Apathy towards bad people: naive or some form of perceptual disorder?
May 12, 2012 10:40 AM   Subscribe

Is there an exact psychological disorder to explain this person's apathy towards seemingly bad people?

I really like this guy in my linear algebra class. He is incredibly intelligent, adorable and seemingly easy to talk to. However, yesterday when I was talking to him about two people who basically engage in bad behaviour, he after hearing how one of them engaged in "crazy", illegal behaviour (she taped audio recorders underneath desks to record people's conversations without their consent to hear their group plans), he described this person as being "a cool person". She uses people for her own advantage. I've witnessed her intimidate teachers, and the last time I was around her, her basic presence made me feel bad.

The other person this guy thought nothing bad towards told me lies about him, in order for me not to like his friend (the smart guy that I like is friends with the lying guy). Even though his friend did no work when he was lab partners with him, and made up stories to make me not like his friend anything (told me his friend was an illegal immigrant, that he was homeless, that he was having problems at home, doesn't shower, read my e-mail but doesn't like me back). The guy I like doesn't care that his "friend" is arrogant and is willing to tell the physics department chair that his current physics teacher is "bad" because if he's not getting an "A" in the class like he always does, something is unfair and wrong....

What is wrong with the guy that I like? Has anyone dealt with someone similar? What did you do? The guy is 22 years-old.
posted by pixienat to Human Relations (39 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
No, I don't think you're going to find an exact psychological disorder to explain this guy. His behavior sounds well within the range of most any definition of "normal". If you don't respect his judgment regarding other people, find someone else to like.
posted by 6550 at 10:47 AM on May 12, 2012 [6 favorites]

But he doesn't hold negative opinions of anyone...
posted by pixienat at 10:48 AM on May 12, 2012

What you've described is not a psychological disorder.

I'm guessing from your limited description that he doesn't have any interest in talking badly about people with you. Some people prefer to give the benefit of doubt and reserve judgement against others until they know both sides of the story.

You asked, "What did you do?" Do you mean, "What should I do?"

If I were you, I would keep in mind that this guy doesn't like and doesn't participate in gossip about other people's "bad" behavior. If I wanted to remain his friend, I would refrain from talking about other people in a negative way when in his presence.
posted by dchrssyr at 10:48 AM on May 12, 2012 [33 favorites]

He sounds like somebody who doesn't like to talk behind other people's backs, is all. Whether or not any of your allegations are true, maybe he just likes to be drama-free.
posted by jabes at 10:49 AM on May 12, 2012 [13 favorites]

Yeah, maybe he doesn't want to talk bad about other people. Or maybe he really doesn't hold negative opinions of anyone. If the latter is the case then he'll figure out if that approach works for him as he goes through life. That's okay.
posted by 6550 at 10:52 AM on May 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Just because you think something doesn't mean you have to say it. You're conflating whether he thinks ill of people with whether he speaks ill of them.
posted by John Cohen at 10:53 AM on May 12, 2012 [10 favorites]

But he doesn't hold negative opinions of anyone...

See, how can you possibly know that?
posted by John Cohen at 10:53 AM on May 12, 2012 [5 favorites]

He sounds like somebody who doesn't like to talk behind other people's backs, is all.

This is precisely it. I personally try to avoid doing it (and fail a lot of the time,) but I'll be very reserved with people I don't know very well.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 10:54 AM on May 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

But he doesn't hold negative opinions of anyone...

How well do you know him?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:54 AM on May 12, 2012

I'm just worried he is emotionally unavailable because I find myself attracted to those types -__-.
posted by pixienat at 10:55 AM on May 12, 2012

Is linear algebra really the best context for discussing unsympathetic people? Couldn't you talk to him about alternating k-forms or idempotent operators instead?
posted by Nomyte at 10:57 AM on May 12, 2012 [12 favorites]

You really need to set aside all the drama that other people are trying to drum up and emulate his example of not giving a shit.

The "bad behavior" in question is obnoxious people being obnoxious, not a cadre of stormtroopers kicking puppies.

