Being okay with disliking someone
April 17, 2014 7:19 AM   Subscribe

Have you ever been in a social situation where there was someone who rubbed you the wrong way or who was difficult to deal with but who was kind of inevitably going to be around you? You tried hard to find their good qualities and maybe liked them occasionally but overall just wished you didn't have to interact with them? How did you learn to deal with this situation? Did your relationship with this person ever improve, or did you eventually just learn to live with having negative feelings towards the person?

I have had a situation the past six months or so where I have been a part of this social group where there are a few people that I like a great deal, but one person who I never really cared for but who was sort of determined to be a part of the group. I feel as if this person has some redeeming qualities and over the six months I have tended to go back and forth on whether I like them. However, recently their relationship with others in the group has been seemingly better than mine and I find myself caught in this cycle of jealousy about their relationship with others, guilt over not having been more open to this person or not really having ever liked them that much and probably having shown it in small ways, thinking that maybe I should try to make better friends with them, and finally annoyance about and anxiety over the whole situation. If it clarifies things at all, basically I don't like them because they kind of came on too strong to me when we first knew each other, tend to overshare about their personal problems, and can basically be kind of needy and attention-seeking. Things I do like about them include that they are generous and intelligent and occasionally good to talk with. At this point, they are kind of part of the group and I actually enjoy having them be part of the group sometimes but I have this lingering feeling that if it came down to it I would rather not have any relationship with them at all.

Anyway, the whole situation has got me thinking about how I tend to react in the situation where I dislike someone, and I have noticed that overall I tend to kind of beat myself up over these sorts of feelings. I am the kind of person who likes to get along with everyone, feels that it is important to be a good person and treat everyone well, and who has a certain amount of social anxiety in general. I feel like all of these characteristics tend to feed into a high discomfort with disliking others. Does that make sense? Is this a thing, to not be okay with this kind of feeling? Have you experienced this before, and how did you make sense of the situation and your feelings in the situation, and improve and/or learn to be okay with it being less than ideal?
posted by thesnowyslaps to Human Relations (31 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Always remember that every person is the star of his or her own TV show. They genuinely think they are the best person in the room, and it's just the definition of "best" that's the problem. So every now and then, think about them from their point of view, and their annoyances will make sense.
posted by Etrigan at 7:38 AM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

My wife has this pattern in which, in every group, work or social, she has a "nemesis." She has realized this, and is seeing how this is HER problem and not the problem of the other person that she does not like.

You would be well served to take a breath and realize that this person is also fighting their own battle. It is good to try to be magnanimous with everyone and not get attached to anything beyond what is in front of you here and now. If they are behaving in a way that you do not like, call them on it. But you can only control your own behavior.

Assholes exist, sadly.
posted by Danf at 7:42 AM on April 17, 2014 [4 favorites]

This is one of the reason we have developed "manners" and "politeness." Professionally, I deal with a lot of people I don't particularly like, but I am civil and professional with them, wish them a good day, ask how they got through the latest storm and so on when we are forced to interact beyond a nod while passing. You can do the same thing in social circles.

One advantage of "polite distance" is that it also removes you from competition with this person for the affection of the group (which seems to be an issue in the second paragraph). Essentially, work on your relations with the members of the group you like and try to be polite (warmly or distantly) to everyone.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:44 AM on April 17, 2014 [17 favorites]

I have experienced being uncomfortable with disliking someone; definitely a thing. Right down to feeling jealous when other people seemed to have a better relationship with the person.

I deal with it by telling myself that not everyone gets along with everyone else; it's basic human nature. Chances are at least one other person in the social group doesn't like this person as much as they seem to; even if not plenty of people have disliked this person and plenty of people will in the future. This is true for all people. There's nothing wrong with you for disliking someone, even if others seem to like them and they're a central part of the group.

Having to see them in the group is a tough one. When I was in this situation I was friendly to the person if addressed, and I still participated in group conversations but I didn't go out of my way to talk to the person. But everyone is different - some people would be completely friendly to this person but still not like them. Others would make it plain-as-day.

