Author Topic: Maybe you're right but...  (Read 7721 times)

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peach2play

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Maybe you're right but...
« on: January 31, 2012, 05:29:58 PM »
My best friend, Brett, has not had the best year emotionally.  His MO has been to get completely wrapped up in a relationship emotionally unavailable women to the point that he ignores almost everything else around him, then be absolutely crushed when it doesn't work out.  He's been very down in the dumps for most of last year and it's to the point that very few of his friends will hang out with him anymore because he's always sad and refuses to pull himself out of it when at parties and gatherings. 

The issue that spawned this thread happened most recently this weekend, but happens quite a bit.  People who don't hang out with Brett a lot will see him and see that he's down in the dumps so they'll ask what's wrong.  He'll mumble, "Oh...nothing." while looking like someone kicked his puppy.  Well, at that point people become really curious and will automatically turn to me and ask what's wrong with Brett.  Sometimes I know, but here recently, I have stepped back from the emotional roller coaster that is Brett and I no longer know why he's upset at this particular moment.  I've tried just about everything to get the focus off of me, but the thing that seems to work the most is deflection, ie "Oh Brett had a mustache accident this morning and is still in mourning for his whiskers, but he'll be ok."  Usually then I'm able to bean dip.  Sometimes people won't let it go and then I just direct them to Brett who keeps non-answering and they keep coming back to me.  It gets really old. 

On the way home from dinner on Sunday, he suddenly turned to me and said, "You don't need to come up with reasons why I'm upset.  I can take care of it myself and I don't really appreciate that you do that.  You do it all the time, why do you do that? It drives me nuts."  He was pretty upset about it.  I barely choked down the four letter answer that popped into my head and answered that I did it as a deflection technique to get the focus off of me and move on to something else.  He asked that I just point people his way and leave it at that.  I apologized for the behavior upsetting him and he magnanimously /sarcasm forgave me. 

I'm extremely hurt by this.  He's the one that puts me in that position and instead of stepping in and putting a stop to the questions, leaves me to hang, then gets mad at me when I deal with it as best as I can.  I'm trying to come up with a polite email that gets across that I don't appreciate being lambasted for a situation he put me in.
1)  Am I being rude?
2)  How do I approach this with him?

lellah

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Re: Maybe you're right but...
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2012, 05:39:15 PM »
I think it's not your job to be anyone's emotional spokesperson, even if they're not answering questions put to them. 

If someone asks you what's wrong with someone there's nothing at all wrong with saying "you'll have to ask Brett, Marcia."  In fact, it's preferable to respond like that.  A more specific answer could be fairly called gossipy.  Jokes like you describe may make your friend feel as if you're minimizing his feelings. 

I feel like Brett's right here, and you owe him an apology.  While you're at it, maybe ask him if he's thought about talking to a professional about "being down in the dumps for more than a year."  That sounds less like drama and more like depression, especially if it's reached levels that alienate him from his relationships.

SamiHami

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Re: Maybe you're right but...
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2012, 05:45:13 PM »
"Oh, you know Brett. That's just the way it is."

"I'm sure I wouldn't know why Brett is upset; you'll have to ask him yourself if you're curious. Oh, he won't tell you? Well, I guess we'll never know, then."

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Surianne

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Re: Maybe you're right but...
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2012, 05:50:11 PM »
I think Brett's request was quite fair and I can see why this bothers him.  To me it seems quite rude and infantilizing for people to turn to you and ask what's wrong with him.  You answering enables that rudeness. 

If someone asks you what's wrong with him, direct it back to him.  "I don't know, ask him" or "He just said he didn't want to tell you" or "He's standing right here" or anything at all would be better than indicating the other person is correct to ask you by giving them an answer -- even a joking one.

I hope that didn't come across as hard on you.  I know you mean well here, and I did love your joke response about the mustache.  But if I were in Brett's shoes I'd make the same request of you and I'd hope you would respect it from now on.  He probably should have brought this up a while ago, but he was likely worried about offending you -- which unfortunately is exactly what happened. 

Edit: 100% in agreement with Lellah.  I agree, apologizing to Brett is the best move here, and I think if he seems receptive, the suggestion about seeing a professional is a good one.  He may not be willing to hear that right now, since he's upset about this issue, but potentially in the future.

WillyNilly

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Re: Maybe you're right but...
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2012, 05:50:57 PM »
I think you need to tell him "no you don't handle it.  You give non-answers.  I don't want people to ask me whats wrong with you, its not my business, not my place and quite frankly its no fun for me.  But if you refuse to give answers and come out all depressed yes people are going to ask the people around you."

And next time it happens that someone asks you why he's depressed say "I don't know you need to ask him" and if they say they did and he wouldn't say just look them straight in the eye and say "he didn't tell me either."  (Because if you aren't asking I presume he hasn't specifically told you.  If he has told you and you just don't want to say then try "well I'm sure if he wanted you to know he would have told you, its not my place to say" and then beandip.)

