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Author Topic: Dealing with overly-sensitive friends (genuine update post #86)  (Read 34616 times)

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Adelaide

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Re: Dealing with overly-sensitive friends
« Reply #75 on: March 26, 2012, 05:46:57 PM »
You hang out with her out of a sense of nostalgia and pity. She has trouble connecting with people. Little, petty things send her into a tailspin of anxiety, and her only defense is to push her anxieties off onto others and withdraw, further alienating her from the connection she wants.

I won't speak for the OP, but I think this is a bit unfair and conjecture at best.

I've had the same kind of friend, one with whom I've had a long history. I didn't hang around her because of pity. I did eventually pull away, and it did hurt. After all, we had been in each others' lives for a long time.

In my case, I came to the conclusion that the cons outweighed the pros. But I don't give up on friendships easily, and I don't think the OP does, either (an educated guess from reading the entire thread).

I agree with every part of the italicized except for the first sentence-like I said, those aren't the only reasons I hang out with her (she's smart/funny/amicable sometimes too)  but I am a bit worried about how she'll cope with the "real world". The rest of the italicized seems to be pretty spot-on. She seems to want to remain the same and rationalize "Well, you're being mean/rude to me and making me feel a certain way. You are always in the wrong because I feel slighted, so there is nothing wrong with me".

But yes, it's starting to be that the cons outweigh the pros. I don't give up on friendships easily and I would like to salvage this one or at least remain friendly when we inevitably see each other a few times a year in the future.

jaxsue

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Re: Dealing with overly-sensitive friends
« Reply #76 on: March 26, 2012, 05:54:54 PM »
You hang out with her out of a sense of nostalgia and pity. She has trouble connecting with people. Little, petty things send her into a tailspin of anxiety, and her only defense is to push her anxieties off onto others and withdraw, further alienating her from the connection she wants.

I won't speak for the OP, but I think this is a bit unfair and conjecture at best.

I've had the same kind of friend, one with whom I've had a long history. I didn't hang around her because of pity. I did eventually pull away, and it did hurt. After all, we had been in each others' lives for a long time.

In my case, I came to the conclusion that the cons outweighed the pros. But I don't give up on friendships easily, and I don't think the OP does, either (an educated guess from reading the entire thread).

I agree with every part of the italicized except for the first sentence-like I said, those aren't the only reasons I hang out with her (she's smart/funny/amicable sometimes too)  but I am a bit worried about how she'll cope with the "real world". The rest of the italicized seems to be pretty spot-on. She seems to want to remain the same and rationalize "Well, you're being mean/rude to me and making me feel a certain way. You are always in the wrong because I feel slighted, so there is nothing wrong with me".

But yes, it's starting to be that the cons outweigh the pros. I don't give up on friendships easily and I would like to salvage this one or at least remain friendly when we inevitably see each other a few times a year in the future.

OP, when you wrote that you and the other people had moved on but this friend was still in her world that made a lot of sense. It's not judging her, but it's a good description. I've had a few friends who remain, for some reason or another, in their limited world. It feels "odd" when you yourself have changed. I am still friendly with said people, but I don't travel with them. I take them in small doses. Because for them, to be with me for too long would make them far too uncomfortable.

FoxPaws

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Re: Dealing with overly-sensitive (Special Snowflake) friends (update #5)
« Reply #77 on: March 26, 2012, 06:17:11 PM »
  Ever hear "Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get me?"   Just because you're friend is oversensitive doesn't mean she is always the unreasonable one.   If she behaves rudely , I still think you can politely call her out....." I do not like it when you do that , please stop" you can end an evening if she gets pouty " Touchy you don't seem to be having fun let call it a night"  you can also  not push her once she expresses she is uncomfortable , I think you(group) went wrong in this case. She's uncomfortable about silly stuff but it doesn't matter that's it's silly , that she doesn't want to do some things is not rude (it might be a deal breaker for a friendship) pushing her past her comfortable level because you (group) think her feeling are silly is rude and bullyish behavior about this aspect she has a valid point.    I get it she's high maintenance , simple things area chore. You have to decided if her not doing the simple things is a deal breaker or not , try to effect a different reaction isn't going to happen.   
I think the first bolded is completely unreasonable. Why should three other people have to call it a night because a fourth has decided to continue sulking after getting an apology for a dubious slight that took place hours before?