As long as it doesn't affect the rest of the group and isn't off-putting to the person in question, I don't think how you handle this will make much of a difference. If disliking someone causes you this much anxiety, I doubt you'll accidentally do or say anything too rude to the person.
posted by Autumn at 7:45 AM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

I don't see how disliking someone socially is preventing you from treating them nicely?

Many people are nice to people they don't like. This is popularly called: Manners.

Work on your manners. It is a professional skill that has nothing to do with your emotions, nor does having good manners towards someone bind you to them for life (see: Boundaries.)

Manners, they are a professional type skill. Cultivate this skill. Enjoy easier social interactions.

posted by jbenben at 7:46 AM on April 17, 2014 [14 favorites]

It's a big old lie that people (mostly women) are told that it's their job to get along with everybody who crosses their path. It's their job to soothe feelings and make everybody better and see the best in everyone and not piss anyone off even for a minute.

Well, bugger that.

It's healthy to not want to be besties with everyone. It's healthy to limit your interactions with people you don't enjoy being around. It's also fine if other people don't all like you!

Luckily (as someone has already said) there's always manners and professional courtesy to fall back on in dealing with people we don't get on with.
posted by emilyw at 7:47 AM on April 17, 2014 [32 favorites]

You do not have to like everyone and it is perfectly okay to dislike certain people - so long as this is based on your personal experience of that person and not some prejudice or stereotype.

It is a bit liberating actually to come to the conclusion "I don't like X, and I never will, and there ain't no sense in trying."

Manners and politeness - as GenjlandProust aptly notes - are the tools you use to interact with such people.

I am sure some people feel that way about me and that's cool too. So long as people are polite and respectful, I don't need to be liked and accepted by everyone and that is also quite liberating.
posted by three blind mice at 7:47 AM on April 17, 2014 [6 favorites]

Did your relationship with this person ever improve, or did you eventually just learn to live with having negative feelings towards the person?

No it didn't and no I didn't learn to live with them. I started seeing everything Jane did or said in a negative light. I turned into a very bitter and angry person, quietly simmering in the corner because I wanted to hang out with my friends, and because Jane was part of the group, that meant I had to hang out with Jane.

What started out as quiet friendship devolved into me hating Jane slowly over the course of several years.

At the breaking point I just dropped the entire group of friends. It took another good year before I started hanging out with them on an individual basis again. I was also very up front about the reason I dropped off was because I didn't want to be around Jane anymore. Assured them it wasn't their fault, but that being around her turned me into a seething mass of unhappiness.

I still hate Jane. Anytime she's a topic of conversation with my friends or I see her post something on their facebook I get my feathers ruffled. I am ashamed to admit it, but it's true.

I'd love to tell you that I'm a better person then this. I'd love to think that I am. I try very hard not to hate anyone and to try and look at the world from inside someone else's shoes 90% of the time. Not Jane's shoes.

Jane didn't really do anything to deserve my hate, and certainly not this level of vitrol. Really it was just prolonged social interaction with someone that didn't jive with me.

That's not the happy answer you want, I know. I just want to tell you that it's possible to be a Good Person and Good Friend and still run across an individual who morphs you into someone who Hates.
posted by royalsong at 7:52 AM on April 17, 2014 [14 favorites]

I've run into this problem a number of times. I get along well with most people, but I'm an irritable, high-strung person, and every so often I run into someone I just can't stand. They usually aren't even bad people, but they'll have a personality or mannerisms that irritate the living shit out of me. I used to try to get past it and appreciate the person's good qualities, but it never worked. If anything, the more I got to know them, the more they drove me crazy. So I've concluded that when I run into someone like that my best course of action is to just accept that it's a basic personality conflict. I then proceed to avoid them as much as I reasonably can without being obvious about it, and to be perfectly civil and professional when I can't.
posted by orange swan at 7:54 AM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

It is totally ok not to like someone at all.

recently their relationship with others in the group has been seemingly better than mine

this... if their relationship is 'better' than yours, then they're doing something right. So they're not total fucktards. Instead of jealousy, you can learn what they're doing well. Doesn't mean you have to like them.

I'm like this with a superior at work. Cannot stand the man. Must admit he's good, in fact better than me, in certain situations. Vow to learn what trick he has, while maintaining my distance.

Can't stand Madonna. Impressed by her ambition and perseverance.

