.)

Him: "Hi, nice to meet you."

You: "Are you fucking kidding me?"

I know that's not nice, and not pleasant, but I can guarantee they never forget me.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 11:27 AM on June 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


If you are certain his only disorder is jackassishness, I'd do exactly what he does to you.

You: Hi, I'm Unred.

Him: Hi, I'm Jackass.

You: Cool. See you around.
posted by Sal and Richard at 11:35 AM on June 24, 2012


"I should point out that he remembers the pretty girls in our group of acquaintances that he meets, no problem. If I thought he felt at all like he was slighting me by being reminded we'd previously met, I would give him the benefit of the doubt on his disorder. It seems to me like a power thing."


Maybe take a picture of both of you together and then next time when he acts like he does not know you just say: 'How much do you bet we have never met before? $100? Great!" Get your phone/cam out of your purse/pocket, collect the money and enjoy your night/event.
But yeah, this guy does not sound like he is worth your time.
posted by travelwithcats at 11:38 AM on June 24, 2012


I meet a lot of people (largely for work reasons, but also social of course) and somewhat have this problem.

Weirdly enough, I also have a pretty nondescript appearance, and people are constantly forgetting we've ever met, or not recognizing me, or, in the other direction, thinking I'm someone I'm not or remembering meeting me even though I'm sure I've never seen them before in my life.

I tend to err on the side of assuming we've met, be casual, and try to behave gracefully if there's an awkward moment around all this meeting/recognizing stuff. Every once in a while I'll straight out confess that I can't remember if I've met the person before, always with a sense of humor about it. If the other person doesn't remember meeting me, I try to just laugh it off.

But maybe the person you're talking about is a humorless jerk with no social skills. In that case, I think the best thing to do is to have a sense of humor about it, yourself. "Oh, haha, yeah, you might not remember me, but we've met more than a dozen times over the years. Isn't that funny?"

Other solutions:

Strive to actually have an experience with this person. Hang out with them outside of the random house-party setting. Do a thing together. Or maybe see if you can remember in interesting detail about one of the parties where you met, like, "remember that time Katie's dog peed in that shoe? That was my shoe!"

If they are truly a narcissistic asshole and consistently rude about insisting they've never met you, why bother talking to them at all?
posted by Sara C. at 11:39 AM on June 24, 2012


I'm not interested in conserving his dignity.

Then be interested in conserving yours. Don't feed the bears; you'll just come off as bitter to other people and if he's truly being a jerk, then you've just validated his "power" over you.

Honestly, if he doesn't have a disorder ... it sounds like he just doesn't want to engage with you, for whatever reason, so why do you keep trying to engage with him? I'd stick with "nice to meet you, again," and going on about my business.
posted by sm1tten at 11:48 AM on June 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


I think you should do whatever makes you feel amused rather than enraged about the situation. For me, I would start pretending I didn't know him and perhaps ask him the same question with the same wording every single time. Like, "hi, have we met before?"

This might not work for you. But do what makes you feel like laughing. It's the only way for you to win in a way that matters.
posted by Omnomnom at 11:50 AM on June 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


You'll feel a lot better if you stop trying to guess what's going on in his mind, because you can't know. He may be giving his attention to a small category of people that' you're not in, but beyond that, turn away from thoughts about what his behavior means.

I'm in my 50's, and have mellowed about embarrassing, awkward stuff like this. Now I'd say what I always say to people I've met before: "Nice to see you again." But when I was in my 20's or 30's, I would have been using a lot of energy just trying to hide my bad feelings. I think I would have said, "We've met before," and then stewed about it for weeks.

It would be great if you could stop the stewing. Luckily, you can be pretty sure he's going to do it again, so I suggest that you rehearse a few responses. Chose one that's not out of character for you, and that won't make observers curious or uncomfortable. Don't show that you're annoyed. The main thing is: Be Ready. Try out a bunch of things, out loud, and get comfortable ahead of time. That way, you'll circumvent the really bad part of the interaction, the embarrassment.

Good luck!
posted by wryly at 12:01 PM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


If he "remembers" the pretty girls and does not remember you...well, I've met people like this. It's not so much a "power over you" thing as a "I only bother with things/people that I want something from" thing. (As a non-gender-conforming woman, I've actually come to expect this treatment from a substantial portion of men - I don't look useful or attractive, so they don't want to devote brain space to me.) It used to bug me a lot because even though I'm not straight, hey, no one likes to be reminded that the person standing in front of you considers you so useless that you might as well not exist.