You can either:

(1) Not take that drama seriously, make fun of said obnoxious people, and not associate with them more than necessary; or

(2) You can spend all your time wound up about nothing. Your choice.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 10:57 AM on May 12, 2012 [9 favorites]

Does he go out of his way to spend his free time with the same people who are liars/treat others badly, or is he just "friends" with them in the sense that he knows them casually and they are in the same class? There are other ways to connect emotionally than over mutual dislike of other people.

His response to them might be a version of "don't get involved, don't engage the crazy person" and saying a noncommittal "she's cool" might be easier for him than calling her out and causing her to focus attention on him, when he'd prefer to stay out of it. And maybe he doesn't really care what his lab partner says because it's not worth getting upset about; the department professors can deal with whatever issue the other guy has with teaching and grading, that's their job. It does not sound like anything is wrong with him for avoiding getting caught up in petty drama and gossip and letting everyone know of which people he approves and disapproves. This is probably a good skill to have and will help him be successful in the professional world.
posted by citron at 10:58 AM on May 12, 2012 [7 favorites]

Is he from another country? Could his response be affected by something cultural?
posted by Carbolic at 10:59 AM on May 12, 2012

Yikes. This is already so complicated that I can't even begin to imagine the two of you having any type of relationship.

So you were talking shit about other people to a guy in one of your classes and he appeared uninterested in joining in the bashing? He probably just dislikes trash talk which is normal and hardly a psychological disorder.

And you have a mutual friend who apparently likes to stir shit up by trash talking?

This entire scenario is already so drama-filled that my best suggestion is to really step back, step away from the question of whether this guy has something wrong with him or not, and go meet some new people who aren't so into talking shit about their "friends."

And no...there's nothing wrong with people who refuse to engage in talking negatively about other people. It's called being mature.
posted by kinetic at 11:04 AM on May 12, 2012 [15 favorites]

When I get cornered by people wanting to gossip, I try to keep my responses as neutral as possible because I don't want to share my business with people who gossip.

Put down the dramaphone, back away, and maybe work on broadening your own perceptions. It's just as likely that the friend that told you a bunch of bullshit did it because you are judgmental and nosy.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:09 AM on May 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Who knows? Maybe he believes that everyone has some good in them and (especially when you are younger) a lot of people do things that are not good but also not the whole story of who they are.

Or, maybe he just prefers not to get into a discussion of their behavior with you.

OR - you come across as emotional and intense when discussing these things, and that makes him retreat emotionally, because big emotions from other people are a trigger for him (I totally do this. Get emotional with me and I just flatline).

If you are truly curious about this and hanging out as friends, you might ask him about it. "Voldemort just tried to kill Harry, do you really think that it was ok?" Keep it very very calm. Not accusatory.
posted by bunderful at 11:10 AM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

And if he remains non-committal, just let it go.
posted by bunderful at 11:10 AM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Isn't it a good thing then if I like him because he might teach me something??
posted by pixienat at 11:11 AM on May 12, 2012

[Heya, pixienat, you've pretty much asked your question as much as there's something answerable here; we need you to mostly just let folks try and answer it as stated and not have this turn into an ongoing conversation, since that's really not what Ask is for.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:18 AM on May 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

It's just as likely that the friend that told you a bunch of bullshit did it because you are judgmental and nosy

Quite so. Trolling is not limited to Internet fora.
posted by flabdablet at 11:19 AM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's possible that he considers gossiping a "bad behavior" and is avoiding getting involved with you because of your demonstrated affinity for it.
posted by so_gracefully at 11:51 AM on May 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Why does it matter?

My first reading of this is that you're interested in a guy who is friendly with people you dislike — so you're turning to the internet to find out whether this guy has a psychiatric disorder, because something must be wrong with him if he likes someone you dislike. That seems a little weird.

I don't want to jump to conclusions here because this is one (relatively short) AskMe and I don't have nearly enough information to make a final call about this. But you should know for future reference that there are ways in which this question comes off as judgmental, nosy, and weirdly obsessive.