And so on, and so forth.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:54 AM on April 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

Oh wow, I know that feeling! I met a woman at the playground, her baby was as old as mine, we started visiting. Oh God, she made a metacommentary of everything we said or did. "Well, we are having a good time, haha."
"Oh, that woman said something weird? Now I am trying to remember if I ever said something weird to you."
It drove me up the wall. She seemed needy and Always said the thing most likely to annoy me wirhin five minutes of meeting.
I stopped responding to overtures (she was a bit hurt and commented on that, of course...). Over time I saw her making friends at the playground and on Facebook. Tons of friends, way more than me. She takes a kind of intensity to her relationships that make them get real, really fast. I guess.

I still can't fathom how anyone could not be annoyed as hell by her! It makes me insecure (is my annoying people meter broken? How can they like her more than me? Am Ithe needy outcast?!). At times I try to chat with her, figuring "maybe I was mistaken if they all like her" and then bam! she says the next annoying thing.

I just keep reminding myself that it's ok to get not be universally liked, or not like someone other people like. It's ok to keep it at a Facebook and bumping into each other level.

And yeah, my relationship to her has improved mostly due to keeping her at arms length!
posted by Omnomnom at 7:56 AM on April 17, 2014 [4 favorites]

Fairly often, I will catch myself disliking someone, being irritable in their presence, finding small and large aspects of their personalities/lives distasteful to the point that I don't want to be around them, ever.


More than once, some time would pass, I'd forget about them and move on, etc., and then circumstances would align that we were back in each other's lives. The best example of this is when I moved to a new city and ran into "Donna," who had profoundly annoyed me a few years back in our other town. But, eager to make friends, I gritted my teeth and met her out for a drink. Yadda yadda yadda, today I consider her a delightful person (taken on her own terms, being just fiercely herself and there's nothing I can do to change that except take her in small doses when it feels like too much),

AND she has saved my butt in big ways--coming over to help in a crisis, lending her time to help me move, etc.

AND I hope she has no memory of any time when I'd rolled my eyes at her, avoided her, even (yes, I hate to say) talked smack about her to others. I must assume she was aware of at least some of this, and gave me another chance, which is a great testament to her personal grace and character.
posted by magdalemon at 7:59 AM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


I am the kind of person who likes to get along with everyone, feels that it is important to be a good person and treat everyone well

You can treat people well and hate their guts. That's class. Watch Gone With the Wind and you'll see what I'm talking about. You can make it as kind (Melanie) or frosty (Scarlett) as you like. Everyone gets to be treated with dignity, not be unduly embarrassed etc.

I had pieces of this hangup. They went away when I stopped basing my self-esteem on the acceptance of others. I had one guy at work hate my guts, and he was a vicious SOB. When I just accepted that he hated me, I was released from the disease to please.

So maybe you can do the same - accept that some people will legitimately dislike you, and that you will feel the same towards some others.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:59 AM on April 17, 2014 [5 favorites]

This was one of the major changes I noticed in myself as I transitioned from my late 20s into my early 30s. I jokingly used to say that I was turning into a bad person, but there was a ring of anxious truth to it.

I think, as young women (I am going to guess you're a young woman, and I feel pretty confident about it) we are socialized to be incredibly tuned in to the needs and feelings of the people around us. It's like we have hyper-sensitive hearing when it comes to listening to social dynamics, and so anything that strikes a discordant note is excruciating to listen to. Like, my guess is that when it comes to those "small ways" you've shown your dislike, those ways are super, super small - not laughing right away at a joke, for example, or sort of-kind of making a face when she says something egregiously over-share-y. And to you, this feels like a Huge Deal, because you are so used to paying attention to other people on this hyper-attuned scale, listening to them and adjusting yourself to them and making them feel at home in the group. In my opinion, all diplomats should be smart, sensitive ladies in their mid-twenties, because nobody, nobody can read a room like they can. It's a legitimate superpower.