Quite frankly people are being rude to you by asking about him all the time.  Its ok to point out "it'd be nice if you asked me about me and Brett about Brett."

In the meantime consider helping him find professional help.  One of the worst parts about depression is its easy to stay depressed but very very difficult to take the steps to get help.  Finding someone your insurance takes, making and appointment, getting to the appointment, etc all seem like HUGE uphill battles.  Having someone help with that can make a huge difference.

peach2play

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Re: Maybe you're right but...
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2012, 06:06:13 PM »
@lellah - In a way, I am trying to minimize his feelings.  He's been FEELING for over a year now and refusing to get any help for what's going on in his life.  I'm tired of his FEELINGS being more important than mine.  I'm exhausted, dealing with a house mate who's been extremely difficult and working 60 hours a week.  If we try and talk about what's going on in my life, he minimizes my feelings because he doesn't like negative emotions and he'll change the subject.  I don't like to dwell so I'll just move on.  If I do the same, we'll be back to how hurt or upset or whatever he is with in 5 min. 

I think you need to tell him "no you don't handle it.  You give non-answers.  I don't want people to ask me whats wrong with you, its not my business, not my place and quite frankly its no fun for me.  But if you refuse to give answers and come out all depressed yes people are going to ask the people around you."
 

I think I will use this in the future and I really appreciate the wording.  You said what I've been trying to come up with this whole time.

And next time it happens that someone asks you why he's depressed say "I don't know you need to ask him" and if they say they did and he wouldn't say just look them straight in the eye and say "he didn't tell me either."  (Because if you aren't asking I presume he hasn't specifically told you.  If he has told you and you just don't want to say then try "well I'm sure if he wanted you to know he would have told you, its not my place to say" and then beandip.)

I have said this exact thing.  I kept count one time and I repeated, "No, I don't know what's wrong, he didn't tell me." 7 times before he finally put his phone away and gave some answer.  The jokes come because I'm at the end of my rope and didn't really have words.  Now I do thanks to you guys :-)

In the meantime consider helping him find professional help.  One of the worst parts about depression is its easy to stay depressed but very very difficult to take the steps to get help.  Finding someone your insurance takes, making and appointment, getting to the appointment, etc all seem like HUGE uphill battles.  Having someone help with that can make a huge difference.
  I have tried.  I've offered to look it up for him.  I've offered to ask for referrals from my therapist. I've offered to make the appointment.  All have been met with some excuse or other.  It's been over a year now and I don't have it left in me to keep trying.

Surianne

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Re: Maybe you're right but...
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2012, 06:06:54 PM »
I think you need to tell him "no you don't handle it.  You give non-answers.  I don't want people to ask me whats wrong with you, its not my business, not my place and quite frankly its no fun for me.  But if you refuse to give answers and come out all depressed yes people are going to ask the people around you."

I completely agree with the rest of your post, but I think this wording might be a little harsh.  Brett *is* handling it, just not in a way the OP or their friends seem to like.  No one is actually entitled to information about his life if he isn't willing to give it, you know?  I think you and I might be on the same page there.  But if I were Brett, I'd hear your suggested words as the OP trying to justify responding because Brett *should* be responding, and I'm not sure if that's what you meant. 

bah12

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Re: Maybe you're right but...
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2012, 06:07:21 PM »
Well, I guess I don't understand why people automatically ask you in the first place.  I mean, I've had people come up to me in the past to ask me if I know what's bothering my Best Friend, but all the time?

Honestly, I'm on Brett's side.  When someone asks you what's wrong with Brett, tell them they need to ask him.  If he gives a non-answer, then that's the answer.  He obviously doesn't want to share. They aren't entitled to know what's wrong with him.  No matter how concerned they may be.

As for Brett, since he's your best friend then suggest that instead of saying "nothing" he instead says "I don't want to talk about it".  But he needs to mean it.  There are few things more annoying than someone insisting that nothing's wrong but continuing to act like like the world is ending.  If Brett doesn't want the attention on his downer mood, then he needs to be up front about it.  But, even if he isn't forthright, I don't think you should answer for him...those "friends" shouldn't be asking you to begin with.

Surianne

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Re: Maybe you're right but...
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2012, 06:09:47 PM »
I have said this exact thing.  I kept count one time and I repeated, "No, I don't know what's wrong, he didn't tell me." 7 times before he finally put his phone away and gave some answer.

I think it's important to note here that the person being rude here is the person asking 7 times, not Brett.  Brett has the right to refuse to answer a personal question if he so chooses. 

Well, I guess I don't understand why people automatically ask you in the first place.  I mean, I've had people come up to me in the past to ask me if I know what's bothering my Best Friend, but all the time?

