Stop calling me names
August 20, 2011 10:43 AM   Subscribe

Is there a way to tell a friend that I don’t want arguments to end in insults or angry lashing out?

Apologize in advance because I may be oversensitive in wanting to ask what may seem ridiculous to some, but the hive mind has usually had good suggestions as to how to tell people things.

There is a friend that I’ve had for several years and we do a lot of things together (go out to eat, drink, see shows, whatever). There was a behavior that I didn’t feel comfortable with (I’m leaving it vague because like an idiot, I showed him metafilter at one point so even if this is anony there would be too much info). It did get to the point of that I really didn’t feel comfortable with it, said so in an email, we talked it about, and it was okay for several months. I do think that the friend made an effort and it has/did improve.

For the last few months, the friend has started doing the same thing again. I either say something but he will immediately reply (or even start saying this before he does it) “or are you going be like (insert name of obnoxious TV character)” This last time he also interjected “This is why you drive mutual friend crazy! Because you do X! That is why she can’t stand you sometimes” (What the mutual friend said had absolutely nothing to do with what had just occurred). I think that I’ve started to recognize that my friend doesn’t feel comfortable, so perhaps needs to call me a name or throw in insults?

I will be honest and say that the way I deal with things when I am not comfortable is that I shut down…I don’t say much, which isn’t good either I realize.

My plan is to discuss the behavior again and come up with a different solution that may be acceptable to both of us.

But I also wonder if I can address the small amt of name calling or things that are said in the heat of the moment. It has started to extend to other situations, too, and I am strongly considering dropping the friend because I don’t feel comfortable with this (but I may be oversensitive).

Is there something that I can say to cut him to stop doing the name calling when he is angry? Or is it just the way some people deal with anger at the moment and there is nothing that I can say (the same way that I shut down) and if it bothers me that much, then I need to move on and find new friends.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is there something that I can say to cut him to stop doing the name calling when he is angry?

According to your description, you've already done that. He seemed OK for a while, and then just started insulting you again.

[...] I need to move on and find new friends.

posted by mhoye at 10:48 AM on August 20, 2011

Move on. You're not oversensitive for not wanting to be called names. He's responsible for what comes out of his mouth, not you. There is no perfect thing you can say to get him to stop this behavior.
posted by desjardins at 10:51 AM on August 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

The word for someone who calls your names and mocks your need to feel comfortable around them isn't "friend".

You're not being oversensitive. He's being insensitive.

Move on.
posted by inturnaround at 11:05 AM on August 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

I agree that this person isn't being a friend, but I think it wouldn't hurt to talk to him in person about your feelings, in a sober moment outside the heat of argument. In person, not email or phone or text or Facebook. Be clear about what you will or won't tolerate. If he doesn't comply, move on.
posted by sweetkid at 11:12 AM on August 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

Don't try to "work things out". Just tell him directly that it's not okay to call you names or yell at you. No malice intended, no walking on eggshells. Just state it for what it is. If he gets defensive, just restate the point. Regardless of disagreement, it is not okay to call you names and yell at you. It's definitely best to do this when you're not already in an argument.

He might get it. He might see that he's been a complete jerk to you about this and realize he has to be civil. Even if you two differ on his other behaviors, that one will be resolved without question.

Of course, if he starts yelling at you for that, it's time to move on. No sense in sticking around through idiocy, but you have been his friend for several years. It's worth telling him directly and honestly without any wavering that name calling is not okay, full stop.
posted by Saydur at 11:15 AM on August 20, 2011 [7 favorites]

Adding to what Saydur says, if you wish to do stuff with him, make sure you can get yourself home or away from him when he starts in with his nonsense again.

I'm thinking, even if he sees this and assumes it's about him, why give a hang what he thinks or if it hurts his feelings? He isn't giving you the same consideration when he starts up with his crap. Not to sound callous, because I've been on the receiving end of the same sort of nonsense.
posted by SillyShepherd at 11:24 AM on August 20, 2011

Don't discuss or email. When this behavior occurs, just say "We've talked about this crap, and I don't want to be around it" and leave. Friend will either learn to stop, or you'll move on.
posted by theora55 at 11:29 AM on August 20, 2011 [6 favorites]

It sounds like he's feeling defensive, like you're judging him. It *might* help if you made it clear that you're not judging his way of making himself happy, and that the only reason you asked him to stop X behavior is for your own comfort. You completely don't think he's a bad person if he does X when he's away from you, you understand that it's his life and he's the only one who can decide what's right for him, etc. Then tell him some things that you like and appreciate about him, so he knows that not only do you not dislike him personally, you, in fact, think he's a good person who is nice to be around.
posted by amtho at 12:49 PM on August 20, 2011

If anyone EVER said this to me, “This is why you drive mutual friend crazy! Because you do X! That is why she can’t stand you sometimes,” then they absolutely would no longer be my friend. That, my friend, is bullshit.
posted by unknowncommand at 1:19 PM on August 20, 2011 [4 favorites]

"Stop that! Don't ever, ever call me names!"

No further discussion. Change the subject if you have to.

You've already told him this once, so consider this his second chance. If he does it ONCE more after you say the above line to him, get up and go home, and stop hanging out with him.

It will then be up to him to come back to you with an apology, but don't hold your breath. You have to be willing to walk away. And I warn you: in my experience, most people don't apologize, so I wouldn't get too excited about your friend's potential to be above the common herd.
posted by tel3path at 3:52 PM on August 20, 2011

some people are a little bit odd, they have behavioral tics, repeat themselves a lot, or in some other way behave in a way that is not considered by others to be a certain social norm.

They find friends who respect them and allow for whatever behavior because they value the whole package that is that person.

Whatever you are, this person does not respect the whole package. Their friendship is conditional. Now most friendships are conditional but you get to choose what level of BS you're willing to put up with to be that person's friend.

I do not think you should put up with this level of BS.
posted by Wilder at 7:48 AM on August 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

« Older GPS traffic updates: Fact or Fiction?   |   Mental Health History Confessions Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.