But it is also fucking exhausting, being attuned to other people like that all the time, and my late-twenties/early thirties, I was really starting to burn out. I also started losing a little bit of that sensitivity, and it was like losing my hearing in the upper registers. Sometimes I could tell that, for example, someone was slightly uncomfortable at a party, but whereas before, that would be accompanied by this alarm-bells-ringing, must-solve-this-problem-at-all-costs urgency, instead I'd find myself feeling kind of meh about it, and I'd let some other energetic young lady rush in to ask the dude about his job or whatever. Or, conversely, I'd be in a conversation that seemed to me to be going fine, but then later realize that I'd been less charming than I could have been because I was talking about myself a little too much, or whatever. It was no longer quite as easy to make new friends, because I felt the effort of putting out all those social feelers, whereas before it hadn't even really been a choice.

Sometimes, I felt guilty about that. (I still occasionally do). I felt like it was my *job* to make people happy and comfortable and welcomed and loved. But it is not my job! I have a job! And if that's similar to your current social situation, then a mind trick that helps me is this. I think of some mid-forties male executive. You know, some guy in a suit with a bunch of people working under him, who's pretty used to getting pandered to. And then I ask myself, "Would he feel guilty about this?" Would he feel guilty about being at a party and letting his slight annoyance show when his conversational partner is blatantly oversharing in a way that isn't interesting to him? Would he feel crushed by guilt because he didn't laugh at the joke of someone who isn't funny, just to "be nice"? No. He would not. Does that mean he has the right to be actively rude to people, or to say nasty things about them, or to insult them? No. There are still social rules that all civilized people have to follow. But I bet if you step back and look at your behavior, and then imagine that same behavior coming from someone who isn't a young twenty-something woman, it wouldn't even register.

I mean, I could be wrong, and if you're being a total asshole to this woman, you should stop. But it is not your job to be nice to everyone. You are allowed to simply be polite. And you are allowed to dislike her without beating yourself up about it. It is a privilege that almost everyone else in the world enjoys.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 8:01 AM on April 17, 2014 [90 favorites]

It happens; we don't always like everyone. It's not, in itself a bad thing, like not liking a bit of pop culture that everyone else likes. You can't control your preferences.

But, I strongly believe, we reinforce preferences by dwelling on them, particularly the negatives. Don't obsess about this person. If you find yourself thinking about them and their dynamic, distract yourself. Absent them from your thoughts. This is hard, but can be done with practice and time. This is the most important thing. Killing your head-drama makes you less of the problem. It will allow you to be happier, to not have to think about stuff you don't like.

In person, the fake-it-until-you-make-it approach can work. A good trick for myself is to force yourself to go out of the way to do small favours for them. Nothing over the top, but a bit more than the bare minimum. This is less about "sucking up", and more about your own feelings. Doing "good", I find, helps my attitude about people I have difficulty with.
posted by bonehead at 8:02 AM on April 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

It dawned on me some years ago that the main reason I was uncomfortable not liking someone is that I don't want to be disliked and I was projecting. It was a total lightbulb moment.

I try to treat people well even when they are not my favorite people. I try to not dwell on not liking them. I try to keep in mind that my other friends like them. I try to remember that it is not my job to like every person, and it is not my job to be liked by every person. Sometimes people just don't like each other, and there's no "reason" for it. That's okay.
posted by rtha at 8:11 AM on April 17, 2014 [13 favorites]

If it clarifies things at all, basically I don't like them because they kind of came on too strong to me when we first knew each other, tend to overshare about their personal problems, and can basically be kind of needy and attention-seeking.

So in some way, you found your boundaries being encroached on or likely to be encroached on? There is nothing wrong with wanting to maintain your boundaries. On the contrary, do it fiercely. Sometimes that involves limiting your exposure to certain people. And don't judge yourself if you find these people difficult. Your "jealousy" may in fact go back to judging yourself or giving yourself a hard time: "Other people have no problem with her; why do I?" Maybe they haven't had the same experience with her or they have different priorities.

It can indeed be fruitful to question one's immediate dislike of someone, or try to learn something that might mitigate a bad impression and make it possible to be more generous. But trying to ignore one's instincts about someone altogether is ultimately a way of telling yourself that you're stupid, and you're not. These feelings about someone usually come from someplace.
posted by BibiRose at 8:25 AM on April 17, 2014 [4 favorites]

I've been the person that wasn't liked. I felt that I had a cordial relationship with the person in the group, but it was clear that I was not her cup of tea. I made my peace with it, and continued to hang out and have fun with my friends.