But! I dealt by becoming more centered. I recognized that I don't need the recognition of random straight men. I started being more outgoing and thinking of myself as the one who chooses. I don't need to worry about what rando straight dudes think of me, because I pick who interests me enough to talk to. I also recognized that I have a habit of focusing on the people who will never like or care about me precisely because I had a need to feel bad about myself; focusing on the dude who finds me unfuckable kept me comfortable, because it kept me in the old familiar "you are useless and ugly and no one likes you" headspace. Basically, now when some straight dude acts like I'm invisible because I'm not his mom or his sexy neighbor, I can just laugh.

It did take me into my thirties to manage this trick, though...

Anyway, focus on your abilities and your presence; don't give this dude brainspace.

(I add that I also know people who can't recognize faces - sometimes it's obvious but often they have social workarounds, like remembering who has red hair or who has facial piercings or who wears the crazy glasses.)
posted by Frowner at 12:10 PM on June 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


Honestly, at this point I think I would just sigh inwardly, extend my hand, and say "Nice to meet you."
posted by Occula at 12:11 PM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


if it's been that many times, seriously, i would just ignore him. even if he moves to shake your hand or whatever, just turn away. if he, or someone else, remarks about it, you can just say, "we've already met. 15 times." and then turn away. bc he's a douche.
posted by violetk at 12:13 PM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I know this actress who's just like that. Self-absorbed doesn't even really do her justice- she's self obsessed. I've "met" her well over a dozen times so I completely empathize with how crappy it feels to be treated this way. However, the last time we "met" I had an epiphany. I do not want to talk to this person for more than five seconds because I don't think she's very nice. So I can view her behavior as a slight or as a gift- I'll take it as a gift. Now when we "meet" I give a quick "hey" and move right the hell on.
posted by Thin Lizzy at 12:18 PM on June 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


I had someone do this to me time and time again, even though we had been introduced a lot of times and I'd been involved in a project I'm her small organisation. She only had this issue with me and other junior people. Eventually I just started saying things like 'this is the 7th time we've met', smiling brightly and moving rapidly on. It's usually a status power thing and pretty common in my discipline.

There's nothing you can do unfortunately. Well, apart from telling everyone you know how hilarious it is that he only remembers x type of person and is so transparent about it. In general these type of status conscious folks don't like feeling their efforts are quite that ridiculously apparent.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 12:20 PM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Please read about, and think about, the fundamental attribution error. Then consider that this guy may be not the nicest, most generous, most empathetic person in the world -- not sweet enough or brilliant enough to compensate for whatever condition he may or may not have -- but he may not really be all that bad. Consider that you don't have to spend time with him, but you don't have to hate him, or dislike him, or really have any opinion about him at all; you really don't know him that well.

Consider the conditions and conflicts and aspirations that motivate Christianity's "turn the other cheek" theme. Please consider being compassionate to me, even though I'm sometimes accidentally rude and too discombobulated and focused on other things to deal with it in the moment, and, yeah, really charismatic people do sometimes make more of an impression than others, but that doesn't mean I only appreciate charisma.

Then think about what Oprah would do -- or another thoughtful, kind, successful, busy person who doesn't have time to care about every misstep other people make.
posted by amtho at 1:01 PM on June 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Oh man, this reminds me of a funny story. When I was living in NYC there was a friend, let's call him Mr. F, of my friend Shana who never remembered me, no matter how many times I met him. After the seventh or eighth time I gave up even trying. And these weren't always brief encounters. I believe I even had lunch with him and my friend. I got the sense from Shana that this wasn't an issue for him in general, just with me. I figured that he put me in the "dude friend of a friend" bucket and didn't bother.

So I'm on a ferry in NYC with my girlfriend at the time and we're doing that hold-camera-at-arm's-length self-portrait thing when who should walk up but Mr. F! And he says, "Here, let me take your picture," with no recognition in his face. I didn't even bother saying anything to him because I knew he wouldn't remember. But I thought it was hilarious to have such a unique document of his forgetfulness.

