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Pissing off prospective friends and alienating people since the 1980s
July 22, 2012 7:02 AM   Subscribe

I pissed off a lot of people at a meetup. How can I patch things up with them and be friends, or is it even possible anymore and should I just give up?

So in my ongoing, extended and mostly unsuccessful quest to make friends in this city, I've been going to a lot of meetups and groups like that. There's usually been just one outcome, but now there are two outcomes. The first outcome was that people just didn't like me. Now we can add a second outcome, which is a major fight.

Warning: drama, I suppose, below. Please, please, please know that I'm not trying to maliciously or passive-aggressively spread this around any further (i.e. it's not a situation like this) but get some semi-anonymous advice, because I don't want to screw this up any more than I already have but don't have anyone I can get advice from in person. Or put another way, please don't think it's me trying to be like "look at these catty people from another meetup!" when it's actually "please help me get these people I like not to hate me." Because of this, I'd really appreciate it if people didn't criticize the people involved, in any "oh, they're jerks" sense. They're not. The only person who deserves criticism here is me.

A rough timeline of events:

1) We're at a meetup. It's gone on for hours and had several venue changes. We'd been drinking, but at that point I wasn't drunk at all, to rule that out as a factor. I mean, it's not like I can reverse-breathalyze myself, but I generally know.

So now it's fairly late in the night, and people start gossiping about another member of the group who wasn't present. Let's call her Jessica. It's clear that there'd been resentment brewing for a while there, and though I don't know the details of all of it because I wasn't there for most of it, let alone its backchannels, I knew that it'd existed.

2) The specific resentment in this case, I guess, was that person flirting with another (male) member of the group, when I guess she wasn't supposed to. If it seems vague, it's because I don't understand how any of that is wrong. I know it's a thing in group dynamics that if the "wrong" people flirt with the "wrong" people, it makes people mad, but those rules are never spoken, so how can you be expected to know? Doesn't tha Anyway, it gets to the point where they're trying to text him, put him on speakerphone and be like "Talk to us! Don't talk to Jessica!"

3) I speak up and say that I'm uncomfortable with this. I guess this is a personal failing of mine, that I'm incapable of shutting my goddamn mouth; it seems like it wouldn't be a failing, but it never, ever ends well.

4) They stop gossiping about Jessica, but nobody seems to see why it was wrong. Well, maybe one or two people did, but it was clear that I just pissed on the whole group dynamic. I try to look like I'm still having fun, but I am terrible at this and eventually have to go into the bathroom just so people can't see me trying and failing not to look upset.

5) A couple people find me and try to talk to me, but I am literally almost at the point of tears and say that I don't want to have that conversation right now. This goes on for half an hour or so, with varying degrees of how much I'm talking and how upset I am. Things aren't exactly civil.

6) And then this is the terrible mistake I made - I posted something to the meetup page (publicly) saying, without names, that people were talking shit about Jessica (again, no names used) at the meetup. My reasoning was that there had been a lot of discussion lately about how much private info people were comfortable posting, and I felt like this would be relevant. I guess I also wanted to call it out, maybe? I dunno. Again, this was a terrible mistake.

7) A lot of drama and terribleness happens when people realize what I've done. Everyone leaves, I give up even pretending I'm having fun, there is a giant argument on the group page, I get back to my apartment and fall asleep alone (relevant because a lot of them were crashing at someone else's place, so relevant in social-dynamics terms.) I wake up, check the page, and it's just gotten even worse. I am leaving out a lot of details because really, there's no point hashing them out. You know what this sort of thing looks like.

8) I wake up and want to die.

So. Yes. What can I even do in this situation that will make things better? Is it even possible to be friends with these people anymore, or is it best just to leave? If it is possible to be friends with them, what on earth are the steps that need to be taken to get from A to B? Or if it isn't possible, how can I at least make them hate me as little as possible? Because even if these specific people can't be my friends, I feel like I don't want to leave a trail of six-degrees-of-resentment around the city, because it can be surprisingly, shockingly small for something so massive. I don't want to get into a situation where a prospective friend - or, for that matter, date - finds about this secondhand and turns on me.

I don't know. I just want friends and for people to like me. I don't ever want to be mean to anyone, and I don't want any of this to happen at all.
posted by dekathelon to Human Relations (90 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't know if the group situation is salvageable. Do you have ties with any individuals in the group? You might be able to stay friends with certain people outside the group, particularly if they're not wrapped up in all this drama. Either way, this will blow over, it will not follow you your entire life- particularly if you steer clear of these people.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:13 AM on July 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think, first and foremost, you need to apologize. Leave out the details, leave out the "whys," just apologize for your behavior, for breaking the boundaries of confidence (yes, they were gossiping, but their gossip is not something you should have posted about publicly), and for making the evening about yourself.

Then step back for awhile. If people want to engage you in a civil manner after this, they will. If not for awhile, that's okay, too. Feelings take awhile to stop hurting.

But mostly, you need to say that you're sorry for your behavior.
posted by xingcat at 7:13 AM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why do you want to patch things up? I mean, yes, it was unwise and passive aggressive to post to the group's page while you were at the event, but at the same time... what would be the advantage of continuing to socialize with people who act like mean high school students? Seriously--Jessica isn't "supposed" to flirt with someone? And when she transgresses that "rule" the whole group gossips about it? How long do suppose it would take before you broke some group "rule" about how you should conduct your personal life?
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:24 AM on July 22, 2012 [51 favorites]


Yep, apologize and say it was uncalled for.

I really don't get why if you were upset about people talking about someone that you didn't just leave (it's not really your job to moderate a group conversation, and especially not appropriate to end up in restroom refusing to talk to people). Also it doesn't make sense to not like people talking about people, then go online and talk about people talking about people.

That totally confuses me.

I think this ship has sailed but apologize and lay low...and if you ever want to go back to their meet ups keep a very low profile and be extremely pleasant.

I think move on, find a different interest or hobby and try to meet people that way. Then you will more likely be talking about bikes or making jam or whatever the activity is.

But apologize for sure, in the same forum you publically did the call out on.
posted by bquarters at 7:29 AM on July 22, 2012 [18 favorites]


I'm going to give you a few options for the future, when things go down like this. This situation is pretty fouled up; they suck for the gossip, your sullen behaviour, and running to the bathroom, and then posting about their gossiping was not the best display either. You may be able to take one or two of them aside, and apologise about the situation, and hope it blows over.

So, next time -you can ignore the gossip, and find new people to hang with. This isn't terribly practical, eventually, there will be gossip/hypocrites in pretty much any group of more than two people. Next choice -make a "jokey" comment about it, something like, "Wow! Hate to hear what is said about me when I'm not around!!". I've done this successfully. If you are getting emotionally charged about the situation, you may not be able to do this successfully, it cannot be grudgey or judgey at all. Third option, is to address the situation later, in a small group of you and maybe one or two in the larger group. Just as a "hey, not sure of the backstorry with Jessica, but I was really kind of uncomfortable the other night when everyone was talking shit about her.". Maybe they will fill you in on the details, maybe they will say that they feel the same, and try to curtail the gossip the next time the group gets together, or maybe they'll roll their eyes at you (in which case you know it is not a healthy group of friends, and it may be time for you to move on).
posted by kellyblah at 7:29 AM on July 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


"3) I speak up and say that I'm uncomfortable with this. I guess this is a personal failing of mine, that I'm incapable of shutting my goddamn mouth; it seems like it wouldn't be a failing, but it never, ever ends well."

I think the better option at this point would have been to say goodnight. When people start engaging in weird social behavior that you're uncomfortable with, it's usually best just to extricate yourself. You are well within your rights to say, "You guys need to stop this, it's wrong," but nobody likes to be TOLD they're doing something wrong, and, yes, that sort of moral pronouncement is generally going to be met with a loss of the friendships. Sometimes it's the right thing to do and you should speak up. But sometimes the wiser course is to just say, "Guys, I'm beat. Those beers are hitting me harder than I thought! I'll catch you all next week, I'm going home to bed."

"6) And then this is the terrible mistake I made - I posted something to the meetup page (publicly) saying, without names, that people were talking shit about Jessica (again, no names used) at the meetup. My reasoning was that there had been a lot of discussion lately about how much private info people were comfortable posting, and I felt like this would be relevant. I guess I also wanted to call it out, maybe? I dunno. Again, this was a terrible mistake."

Yes. It seems to me that you discussed shit about people to others who weren't involved ... to complain that others were discussing shit about Jessica to others who weren't involved. It can't be "immature rudeness that needs calling out" when others do it, and "straight-forward truth telling" when you do it. It's dramarama no matter what.

xingcat is right, that you should apologize and say you understand that it was a terrible lapse in judgment.

But I guess my bigger question is, why do you want to be friends with this group? If you feel that you have to be dishonest, or participate in activities you find abhorrent, isn't there a group you can find that's more straightforward and kind?

Also, as someone else who has a lifetime tendency to speak up when it'd be better to be silent, I've had to really think hard about when my honesty is just going to be unkind, or when my honesty won't accomplish anything. You can be honest through your actions, too, by removing yourself from an unacceptable situation. And you don't have to police and correct everyone else; you can only govern yourself. I think sometimes a sense of justice or fairness leads us to act like everyone's mom, which doesn't actually advance the cause.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:36 AM on July 22, 2012 [20 favorites]


It's just... when people talk shit about other people, my reaction's almost physical, viscerally sick and immediately depressed. I don't even know how to describe it but to say that I can't be around it. It seems so obvious. If you have a problem with someone, tell it to their face, not behind their back for other people to have a few laughs about. That's the difference, I think, at least in my eyes, between this and the post - one case is calling people out, one is bonding by putting someone else down. If that makes sense.

The reason I want to be friends with these people is because I've never had a friend circle in my life, and they seem like as decent candidates as anyone. If I had friends in this city, for instance, I could be calling them up right now or going out to brunch or something and being reassured, rather than being alone in a tiny room in my apartment.

And there's just no easy answer. I could go home, but then I am missing out on part of the meetup (and risking being talked about myself. Yes, that's illogical considering what happened instead, but I didn't intend it to end this way.) Or if I'm starting to feel upset, I can either be visibly upset at the table or implied-upset in the bathroom. Neither option is good. You just can't win. I don't know how people do it.

I'm sorry. I really want these people to like me, or people to like me in general, and don't know how to do that apparently.
posted by dekathelon at 7:46 AM on July 22, 2012


I'm sorry. I really want these people to like me, or people to like me in general, and don't know how to do that apparently.

Wasn't part of the original question, but seems to be the underlying cause of your original conundrum. You need to like yourself, and be confident, before other people will. I don't know why you aren't very happy with yourself, therapy will prolly help with that. Sorry for the stock MetaFilter answer of therapy, but it really applies here, you need to get your self esteem healthy!
posted by kellyblah at 7:52 AM on July 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


These people may not be "jerks" but they are obviously comfortable with creating and perpetuating drama. In most mature social groups, "inappropriate flirting" (whatever that means) between two people is not usually dealt with by the entire group initiating a speakerphone intervention with one of the involved parties while having a verbal group smackdown session of the other, absent party. That's nothing but drama.