Maybe this guy just doesn't like drama or gossip of any kind — and maybe he does have negative opinions of these people, but has learned not to repeat them to others because nothing good will come of it. Maybe he's one of those people that just likes people and looks for the good in them. (Not a psychiatric disorder.) Maybe he strongly believes in "live and let live" and won't get involved in judgments of others no matter what. Maybe he genuinely thinks that you are wrong about these Bad People. There are a lot of explanations.

But I come back to: Why does it matter??
posted by hypotheticole at 11:54 AM on May 12, 2012 [9 favorites]

Maybe he does like everyone, or doesn't think bad things. So, some people do weird, annoying, stupid shit. That doesn't mean you have to dislike them. It's not his job to be the world's moral police.

It's certainly possible that he just doesn't talk shit, but ya know, maybe he just doesn't give a shit. That's well within the range of normal and doesn't mean that he lacks empathy or is a sociopath or anything. It's possible, but far from the only interpretation. The world's a big place and worrying to death about all the wrongs in it is exhausting, and frankly, impossible.

If you're worried about his emotional availability, have some conversations and find out where he's at. What does he care about? How has he felt about his partners? How does he treat you? Whether he engages in talking smack about jerks, or even if he is bothered to think poorly of them, is not a good measure for what you want to find out.
posted by J. Wilson at 12:02 PM on May 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Sounds like the only thing "wrong" with this guy is that he's not into gossip or drama. Maybe you should try emulating him.
posted by palomar at 12:10 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

First of all, I think you need to rephrase in your mind what you really mean when you ask what is "wrong" with someone. It does come off as very judgmental and in this case the guy simply doesn't seem interested in expressing his opinions about a person you both know who seems to have done some bad things. Who can blame him?

If someone does shitty things I just stay away from them. It's the best way to at least be on positive or neutral terms with everyone and generally makes life more pleasant. I also don't want to somehow become a target for someone to want to do something shitty to me, so it's just best to distance myself from the situation.

Lastly, I'm a girl but I don't gossip with people who clearly love to gossip because if I don't like something about someone I don't want it to get around to them. Especially in a setting such as a class or at work because you're stuck with these people for a certain amount of time.
posted by fromageball at 12:24 PM on May 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

I am attracted to this type of person because I simply like nice people who give other people the benefit of the doubt, don't take sides, and are generally mellow. I am not like that, but it is a quality I admire and try to emulate with variable success. So yes, people like this can teach you something.

That said, this trait has its bad sides, which are silently condoning bad behavior and a lack of loyalty (unwilling to stand up for friends).

That is how personality traits are. They usually have bad sides and good sides. You just pick what drives you the least crazy.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:33 PM on May 12, 2012 [5 favorites]

I have friends and acquaintances who are bad people to others and have done bad things to others (I'm reasonably sure everyone does because everyone does bad things). As long as they're cool to me, I'm cool with them. All the gossip in the world won't change that.

And I won't engage with someone who's so obviously wrapped up in gossiping about others because I know anything I say/do will be gossiped about, which means I'd give you similar/noncommittal answers.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 1:00 PM on May 12, 2012

Hi. Your roommate here. Since everyone is more or less discussing gossip, and normalcy, I'll try and look at mr.man's actions. This reminds me of a situation I have been in so I'll add my 2 cents too. First off, I don't think it's healthy or "normal" for someone (as Ghostride The Whip stated) for anyone to disregard someone's actions or behavior towards others, as long as they are "cool" with them. Extreme case:If that person is a bully, makes fun of homosexuals, but is nice to you that somehow is acceptable? I don't think so. Anytime I have dealt with people who disregard someone's mean actions or behaviour or whatever, because they don't or have yet to do something bad to me...it bites you in the butt pretty darn fast. I'm not saying this guy is doing this, but since you told me that the lying guy likes you, I don't think he was saying those things because you are judgmental...you are a bit judgmental not going to lie. But...

