How to get over being insulted (if I was?)
October 22, 2012 7:03 AM   Subscribe

I'm wondering if I'm being too sensitive regarding a perceived slight from one of my friends at a party? I have a mild case of social anxiety which may be exacerbating this. Details inside.

Hi there,

I recently was at a birthday party with some friends - some close, some not. I've had social anxiety most of my life, but have made great strides by joining up for clubs, activities, attending parties like this one, etc. I am in my mid-20's.

Later on in the night, one of the guys was drawing caricatures of people at the party - when he got to me, he said something along the lines of "I'm going to have a hard time, it's always difficult when you're drawing such a good looking guy." Really playing it up and taking his time drawing.

Now, he's a bit of a jokester, and it was pretty obvious to me that he didn't mean anything by it, so I laughed it off and it didn't bug me too much. What rattled me more was hearing one of my close friends (who's a woman a decade older than me) saying "hey, that's mean!" after the "good looking guy" line. She said it a few times.

I took it to mean that she thought he was being mean for calling me good looking, when I am obviously not. I was very upset/shocked, and wondered why she would say something like that out of the blue. I tried to laugh it off, but it stayed with me the rest of the night.

As for my looks - I know I'm not the best looking guy in the world, but I'm certainly not ugly - I receive compliments and get hit on every once in a while. I think if I had a lower self-esteem regarding my appearance this would have hit me even harder.

I also have to take into account that alcohol was involved, so maybe she didn't really mean what was said. I also wonder if I am taking it the wrong way.

So I'm wondering - should I have a talk with her about it, or is it not a big enough deal? She has been a great source of emotional support when I am not doing well and I enjoy her company, so I would not like to write her out of my life or anything like that.

I'm bad at explaining things when talking, so I was thinking about sending an email and saying how I feel. Am I taking this too far? Am I being reasonable or do I need to toughen up?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (23 answers total)
Overthinking. Relax.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:08 AM on October 22, 2012 [7 favorites]

I don't think that you should follow up.

It's not that you should toughen up, it's just that you don't have any real data about what was meant. It's possible that she meant it in the mean way you laid out. It's also possible that she thought the caricaturist was being a dick to you and she was trying to stop it. It's possible she was involved in some side conversation.

So I think the the best answer is to try to put it completely out of your mind and move on.

In cases where it's a single incident, out of character with her normal supportive behavior - assume it was crossed wires, give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and let it be.
posted by mercredi at 7:10 AM on October 22, 2012 [8 favorites]

Definitely overthinking. This was all a joke, said in jest. Nothing was meant by it. Laugh it off and move on.
posted by cgg at 7:10 AM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

He was drawing caricatures, right? Nobody looks good-looking in a caricature, that's the point. Isn't it more likely that your friend's "Hey, that's mean!" meant "Hey, it's mean to tell him how super-good-looking he is while I can see you drawing a caricature of him with googly eyes and a super-long chin"?
posted by Catseye at 7:13 AM on October 22, 2012 [6 favorites]

Maybe your friend misread the situation and thought dude was picking on you and upsetting you, so she rushed to defend you. Maybe he was hitting on you. Maybe they both really do think you're ugly. It's impossible to know from your description, and I don't think there's any benefit to drawing more attention to this awkward little scene. A confident, emotionally mature person would say to himself, "I don't know what was going on there, but I like the way I look. Guess we got our wires crossed. Well, whatever."
posted by milk white peacock at 7:14 AM on October 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'm going to guess she was saying it about his tone. Given what he does, he probably has a whole schtick he pulls out about the too good looking person at every party.

Don't send the email.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 7:17 AM on October 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

Don't send the email. He was maybe not joking and she thought he was being sarcastic so defended you. This was just one of those dumb things. Let it go.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:23 AM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Don't waste any more time than you already have thinking about this.
posted by AugustWest at 7:33 AM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Ok there are, as I see it, three interpretations to what was said by the woman.

One she thought the guy was being mean, maybe because she had had a few drinks or maybe she was just misreading the situation and was trying to defend you, badly. So why would you be insulted, a long time friend was trying to help but messed up.

Two, she was talking about the things the guy was drawing and how they contrasted with what he was saying, and knowing you have had social anxiety problems was worried you'd misunderstand and was defending you.

Three, she's your friend she was teasing you. It didn't work out.

Friends mispeak, alcohol never helps. Let it go.

If you are really worried it means something else just watch how she interacts with you next time she sees you. If she acts like nothing happened, then nothing happened.
posted by wwax at 7:35 AM on October 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

She thought you were being attacked, so she was defending you. Since she was drunk, she overdid it.
posted by winna at 7:37 AM on October 22, 2012 [18 favorites]

Oh, I read her comment as, "Hey, that's mean to the other people getting caricatures, whom you didn't call attractive!" That is, by emphasizing your attractiveness, she was jokingly pointing out that the artist was implying the other people he was drawing were unattractive.

Either way, though, she wasn't trying to be mean to you! Don't sweat it!
posted by Pwoink at 7:39 AM on October 22, 2012 [4 favorites]

You are overthinking it

If anything she was trying to defend you against his (perceived) hucksterism. Trying to defend a friend is always a slippery slope. A lot of foolish things get said in that context.

leering comment--"I think she's totally hot"
awkward defense-- "You take that back..."
posted by French Fry at 7:40 AM on October 22, 2012

Here's how I'd parse it: she thought the guy was going on about how "good-looking" you are in a way intended to convey he thought the opposite; she thought he was being mean and insulting you. So, she said "that's mean."
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:41 AM on October 22, 2012

When the woman was saying, "hey that's mean!" what did the caricature guy say? What did he do or say when she kept saying this? Was he smirking or laughing along? Did he ignore her? Did he give her a weird look? Did he defend himself? It's still impossible to interpret but with some more clues you may be able to, if you care to.