I never stopped being nice to her, but I also didn't do much of anything to suck up to her either.

People have a right to not like me. I respect that.

So this person may know that you tolerate her, and only that, and she can be perfectly okay with it.

Just continue to be cordial, don't have a big drama, and you never know, you may start to like her, or not.

I give you permission to be lukewarm to this person, as long as you don't make a BFD, we'll all be fine.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:25 AM on April 17, 2014 [4 favorites]

Hey, I had a similar question about a year ago! People gave me a lot of good advice for coping mechanisms (and I no longer have to interact with the two main people I was thinking of when I asked the question), but my favorite was just reminding myself, "eh, she's not Eichmann." (Sometimes I sub in Goebbels.)

So, that's my advice - as others have pointed out, you don't have to like someone to be nice to them (though obviously it's easier if you do), and try to put this person's impact on you in perspective, both in terms of how her annoying you compares to other things that could/have/do/will go wrong in your life, and in terms of recognizing that this is very likely a time-limited thing... you will not have to interact with this woman forever.
posted by mskyle at 8:26 AM on April 17, 2014 [5 favorites]

Anyway, the whole situation has got me thinking about how I tend to react in the situation where I dislike someone, and I have noticed that overall I tend to kind of beat myself up over these sorts of feelings.

I could have written your op almost word for word, especially the last paragraph.

I used to not allow myself to dislike people and, well, that made me dislike them more. Trying to force myself to like them made me keep a "tally list" of all the reasons they were dislike-able.

Today, I'm slightly better at accepting that I can't like everyone. There is one woman in my social circle I find annoying. I cringe inside when she shows up. I cope with it by not dwelling on it. Our personalities don't match. We're incompatible as friends. It takes nothing away from her or from me.
posted by Milau at 8:28 AM on April 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

We as women are conditioned to be nice to everyone and to paper over our conflicts with smiles (as lots of others said above). This means if you don't feel like being nice you blame yourself instead of acknowledging that some people are really @O#I@U$O annoying and you don't NEED to like them. It's okay if you don't like them. But from what you describe, your feelings about this person are sucking up all of your energy and you're focusing on them instead of the people you DO enjoy being around. Totally been there, am dealing with a similar situation at present!

One thing to do is to really look at the person and figure out why you don't like them. Is it really because of their personality or are they displaying signs of aggression towards you? I maintained a 'friendship' with a woman in a group of friends who, later on, I realized, had been INCREDIBLY rude towards me personally, toxic comments, public insults, etc. but because I was trying to be "nice" I just didn't acknowledge it to myself. I should have disengaged with her but instead I gaslighted myself into thinking I just needed to be nicer. If they are toxic, avoid contact if you can.

If they're not toxic, just annoying, work on trying to shrink their presence in your head to a minimum - don't follow their social media accounts, don't engage in conversations about them, if you feel like getting into a conversation about how annoying they are pick something else to talk about that makes you feel 'up' not down. A lot of times the one annoying person I talk to all day takes up 90% f my brain space and all of the awesome people take 10%. You may not be able to choose your thoughts but you can choose your actions - even if she is attention-seeking and you have to converse with her, try changing the subject to something that isn't about her, only participating in structured activities, heavily investing in one-on-one activities with other group members, etc.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 8:32 AM on April 17, 2014 [7 favorites]

I feel as if this person has some redeeming qualities and over the six months I have tended to go back and forth on whether I like them.

Why bother with this? It's a big world, and it's a fact of adult life that there will be plenty of people you never warm or are indifferent to. This should also let you dispense with the jealousy, because this is not 3rd grade, we do not compete to be besties and we do not rank our friends.

Being disengaged and uninterested in someone doesn't preclude you from "getting along with everyone, being a good person and treating everyone well." Are you polite to this person when you see her? do you greet her in a friendly manner? Do you ask how she is and at least pretend to be interested in the answer? Then you are fine and you are over-thinking this.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:58 AM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I relate to your feelings 100% and also could have written this question. I agree with everything that has been said above, but will make a suggestion for when telling yourself "It's OK to not like someone" is not making you feel any better.