Anyway, to answer your question, I would just say, "Hi, I'm Unred, we've met X times before." I think it's important to internalize that it has nothing to do with how memorable you are. I think it's equally important to not assume the reason for his forgetting. I know I felt lousy the second few times he didn't remember me, but it's not like it happens with anyone else (sometimes the opposite, even!) and so I just chalked it up to funny.
posted by funkiwan at 1:03 PM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


My favorite from a soap opera of all places, from years ago:

Him: Oh, hello, I'm Jackass McJackass.

You: I'm sure you are. *as you are walking away*
posted by oflinkey at 1:09 PM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


"He doesn't have a problem remembering people, in fact he insisted to my friend the last time we "met" that he had met her previously, even though he hadn't."

That sounds exactly like he has a problem remembering people.

You say he remembers the pretty girls - maybe each of them has something consistently recognizable about them.

I don't know what his motive is and neither do you. Maybe he's a jackass, maybe not. But clearly something unusual is going on here.

You really don't need to engage with him much at all, just gloss over him. He doesn't need to be important to you.
posted by tel3path at 1:15 PM on June 24, 2012


Part of me says just ignore him completely.

Part of me really likes this: and I have decided it cracks me up. But not just internally cracking up. You have to truly find it funny - it really is pretty funny - and point it out to others. Like:

Douchebag: Hi there, I'm Douchebag, what's your name?
You: I'm me. We've met several times.
Douchebag: No we haven't.
You: (laughs uproariously): Haha! Did you guys hear that! He doesn't remember me again! I love when guys only have space in their brain for the hot girls, it's hilarious - so predictable! Anyway...

And then ignore him.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 1:22 PM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is really very simple..... Be the better person, treat him the way you would want to be treated if YOU forgot his name.
posted by HuronBob at 1:22 PM on June 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Benefit of the doubt. I have face blindness and it's really annoying. Especially with people I see 2-4 times a year, like my husband's co-workers at company parties, etc. These days instead of saying "nice to meet you", I say "Nice to see you!" whether I remember the people or not. The people that he does remember might have something distinctive about them besides their faces - a hairstyle, way of dressing, etc.
posted by Daily Alice at 1:30 PM on June 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


I have a friend who thought he was meeting someone for the first time, and, upon her pointing out that she'd met him before, said, "A pleasure, as always, to meet you." I know you're coming from the other side, but perhaps you could say something similar?
posted by mlle valentine at 1:31 PM on June 24, 2012


In this clip from The West Wing, we see the character who never remembers Leo's name, which Leo perceives as a slight takes offense--but we are able to laugh because Bartlet's contrasting reaction, gently ribbing Leo, shows us clearly that it is Leo's own sense of self-importance that is causing his pain.

So that's about it. Either you take offense and make it your problem, or you feel amused because it is really his problem. He's all about him but you can observe that and, privately, of course, be amused. You can't change him but you don't have to accept his implied evaluation of your worth. Truly, you are the one who decides about you. Don't hand that power over to him.
posted by Anitanola at 1:32 PM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you're wrong, and this guy has prosopagnosia (face blindness), then you'll be a jerk for saying anything snarky.

If you're right, and this guy is a self-centered asshole, he won't care about your snark (see aforementioned asshole) and you've lost dignity by not taking the high ground. Plus he is going to tell other people how snarky you are.
posted by desjardins at 1:48 PM on June 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


Why do you care? For whatever reason, he's got a block. don't take it personally. Meet him repeatedly and move on. You can even joke with your friends about it. "Hey Sophie, introduce me to So-and-so again."
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:51 PM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have this a bit, with certain people. It has nothing to do with their "hotness" or importance to me. I ran into an editor recently whom I've met and worked for four or five times, and didn't know her from a stranger. If you'd asked me about her though, I could have told you her dog's medical condition, where her daughter recently got married, and on and on and on. Stories, I remember. But a lot of faces .... pffft.

Please consider taking the high road, and cut this guy slack for this particular offense.
posted by cyndigo at 1:58 PM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've done this... twice... to the same co-worker, within the span of 8-weeks... One who I spent 3-days "on-boarding" when he was first hired... And, it wasn't like he was nondescript - he basically looks like a mini-version of Vin Diesel...