If you're not comfortable with that kind of group dynamic, well, now you know that's not the group for you. And I suspect they now know that you are not for them, either. So probably not salvageable, at least not without a lot of belly-crawling apologies from you about calling them out on behavior you really still disapprove of. You sure you want to do that?

I'm not sure why you are finding that most meetup groups end up disliking you, other than that it is sometimes hard to make inroads with an established group of friends, especially if you are coming in without an established member sort of "sponsoring" you.

You might find it easier to ease into a group that centers around a hobby. Although those can sometimes be cliquish as well, so if you don't feel welcome at one, try another.

Also, don't push too hard to be noticed by the group when you join. Hang around the fringes, listen way more than you talk, figure out who's who and how the group interacts. People get offended when newbies presume too much, too soon about their status in the group. But don't give up if the group dynamic seems cool and not jerkish. I read somewhere that you have to show up to a group 7 times before they start thinking of you as a member.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 8:00 AM on July 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


I've found with groups like this that it's best to just find the people that click with your personality and become friends with them. I've made some great friends in meetup that have flourished outside of meetup. You don't need everyone to like you, so if they're making you uncomfortable and acting like it's fucking high school all over again then step around them and find other people to hang out with.

I ran a meetup group for four years, and people come and go; some come and go because they want drama and the rest of the group doesn't, some come and go because this is not a singles club (they just want to hook up), and some come and go because they realize nobody likes them. Seriously we had one dude that made everyone feel uncomfortable, especially the women, so everytime he would RSVP I would see the women that had previously signed up suddenly drop off, he eventually stopped showing up.

My point is that if you don't want drama, but most of the people in this group do, then find another group. There's nothing wrong with you for calling people on their shit, and hell if by all this you have saved Jessica some time and grief then it was a good sacrifice.

In the future if people are doing things you don't want to be a part of then throw out a "I'm tired guys, I think I'm gonna go home and go to bed".
posted by zombieApoc at 8:03 AM on July 22, 2012


kellyblah hit it on the head. You need to like yourself first and be comfortable with that. Friends will happen after that.
posted by zombieApoc at 8:08 AM on July 22, 2012


It's just... when people talk shit about other people, my reaction's almost physical, viscerally sick and immediately depressed. I don't even know how to describe it but to say that I can't be around it. It seems so obvious. If you have a problem with someone, tell it to their face, not behind their back for other people to have a few laughs about. That's the difference, I think, at least in my eyes, between this and the post - one case is calling people out, one is bonding by putting someone else down. If that makes sense.

I sympathize, but you need to choose your battles more carefully. Especially when you are approaching an established group of friends. Also this sounds to me like a misdirected insecurity -- you're really afraid of people talking about YOU behind YOUR back. That's not something you can control, except by doing your best to keep good company. At least then when people talk about you, they'll have the decency to make sure you don't find out about it in a hurtful way.

You might think you were doing Jessica a favor by alerting her to what happened, but I'd argue that your failure to mind your own business may have done more to hurt her than her "bad" friends ever would have.
posted by hermitosis at 8:08 AM on July 22, 2012 [17 favorites]


It's just... when people talk shit about other people, my reaction's almost physical, viscerally sick and immediately depressed. I don't even know how to describe it but to say that I can't be around it.

It's OK (great, in fact!) to not like or tolerate malicious gossip, but your reaction to it sounds unhealthy. It's hard to find any social group that is completely free of this behavior; becoming physically ill is going to be an obstacle to getting comfortable with people. It sounds like being around other people in general has the potential to make you very anxious (I say that based on this and previous questions). Have you looked into working with a therapist? There's only so much we can do for you here on AskMeta; working with someone in person could get you a lot further.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:11 AM on July 22, 2012 [18 favorites]


Never post to the internet immediately when you are upset! (Absent the need for people to do something right away, ie "this terrible thing happened and I need [help getting home/etc])

Honestly, I wouldn't apologize to the group - if there's an individual who you're close to, that's another thing. An apology is basically saying "you were engaging in this screwed-up, charged, manipulative behavior at a public meet-up, I got upset and I am sorry that your bad behavior made me upset, plus I am sorry that I did not keep your bad behavior a secret". I mean, I don't think posting the bad behavior to the internet was the best and most productive response, but if everything went down the way you said it did, it wasn't particularly wrong. This is a social milieu, remember, where people think it's okay to trick someone onto speakerphone and hector/bully him into dropping another person. (And not for understandable reasons like the other person being a racist or something.)

It sounds to me like you have trouble articulating your needs and wishes - maybe even to yourself - and have to let unchecked emotion do the speaking for you. When you were younger, were you discouraged from saying what you felt or needed? Were your wishes and needs routinely ignored or specifically dismissed as unimportant/untrue? Were you only allowed to express your feelings if they seemed "unstoppable", ie if you said that you were sad it was not important, but if you started crying then it would be attended to?

On the "I want to be liked" front: I had a turning point in my life once where I just upped and quit a social circle where I was being abused. I dropped them all, cold. Now, I was not some innocent victim - I was a provincial and kind of annoying person who had no social skills (long story, bad weird childhood). But the "friends" I'd found did not have to treat me cruelly - none of my social clumsiness made me deserve to be treated badly.

What I'm saying is that it's easy to think that if you are awkward, lonely, etc, you have no standing to complain about how other people act, because we are taught to frame things as "only people who are perfect can object to bad things".

I'm also saying that when I dropped those people, I consciously decided that I was better off alone. Really feeling that opened up a lot of stuff for me and taught me a kind of self-respect-by-default: I decided that even if I was a loser weirdo, I still had the right to protect myself from pain. That headspace changed a lot for me - it's not like I never had friend troubles again or was never lonely again, but starting from a place of self-protection and self-respect meant that even at the worst, things were never as bad.

Here's another thing: I had a weird and difficult childhood, and yet it was often difficult for me to believe that people would go on being cruel if they saw that they were being cruel - I tended to frame things in my head as "people only do stuff because they don't know better". In my young day, I could totally see myself getting upset by something unpleasant that happened and going and crying in the bathroom, on this logic: "I am unable to directly articulate my needs because I have been taught that this is bad and needy, but surely if these people understand that what they are doing is hurtful then they will stop". That line of reasoning put me in a lot of bad positions - partly because when you can't speak your needs you often end up being passive-aggressive because hey, your needs are still there, but moreso because I did not protect myself enough. I was very open to hurtful and shitty behavior because I really truly believed that people only hurt each other by mistake. But some folks are really into being mean, and some social groups have such entrenched dynamics of cruelty that no one actually wants to change. Those are the groups you have to recognize and leave.
posted by Frowner at 8:12 AM on July 22, 2012 [32 favorites]


The specific resentment in this case, I guess, was that person flirting with another (male) member of the group, when I guess she wasn't supposed to. If it seems vague, it's because I don't understand how any of that is wrong.

If you didn't understand, you should have joined the conversation and asked about the stuff you didn't understand before posting your online judgements.

Gossip is one of those universals of human behavior. Everybody everywhere gossips. You took a normal part of human behavior, and turned it into drama by taking it online.

Really, looking at your question history, I see a lot of complaining about everybody else's "drama" and "bullshit." I feel like you need to readjust your perception of normal. You're having trouble connecting with people because they think you're the drama queen.

Crying over somebody gossiping about two people you don't know? Seriously? I would have written you off as "too much to bother with" right then and there. I'm too old for that kind of drama.

Apologize to everyone involved. Take some time off from that group to work on yourself. In a few months, go back to a meetup and don't start any drama. Eventually, some people will forgive you, but there will probably be somebody who never does. (Some people are just grudge-holders.) Accept that fact and don't make any drama out of it. As hermitosis said, you have to pick your battles. That includes knowing when to accept your losses. If you go back to that group expecting everything to be perfect, you're going to fail.
posted by faster than a speeding bulette at 8:14 AM on July 22, 2012 [52 favorites]


The reason I want to be friends with these people is because I've never had a friend circle in my life, and they seem like as decent candidates as anyone.

Not really, no.

Look, I'm not going to paint a big picture of them being "jerks" you need to blow off, or whatever, but the drama sounds lame. And it also sounds like you react to the personalities involved by creating more drama rather than extricating yourself from the situation.

That's not a great recipe for friendship.

You shouldn't force your way into a group of friends because "well these people seem ok". Your friends should be people you actually like. Drop those people and find someone to hang out with where your first instinct isn't to tell them all they're a bunch of assholes.

I'm also a little concerned with your feelings that people at other meetups "didn't like you". There are two options here -- either you've misread what is really going on, or you're doing something so creepy that you instantly repel almost everyone you meet. I highly doubt the latter is true, so what it is that made you think others didn't like you? Was it that you didn't immediately jet to the center of the group? Was it that you just didn't hit it off with them? This whole "so and so doesn't like me" thing really seems to be at the center of your difficulty making friends, and I have a strong feeling that the problem isn't actually that people dislike you immediately, en masse.
posted by Sara C. at 8:18 AM on July 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'd be surprised if you could salvage this set of relationships after what's happened. This isn't solely your fault, but too much drama has happened to move past the situation especially when you don't know these people well. It's hard to salvage a relationship when you are just acquaintances or hang out buddies.

Don't beat yourself up over it, really. That's not going to get you very far, instead keep it as a social lesson so that you can learn from it. I think a lot of people including myself make social mistakes and while you might feel embarrassed about it now, you will get over it.

Don't bother apologizing because that's just going to create further drama for you. You don't seem that close with these people anyways. Take a few months off from meet ups to work on yourself and then join a new meetup. If you can, delete the comments that you wrote because they sound quite harsh.

In the future, learn to choose your battles as hermitosis said. And, learn to think about whether or not it's your place to say something too. In this particular situation, they all seemed quite comfortable or familiar with each other and you seemed like the newer person to the group that made a judgement call on how they behaved. Nobody likes that, not from the person that's been in the group for months or years and most certainly not from someone such as yourself that appears to be new to the group. All you need to do is watch The Hills to know that!

Also, if you end up in these situations in the future think to yourself "is this really worth my energy?" and "what will happen if I say something?" before doing or saying something because chances are that when it's with a group of immature people with alcohol in their system that it's not worth it to say anything at all. You can't rationalize with someone that has too much alcohol in their system. Instead, leave a situation if you feel uncomfortable by either leaving the meetup entirely, going to the washroom for a bit, or going outside to get some fresh air, whatever you can do get away from the drama.

Also, I've said it before in response to your questions and I'll say it again: therapy. I'm not sure if you have started seeing a therapist after we all recommended that you do see one. But, a therapist can truly help you out. Please give it a shot. Print what you have wrote in these various questions and share this information with a therapist that you can trust. It's nothing to be ashamed about, but I think you need to frame things differently so that you can have healthier self esteem.