At the end of the day it's pointless and not worth fretting over.

I wouldn't send an email to your friend. Try to let it go.
posted by Fairchild at 7:45 AM on October 22, 2012

I'll give yet another interpretation: the woman was trying to flirt with the artist and you provided a convenient opening for her to squawk for attention, to him. You were just an innocent excuse for some awkward drunk attention seeking. I'm just guessing that if this was meant to be a subtle dig then she wouldn't be screaming it repeatedly.
posted by cakebatter at 7:47 AM on October 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

What winna and cakebatter said.

You seem to have a realistic-to-modest grasp of what you look like, so some drunk comments wouldn't change the reality even if they were intended in the meanest way possible. Which, I really don't think they were. It doesn't sound like anything to take seriously at all.
posted by tel3path at 7:57 AM on October 22, 2012

The answer to "shall I email a friend to tell them I am upset" is always no.
posted by ook at 8:01 AM on October 22, 2012 [8 favorites]

"I'm going to have a hard time, it's always difficult when you're drawing such a good looking guy."

Maybe he did hers in two seconds so she was saying he was mean for implying she wasn't good looking, since he didn't have a hard time with hers.
posted by cairdeas at 8:06 AM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

It was mean, regardless of what you look like. You could be George Clooney or Bill Gates and that would be equally un-nice. It's totally possible to pull it off in a funny way, but your friend thinks the guy failed to do that.

Note: George Clooney. Bill Gates. Zero to do with you. You were just the next guy in line.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:07 AM on October 22, 2012

Let me preface this by saying that I am such a veteran of overthinking that I deserve a chestful of overthinking medals. I have overthought plenty of situations that both contained more substance than this and were, on more mature reflection, utterly inocuous.

Don't waste another iota of valuable mental energy on this. It's completely meaningless. People blurt out weird and senseless things at parties on a regular basis driven by motivations that are beyond the powers of a gifted psychotherapist to understand.

End the overthinking.
posted by Mr. Justice at 8:19 AM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Every now and then I say something that's meant to be friendly, and after the fact I realize it could have been interpreted in a mean way, and it chews me up inside. On the occasions I've been worried enough to apologize, it turns out the other person wasn't insulted and doesn't even remember what I said.

This realization has made me relax a little bit when I've been the recipient of an ambiguous, potentially-insulting comment. Most off-the-cuff things people say are benign. The genuinely assy people tend to out themselves after a while. If she has a history of sticking up for you and being a good friend, I wouldn't worry about this. If she has a history of making digs at you, possibly this could be one of them. But it sounds like she's a good friend and her comment wasn't meant as an insult.

I'd encourage you to let it go. But if you absolutely can't let it go, don't send an email. Do it in person, and be low-key and non-accusatory. Say something like "That other night, when that guy said I was good-looking and you said 'that's mean,' what did you mean by it?" Let her answer, and then follow up with something along the lines of "Oh, okay. I thought you were implying I was ugly, and that was weighing on me, so thanks for clearing that up. Of course I didn't think you were actually insulting me, I'm just sensitive about that sort of thing." Think of it as clearing up an misunderstanding, not seeking an apology.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:23 AM on October 22, 2012

The answer to "shall I email a friend to tell them I am upset" is always no.

I want to clarify that, because on rereading I see it's open to misinterpretation.

It's sometimes ok to talk to a friend about something that has upset you (though in this case I agree with everyone that you've got nothing to worry about.) But email is the worst possible medium in which to handle emotional communication: it's impersonal; it exaggerates misunderstandings; minor issues get solidified into big deals by the act of putting them in print; there's no body language; you can too easily slip into writing to a strawman version of the source-of-you-being-upset instead of the actual person who probably has no idea that anything is wrong, invent counterarguments they wouldn't necessarily make, and can unilaterally turn a minor misunderstanding into a full-fledged fight.

Flamewars happen online, not in person, for a reason.

I can totally identify with the impulse to work it all out in print rather than facing the person in person -- I'm prone to it myself -- but it is a cowardly and counterproductive impulse. If you have something emotional to work out with someone, do it in person or not at all.
posted by ook at 8:59 AM on October 22, 2012 [4 favorites]

I think there are probably a lot of other possibilities involving context, unless you were aware of everything he said to everybody as he was drawing them, which I can't really tell. He might have told the person before you, "Oh you're going to be easy to draw," so the "mean" part was referring to what he said to that person, or as others have suggested she might have been playing offended that he didn't tell her something like that, if he had already drawn her.

Maybe part of his shtick was making some jokey insult about each person as a part of the "show," and she was a little drunk and worried that you might take it seriously as an insult to your looks. Depending on her tone, and how drunk, she could have been simply... too drunk. And seeing an actual insult where none existed. Not that she thinks you aren't good looking but she thought he was saying you weren't and she was jumping to your defense, unnecessarily. Lots of people are easily offended when drunk.

At any rate, since she's older and has been a supportive friend, if she was serious at all, to me that seems the most likely interpretation: she was in her cups and feeling overprotective, but not because she thinks you are unattractive.
posted by taz at 11:04 AM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

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