So - I now use this as my story-of-shame and apologize when I realize that I probably have already met someone I am introducing myself to ... again...
posted by jkaczor at 2:07 PM on June 24, 2012


I want to say 'haha, do you live in NYC'? But that's not very helpful. It's happened to me numerous times but I am very good at remembering people, and may not be so memorable myself. I realize you wrote more responses and I will read through them now but I wanted to just jump in and say that. Also for some people it's a way of seeming important, "um, I can't really remember you" and again, cynically, it's often because in NYC it's because nothing about you stood out to them as something they connected with (interests, attractiveness (in their eyes), social capital (cynical!) etc. It's not really personal.
posted by bquarters at 3:05 PM on June 24, 2012


I for one am terrible about remembering people's names. I think it's a combination of continually meeting new people (I travel a lot, which doesn't help) and just having all-around poor memory. I even have one co-worker who I don't see every day - I probably blanked on his name at least 3 or 4 times during my first six months on the job. I apologized the last couple of times, and now we're pretty good friends. I've done this to a number of other people as well, often leading to me half-jokingly suggesting everyone should be required to wear nametags.

That being said, I feel like there isn't enough info for us to say whether he's being a total ass or whether he has a real problem (prosopagnosia, or even just lousy memory). So I say give him the benefit of the doubt, at least on this particular issue.
posted by photo guy at 3:26 PM on June 24, 2012


Oh, and please don't do this:

I like to give these people something to remember. (And you're not crazy: this is a thing that happens, and even if he is faceblind, he's totally just a schmuck too.)

Him: "Hi, nice to meet you."

You: "Are you fucking kidding me?"


If his behavior is truly bothering you that much, just brush him off and don't talk to him anymore - you're under no obligation to have conversations with this guy.
posted by photo guy at 3:31 PM on June 24, 2012


If you really want a dig, upon meeting him again, get his name wrong.

"Hi, I'm Jeffery."
"Hi, Jeremy, nice to meet you."

Then walk away.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:53 PM on June 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


I had a friend with some severe learning disabilities who literally had her husband's name on the outside of her wedding ring because otherwise she would forget it. She told me a story once about telling her co-workers she was getting married, and when they asked her what her fiance's name was, she blanked on the spot. (I think they referred to him as "Mr. Right" after that.) She didn't have prosopagnosia--she would remember people's faces and know she knew them, but just couldn't remember the names or connect them with the people. It was occasionally difficult dealing with that before I knew all the details, but once I did, I could, and did, cut her some slack.

I've run into something not as severe with other folks sometimes, also--for some reason there'll be one other person who they just can't remember. Sometimes it's because they look like someone else they know and they consistently attach the wrong name to that person as a result; I work with someone who looks (weirdly enough) like the first friend I mentioned, and I have to struggle not to call her by my friend's name. Sometimes it's just a weird mental block; when I was in high school, one guy I knew was absolutely convinced that my name was Erin (it's not even close) and I corrected him every time he saw me in the hallway and said, "Hi, Erin." I knew this guy well enough, and knew about him from our friends well enough, that I know for a fact it wasn't malicious and wasn't a game--just something about my face said "Erin" to him, and it was incredibly difficult to shake.

There's even one woman in my own acquaintance who, for some reason, has a face that's incredibly hard for me to remember. I know her from work and would have no problem recognizing her in the division that she works in, but she's come into my office on occasion and I will have to scramble in my brain to figure out who it is.

All this is just to say that the brain works in weird, weird ways and there is probably something going on in this dude's head that you don't know about. It may be him in general, or it may be directly related to you, but it may well not be intended as rude or mean, and the "pretty girl" thing may just be coincidence. In that light, I'd go along with the folks who are recommending that you say, "Hi, I'm Unred, we met at such-and-such" and then just let it go. It's not worth going any further.
posted by dlugoczaj at 4:06 PM on June 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had someone who used to do this to me.

I started introducing myself with a different name every time.
posted by thebrokenmuse at 4:29 PM on June 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


Just quietly and without histrionics respond as though you're meeting him for the first time too. Then if it turns out he's just an asshole who's been blanking you he'll be insulted that you don't remember him, and if he has a condition that keeps him from remembering then you won't be the asshole for mocking his forgetfulness. If he's the asshole most of us suspect he is, he'll probably stop blanking you after you've done this a few times - there will be no thrill left to his antics.
posted by zarah at 4:45 PM on June 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


Sounds like he doesn't like you. Stop talking to him; then you'll never have to introduce yourself again.
posted by spaltavian at 6:10 PM on June 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm awful at names and faces. I often avoid referring to people by name because I'm worried I'll get it wrong. If there are two new people at work who look even vaguely similar there's an excellent chance I will mix them up. And certainly I wouldn't recognize them out of context. However, of it was pointed out to me I would apologize, make a joke, explain that I suck at names.