My point is that there is a difference between dismissing people's behaviour towards others and towards them, and being naive and oblivious. Maybe he is oblivious towards his surroundings and the significance of other's actions...you never know...or maybe he is dismissive...that CAN be both a GOOD AND BAD thing. If lying guy told you those things to make you not like the guy anymore, and he dismisses all of the lying guys' lies as "just him being crazy", or maybe he doesn't care what people think or do to him...not really a good thing if he doesn't care that others don't do classwork and rely on him for it. You need to talk to him more, but also can be a good thing too.
posted by gilbogarbage at 1:36 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

*I meant being dismissive can be a good thing too. It's always nice to see someone who doesn't care what others think of them.
posted by gilbogarbage at 1:38 PM on May 12, 2012

Well this is a bit tangential to your question but generally my rule of thumb is if I'm falling in serious like with someone and simultaneously trying to figure out which _psychological disorder_ describes their behaviour...it's time to examine whether this is really something likely to work out or not.
posted by Zen_warrior at 1:39 PM on May 12, 2012 [4 favorites]

Wow. I'm kind of dizzy.

He likes* people even though they are doing bad things.
You think its bad to like people who do bad things.
You like this guy even though you think he's doing something bad.

...and somehow this is all connected to his emotional availability. Huh?

Are you asking if he has a psychological disorder or if you do? Are you asking if it's wrong for him to like these folks or if it's wrong for you to like him?

The good news is that the answer to all of the above is No.

I've met lots and lots of people who do and have done Really Really Bad, Terrible Things. Some I like, some I don't. Liking someone is not the same as trusting them. I may like the folks who have done RRBTT, but that does not mean I am going to invite them to my house, watch my dog, be alone with them, sleep with them, introduce them to my friends, bring them into my life etc. My therapist used to work in a prison, he liked many of the prisoners even though they murdered people and he's glad they're in jail.

Liking someone is an emotional response. Trusting people you like is a judgment call that gets better with experience.

As for his potential emotional unavailability, your post reads to me like an attempt to build a case for making yourself unavailable to him. You don't know him well, why invent reasons (or disorders) not to get to know him better?

*by the by, it's actually pretty healthy to not carry around lots of negative opinions about others.
posted by space_cookie at 2:07 PM on May 12, 2012 [6 favorites]

Not really. You just have different perspectives/views on the same situations.
posted by mleigh at 3:38 PM on May 12, 2012

On the one hand, I admire his lack of engagement in gossip and drama. On the other hand, there are people in the world who are so willing to extend other people the benefit of the doubt that they are basically intolerable to be around because they're all "Oh, murder seems wrong, but you know people just snap sometimes" and similar.

So either he's appropriately discreet or hopelessly wishy-washy. Even the latter isn't a "disorder" of any kind, it's just an unattractive personal characteristic. At least from my point of view.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:25 PM on May 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

I think some of the people who have responded have latched onto the explanation that casts you in the worst light, while casting the guy you like in the best light. I don't get that at all from what you've written, and I think you should rescind most or all of your best answers.

If someone you mutually know with this guy really stuck recorders under desks to bug people, it hardly makes you a yenta to be interested in talking about it. Nor does it make you judgmental to think that someone should give a shit if one of their friends is affecting their social relationships by spreading misinformation.

My read on it is not that the guy is refusing to engage in gossip and drama, it's that he doesn't recognize drama as drama, which means that he's someone who's likely to be at the center of a lot of it. It is indeed very healthy to not carry around lots of negative opinions of people, but it is also quite healthy to draw the line with people when they do things that show them to be untrustworthy, like bugging people or maligning you. And an inability to recognize red flag behavior is a character trait that will guarantee that an individual will attract people who throw up red flags left and right, because the rest of the world stays the hell away from them.

The flip side of this guy's attitude isn't that you're into drama or gossip, the flip side of this guy's attitude is that people may very well wind up getting hurt as a result of the actions he's condoning. This is someone who stands up for people who engage in exploitative behavior.