Most of my guilt comes from worrying that the person KNOWS I don't like them. (I always want everyone to like me > I get really sad when I think someone doesn't > I assume that me not liking this other person makes them feel just as bad as I would feel > GUILT). So while I typically won't engage too much with this person or be as warm with them as I am with people I do like, sometimes I will throw them a bone and pretend for a instance that I like them just as much as I do my friends and act accordingly--I'll either make a point to be extra friendly, or act enthusiastic to see them, or help them out when they need a favor, etc. Maybe this is bad--maybe this is me being a phony, or sending the person mixed signals, but I feel like if I do go out of my way to be warmer once in a while, it's clear that I don't hate them and it helps maintains the harmony of the group.
posted by lovableiago at 9:41 AM on April 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

I try to keep in mind that I am likely THAT person for someone else (no one is universally liked) and do my best to do just what you're doing - consciously focus on the positive aspects of the person instead of the stuff I don't care for.
posted by cecic at 9:53 AM on April 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

I agree with all the above advice that this happens, and is okay, and is in some ways a sign of growing up. As to this

Did your relationship with this person ever improve, or did you eventually just learn to live with having negative feelings towards the person?

In my experience, no. We just kindof co-existed in the same social circle, politely, and that was pretty much that. (I eventually moved, so that's why I am using the past tense.) Every so often, I would feel jealous of my friends' relationship with this person -- or, more accurately, wonder why people I like seemed to like them when they were so obviously [insert your opinion of them here] -- but for the most part, I decided just not to give them a second thought, and basically limited interaction with them except larger group settings. They responded in kind. And that's okay. When people asked me if we hung out together, I said simply, "meh, I think we just aren't super compatible." People seemed to understand that.
posted by likeatoaster at 9:54 AM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

There are a whole bunch of people in my life who are like this for me. One of my friends and I refer to them as "part of the package," as in "I love B so much, but T totally rubs me the wrong way...but it's not like I can go to B's parties without seeing T. T's part of the package." It's no one who's toxic, or hurtful, they're just people I don't like, for whatever reason. Sometimes I'm not even really able to identify the reason. Sometimes I can see what my friends see in them, sometimes I can't.

I think a big part of coming to terms with those people was really getting comfortable with the fact that I'm "part of the package" for somebody else. Probably lots of somebodies. Even if I really wanted to try to be universally liked, it would pretty much be inevitable that I would rub someone the wrong way. So how would I want that person to treat me? (In my case, be kind if possible, polite if not, and limit our interactions to a level at which they find me tolerable. Generally, taking this approach to people I'm not crazy about works.)

Another thing that has helped me is cultivating a variety of social groups, so that I'm at least mixing up the variety of people who irk me, and not getting fixated on my issues with one particular person.

Sometimes, over time, I come to like them more. Sometimes, I come to at least appreciate them more. Sometimes, I dislike them more. It's difficult to predict, so I've learned to live with the emotions, try not to let them unduly affect my behavior, and see how things evolve.
posted by EvaDestruction at 10:40 AM on April 17, 2014 [7 favorites]

It's totally fine not to like someone. And she probably can tell that you don't, on some level. Just don't be childish and say snide things to her face (or behind her back.) Because obviously if these friends like this woman, you aren't going to change their minds, and it will do you no favors to try and get her ousted from the group. Besides if this is coming from a place of insecurity or jealousy, you might find yourself being ousted instead.
posted by egeanin at 11:02 AM on April 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

"Good People" (a term that utterly defies definition) also sometimes have hate crushes. There are certainly times where to be a truly "Good Person" means you don't always "treat someone well," say, because they broke a pretty major social rule (said some racist crap, cheated on your best friend, kicked a dog...). That being said, most people feel good when they do good. Manners count for a lot.

You don't always need some super logical reason to straight up dislike someone on a gut level. I really believe there is always a valid reason for the feelings. It probably has to do with the fact that they make you feel like shit, usually because they are some combo of awkward, you feel insecure/jealous around them (in my case I'm, among other things, jealous: Man, I wish I could get away with saying the catty mean stuff she says and still like myself and be respected in my group!), or they are socially undermining you. Give that last one some thought. @rogerrogerwhatsyourvectorvicto's great comment hit the nail exactly on the head here: ask yourself, is the reason they rub you the wrong way because they are actually being aggressive towards you? In my own case, yes; it's also the alpha woman bully who I hate on in my social group. (The good news? When others in our group came to me and said they feel the same way I secretly do.)