Maybe he truly doesn't remember. Maybe he's an ass. If so, being an ass is *his* problem. Be polite, find the humor in it if possible, and put your energies toward people you connect with and who do remember you.
posted by bunderful at 6:54 PM on June 24, 2012


I was just going to say what zarah said! That strategy completely undermines his power game if he's an asshole yet causes no harm if he's genuine. The only thing is, you've got to really act like he's a complete stranger for it to work.
posted by Jubey at 7:48 PM on June 24, 2012


Leave it to Askmefi to have a 40% rate of a 2.5% condition. He's being an asshole, call him out on it and then never acknowledge him again.
posted by the foreground at 7:58 PM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you really want a dig, upon meeting him again, get his name wrong.

"Hi, I'm Jeffery."
"Hi, Jeremy, nice to meet you."


This except do it before he even says anything. Come up with a different name every time.

"Hi Eric!"

"I'm xxx"

"Oh sorry!"

by the third time it should sink in. Even if it doesn't it will give you the upper hand before he even opens his mouth--now he's forgettable, not you.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:09 PM on June 24, 2012


I'm miserable at putting names to faces. I could be a poster child for the wiki prosopagnosia page. It easily takes me a dozen or more times to associate a name with a face and then if I don't see that person for a few months I'll have to start over again. I just *can't* seem to differentiate facial features. It's like the stereotype/joke about all black/Asian/white people looking alike but for everyone. When a business I go to regularly gets a new employee if they look even vaguely like an old employee I'll mistake them for the old employee. Every once and a while someone will just click and I'll be able to remember their name first time but that's rare and doesn't follow any pattern I've been able to suss out.

I generally don't use a persons name unless I'm really really sure of the persons name and even then I get burned (the new employee thing got me last week). Advice to embarrass the person will probably result in him never calling you by name, any name, ever because if it was me it would mean I'm never going to be absolutely sure.

And without the little tricks I've developed that rely on context clues to help me I haven't a chance. So if I bump into someone I know professionally at the supermarket where they are dressed differently and aren't at their workplace I'm going to have difficulty remembering their name.

the foreground writes "Leave it to Askmefi to have a 40% rate of a 2.5% condition."

That's not surprising at all merely the result of the the site guidelines resulting in a selection bias. The people who don't have prosopagnosia or don't have a prosopagnosia story won't post an answer.
posted by Mitheral at 9:37 PM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I warn my students about my memory thing. I memorise their names in lesson one, and tell them that if they switch chairs, they switch names. Every month or so I get blindsided by someone saying "hi! It's Ruslan!"(local equivalent of Steve) and I'm lost because he's out of context. I try to be polite, but I'm pretty sure at least a few people are left thinking that I just don't care.

I care, but if you don't have some unique scars, or unusual name, or you're not in the normal place, and I don't see you every day, and I haven't warned you...

You're under no obligation to take my potential neurological deficit into account. Point one. If you want to do so, give me something to remember, especially if your name is common. "Clare" is not enough for someone without facial cues. "Clare the close protection worker", "Clare al-Karzan", "the hockey player". Whatever you might say to identify yourself over the phone.

If you do that, and he ignores you again, he's just a dick with or without facial recognition issues.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 2:45 AM on June 25, 2012


Ugh, I commiserate! I used to have this coworker who worked at a different site, who I communicated with regularly by email, and EVERY TIME he came to our site he would introduce himself as though it were the first time. Now, he very likely did have some kind of prosopagnosia or something, and I myself have difficulty recognizing people/knowing whether I've met people before, so I was sympathetic at first.

But he couldn't seem to remember me even within the context of our jobs and workplace! Like, I can understand not remembering what I look like, but how could he not remember that he had met the Circulation Supervisor before? And he knew that we would have told him if we'd hired a new Circulation Supervisor since the last time he visited! It started to make me crazy. If I'd run into him at the Stop & Shop and he didn't recognize me, I would have completely understood (and, indeed, I might not have recognized him either). But this was in a very narrowly defined context. It was weird and annoying.