I don't know if there's a psychological disorder attached to it, but I do know it's difficult for some people to draw the line with people you're friends with and say, "Dude, what you did was fucked up," even if that thing was bugging people, or "Dude, are you lying about me behind my back?"
posted by alphanerd at 7:55 PM on May 12, 2012 [4 favorites]

I think some of the people who have responded have latched onto the explanation that casts you in the worst light, while casting the guy you like in the best light.

I think you should rescind most or all of your best answers.
Why? She marked them, which means they resonated with her and she found the responses relevant. Who the hell are you to tell her she's wrong?

Not to get too chatty, but I think the OP is getting the answers you would expect from a post that describes lots of detail of other peoples behavior; is very slim on detail about the object of her affections (the one she's ostensibly posting about) and includes absolutely no detail about herself except brief but telling afterthoughts about emotional availability issues.

In telling us mostly about the evil-doers, little about the dude and next to nothing about herself, she opened the door way way wide for lots of broad assumptions about herself and the dude that may or may not have any real bearing on the problem. Avoiding drama, he's not being a gossip, you may be gossiping are all fairly reasonable theories given the lack of information.

We don't know what the dude thinks. The OP doesn't tell us if she knows more about his thoughts other than he said Evil Doer 1 is a "cool person." We don't know what he has said or done to make her believe he does not hold negative opinions about anyone.

OP seems to assume that he's heard all about the evil doing, believes everything he's heard about the evil doing, condones the evil doing, and still likes the evil doers.

OP might have lots and lots of reasons to believe all of the above are true, but if she doesn't clue us in, we have to make guesses. Some of those guesses will condemn the guy, some will stick up for him. Some guesses will condemn the OP, others will stick up for her. Some responses will try to outline the difference between liking someone and condoning their behavior or just being polite.

Some, like me, will try to play around a bit and point out that OP is enacting a fainter version of the behavior she thinks she finds objectionable in dude (liking people who do bad things). I may also try to suggest that maybe, just maybe, all of this is just noise covering up the one issue that seems truly relevant to the OP herself - her orientation to emotional availability. Or maybe I just pounced on it because it's interesting to me.

Who knows. This is all a guess since I don't have much to go on.

So. OP, the lesson here is that lack of information=lots of assumptions. Yours, ours, whoever. Just get to know the dude. Once you know him better you won't have to assume or ask the internet if he's awesome or a sociopath or just kinda meh. You'll know. Have Fun!
posted by space_cookie at 9:31 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

I am prepared to take your question at face value and I think it is valid in a lot of ways.

First, let me examine and discard the premise that there's a "psychological disorder" to be found here. We can't diagnose someone over the Internet, for one thing. Not that I think you literally expect that, you are probably just looking for speculation or "this reminds me of". But what you're telling us is a) not extremely unusual and b) all based on hearsay.

Of course when a poster talks about a third party it's all hearsay, right? True, but the things you are expecting this guy to take a moral stance on, by your account are not things he has experienced first hand, but are things that have only come to his attention through hearsay. It sounds like he doesn't know for a fact that someone bugged their classmates, only that people are saying they did. He also doesn't know that another person is talking about him behind his back, only that people are saying they did.

A lot of people will say that paying attention to gossip is an essential part of having discernment about others, but I know from personal experience that stories can get around that have absolutely no basis in reality. I'm sure a number of people from my college still think that I had either a baby or an abortion in my mid-twenties, for example, and since I have no offspring to show for it I'm guessing that that's why the outspoken pro-lifer cut me off. Yet this rumour was absolutely untrue and the only mechanism by which it could have gotten started (that I can see) is that I worked in a maternity hospital during a stretch of extended time off; and I acted in a play in which a child simulates childbirth by putting a doll up her skirt and lets it fall to the floor. Maybe these things were talked about a few years later and some people got the wrong end of the stick. Or maybe I just ate one too many cookies that day I was wearing a midriff top. Doesn't matter how, my only point is that it is not always true that where there is smoke there is fire.