Anyway, the recipe for me eventually hating someone in a friend group is: 1) they violate people's boundaries, especially by sharing secrets of a sexual nature that others have told them in confidence, 2) they routinely try to publicly embarrass other people and gather ammunition for future gossip sessions, and 3) they brag about themselves. In my whole life, I've only known 2 people who have ever fit this description.

The other side of the coin - I've found out I've also been the one secretly hated on for being a boundary-crosser in an old, friend/acquaintance group back in my 20s, because one time I mentioned something medical/gross/sort of sexual (though not gossip) I had learned about to a group of women who were way more straight-laced than I am, clearly I just didn't know that at the time, and I completely misread their social cues. They were horrified, but I totally misread them as interested. Doh! I ran into a trio of them at a recent wedding and the outspoken one of them brought up my old remarks and the others blushed and looked away - obviously they still see me years later as "THAT woman who brought up THAT AWFUL SUBJECT in polite company." Now I cringe thinking about my social gaffe. I had no idea. So, we've all been there I suppose. Sometimes folks just misread the social cues.

or did you eventually just learn to live with having negative feelings towards the person?

My social strategy is avoidance, coupled with never trash talking her (even though I would have oh so much juicy stuff to say!). I'm also extremely cordial and well-mannered with her, like I would be with any semi-closer acquaintance really - when she had a death in the family I sent a note. Our mutual friends were glad I did, and I think my restraint and decent manners have earned me a bit of respect in my circle.

I do sometimes struggle with feelings of "Why can't any of my otherwise highly intelligent friends see what an asshat she is! Don't they know what she's saying about them behind their backs?" But then I remind myself, it's their journey. Eventually they'll wise up. Or not, but either way it is just not my problem. What is my problem, however, is how to behave, because I always want to be able to respect myself. I'm glad I decided it is not ok to gossip about the person I hate (it would only make me look bad and undermine the trust in my other friendships). It is not ok to divulge her over-shared secrets to the entire community. It is not ok to make our mutual friends feel awkward about us being in the same room together. Nobody likes to hear their good friends being smeared (in fact, that's exactly why I started hating the person). Nobody likes to be told they have shitty taste in friends. That's why I keep it on the down low. I try to take the high road, and so far it is working out ok for me.
posted by hush at 11:55 AM on April 17, 2014 [4 favorites]

Nothing at all wrong with not liking or even disliking someone. There are people I should, by all rights, get along well with, but for some reason, meh. Some of it may be below conscious thought - it's their smell, or some mannerism. Be polite and friendly because this person is part of your social circle. Work on not letting your feelings about the person take up space in your head or your feelings.
posted by theora55 at 2:34 PM on April 17, 2014

With age, I've also come to be much less (tons less) bothered, or for that matter, enamoured by any single person. I think nerves just tire out after a while. Sure, there are people that aren't my favourite, but I've learned to kind of take the good and ignore the rest. Even the theoretically irksome differences are kind of amusing if you step back and think about it.

However, this might also have something to do with the fact that I am not, as I have been in the past, stuck in a peach cube farm with that one chick, and my social network is fairly dispersed, so I don't see people often enough to get worked up. I think if there was someone I just took an instant chemical dislike to and had to see most weekends, I'd probably still get at least a little annoyed after a while. And I guess people in their 20s tend to hang out in denser groups (if I'm remembering things right).

Sounds like this one person just has a big old personality, you feel like they're sucking the air out of the room, they have some kind of sway, and you can't now relax and feel at ease around them. So, see the other friends one on one for a while so you can rebuild your connection to them in a natural way. And, be gracious or play it. And, make other friends to hang out with on alternate weekends.

(fwiw I have also found drama lamas grating in the past. Best solution is being pokaroo.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 2:42 PM on April 17, 2014

my favorite was just reminding myself, "eh, she's not Eichmann." (Sometimes I sub in Goebbels.)

This is exactly what worked for me yesterday.
posted by limeonaire at 3:55 PM on April 17, 2014

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