Best.
posted by livinglearning at 8:30 AM on July 22, 2012


The specific resentment in this case, I guess, was that person flirting with another (male) member of the group, when I guess she wasn't supposed to. If it seems vague, it's because I don't understand how any of that is wrong.

Did you ask them to explain it to you, or did you just not understand and assumed that these people must have a bad reason for not liking Jessica? What if Jessica is flirting with someone who has a girlfriend? What if Jessica's flirting style is to monopolize someone's time and make it hard for them to circulate around the meetup? What if Jessica is flirting after being told that her flirting is unwanted? What if Jessica is flirting with someone that she knows her best friend has a crush on? What if Jessica has a history of stealing other people's boyfriends after starting with low-level flirtations?

Especially in a big circle of friends, there are a ton of plausible reasons why Jessica's flirting might be totally inappropriate. Just because they were talking crap about her doesn't mean they don't have valid reasons for disliking her.

Moving forward, the next time someone starts talking crap about someone, say "Oh, I don't have any problem with that person, actually" and then change the subject. The fact that you get uncomfortable because of gossip really isn't going to matter to anyone because gossip happens in most social settings with a large number of people, AND because lots of gossip is harmless. If me and my friends hate Jessica for good reasons, and we've been drinking, talking about that in a bar is not at all something that I should have to feel bad about.

Take a break from the group, and when you come back, apologize in person to the group who you put on blast on the internet.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:42 AM on July 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm sorry. I really want these people to like me,

And you identified with Jessica--imagined being talked about for transgressions unrealized. How can you ever trust anyone as a friend when the moment you leave, you are subject to such criticism?

If that's the case, even if you are "forgiven" it would not be enough. And if their transgression (which they were unaware was one) forced you to react as you did against your will (you couldn't stand doing otherwise), how can they accept your apology to mean you won't do the same again?

The nature of all relationships includes that sometimes you won't like each other and, to preserve the connection, don't express this dislike--the expression being not truthfulness, but an attack in its own right. Chances are that Jessica is more welcome back among them than you because her transgressions weren't attacks. And so Jessica gets to have friends, even as they gossip about her. Their complains about her flirting don't imply that have no affection for her. Their not gossiping about what she'd done wouldn't mean they didn't feel what they did about Jessica's actions--just that they didn't share it in her absence. If friends who will never find a minor fault with you and not express it is your requirement, you will remain alone in your room for such people are at best rare.
posted by Obscure Reference at 8:43 AM on July 22, 2012


These folks sound dramatic and immature. I don't care much for gossip either, and it makes me take a step back from people when they do it. After all, if they're gossiping about Jessica, and getting in her and this guy's business, they may gossip about you next. I would move on and find other friends.

Try to control your impulsivity in the future, too. You got caught up in the dysfunction. Step away next time.

And it doesn't sound like anything that's going to get you blacklisted amongst future friends or dates. Really, just let it go and maybe seek out friends that are a little bit older, like late 20s and up. The urge to gossip decreases with maturity (in most people).
posted by xenophile at 8:44 AM on July 22, 2012


I think that being uncomfortable with malicious gossip and saying something about it the way that you did, which makes it about you rather than judging the people, is fine. It sounds like it worked. The problem is that spending the next 10-60 minutes enmeshed and quavering with it in a way that seems to demand other people's attention and comforting is making it way too much about you, and feels like center-of-attention drama hogging, as does posting something like what you did online, which is just a an enormous escalation.

I think you should apologize online to the group, and with e-mails to the individuals involved, because it's the right thing to do. I don't think you should expect it to gain you any traction as far as reconciling, and the least drama thing to do will be to apologize and just not show up again.

For future friends making i think one thing you need to work on is how to defuse yourself instead of getting worked up and escalating. At it's most basic, if you feel yourself losing your comfort level, just leave. "Sorry guys, i just got this text, forgot about something I have to do, gotta run." You don't need to explain, just get yourself out so you can attend to your own feelings without doing any damage. Longer term, I have to say this sounds like cognitive behavior therapy territory.

There's something about this question that reminds me of the string of "What do women like?" "How to talk to a man?" questions we see here sometimes, where the response is overwhelmingly stop treating the potential love interests as objects to be targeted, where it's romance or bust and every interaction that doesn't lead that way feels like a frustrating, if not humiliating waste of time, and start interacting with them as people just like you. It is possible to do the same thing with making friends.

If you're so concerned about having friends, it might make you less able to interact with people in a genuine way, more wrapped up in your own head and your own anxiety (which can intensify to flameouts like what you had), as well as not discerning enough about who are actually people who are worth respecting *and* whose friendship is worth cultivating. I interact with lots of people. Almost every interaction is worthwhile or interesting or enjoyable in some way. Most of them will not lead to friendship, but that doesn't have to interact poorly on us or be a waste of time at all.
posted by Salamandrous at 8:49 AM on July 22, 2012 [15 favorites]


It's just... when people talk shit about other people, my reaction's almost physical, viscerally sick and immediately depressed.

Displaying visceral, emotional agitation makes people very, very uncomfortable, and the place the blame for that discomfort not on the thing that made you upset, but on you. You made yourself both the focus of attention and set yourself up as the cause of a lot of discomfort among this group of people. Their natural reaction is going to be to want to excise the source of that discomfort-- i.e., you.

The better move would have been to react to this catty gossip with, "Not cool, guys, not cool," and extract yourself from the situation if they didn't stop.

I realize that all this stuff makes you really, really upset, but what makes you think that everyone else doesn't have stuff going on in their own lives that are making them pretty upset, and they don't have a public meltdown about it. And resorting to posting on the group discussion board just compounded the problem-- once again, making you the source of trouble that everyone wanted to focus of stopping at that point.
posted by deanc at 8:50 AM on July 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


We'd been drinking, but at that point I wasn't drunk at all, to rule that out as a factor.

I couldn't rule alcohol out as a factor. I don't really think you should either. But it wasn't exactly the factor I thought it was. A quick turn through wikipedia and found this tidbit:
Alcohol has also been linked with lowered inhibitions, though it is unclear to what degree this is chemical versus psychological as studies with placebos can often duplicate the social effects of alcohol at low to moderate doses. Some studies have suggested that intoxicated people have much greater control over their behavior than is generally recognized, though they have a reduced ability to evaluate the consequences of their behavior. Behavioral changes associated with drunkenness are, to some degree, contextual. A scientific study found that people drinking in a social setting significantly and dramatically altered their behavior immediately after the first sip of alcohol, well before the chemical itself could have filtered through to the nervous system.
... which implies to me that it isn't the actual BAC that's the deciding factor, but how far and quickly the proximity of drinking acts as a lubricant to a hypnotic state of groupthink.

Which is my crazy way of saying you might find more fun and less rollercoastery emotions at a dry meetup. And I echo the posters who have suggested that when the you-sickening gossip starts, that is a good time to remember you have to get up in the morning and bid your polite adieus. It is your issue to address, and no good comes of looking on others as the cause, then continuing to engage with the thing you know is making you uncomfortable.
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 8:52 AM on July 22, 2012


I mean, I guess what would be most helpful is a step-by-step, unfuckupable, do A (publicly/privately) then do B (publicly/privately) list of events. All I want to do is fix my standing with these people.
posted by dekathelon at 9:07 AM on July 22, 2012


Don't apologize. That's low self esteemy. Move on and look for other friends. Accept that most social groups are prone to cattiness and some drama. People are usually better people one on one. If you're hell bent on being part of a group, know that it may take a lot of time to find one that is relatively nastiness free.
posted by timsneezed at 9:08 AM on July 22, 2012


Why are you concerned with fixing your standing with these people?
posted by timsneezed at 9:09 AM on July 22, 2012


List of things to do, that is. A step-by-step guide. Right now all this seems really huge and scary and I don't even know where to start. I'm really, really, really, really, really sorry.
posted by dekathelon at 9:09 AM on July 22, 2012


Because they are people, and people's opinion of me matters. Because they are potential friends and used to seem to like me OK, and I need that (On a more mercenary level, it's like I said: it is in my best interest for people to not dislike me, because people know people, and going off six degrees or whatever, they probably are connected to almost the whole city.)
posted by dekathelon at 9:10 AM on July 22, 2012


There isn't a step by step unfuckable list to give you. Step back, seek therapy, start over. That's A, B and C...if you want to look at it that way. This situation is over, you need to sort things out with yourself, most likely via therapy and then start over in a more healthy way. This situation is probably not salvagable. Let it be a learning experience and move forward.
posted by bquarters at 9:12 AM on July 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


And when I said apologize (in a previous comment), I didn't mean to ingratiate yourself and make besties with those people. Just do it (if you want to) to provide closure for that incident and then MOVE ON.
posted by bquarters at 9:13 AM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Isn't there something to do to try to salvage it? Something I can try or attempt? Something I can say?

And, y'know, if people wonder why I don't like myself, it is because shit like this happens to me. I wouldn't like this person; there's no reason ot. (Several people in the thread don't like me based on this.)
posted by dekathelon at 9:14 AM on July 22, 2012


How big of a city do you live in? Unless you live in a really small town it's unlikely that they know everyone. Also most people like to form their own opinions of new people and will brush off the warnings of others, sometimes even to their own detriment. The exception is when they are in a tight social group with the gossiper and feel strong social pressure to ostracize the gossipee in order to stay liked.
posted by timsneezed at 9:14 AM on July 22, 2012


I live in NYC, but I've already run into SO MANY situations where, say, I'll have dated someone who went to the same small college as my ex, or who's old buddies with a colleague, etc. I mean, even at last night's meetup, two people found out they went to the same high school.
posted by dekathelon at 9:16 AM on July 22, 2012


It seems to me you are trying to salvage an unsalvageable situation in order to fix your past social "failures." I think the energy you are spending trying to fix this would be better channeled into meeting new people and figuring out how to avoid drama in the future.
posted by timsneezed at 9:16 AM on July 22, 2012 [18 favorites]


You need therapy, too much drama, I doubt these people know everyone else in your city.

When I have students who apologize, my main concern is ok you're sorry, just DON'T DO IT AGAIN.

Your sorry-ness isn't going to get you 'forgiven' by these people, it's an acknowledgement of an error and a willingness to concede that you need help (via a therapist but that's not part of the apology, just part of the moving forward).

