I went over to a friend’s house recently to watch a movie, and another one of our mutual friends was there. Whenever I see them, he likes to make racist and derogatory remarks to irritate me. I try to ignore him, but part way through the movie he even stage whispered to my friend, “I don’t really think this shit, I just do it to get a rise out of her.”
How do I deal with this?
- Pissed Moviegoer
This guy is a special breed of asshole of the “any attention is good attention” variety. Most people leave that attitude behind in adolescence. It takes some longer than others.
It may be tempting to argue or criticize or get angry, but anything you do is giving him the attention he’s seeking. There’s only one action you can take here that doesn’t reinforce his behavior: leave.
Don’t get angry. Don’t make a scene. Just stand up, tell your non-asshole friend, “sorry, I’m not going to put up with this tonight” and walk out. Don’t be convinced to stay – if one or both of them tries to convince you not to leave, apologize again, let them know you’ll hang out next time, and excuse yourself.
This will take you out of the situation, remove the “reward” from your asshole friend’s behavior (your attention) and get your non-asshole friend to notice that something serious is going on here. When it’s him (and not you) who puts your asshole friend in his place after you’re gone, your asshole friend is much more likely to internalize what happened and refrain from it in the future.
Yeah, it sucks for you that movie night got rained on, but that’s what Netflix is for. It’ll be well worth it when the movie nights in the future are more peaceful.
A couple weeks ago my friend and I got in an argument and she's ignoring me. I've reached out to her, she's read my messages, and she's ignored them. A while back I bought us both concert tickets and the concert is fast approaching. Would it be wrong if I told her I'm taking someone else?
It takes two people to maintain a friendship. If your friend doesn’t want to do that, it may be wise to cut off that friendship. You bought the tickets; you can take whoever you like.
But let’s assume you do want to maintain the friendship. Everyone argues sometimes, and some people need a cooling off period. If you pull the concert tickets after you offered them, it may escalate the argument. Instead, give your friend some options, and follow through on them, so that whatever happens is a consequence of her actions.
In this case, let your friend know you’d still like to take her to the concert. Ask her if she wants to come, and let her know that if she doesn’t get back to you by a certain date (give her a few days to think it over, if you can), you’ll assume she doesn’t want to come, and ask someone else.
One way or another, you’ll get your answer, and be able to respect your friend’s clear desire for some space at the same time.
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That's all for this week! If there's a question you want answered by The Unlikely Advisor, leave it in the comments, find me on Twitter (@isaacjourden) or Facebook, or send an e-mail to email@example.com.