Where therapy and parties collide, aka what happened to my social tact?
January 20, 2013 10:27 AM Subscribe
I ran into someone at a party that I'd previously met briefly in a clinical setting (in a position of authority), but I lacked the social tact to refrain from mentioning this. Is there anything I could have done to right the situation?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I’m a newly out queer person, a natural introvert, and slightly-to-moderately socially awkward, depending on the situation. The other day, I attended a mixer/dance party for queer women/female-bodied people in my city, and I think I committed a major social faux pas. I’ve also historically been extremely hard on myself, so I’m taking that into consideration as I write this; however, it was one of those situations that just never should have happened, and I feel like a total schmuck.
Back in November, I was struggling with suicidal feelings related partly to gender and sexuality stuff, and my private therapist at the time recommended I be let in to a local clinical program for queer people. I stayed for just a couple of days, as I realized that the program was centered more on other issues and so wasn’t quite what I needed. I've been feeling much better these days and have been making efforts to get out and make friends, since I'd been pretty isolated before.
I came by myself to the mixer not knowing many people, being new to the local queer community. After I’d already had a couple of drinks (low alcohol tolerance, so was pretty buzzed by this point) a friendly person came over and started to introduce me to some other people—one of whom I immediately recognized as one of the counselors at the clinical program I'd attended several months back. Normally, I would have kept my mouth shut. But whether it was a combination of lack of tact, social anxiety/awkwardness, or slight drunkenness on my part, I basically told this person that I recognized them (“Oh, hi! I recognize you from [center]", etc.) and that I had briefly attended the program. When I realized they seemed uncomfortable, I immediately understood where I was wrong and decided to move on. I tried my best to stay out of their way for the rest of the night and convinced myself that things would be okay and that I deserved to have a nice evening. I wish that I could have gone up to them and apologized for my utter cluelessness, but it seemed like one of those situations where anything I could have said/done would have made things much worse.
I thought a lot about why I'd said what I said (aside from the aforementioned factors), and I tried to rationalize it by thinking that, when I saw a familiar face, I instantly thought, well, hey, I'm not as alone in this city as I thought! And I remember thinking that this person was smart and seemed cool. I just didn't take the time to think about the implications of my introducing myself to this person. Oh, and lastly, I should mention that though this was a mixer, I intended to approach this person in a platonic fashion only, just in case that might have any bearing on responses.
Was there anything I could have/should have done differently in this situation? I’ve never encountered anyone I’ve known as counselors or therapists outside of therapy, especially not at a mixer, so input from resident MeFi therapists or counselors would also be appreciated. Thanks.