People are going to get frustrated now that you are not taking the main point from these answers- it's not about these particular people, it's that you need therapy and some help with some issues that are preventing you from forming friend relationships.
posted by bquarters at 9:17 AM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Pssh. If you live in NYC you will never run out of people. Also it's not like people will be so obsessed with your faux pas that they will put you on some imaginary blacklist that will prevent you from making connections anywhere in the city. They are too obsessed with their own lives.
posted by timsneezed at 9:19 AM on July 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


1) these guys sound like a bunch of drunk, shallow, gossipy, drama-seeking, back-stabbing losers. good riddance. avoid.
2) you were drunker than you think you were. trust.

and most importantly (listen to this, dude. say it to yourself over and over until it 'clicks')
3) what people say about you behind your back is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. not ever.
posted by sexyrobot at 9:20 AM on July 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


No one can give you a step by step list of what to do, because people vary wildly, from one to another. For some people, this may have been a cardinal sin, you may never recover. For others, it's nothing, and they've forgotten it already. Focus your energy towards developing yourself as a person that you like. You're putting energy in to a black hole right now, you'll always end up with these situations until you look at the underlying cause.
posted by kellyblah at 9:20 AM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


List of things to do, that is. A step-by-step guide.

People do what they want to do, and there's no formula you can use to get people to react in a manner you want them to. The best you can do is act in the manner of someone who wants them to reconcile with you-- namely, apologizing and then laying low for a while.

The comparison to the "how do I get him/her to like me?" AskMes is apt, here-- you can't MAKE someone want to date you, but you can make overtures that indicate you would like to date that person and that you would make a worthwhile dating prospect. What the other person DOES with that information is up to them.
posted by deanc at 9:25 AM on July 22, 2012


For what it's worth, and (I'm not going to lie) to prove you wrong, I was in therapy for a while after a really bad breakup earlier this year. It did nothing. Well. That isn't accurate. It cost me hundreds of dollars I don't have, it put me further in the doghouse at work (because I have to take time off work to go, and there are only so many "doctor's appointments" you can rack up while looking healthy, it did not prevent me from doing shit like this, and I still have no friends nor relationships here.

I mean. Let me put it this way. I have done nothing all day but sit in my tiny room in my apartment. If I had friends, they could make me feel better. And if it comes off like I'm being really mercenary about this... I mean, everyone wants someone to care about them, and my life is such that nobody really cares about me. That hurts. It just does.
posted by dekathelon at 9:30 AM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


You are not going to get back in this group's good graces anytime soon. That doesn't mean, though, that it'd be impossible for you to continue forging friendships with a handful (1, 2, 3?) of individuals from the group. Possible steps for making this happen, and all of these being private, not public:

1. Decide who you've connected with most, who you'd really like to be friends with in the future. (And I think you need to stop thinking about "I want these people to like me" and think more about "I want to be friends with _____.")
2. Reach out to that person by phone or email. I think you might prefer email, just because then you can be a bit more cautious about the actual wording. BUT - make sure there's nothing in the email that you wouldn't mind being shared around, because if this group is so gossipy, that could well happen. Something like:

Hey _________,
I know my behavior the other night was a bit off, and am truly sorry for having posted what I posted on our meetup page. I tend to get overreact to people talking about other people who aren't present, but that's my own issue and not something I should have taken out on the group.
While I realize I might not be particularly welcome at meetup events in the future, I was thinking it'd be great if you and I could hang out again in the future. Would you be interested in _________ (getting coffee Monday, seeing that movie we were talking about the other day, etc etc).


3. See what happens. Maybe this person/these people you reach out to will ignore you, maybe they'll say rude things about you in the group in the future. If someone does get back to you, though, focus on hanging out with/being friends with this person, and NOT on getting this person to like you and acting perfectly at all times.

Caveat, and some tough love that comes from a place of completely empathizing with what you're feeling right now: there are no steps that will make people like you. There are no steps that will make any of these people, or anyone else, come over and make you feel better. What a lot of people here are trying to say, though, could make you feel better - (1) this group doesn't seem particularly worthy of your affections, so it isn't in your best interest to want them to like you. Find another group! (2) Therapy is a solution. It takes a while sometimes, though, to find a good therapist that you connect with and respond to. And it's not a fast-acting solution - you will still make mistakes socially, because we all do, and a therapist will help you come to grips with this.
posted by violetish at 9:37 AM on July 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


Look. Part of being a well adjusted, confident adult, the kind that other people will gravitate to, is knowing when to step away from an ugly situation and find new people. By apologizing and bending over backwards to make these jerks (and yes they do sound like jerks) like you, you are just proving to them and more importantly to yourself that you are an unworthy person.

There are also times when you will upset perfectly good people or a situation will turn ugly even though you have done absolutely nothing wrong and you will also have to move on as well.

Fortunately you live in a city that is a revolving door of people, and unless you are limiting yourself to one subset like people who work in x industry, you will always be able to meet fresh faces. You seem overly focused on the past, on replaying past wrongs and trying to fix them. Instead shift your focus to the present and the future. Start seeing the future as something that doesn't even exist and something that can be anything you want it to be.

As for your bad therapy experience, I hear this from a lot of people and usually it's because either they had a bad therapist or they didn't put in the necessary work to get better or both. Most of therapy is doing the work on your own outside the office. How much did you really push yourself in this regard?

You strike me as someone who could really benefit from an action based cognitive behavioral type approach to get rid of your social phobias. Was your therapy more talky and less goal oriented?

Finally, I highly, highly recommend group therapy; I think you would be a perfect candidate for it. That will immediately give you a community of people who will be unconditionally supportive. Group therapy is great for people with social phobias.
posted by timsneezed at 9:43 AM on July 22, 2012 [12 favorites]


You were actually a kind of social whistleblower in this situation, and I don't think your actions can be compared to the gossips, because you didn't exactly do it behind anybody's back, did you now?

And you've had the effect any good whistleblower might hope for of being the occasion for certain amount self-examination on the part of the people you've exposed.

So far so good!

Now get up off your belly and go somewhere you have a chance of being appreciated, because no amount of cringing self-abasement on your part will wash away the embarrassment these people are going to feel when they see your face or hear your name, though some of them would probably find it amusing to abuse you for a bit, but I don't think that would good for you or them.
posted by jamjam at 9:46 AM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


OK, here's your unfuckuppable step by step guide to getting out of this situation.

1. Send a mass email to the list-serv, or put up a post on the group wall, or whatever it is that y'all do when you want to say something publicly to everyone. In this email/post, apologize in a simple and non-grovelling manner. But make sure it's a real apology and not something flippant like, "I'm sorry feelings were hurt" or "I'm sorry you didn't see the situation the way I did." You should say something like, "I'm deeply sorry for my behavior at last week's meetup and my behavior on the group wall. I don't have a lot of friends here in the city, and you guys mean a lot to me. I hope you'll forgive the drama I caused." Keep it relatively short.

2. Keep going to meetups, assuming you haven't been specifically blackballed. There's a strong chance that everyone was a little bit drunk, they assume you were a little bit drunk, and kind of don't care that much about it several days later.

3. Is there someone else in the group you've hung out with one-on-one before, or who you tend to pair off with during the meetups? Ask that person privately what they think, and how bad it is. That's a good way of gauging where you really stand and how people are feeling about it. But don't harp on it -- just use this as reassurance that you're not persona non grata and it will blow over.

4. Move the fuck on, dude.

5. Get some irons in another fire. Take the focus off these people being your only friends in the entire city. Keep getting out there and meeting new people. Do you have one-on-one friends? It might be more helpful to look at meetups as a way to meet more people to hang out with one-on-one rather than as a built-in social group.

6. Therapy. Really. You have serious self-esteem problems. You could spend years working through this yourself, wondering why you have all these ongoing social problems. Or you could just go talk to a therapist.

(Also, seriously, really and truly, stop worrying so much about the six degrees thing. Yes, it's a weirdly small world for being a city of 8 million. But while it's common to have gone to the same high school, or dated the same girl back in college, or whatever, this is not going to affect your standing in general among other groups. Usually it's an extremely casual connection, and it's mostly just talked about as a novelty. "Oh, you know Matt, too? He really gets around, eh?", not "oh, now let's go tell Matt how evil dekathlon is so as to deprive dekathlon of yet another friend!!!")
posted by Sara C. at 9:51 AM on July 22, 2012 [16 favorites]


Step 1: Apologize. Make it really short. "I just wanted to let you all know that I'm sorry for the way I reacted the other night, especially for the posting I made on the website, which didn't help anyone."

Step 2: If there is anyone in this group you felt a stronger connection to than the others - and they were NOT one of the ringleaders of the "get the guy on the speakerphone" moment - reach out to them, individually, to see if you can salvage the situation. Top candidates will be anyone who tried to get you out of the bathroom. If you said anything inflammatory or inappropriate ("everyone hates me"/"they're all a bunch of jerks") you may need to include an apology when you reach out.

Step 3: Determine for yourself that, whether or not you can make these people accept you as part of their group, you must abstain from brain-altering chemicals (even the really low-alcohol beers) during ANY social gathering where you are unsure of your status. I'm pretty sure the alcohol didn't help you control yourself.

Step 4: If at all possible, try to limit your participation in this (or any other) group to occasions where less than six people will be present. More people = more drama, more groupthink, more chaos, etc.

Step 5: This stuff takes TIME. Expect not to know the answer of whether or not this group will accept you again for at least two or three months. Channel Yoda, Mr. Miagi, the Oracle from the Matrix - whatever you need to - to remind yourself to BE PATIENT.

Meanwhile, therapy. Really. And make a list of things you can go to and do alone - poetry readings, movies, etc. Not having a set of bosom buddies does NOT mean you have to sit alone in your room.
posted by SMPA at 9:54 AM on July 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


All due respect... I have friends that I am quite close to, but I still sometimes fuck up or do dumb things, and having friends doesn't magically make it all better. They have their own lives, they don't have the time to come sit by my side and soothe me when I need soothing. I have to soothe myself. If I do something dumb in a social setting, they're not necessarily going to have the time to sit on the phone with me the next day while I talk it all out, or take me to brunch, or whatever. They have jobs, they have families, they have their own needs. Yes, they'll listen and help me, but... not in the way you seem to be craving. In my experience, very few friend-groups are like that, and they're usually friend-groups of people who have known each other for years, not weeks.

I think you'd really be best served not by finding a group of friends to latch onto and use as a security blanket, but by actually being your own friend. Right now you really do not sound as if you like yourself even a little bit. How can you attract quality, worthwhile people into your life if you don't like yourself? You can't. When you dislike yourself, you attract people who also dislike you on some level, but will use you for whatever they need from you.

Please, try therapy again. And try being your OWN friend right now -- you need soothing? Of course you do. What is it that you would expect a friend to be doing for you today, taking you to brunch, or to a movie or on a walk? Why can you not do those things for yourself? Treat yourself like you would treat a close friend who you care very much for, and see how that feels.
posted by palomar at 9:59 AM on July 22, 2012 [43 favorites]


Also, I have to say that, if you are officially blackballed from future meet-ups or mutually known to be persona non grata among these people, that means these people are not your friends. Go find some real friends.