Or more mundanely, everyday actions that you actually are doing and are seen by other people, can get turned around you very easily. I used to try to protect against stuff like musculoskeletal problems and thrombosis by setting a timer to go off every thirty minutes, and then I would get up, leave the room, walk up and down the hall twice, and return to my seat. This would take two to three minutes. But I gave it up because I always got complaints. In one place I got a reputation as someone who is never at her desk and is lazy, even though I was working flat out during the 56 minutes an hour when I was at my desk (this was actually brought to me as a complaint raised against me by coworkers). Another place I got pulled into the boss's office and the door closed. "we close the door when we want to discuss disciplinary matters, not that this is one, you shouldn't feel that you're being carpeted here, but I notice that you get up from your desk very often, is something wrong? Is there something going on in your life that would cause you to be doing this?" In that case, I was definitely doing something unusual and apparently spending more time away from my desk than anyone else, but people sure were leaping to conclusions about it. Anyway, I learned my lesson and now sit hunched and immobile for no less than three hours at a time, and I demonstrate my loyalty and productivity by accepting the pain and the skeletal problems. In my experience, if I don't, my ability to make a living is negatively affected by what people say about it.

As a result of these experiences I am very careful what I say about others and very careful of how much I believe of what I hear.

Even when I know someone has done something I'm careful what conclusions I draw about it. For example Alfie did something to me that upset me, but later made an attempt to explain it and make it up to me. I still don't fully trust Alfie, but he has the benefit of my doubt until the next time. Bob comes to me and confronts me about whether it's true that Alfie did this to me. It is true, but I'm not going to tell Bob that, because Bob has also made it clear that he hates Alfie and intends to ruin him over this. Bob is also very accusing towards me and clearly is not doing any of this out of concern for me; he has no problem interrogating me until I am in tears. I say no, Alfie didn't do this, because I'm not certain that Alfie deserves to be in that amount of trouble he'll be in if I tell Bob he did do it. Maybe I'm wrong and Alfie does deserve to be in that much trouble. But I don't know that, and based one the way Bob is treating me right now, Alfie positively reeks of trustworthiness in comparison. Bob decides that Alfie did do it and that I am Alfie's willing accomplice and that I'm just as much of a wrongdoer as Alfie is. Bob turns on me and does some of the same damage to me that he would like to do to Alfie. Ultimately, it turns out that Alfie is that bad and worse, so you could say I exercised bad judgement by giving him another chance, but the point is that I made my decisions based on how Alfie and Bob each *behaved*. Also based on their behaviour, both Alfie and Bob are out of my life now.

Maybe I'd have suffered less damage if I'd given less benefit of the doubt and paid more attention to gossip sooner, though there would have been certain costs to that. My point is that Bob couldn't see any explanation for my defending Alfie other than being just as bad as him. You are asking whether this could be explained by a psychological disorder rather than by badness. I think it's best explained by your friend sticking strictly to his knowledge state rather than talking about what he doesn't know. He may indeed have his suspicions but be unwilling to voice them.

The other explanation is that he does have certain knowledge that these people are doing these things and either a) wants to stay out of it. Or b) doesn't think these things are wrong. A might be a sign of either good judgement or apathy, depending. B would be a problem, and you're right to be concerned about it, but I don't see enough evidence for B from what you've written.

A problem I have with your question is that it's quite incoherent in some ways. You say your friend refuses to judge others for what they've done, but actually it's only what he's been told they've done, and actually you only know what he's said in public about it. From there, you jump to asking if this is a psychological disorder, and from there, you jump to asking whether this means he's emotionally unavailable. That's quite a cluster of non sequiturs and in many ways your question doesn't make sense. I would suggest that reading up on logical and rhetorical fallacies would be a good use of your time in addition to your algebra class.
posted by tel3path at 2:56 AM on May 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

Who the hell are you to tell her she's wrong?

A whole lot of people in this thread are telling the OP that she's "wrong" in the sense that she's gossipy, judgmental, immature, nosy, dramatic, obsessive, or negative, or are making a case that she's hypocritical by means of reasoning that equates having feelings of attraction for someone with tolerating behavior on an intellectual level.