Honestly, I'm on Brett's side.  When someone asks you what's wrong with Brett, tell them they need to ask him.  If he gives a non-answer, then that's the answer.  He obviously doesn't want to share. They aren't entitled to know what's wrong with him.  No matter how concerned they may be.

As for Brett, since he's your best friend then suggest that instead of saying "nothing" he instead says "I don't want to talk about it".  But he needs to mean it.  There are few things more annoying than someone insisting that nothing's wrong but continuing to act like like the world is ending.  If Brett doesn't want the attention on his downer mood, then he needs to be up front about it.  But, even if he isn't forthright, I don't think you should answer for him...those "friends" shouldn't be asking you to begin with.

I agree, well said and great advice.

bah12

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Re: Maybe you're right but...
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2012, 06:14:21 PM »
I have said this exact thing.  I kept count one time and I repeated, "No, I don't know what's wrong, he didn't tell me." 7 times before he finally put his phone away and gave some answer.

I think it's important to note here that the person being rude here is the person asking 7 times, not Brett.  Brett has the right to refuse to answer a personal question if he so chooses. 


This exactly.  The person that is asking over and over again is the rude one.  Brett doesn't have to share and when he doesn't, they need to accept it.  Asking you and him over and over again is what is rude.

lellah

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Re: Maybe you're right but...
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2012, 06:17:24 PM »
@lellah - In a way, I am trying to minimize his feelings.  He's been FEELING for over a year now and refusing to get any help for what's going on in his life. 

That's just not cool.  I'm sorry your housemate is emotionally difficult.  You're justified in pulling back from him and seeking friendship elsewhere.  But downplaying other people's emotion, especially when they clearly have a problem, is not a way to act.

SamiHami

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Re: Maybe you're right but...
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2012, 06:33:46 PM »
While I agree that Brett doesn't have to share his personal info, I do think that going to a social gathering and acting mopey yet refusing all attempts from concerned friends to discuss or offer comfort screams drama queen to me.

And as for the person who asked OP 7 times what was wrong? I think after the 3rd time I'd have to say, "Look, that is the third time you have asked me for personal information about someone else. Don't do it again."

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Surianne

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Re: Maybe you're right but...
« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2012, 06:37:24 PM »
While I agree that Brett doesn't have to share his personal info, I do think that going to a social gathering and acting mopey yet refusing all attempts from concerned friends to discuss or offer comfort screams drama queen to me.

To me that actually seems like the opposite of a drama queen.  It's possible he's hurting and trying his darndest *not* to involve other people.  I've been there before...when you're really, really down and you try to go out and have fun, sometimes it just doesn't work, unfortunately.  I think there's a huge difference between being depressed and being a deliberate drama queen.  I can't say for sure about Brett, of course (I don't even know him) but throwing around terms like "drama queen" really bothers me in a thread like this.

Quote
And as for the person who asked OP 7 times what was wrong? I think after the 3rd time I'd have to say, "Look, that is the third time you have asked me for personal information about someone else. Don't do it again."

Now that part I can wholeheartedly agree with!  ;D   I like this phrasing a lot.  Blunt, but not rude.

peach2play

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Re: Maybe you're right but...
« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2012, 07:11:22 PM »
If it happened on occassion, I think i'd be better at handling it but every function we've been to in the last 6 months has seen brett sitting in the corner moping. People will ask what's wrong, he'll give a non answer, they'll ask me, then they'll ask him again and he'll spend the next couple of hours going over and over and over what the latest drama in his life is.  Totally understandable when in a small gathering of friends and you need support but this is every function including almost strangers and club functions. They've even nicknamed it, "The Days of Our Bob"  at club functions.

I am planning on apologizing to him again and dropping it with him. Then I will limit my time with him again until I build up more of a reserve to deal.

bah12

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Re: Maybe you're right but...
« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2012, 07:19:53 PM »
If it happened on occassion, I think i'd be better at handling it but every function we've been to in the last 6 months has seen brett sitting in the corner moping. People will ask what's wrong, he'll give a non answer, they'll ask me, then they'll ask him again and he'll spend the next couple of hours going over and over and over what the latest drama in his life is.  Totally understandable when in a small gathering of friends and you need support but this is every function including almost strangers and club functions. They've even nicknamed it, "The Days of Our Bob"  at club functions.

I am planning on apologizing to him again and dropping it with him. Then I will limit my time with him again until I build up more of a reserve to deal.

This isn't your problem and you shouldn't let anyone make it your problem.  If Brett wants to go out and mope in a corner, that's his business.  Anyone who wants to know what his deal is needs to take it up with him and him alone.  Tell your friends that you don't answer for Brett.  If his friends all step back...that's Brett's problem.
You've tried to talk to him about ways for getting out of his funk.  He's choosing not to listen.  Again, Brett's problem.  Anyone who can't stand not knowing what's wrong...their problem.  None of it is your problem.
Limiting time with him is wise.