In a close group of real friends, junior varsity stuff like "Beth and Jill were gossiping about Jessica, and then dekathlon flipped out about it and it ended in an argument on a publicly visible facebook group wall" blows over, eventually. Probably in the time that it takes for the publicly visible reminders of the drama to drift down off the main page of the facebook group.
posted by Sara C. at 10:02 AM on July 22, 2012


The specific resentment in this case, I guess, was that person flirting with another (male) member of the group, when I guess she wasn't supposed to. If it seems vague, it's because I don't understand how any of that is wrong.

Most likely, someone else in the group is really into this guy and can't stand that the guy likes Jessica. This person is probably extremely jealous of Jessica. The others is the group who are better friends with this person than Jessica are backing them up.

I know it's a thing in group dynamics that if the "wrong" people flirt with the "wrong" people, it makes people mad, but those rules are never spoken, so how can you be expected to know?

This seems like it might be a rhetorical question but I will give you an answer anyway. In these (monumentally immature) scenarios, you will get the side-eye if you are flirting with someone that someone else likes. They say things to you that don't make sense like "Oh, he really wouldn't make a good boyfriend for you." (Generally if someone makes a weird comment about a well-liked person in your social circle you're interested in, which seems meant to make you think less of that person or think you wouldn't be right for each other, that is often what's going on). You might find that some people are finding really weird reasons to get you away from the person you are flirting with. You might even find some people physically inserting themselves between you and the person you are flirting with. You are "supposed" to back off then.

The reality though is that if people are in their 20's and still doing this kind of thing, their level of maturity and social development is way below the norm. I am in my 20's too, I'm not like a way older person expecting an unrealistic maturity level out of 20 year olds. This behavior is abnormal for this age.

it gets to the point where they're trying to text him, put him on speakerphone and be like "Talk to us! Don't talk to Jessica!"

This is honestly some really loserish behavior, I'm sorry. This is the sort of thing that my friends and I would do when we were 12 and didn't know how to get boys to like us, and were just kind of helplessly jealous of our cuter friends.

I speak up and say that I'm uncomfortable with this. I guess this is a personal failing of mine, that I'm incapable of shutting my goddamn mouth; it seems like it wouldn't be a failing, but it never, ever ends well.

It's not a failing in all situations. It's just something that has different consequences in different scenarios. There are times when it would be really heroic, and you would be lauded for it, like corporate whistleblowers. There are times when it would be heroic and you would be locked up and tortured by the government, like Bradley Manning.

In social situations, it is a great thing to do morally when people are doing something that is wrong, but the result of pointing out that people are doing something morally questionable is that by and large, they're not going to like you. I have been the target of hostility and defensiveness SO many times in my life when people find out I'm a vegetarian - even if I never said anything about it to them at all - because they just imagine that I *MIGHT* be making some kind of moral judgment about them.

If you find yourself in a position where you have to speak up about something your friends are doing that you think is wrong, by all means go ahead (seriously), but just don't expect them to have a positive reaction.

Usually, the best thing to do in this scenario is find new friends, because people are really defensive and can get especially pigheaded, stubborn and nasty if it is implied they are doing something wrong, and it is really unlikely you're going to change how they are and the sorts of things they do with just one objection.

I try to look like I'm still having fun, but I am terrible at this and eventually have to go into the bathroom just so people can't see me trying and failing not to look upset.

5) A couple people find me and try to talk to me, but I am literally almost at the point of tears and say that I don't want to have that conversation right now. This goes on for half an hour or so, with varying degrees of how much I'm talking and how upset I am. Things aren't exactly civil.


This sort of behavior (where someone gets really upset while everyone is having fun at a social gathering, and then the next level, where everyone stops what they are doing to tend to the upset person at a social gathering) is something that you really need to change to be successful socially. If you do this rarely, in really understandable situations (like, you just got a call that a family member died) people will be okay with it. If you're doing this frequently, or for reasons like the above, people are going to find you to be a real drag, socially. I completely get that it may be hard for you to change this. So I'm not giving any advice there. Just want to simply say, you will find yourself very socially impeded as long as this is going on.


And then this is the terrible mistake I made - I posted something to the meetup page (publicly) saying, without names, that people were talking shit about Jessica (again, no names used) at the meetup. My reasoning was that there had been a lot of discussion lately about how much private info people were comfortable posting, and I felt like this would be relevant. I guess I also wanted to call it out, maybe? I dunno. Again, this was a terrible mistake.

I know you know this was a mistake. Just to explain WHY it was a mistake, it's a really big faux pas to take a private conversation and make it public. It's a really big faux pas to take a conversation happening between a group of people IRL and post it online for all to see, unless you're sure they would all be okay with it. Above all, people do not want the shit talking they are doing behind other people's backs broadcast on the internet. Generally, if people are engaging in secretive two-faced behavior, then they want secrecy and plausible deniability for it and they will be mad at you if you impede that.

So. Yes. What can I even do in this situation that will make things better? Is it even possible to be friends with these people anymore, or is it best just to leave?

I think the only thing you can do is contact the people you are closest to and say something like, "I'm really sorry about how I acted on Friday night, I had way too much to drink, I'll have to watch that in the future." But the idea of saying something like that, just rolling over and showing your belly to these people who were behaving so abominably, is really kind of nauseating. Do you really want to do that? Just be the little submissive lackey to them?

I don't know. I just want friends and for people to like me.

Find better people, seriously. It seems like you think this kind of behavior is normal and it doesn't say anything about these folks and their suitability as friends. It is really really not! Mean people are mean! People who talk shit about others behind their backs are mean! And you are not going to change them. People like that generally enjoy how they are or are getting something out of their behavior.

You made some mistakes too (having that emotional outburst, running to the bathroom, posting about the conversation online) but for things to go better, start at a base of better people.
posted by cairdeas at 10:04 AM on July 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


Ok here's my final NYC advice based on your updates.
1. Therapy is expensive but you can find someone in network if you have insurance and someone who will meet you outside of work hours. IF you have insurance etc etc.

2. A better idea might be mediation groups, they will provide part of what you need and there is a social aspect too. Look up meditation in NYC, there is the shambhala center and vjardhara to name two.

3. Get out of your apt. Walk for 30 min (so easy in NYC). Gets you out of your apartment and headspace.

4. Again, mediation and walking...and films. Obsessing like this is not good gfor you or productive, switch it up.
posted by bquarters at 10:08 AM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Isn't there something to do to try to salvage it? Something I can try or attempt? Something I can say?

Once people form an impression of you, once they make your minds up, it's pretty much entirely out of your hands. Everything you do and say will be seen through that filter.

It's not out of the question that they might one day change their mind but it won't happen because of anything you did. Eithey they come to the conclusion themselves or they don't.

You can avoid this in the future and if there are any individuals in the group to whom you are particularly close, you can maybe reach out to them privately and see where their heads are at.

But that's about it. I call this the Breaking Bad moment; there's a moment in the TV show Breaking Bad in which a character, on the outs with his wife, says this:

"She just won't...she just won't understand. I mean, no matter how well I explain it, these days she just has this...this... I mean, I truly believe there exists some combination of words. There must exist certain words in a certain specific order that can explain all of this, but with her I just can't ever seem to find them."

That stuck with me, because it's a perfect expression of how this feels. You're certain there are steps you can take, things you can do that will hit the reset button and everything will be cool again. There aren't. This is completely out of your hands. Accepting that will be hard, but acceptance is a really important thing. Acceptance of this situation, acceptance of others, acceptance of yourself.

And, y'know, if people wonder why I don't like myself, it is because shit like this happens to me. I wouldn't like this person; there's no reason ot. (Several people in the thread don't like me based on this.)


Accept yourself. You have flaws, like anyone else, and sometimes you have bad experiences. Those experiences could play in your head like horror movies or you could accept the person who had those experiences, who made those mistakes, and you could decide that you love that person just the same. As first steps go, it's got to be worth trying.

For what it's worth, and (I'm not going to lie) to prove you wrong, I was in therapy for a while after a really bad breakup earlier this year. It did nothing. Well. That isn't accurate. It cost me hundreds of dollars I don't have, it put me further in the doghouse at work (because I have to take time off work to go, and there are only so many "doctor's appointments" you can rack up while looking healthy, it did not prevent me from doing shit like this, and I still have no friends nor relationships here.


Therapy is a long, long process. You had a bad breakup earlier this year. Let's unpack that. I'm not digging into your question history to make you feel badly, I'm doing it so maybe you can see a pattern. So.

Based on your history of questions, you were sort of dating but it wasn't going great, then you met a guy sometime in March. On May 11 you said you were dumped "a few weeks back," so that would put the breakup sometime in late April or so. This breakup seemed to have a pretty bad effect on your health and whatnot, so I'm going to go ahead and figure that this is the bad breakup you're talking about.

It was in April. It's July now.

I'm sorry, but this proves no one wrong. The traits you're trying to change are very deep-seated. They could take a very long time to fix. If I'm right about the timeline here, the absolute most time you could possibly have given it was three months. That's not a lot of time. The issues here are manifold and they are complex and this is not something that can be fixed easily or without help.

The pattern I'm talking about is that you basically know what the overarching problem is, but shoot down most attempts to help which counter your existing narrative. Therapy was expensive, it cost you money you didn't have, but there are options. There are always options. You tried one and it didn't work and that was that.

In February, you said this: And for those calling this "self-loathing" - if a friend was telling you about someone who got upset about things like this, then sure, you'd speak pretty negatively about that person, too. I see myself the way others see myself.

This is characteristic of what your approach has been: You have a negative attitude that makes it hard to form lasting initial bonds with other people. This makes you believe that you are somehow objectively unlikable (not true), which reinforces your negative attitude, which causes more difficulty in bonding with others. Like most pessimists, you believe you are a realist. You're not.

I want to reiterate that I'm not saying any of this out of anger. I see a person who's hurting and I want to help, but the help needed for this situation extends beyond the bounds of an AskMetafilter question. Look for therapists with a sliding scale, or even places that offer counseling for free. Group therapy. Whatever, but whichever you go with, stick with it. The solution will always be roughly the scale of the problem. A big problem needs hard work to overcome it.

If you want things to get better, you have to fight for it. It won't be easy, but you're smart and you can do this. Good luck.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:08 AM on July 22, 2012 [34 favorites]


This may be completely out of left field, but have you considered befriending someone much older or much younger than you are? Big Sisters type programs are always in need and elderly people in New York often love having conversations with anyone who will listen.

I say this because many years ago, when I was going through a tough time personally, I responded to an ad posted on the college job board for a young person to read to a retired art professor in her 90's who had lost her sight. That woman ended up becoming an amazing mentor to me and one of the dearest friends I've ever had.

Little kids and old people will not set off the dramabomb like twentysomethings. You're in a fragile state and responding with melodrama. Meet a person out of your peer group and give it a shot. If nothing else it will give you some time to chill and figure what you really want.
posted by last night a dj saved my life at 10:16 AM on July 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


I speak up and say that I'm uncomfortable with this. I guess this is a personal failing of mine, that I'm incapable of shutting my goddamn mouth; it seems like it wouldn't be a failing, but it never, ever ends well.