I'm telling the OP that she may be "right" about her initial intuition that something is off with this guy, and that in the past, where I've see this level of antipathy towards the poster of an AskMe question, there has usually been crucial information missing from the question which changes things quite a bit when revealed.

To add on to my original answer, I knew someone in my circle of friends from college who tolerated what could only be described as sick shit from other people. Here's a list of things I can think of off the top of my head.

- Was friends with a subway flasher, and he'd take his junk out and expose himself to people when she was driving him around, including kids. He told her the people watching loved it.

- Was friends with a dude who would get drunk, get behind the wheel of his own car, and follow her back to her house to sleep. There's at least one occasion where he almost killed her with his car due to inhibited reaction time.

- Same dude as above told her mom that both of her daughters had "awesome tits" upon meeting her.

- Same dude as above once put his hands around her neck at a restaurant and had to be pried off by their friends during an argument.

- Same dude as above "accidentally" let some information slip out causing a fight between her roommate and her roommate's boyfriend, then blamed the incident on alcohol while expressing amusement over it.

- Same dude as above took trips to Cuba for the purposes of sex tourism, and offered to take the woman I was friends with for free, telling her it would make it easier for him to entice local women if he was accompanied by a woman.

- Her boyfriend's brother once offered her $60,000 a year to be his mistress at a restaurant while her boyfriend was in the bathroom. She took his number and texted him behind her boyfriend's back over the next few months.

- She flat-out admitted to having no boundaries when it comes to psychopaths.

So I've seen firsthand the way someone can just sort of smile and nod at red flag behavior, so this is the template I'm using to understand this guy's actions. And like I implied above, people who engage in red flag behavior were drawn to this woman like moths to a flame because she tolerated behavior from them that would have sent other people running for the hills. And part of what she was doing involved enabling dangerous behavior, behavior that put other people at risk.

So what I am saying is that it's inaccurate to say that people who refuse to judge like to stay out of drama, because a lot of the time boundaries need to be set to avoid drama, and that dramatic people will attach themselves to people who don't give pushback. It's more accurate to say that people who refuse to judge often don't like confrontation, or setting boundaries, or perhaps having stable internal preferences. Or maybe they just aren't able to see the patterns, connections, and causal relationships between the stuff that's immediate and the stuff that isn't present.

Whatever it is, drama is likely to be a part of these people's lives because they either can't recognize it, or they tolerate it because of the benefits that attend being friends with the people who engage in it, and it isn't an admirable quality. I think that's what you're picking up on. It's consistent, by the way, with some common relationship advice to pay attention to a prospective partner's friends, because healthy people attract healthy friends.

I don't think getting involved with this guy is going to be good for you, because you've already seen him tolerate behavior you have problems with. I predict the closer you get to him, the more situations you're going to run into like this, and that you may very well wind up in a situation where one of his friends crosses a line with you and he refuses to have your back, because that would involve judging. Or something.

I think a better course of action would be to say, "Tolerating douchy behavior from others is a dealbreaker" and to act accordingly.
posted by alphanerd at 6:43 AM on May 13, 2012 [5 favorites]

I could easily be this guy. Some of my friends are what others might describe as "bad" people. If somebody gets in their way, they briefly try to negotiate with them, and if negotiation fails, the other person generally goes down hard.

The reason I'm friends with them is because to me, niceness is overrated. What I value is loyalty. I'd much rather be friends with a bad person who is absolutely loyal to me and will get my back when I'm in a conflict than a good person who tries to do the right thing by everybody. "Nice" people (in my experience, at least) often avoid conflict and to me, this makes me question the sincerity of their loyalties.

In short, I think this guy simply has different priorities from you when it comes to his friendships. Maybe you should directly ask him sometimes what qualities he looks for in his friendships. The answers could shed a lot more light on this. If it's a dealbreaker for you, simply walk away.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 3:00 PM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

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