Finally, one day he was visiting our campus again and he came up to me and said, "I don't believe we've met," and before I could even think I said, "Joe! We've met SO MANY TIMES!" and then I felt bad and apologized, but reiterated that we had, in fact, met several times before. I don't know if he recognized me next time, but he never introduced himself again. It was not the most professional way of dealing with the problem, but I don't really regret it.
posted by mskyle at 7:05 AM on June 25, 2012


Oh, but in your case, it sounds like you know this guy socially. In which case I would basically just ignore him. And if you generally encounter him in the same group of friends, make it a joke! Say to your friends, "Look, here comes $guy. What do you want to bet he introduces himself like we've never met before?"
posted by mskyle at 7:10 AM on June 25, 2012


There have been lots of people I've known who couldn't seem to be bothered to remember me, but there was just this one girl in particular where it *got* to me. It wasn't just that she didn't remember my name -- she didn't even remember not remembering my name. It got kind of recursive -- "You didn't remember meeting me last time, either". It was like the Rake Joke.

I probably made her feel kind of bad every time. Because *I* felt kind of bad, every time, because I was in a social circle where pretty much everyone knew each other from Prestigious U and a significant subset of them kind of shrugged off outsiders. And here was this girl who time and again couldn't even be bothered to remember that she'd MET me before. And before. And before.

It felt awesome at the time to shame her about that. And Jesus, how shitty of me. I wasn't standing up to a bully, I was just being mean because I felt slighted.

In my experience, being obnoxious and wittily snide is way less likely to feel good with ten years retrospect than being generous of heart.
posted by endless_forms at 7:21 AM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Honestly, I wouldn't take it personally. Life can be stressful and it's hard to remember everyone you've met. The more I worry about doing this, the more it happens - social anxiety about forgetting a person's name or being overwhelmed in a big group means it's more likely to happen and produce more awkwardness.

I should point out that he remembers the pretty girls in our group of acquaintances that he meets, no problem.

I'm much more likely to remember having met an attractive guy. This is human nature isn't it? I probably don't remember anything the guy said though, too preoccupied by social anxiety. I just really wouldn't let it bother you any. I have like a dozen Facebook friends who I am certain are actual, real life friends from years ago, due to mutual acquaintances and connections to schools but if I ran into them on the street today I would not actually remember who they are.
posted by citron at 7:33 AM on June 25, 2012


Oh, and after we are introduced he does not bother to have a conversation wit me, even if I've started one with him.

Then stop talking to him. It sounds like it's a lost cause, even if prosopagnosia is involved. Just think of it as your own personal Groundhog Day and move on.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 7:52 AM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am absolutely terrible with names and meeting people. I can meet someone a few times before it sinks in. Not sure why I have a hard time with names, but I may recognize them yet forget who, when and where I've met them previously.
In fact, I always tell people when meeting them not to be insulted if I forget or screw up your name. I feel bad, but its just something I can't do very well.
I try to make shortcuts and use names regularly to have them cement in.
I would be nice and simply remind him of your previous encounters. He could just be a dick, or have difficulty remembering like others.

/pretty girls are much easier to remeber ;)
posted by handbanana at 7:56 AM on June 25, 2012


Honestly, why do you care? If he truly did remember you and pretended not to, that would make him a jerk. But if he's not purposefully insulting you, how is this a problem? Just let him be. Maybe he has a lot on his mind or meets a lot of people.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:24 AM on June 26, 2012


You know what? This just happens. Trying to ascribe motive to it is futile. Trying to avenge it is a dick move. I've been on both sides of this equation. When I was younger, I remembered everyone I met--vividly. I could recite entire conversations we'd had verbatim. And I'd be crushed if someone I met didn't remember be, especially if it happened more than once. These days I meet so many people that my tiny, poorly socialized, introvert brain has basically given up. Sometimes I'll remember a face, but not the name. Sometimes both but not how we know each other. But sometimes I won't recognize the face of someone I've known for *years*, especially if I run into them in a foreign context.

If I ran into someone that I supposedly knew but couldn't remember, I'd feel awkward and not at all inclined to talk.

Be kind. Assume no malice. Next time you meet him, when he draws a blank (again), remind him your name and how you know him. Then he's got your name and some context and you can have a conversation. Or not. If he still doesn't want to talk to you, well, it's not the end of the world.
posted by zanni at 1:35 AM on June 27, 2012


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