I think you might (a) not drink for a while and (b) take a look at why you've decided that you're the truth teller. You could have just left if you didn't like what was going on. But, especially in a group of people you don't know well, you might want to practice NOT voicing every thought that comes into your head. I've certainly been the sniper from the sidelines in various situations and it doesn't make anyone think I'm courageous or principled or upright--it's just noise. You might have thought that you were take a stand and that others would agree, but your actions just escalated the drama.

Let your actions speak for you. If you had just left (and not in a huff, and not slamming doors), someone might have asked you why and you could have explained. Or not, but at least you wouldn't be cringing in your apartment, wondering how you can fix this.
posted by Ideefixe at 10:33 AM on July 22, 2012


I just want to second the people above who are advising you to take care of yourself right now and not worry about this situation right this minute. Get out of your apartment and go do something you enjoy- walk around your favorite part of town, see a movie, window shop, eat ice cream, whatever. And is there really no one who cares about you? Do you have friends from high school or college you haven't spoken to in a while, or how do you get along with your family? Is there a grandma/aunt/cousin/sibling you can call and chat with or reach out to some other way?

It sounds like you're feeling really isolated right now, and very hung up on solving this issue with the meetup group. I'd suggest channeling that energy into a situation you can better control and trying to build yourself up instead of tearing yourself down.
posted by MadamM at 10:36 AM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's a lot of inexpensive therapy in NYC. MeMail me if you can't find any.
posted by Obscure Reference at 10:49 AM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am a very honest person, sometimes to my detriment. I try to control it, because occasionally, lying and or omitting information is invaluable.

It's sometimes hard to see it as a problem (especially in yourself), so I'll give a friend example that helped me realize honesty is not always beneficial: Joe and I were talking about Ted, this guy whom Joe is friends with and who I thought could be a potential new friend of mine. Joe hems and haws, and then says, "Ted told me he doesn't like you." I'm sure it was honest. It was also a bad call to blurt out. Now, I find that I cut off conversations with Ted early because it seems disingenuous. If Joe hadn't told me about Ted's opinion of me, I may have changed that opinion over time. Now I can't, because I can't tell Ted why I'm awkward/defensive (that would hurt my friendship with Joe and also would likely only add a new hurdle) but the knowledge has changed my behavior around Ted.

The following involves conjecture, so if it isn't valid, ignore it. I think you are even more honest than I am. You really need to control that. It is not always a positive attribute, so if you go about thinking it is, reframe it as being double-edged.

I say this because cairdeas' suggestion:
I think the only thing you can do is contact the people you are closest to and say something like, "I'm really sorry about how I acted on Friday night, I had way too much to drink, I'll have to watch that in the future."

is a good one, and I have the impression you'll not want to say it because you weren't drunk. It doesn't matter if you were drunk or not; by saying you were and saying you won't get drunk again, it gives people a way into possibly believing you won't behave similarly in the future. That belief is essential for them to actually allow you back in. It doesn't guarantee they will, but it significantly ups the chances.
posted by vegartanipla at 10:52 AM on July 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


Here is a step-by-step guide:

1. Dedicate yourself wholeheartedly, for as long as it takes, to improving your self-esteem from the inside out.

That's it. That's the root of your problem here and in all your previous related AskMes.

Here are some options for you:

- If affordable individual therapy is unavailable to you right now, then look for group therapy options, which may be more affordable (and, as others have said, would give you practice interacting with others). I think a few others in the thread have offered to help you find local resources on this score; please take them up on their offer.

- For books with therapy-based approaches: consider Self-Therapy, Feeling Good or 10 Days to Self-Esteem.

- For books with a Buddhist psychology approach: consider Self-Compassion and There Is Nothing Wrong with You.

- Try meditation. There are lots of options in NYC; here are just a few: 1, 2, 3.

Note that all of these require engagement and mental/emotional work from you, which (I suspect) will trigger the sense that you shouldn't even bother. So why should you bother? Because you want to connect meaningfully with others, and that requires connecting meaningfully with yourself. You cannot forge positive relationships with others until you have started to have a positive relationship with yourself.

These are tools that can help you do that, but only if you commit to doing the hard work that's involved. But you have to understand and accept (as much as you don't like it): there is no short-cut. There are no magic bullets. There is no overnight fix. And yet: it can still be done -- lots of us who've gone through therapy, etc. in this thread are living proof.
posted by scody at 11:02 AM on July 22, 2012 [21 favorites]


I want to second the recommendation for There Is Nothing Wrong With You -- I picked up a copy of that recently, along with Be The Person You Want To Find by the same author, and holy crap, I'm getting so much help from both of them.
posted by palomar at 11:09 AM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


When people's feelings get hurt and they are angry and emotional there is no unfuckupable guide to smoothing things over. Unfuckupable guides exist in the realm of reason and rationality. That is not where anyone is operating right now.

The first best step is to give people a little bit of time to cool off and let the drama settle. Sincere apologies to the people you have upset help, although there is no guarantee they will be accepted or that people you pissed off will want to stay friends with you.

My feeling is that you should keep looking for friends. Without placing judgment on any if you, it at least seems clear that this was not a good friendship match between you and this group. So even if this blowout had not happened it is unlikely this group would have really met your friendship needs.
posted by MoonOrb at 11:23 AM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Let me put it this way. I have done nothing all day but sit in my tiny room in my apartment. If I had friends, they could make me feel better.

This is not necessarily true. Being in relationships and having friends? Doesn't fix you. I'm not saying that you're broken or there's something wrong with you, but I think you're putting too much store into having a group of friends. You could have a giant circle of great friends who go on wacky adventures every day and the problems that you have inside your head, whatever they are, will still be there. You have to like yourself first and be comfortable with who you are. And it doesn't sound to me like you do.

You're massively beating yourself up over what was a simple mistake. You don't have to do that to yourself. EVERYONE MAKES MISTAKES. Even people with a hundred friends and a great spouse make mistakes in social settings, put their foot in their mouth, make an etiquette error, betray a confidence, whatever.

As for therapy, maybe you and that therapist were a bad fit. You were a bad fit with that therapist, schedule-wise. I don't miss work to see my therapist; she sees me in the evening, after work. You seem like a nice person, with good intentions and a lot to offer. Work on yourself in whatever way you can until you start to believe that.
posted by Aquifer at 11:34 AM on July 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


"And, y'know, if people wonder why I don't like myself, it is because shit like this happens to me. I wouldn't like this person; there's no reason ot. (Several people in the thread don't like me based on this.)"

I don't dislike you. I would like to hug you. You sound so sad, and there's a real franticness to your sadness that hurts my heart. This isn't something that "happened" to you -- you are an agent in your own life. You can make different choices, and you can choose different people. There are kind, mature, generous people out there for you to be friends with. You need to find them.

"I mean. Let me put it this way. I have done nothing all day but sit in my tiny room in my apartment. If I had friends, they could make me feel better. And if it comes off like I'm being really mercenary about this... I mean, everyone wants someone to care about them, and my life is such that nobody really cares about me. That hurts. It just does."

Fifty people in this thread care enough about you that they are posting here on a Sunday trying to help you. I care about you. It DOES hurt not to have the friendships you want. None of us disagree.

You really are going to have to learn to like yourself, though, and be comfortable in yourself, and not so frantic for approval. It's kind-of a shitty thing, but it's far easier to make friends when you are calm and content with yourself and in a pretty good place, than when you are in a bad and lonely and difficult place. Then your friends will be there for you in the low spots, but it's hard to START from the low spots.

I think you should also carefully evaluate what you're hoping to get out of your friendships. Even when you have many and close friends, you will still spend a lot of your bad days sitting by yourself in your bedroom. (And nobody can MAKE you feel better -- that comes from inside you.) People have their own lives and are busy; you are going to have to be your own best friend first. You sound sort-of like someone in a really co-dependent relationship, who can't do the emotional work of their own life without their partner ... except that you're actively shopping to be in unhealthy co-dependent relationships.

And regarding six degrees, I live in a city that actually is small enough where most everyone knows most everyone else's name. And objectively terrible people (and by this I mean a full-grown adult who mocks four-year-old adopted children for being adopted! Seriously!) still manage to find new people to hang out with who haven't heard of their objective terribleness, or, if they have, don't care. You are not objectively terrible, unless you are mocking four-year-olds. So you will be fine.

You are catastrophizing, and I don't blame you, and I do it too. But you need to recognize that's what you're doing, and that your thinking isn't very clear when you're doing that.

I think people are right that therapy would help. I think meditation might help with the franticness you're feeling. I think reading novels with great insight into human relationships (Middlemarch, Pride & Prejudice, Little Women, Anne of Green Gables) would help -- you can novelize yourself some self-therapy.

You should not be afraid to go home from a social event because you're afraid people will talk behind your back. That is not friendship (and that sounds horrible, that shit should stop before high school's over). You need to take care of yourself first -- remove yourself from upsetting situations, realize you are valuable and interesting and deserve friends who are kind, learn to LIKE YOURSELF.

Time and experience with this sort of drama will -- if you are self-reflective -- help you learn how NOT to bring the drama. I'm sure everyone in this thread has multiple stories from their past that are totally cringe-worthy where they created drama, made terrible errors in judgment, etc. The way we learn NOT to do these things is by making mistakes with them.

Right now I think you should take a deep breath, pick out a good book or a bad movie, and pamper yourself for the afternoon. Take a walk if the weather's good. Eat comfort food. Distract yourself. Sleep on it. Nothing in the world (except bills!) gets worse for sleeping on it. Tomorrow, if you feel it's right, you can post an apology. Tomorrow, find one way you are going to take care of yourself -- yoga? meditation? therapy? Wednesday, think of a new social activity you can try (visiting the elderly? taking a class? going to a monthly brown-bag seminar for your industry?) so you can branch out from just this group. Friday, when you've had a little distance from this upset, write a list of ten things about you that are awesome and tape it to your mirror. Keep trying. It gets better. Your 20s are hard.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:36 AM on July 22, 2012 [27 favorites]


Just a small piece of advice in addition to all the good stuff above:

Something that took me way too long to learn was that as soon as an evening out stops being fun for me, I can just leave! You don't have to tell anyone why ("have to get up early tomorrow" is good enough), smile and say goodbye, and go.

If I had been in this situation, I would have been long gone by step 4 in your timeline at the latest. You were obviously uncomfortable with the situation; you can't control what other people talk about, but you can control whether you're going to be part of the situation.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 11:51 AM on July 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


How can you make them hate you as little as possible? Apologize, and better, give reason for them to think you are improving yourself in this regard. But really, I think you're blowing this way out of proportion and catastrophizing. People almost never think about you, and I'm sure they're not thinking about you as much as you in particular think they are.

The other thought I have, which would have helped you in this situation and may help you moving forward (with these people or others), is that you don't have much of a handle on group dynamics, and if you're not sure about what's going on, you should either ask questions or press an internal pause button and be a little cautious about big group events. If the group is doing something for reasons you don't understand, don't skip ahead to accusing them of being shitty. If you want to salvage some friendships, don't do a big group thing, but have conversations with and apologize to people individually.

Finally, it's ok for friendship to grow slowly. If you're in a bad mental space, leave the party. Your goal should be to have positive interactions with people, which may lead to friendship. If you try to develop serious friendship all at once, you're going to scare people off and seem needy, avoid extricating yourself from bad situations gracefully, and make mistakes.
posted by J. Wilson at 12:29 PM on July 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I feel like I don't want to leave a trail of six-degrees-of-resentment around the city, because it can be surprisingly, shockingly small for something so massive. I don't want to get into a situation where a prospective friend - or, for that matter, date - finds about this secondhand and turns on me.

About this 6 degrees thing: Think of your current set of friends. How many friends of theirs do you know, maybe a few dozen? That's out of hundreds or thousands.

Now take that set of friends-of-friends. How many of THEIR friends do you know? Maybe a handful? That's out of thousands or tens of thousands.

We are only up to the third degree and we're already dealing with a tiny handful of people, most of whose names you wouldn't even know, much less random details of one night they had out on the town. That handful that you actually meet (out of thousands or tens of thousands), you might attend the same party once in your lives and never be introduced, and not even remember each other on the street an hour later.

There is no need to catastrophize here.
posted by cairdeas at 12:40 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Realtalk: You don't want these people to like you. They're jerks. That many unstated social rules (and the consequences for not following them) are indicative for their jerkitude.
posted by spunweb at 12:48 PM on July 22, 2012


The best way to join a group of friends is through one or two members. That is, you make friends with one person at a time, and then they sort of selectively expose you to other people in their circle based on whom they think you'd get along with. Sometimes that's EVERYONE! Sometimes it's just a handful of people.

If you present yourself to a group, the odds that everyone in it will like you universally are low. Choosing to feel hurt by this is a mistake. You're not in a position to take all comers, and they're not in a position to buoy the confidence of someone who's taking on too much at once.

If you can salvage one or two of these friends, that's fine. You probably shouldn't even worry about the rest of them, but really you'd be able to tell a lot by what these couple of friends invited you to do, and/or with whom.
posted by hermitosis at 12:53 PM on July 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


I think there's a ton of great advice here already. I do feel like you react so strongly to gossip because you are afraid they might gossip about you. My advice is: never ever ever waste time worrying about what other people may or may not say about you. I have become a champ at this, to the extent that when someone says, "Oh so-and-so said they like you" or whatever, I am GENUINELY shocked. My first thought is, "You were discussing me?! With another person!?" I mean I'm decently cool and interesting, but I just assume people have way better things to do than discuss me. It works well for me, I promise!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 1:09 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hi, I too care about you - was going to bed (a few timezones away) and turned on my laptop just to answer your post.
I was in a similar situation in my early twenties, in that I just did not seem to fit in.
What helped was finding a safe group to be in. There are certain groups/environments where cliquish behavior is actively discouraged and effort is made to make new members feel welcome. Minor social faux-pas are tolerated, and even very annoying members are not ostracized. Spending a year or two in such a group really increased my confidence - I saw that minor faux-pas were not the end of the world, that I was valued for who I was, and that gave me the courage to explore less nurturing environments.
Groups like this do exist. It could be a support group of some kind, or even a bookclub or a knitting circle. In general, kind people will treat you well. Look out for them. They are unlikely to criticize you for every single mistake.
And, you know, even though I do not think it was a good decision to criticize people online, I suspect that maybe part of you wanted to stand up for the underdog. You seem like a sensitive person. If you think you can be judgy sometimes, I found self-compassion to be a great antidote. Not sure why it works, but giving myself a big hug makes me less critical of other people.
Hugs to you.
posted by M. at 1:20 PM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


"And, y'know, if people wonder why I don't like myself, it is because shit like this happens to me. I wouldn't like this person; there's no reason ot. (Several people in the thread don't like me based on this.)"

Yeah, there's something you're fundamentally misunderstanding about the advice to "like yourself", as far as I'm concerned.

"Like yourself" is terrible advice if you're an unlikable person--and contrary to common beliefs, there are people that are unlikable. (No, I'm not saying you're one of them--I don't know you.)

The advice is better phrased as "Start behaving like someone you would like."

For instance, if you're not punctual and people don't like that about you, and you don't like it about yourself... start showing up on time. That's it. Much easier said than done but absolutely possible.

If people don't like you because you do things that you yourself do not like, STOP DOING THEM. "Like yourself" or "Find people who don't mind those qualities" are horrible pieces of advice to someone filled with self-loathing.

You need to calm down and do some self-evaluation. What EXACTLY do you not like about yourself. Make a mental or physical list, keep it to yourself, and attack them one at a time. Specifying them is an AWESOME first step.

You're not gonna cross anything off the list right away. Your problems with yourself will still be there for days, weeks, months, years, or, in some cases, the rest of your life. But by taking conscious efforts to change for the better, we learn to change for the better. And in doing so we like ourselves and are liked by others.

Most importantly, once you've made your list, it's important to remember the steps to change are STEPS, NOT thoughts.

Once we've determined the destination, we act our way to right thinking--we do not think our way to right action.
posted by dobbs at 1:29 PM on July 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


The reason I want to be friends with these people is because I've never had a friend circle in my life, and they seem like as decent candidates as anyone.

I lived in NYC and went to probably several dozen meetup groups and even was an organizer in some. I had some dramatic bridge-burning situations as an organizer, where I kicked a couple of people out for drama (I would absolutely not tolerate a Jessica gossip kind of situation, for example). NYC is a particularly tough place to make friends and you should know that you are probably going to have to meet hundreds of people and go to many different meetups/volunteer groups/grub with us/etc. events in order to get your chances up.

You should absolutely not settle for people who make you feel unhappy and uncomfortable. I know this because I wasted a lot of time with a group of friends who were extremely gossipy, catty, and dramatic. I did not act my best around them, I did not have that much fun around them, and I shudder to think what would have happened if I had stuck with them. It was a bad situation, but they basically ostracized me after a guy in the group dated me. And it forced me to find new friends. And it amazes me to look back at what I tolerated.
posted by melissam at 1:53 PM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


You went to therapy for at most a few weeks and you complain that "it did nothing." That doesn't make sense (unless you're talking about a different breakup than the one you asked about in April).

Seconding the suggestion to give group therapy a try if you can't make individual therapy work either financially or schedule-wise. It's lower cost and planned around the average work schedule.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:14 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


These people are crap and you know it, which is why you went apeshit when they behaving crappily. But you feel that you need friends and they're there so why can't it all just work out? Because they're crap people and you know it. And why hasn't it worked out before - if they're in any way like these people, probably because those people have been crap too.

I would find better people to be around. More in line with who you are and your values. Those are you future friends. These people? I wouldn't give them the time of day.

And therapy.
posted by heyjude at 3:08 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have two NYC-specific recommendations for places where you might be able to get free/very-low-cost opportunities for support groups for people struggling in much the same way you are. The NYC chapter of Mood Disorder Support Groups and the NYC Codependents Anonymous. For both groups, you don't need to identify with a particular diagnosis, or pass any kind of screen - anyone is welcome. I have attended both groups in the past - both only occasionally, but the impression I got is that both were communities where there are lots of long-timers and one can definitely become a member of the community after some time, but that newcomers are always completely welcome, and that it's a strong mix of both.

What I really liked about the few times I went is that even though I am an atheist and totally not a 12-step type, and wasn't sure I would ever want to become a regular, I felt an immediate sense of relief in being in the same room with a mix of people from all walks of life, who are were there for the sole purpose of achieving better mental health and better relationships in their lives, and wishing the same for the others in the room. I can't say that you would experience them in the same way, but at least they are safe options to try. Good luck!
posted by Neely O'Hara at 4:20 PM on July 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


You might also be suffering from what I call Paladin syndrome - there is only black and white and you know exactly what is right and wrong and it is your calling to call attention to wrongs and try to right them. In a role-playing game your alignment would be very strict lawful good and you would frustrate most groups into not wanting to play with you. Life is about compromise and there are infinite shades of grey, nobody wants a self-appointed referee pointing out what they think is wrong all the time. I think you need to either come back to earth and accept we're all flawed human beings (and leave, be quiet or react appropriately if upset) or find a nice conservative church to hang out at. There is a certain smugness and self-righteousness in being the Paladin which almost always rubs people the wrong way so if you're not getting along well with anyone at all maybe this is why.
posted by meepmeow at 4:31 PM on July 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Omg that Mood Disorder Support Group looks perfect for you! It's at 7:30pm, it's only $5, and it's a group of sympathetic peers rather than a therapist who may or may not click with you. I really, really urge you to try it. Just go once and see how it feels, you don't even need to talk if you don't want to.

I have posted about this before I think, but group therapy was a very eye-opening experience for me. I, too, had trouble with feeling like I was totally alone, that no one liked me, that I had objective evidence that I was unlovable because of the fact that no one liked me, and that therefore there was just no point in doing anything, ever. Sound familiar? Well, group therapy really shifted my thinking. It fundamentally changed the way I related to other people, and the way I thought about myself.

A few weeks ago I snapped at you (in another post you made) and told you 'go to therapy!' I would like to apologize for my tone in that post, but the only reason I said it was: I have been where you are right now, and your suffering is totally unnecessary. You can fix this. You can be happy and have friends and boyfriends and respect yourself and have others respect you back. But your brain chemistry is messed up right now, so you are gonna have a hard time doing it alone. So please, do try going to that group therapy group. Please believe me, it worked for me. It really did. I am so much happier than I used to be. And you can be too, and I want that for you, because I see my old self in you.
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:45 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hi, OP, I really feel for you, and I wanted to answer earlier, but didn't want to type this out on my phone. Nthing that New York is a hard place to make friends. I have been here almost 20 years, and I know firsthand the challenges you face breaking into social circles. I also recommend the activity groups. What do you like to do? It will take time for people to warm up to you, but every now and again you meet somebody with whom you click instantly. That is rare, so be prepared to feel awkward around people who don't know you.

Also, you are not obligated to make everybody like you.That said, don't treat that as permission to be a person who shoots their mouth off at every opportunity (I've got that covered!). Be kind, be forgiving of people's faults and shortcomings, and say NOTHING when in doubt. Gossip happens, and if it makes you completely uncomfortable, absent yourself from the room. Nothing more than "Hey, I gotta step out/make a call/go pee/hit Uniqlo before it closes. TTYL."

I think that your position with this group may be pretty much shot. However, if you want to go out on a classy note, write a honest apology, with no groveling. You may or may not assign blame to how much you were drinking. It doesn't really matter why. NYC is a big fucking town. You could piss off a social circle every week for years, and it wouldn't really matter.

More anecdata: My larger social circle includes several blowhards and asundry socially awkward individuals, and we continue to associate with them anyway. There have been larger blowups than the scenario you describe, so there you have it.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:08 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


After apologizing to the group if you want to (I'm with bquarters that that's a closure thing, not a way to really get back with that group), I would seek out a new group where all the members don't know each other already. It can be easier to make a friend or two, and eventually a circle, if everyone is starting fresh together. I know I say this a lot here, but I am a fan of volunteer groups. I volunteer with 826NYC, which is a tutoring center. It's great to meet other interesting volunteers, and to get to know the students (or whoever the volunteer group you choose aims to help).

You may not want to at this point but please do come to a Metafilter meetup in New York if you are ever so inclined. I and other nice people (well, I hope I'm nice) show up there and have a good time, even though (mostly?) we aren't BFF. Sure beats sitting around your apartment.
posted by mlle valentine at 8:29 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I apologized. (Publicly; it took me a while.) I have not posted anything else there (it's really active usually in that regard) since because honestly I feel gutted when I even ponder doing so. This is tough for me because it'd become a huge social outlet in the past few weeks and I thought I'd built up social capital or whatever that's now been squandered. There doesn't feel like there's closure, and I still have no idea what people really thing about me, but I don't know how to accomplish that. There's another meetup next week and I don't know whether I'm welcome.

I dunno. I just feel like if I could outsource all my decision-making skills to a third party it'd improve my life so much, because I certainly haven't done a good job of it.
posted by dekathelon at 8:29 PM on July 22, 2012


Bear in mind that when you're already lonely, and spending all day thinking about it, all this gets magnified. Especially if it's happening on the internet where you can check the site over and over again all day, it can occupy a disproportionately large space in your mental life.

The only solution to this is to step away from the keyboard, stop looking at that site, go do something else and get your mind off it.

You've apologized, and nothing's going to happen between now and the next meetup that will change things, right? If you were a busy gal-about-town you might not even check the site between now and then, and it wouldn't be a blip on your radar, right? So unplug from the site, and try to think of some other positive thing you can do, that you'll enjoy or will improve your life, tonight and tomorrow. See a movie? Run an errand? Clean up that one part of the kitchen you've been meaning to get to? Read a good book?
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:57 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dekathelon, you've done your part and now it's time to move on with or without these people. If they make the initiative to talk to you, cool. If not, then at least you know that you did what you thought was right and tried to rectify the situation.

People are unpredictable though, keep that in mind. You might not get the response that you want. You might not be welcomed back into the group. Who knows. If people don't make the effort with you then stop going to their meet ups.

Find a new group of people that you can hang out with. Another thing, please seek help from a psychologist that can help (either CBT or DBT) as others above have stated as well. The idea of going to a support group would also be beneficial for you. You might even make a few friendships out of that group.

Work on yourself, be more comfortable with who you are, be able to take care of yourself emotionally, and learn how to be your own best friend so that way you can be a better friend to others and know what to expect from other potential friends.

Best.
posted by livinglearning at 9:13 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


that's now been squandered.

See, this is where you're catastrophizing. You haven't "squandered" anything. Or if you really have, these people were not such good friends that it represents any real loss.

I don't want to get all No True Scotsman on you, but the bottom line is that there's a difference between someone who, if you piss them off one time, is going to drop you, and an actual friend. The former are called acquaintances. Sometimes acquaintances turn into friends, but if one wrong move is enough to end your relationship, then that was ultimately unlikely to ever happen.

And again, this social circle doesn't sound like any real prize. Why worry so much about "squandering your social capital" with a group of people you don't actually mesh with that well?

I still have no idea what people really thing about me, but I don't know how to accomplish that. There's another meetup next week and I don't know whether I'm welcome.

Do you have someone in the group that you spend time with more than others? Get in touch with that person and try to get a sense of where you stand and whether you should bother attending future meetups.

If you don't have someone like that? If there's literally not a single person who you enjoy enough to talk to them one on one? If that's the case, these people were never your friends and you have nothing to lose by dropping them.
posted by Sara C. at 12:16 PM on July 23, 2012


Honestly I think you did the right thing. Yeah it might be harder to hang out with this group... but so what? If it isn't your idea of fun to gossip, then they weren't exactly enjoyable company. There are so many ways to spend time with people that aren't literally like a scene from Mean Girls. Yeah maybe it's painful today, and maybe it will be painful for a while. But I sort of think if you reacted that way to those people, that's a sign that there is a boundary there, you know? And it's ok to have boundaries, even moral ones. It may free you a bit to recognize that while it may not have been a smooth or pleasant thing to get upset on your part, it was consistent wih how you actually felt.
posted by kettleoffish at 9:20 PM on July 23, 2012


At least I know you'll actually read my response to this, since you're sitting alone in your apartment all day!

I'm trying to make sense of what this "meet up" even is. Is it purely for people with no friends to meet each other and become friends? So no actual "activity", just meeting at a fairly generic event and socializing?

This sounds like the start-up little league team who gets all the other team's rejects. Probably the reason they have no friends are because of the drama issues and whatnot... no offense but you sound like you fit right in!

Try this, instead of this weird forced-friendship scenario you're fixated on. Find a hobby. Heck, find a few hobbies. In this day, every SINGLE hobby has online user groups, forums, etc. They meet in real life to exercise their hobby, they meet like-minded people who share their hobby, they become friends naturally. I can't even imagine how a "hey, you don't have any friends? Me neither, lets me friends together!" situation could ever work positively when theres no common ground or common interest other than each others' loneliness.

You'll find that being good at your hobby is self-rewarding; it builds confidence and self-esteem. Then experiencing or competing with your peers will be even more rewarding and help you build social relationships. If you have enough hobbies and spend enough time on hobby-related activities with your new hobby-related friends, you'll start appreciating the free time you have to devote to yourself.

Seriously. You're in a big city, I GUARANTEE there is an online NYC user group for ANY activity you could ever think of. Even if that hobby is just drinking; theres bar tour clubs, whiskey appreciation clubs, homebrew beer clubs, etc. ANYTHING YOU LIKE TO DO you can do with other people, and you can use your computer to find these other people. I just personally signed up for a real-life meet-n-greet with a group of people I met through hobby forums this morning.
posted by el_yucateco at 10:09 AM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are you going to go to the free mood disorder support group today at 7:30 on 114th Street?
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:26 AM on July 25, 2012


No. Nothing with groups. There are certain things I cannot have anybody associate with me. (That sounds overblown, but unfortunately [fortunately?] it's kind of the case for me right now with what I do. Yes, this is very vague. That's also on purpose.)
posted by dekathelon at 11:11 AM on July 25, 2012


You seem to be extremely concerned about your image and what strangers could potentially think about you or associate with you.

Assuming you're not Katie Holmes, this is really probably not a realistic thing to worry about.

I hate to be a broken record, but you need to get some kind of help, somewhere, somehow. This seems like it's preventing you from living the kind of life you want to live.
posted by Sara C. at 11:37 AM on July 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


No. Nothing with groups. There are certain things I cannot have anybody associate with me. (That sounds overblown, but unfortunately [fortunately?] it's kind of the case for me right now with what I do. Yes, this is very vague. That's also on purpose.)

It seems clear from your questions that you are not going to be able to solve your problems on your own. You need some kind of help. If you won't go to a group, then please please find yourself a therapist using some of the low-cost resources mentioned in this thread.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:20 PM on July 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Therapy really isn't that bad, but if you don't find it necessary for yourself (and maybe it's not, you know yourself best), you may be able to find some recourse in reading self-help books or seeking out whatever other knowledge that you need to feel better. There is some kind of sadness that caused you to get so upset about this episode. I hope you can stop dwelling on it and take care of you; it makes me sad to see that you don't believe there are other people and groups out there who are different than this, and that you could do so much better. I don't mean that in an insulting way, honest; if this is the company you keep, it makes sense. But you can find better, and feel better!
posted by kettleoffish at 4:14 PM on July 25, 2012


[Flagging requires moving on, folks.]
posted by jessamyn at 4:55 PM on July 25, 2012


Hi, some of your comments here and in your other questions lead me to believe that you might be on the autism spectrum/Asperger's. You seem to really want a set of rules for social interaction and you seem to have a hard time understanding other people's behaviors and motivations. You also seem to see things in a very black and white way. Social situations make you very anxious. You seem to be misinterpreting or not recognizing the emotional content of what people are telling you--namely, if people are very explicit you can recognize their emotions, but if they are more subtle you are missing it.

This is not a criticism and I am not angry with you, I am actually fascinated and excited that I might be helping you.

Here is an article that might help you understand more about the disorder. Please note that some of it might not apply to you. Try to see if some of it applies to you and if so, you might look for supports for women with autism spectrum disorders such as Asperger's.

Many girls and women (and people with normal/high intelligence and verbal skills) are misdiagnosed or fail to be diagnosed because it's seen as a male disorder. Here is something from a Newsweek article, I bolded the parts that remind me of your difficulties:
In addition to more socially acceptable obsessions, Roberts says, the Aspie girls she sees are more adept at copying the behaviors, mannerisms and dress codes of those around them, than Aspie boys tend to be. "From my personal experience, they seem to have a greater drive to fit in than boys with Asperger's do," she says. "So they spend a lot of time studying other girls and trying to copy them." When social settings change, this can spell disaster. "As you move from high school to college, or from one group of friends to another, you have a whole new set of rules to learn," said one Aspie woman who asked not to be named. "Not only do you lose your own identity, but if you end up surrounded by the wrong people—mimicking their behavior without understanding the motivations behind it can lead to big trouble."

Of course, it's not just different symptoms that stymie diagnosis—cultural conditioning may also play a role. What looks like pathological social awkwardness in a little boy can seem like mere bashfulness or just good old-fashioned manners in a little girl. "We tend to notice shyness in boys as 'off,'" says Loveland. "In girls, we can almost see it as a good trait." And while boys are often diagnosed when they begin expressing their frustration as aggression and find themselves in trouble at school, girls —even Aspie girls—learn to internalize their feelings, not to act out, which can make them more anxious and less noticeable at the same time.

But even as they effectively mask Asperger's in girls, social mores might also make the disorder more harrowing for them. As they approach adolescence, girls face greater pressure to be sympathetic and empathetic than boys do. "By the time girls reach junior high, their social networks have become extraordinarily complex, and Aspie girls can't keep up with all the nuances," says Janet Lainhart, a doctor at the University of Utah's Brain Institute. "Boys struggle socially as well, but their peers mature much slower so their inability to empathize is seen as more forgivable."
Please let me know if any of this is confusing or unclear, as I would like to have the opportunity to explain myself better.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:42 AM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, I almost forgot, one of the things that makes me think you might have Asperger's syndrome is your strong feeling of fairness and justice (towards the person who was being talked about poorly). That is definitely a positive trait although you might want to find a way to channel it or express it differently.

Good luck!
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:54 AM on September 16, 2012


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