As for the second bolded, pouting until you get what you want - be it your own way or everyone else's misery - is a form of bullying in and of itself.
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shhh its me

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Re: Dealing with overly-sensitive (Special Snowflake) friends (update #5)
« Reply #78 on: March 26, 2012, 06:28:52 PM »
  Ever hear "Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get me?"   Just because you're friend is oversensitive doesn't mean she is always the unreasonable one.   If she behaves rudely , I still think you can politely call her out....." I do not like it when you do that , please stop" you can end an evening if she gets pouty " Touchy you don't seem to be having fun let call it a night"  you can also  not push her once she expresses she is uncomfortable , I think you(group) went wrong in this case. She's uncomfortable about silly stuff but it doesn't matter that's it's silly , that she doesn't want to do some things is not rude (it might be a deal breaker for a friendship) pushing her past her comfortable level because you (group) think her feeling are silly is rude and bullyish behavior about this aspect she has a valid point.    I get it she's high maintenance , simple things area chore. You have to decided if her not doing the simple things is a deal breaker or not , try to effect a different reaction isn't going to happen.   
I think the first bolded is completely unreasonable. Why should three other people have to call it a night because a fourth has decided to continue sulking after getting an apology for a dubious slight that took place hours before?

As for the second bolded, pouting until you get what you want - be it your own way or everyone else's misery - is a form of bullying in and of itself.

Well if they are annoyed while ignoring her , don't want to leave her , and are going to include her and she doesn;t want to change?   that's the point OP can't will her friend into being a different person. It doesn't even matter if OP is right.   What OP can do is something other then what she has been doing.  ** Op has said trying to talk to her calmly blew up in their faces**

Adelaide

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Re: Dealing with overly-sensitive (Special Snowflake) friends (update #5)
« Reply #79 on: March 26, 2012, 06:36:38 PM »
  Ever hear "Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get me?"   Just because you're friend is oversensitive doesn't mean she is always the unreasonable one.   If she behaves rudely , I still think you can politely call her out....." I do not like it when you do that , please stop" you can end an evening if she gets pouty " Touchy you don't seem to be having fun let call it a night"  you can also  not push her once she expresses she is uncomfortable , I think you(group) went wrong in this case. She's uncomfortable about silly stuff but it doesn't matter that's it's silly , that she doesn't want to do some things is not rude (it might be a deal breaker for a friendship) pushing her past her comfortable level because you (group) think her feeling are silly is rude and bullyish behavior about this aspect she has a valid point.    I get it she's high maintenance , simple things area chore. You have to decided if her not doing the simple things is a deal breaker or not , try to effect a different reaction isn't going to happen.   
I think the first bolded is completely unreasonable. Why should three other people have to call it a night because a fourth has decided to continue sulking after getting an apology for a dubious slight that took place hours before?

As for the second bolded, pouting until you get what you want - be it your own way or everyone else's misery - is a form of bullying in and of itself.

I don't think that we're bullying her-by that logic, any time someone says "Here's a Reason I don't want to try New Thing" and a friend says "Oh come on, it'll be fun" or "Here's a logical reason why we could" would be considered bullying.  I don't know if she's bullying us either, but she is being very intentionally PA and trying to make things awkward for the whole group.

buvezdevin

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Re: Dealing with overly-sensitive friends
« Reply #80 on: March 26, 2012, 06:50:15 PM »
OP,  I know you have tried to speak with her before, and just want to suggest that if you do again, you consider which specific examples you may bring up.  You mentioned upthread something that gave me the impression you might apologize to her re the wine carrying.  If you do apologize, or discuss it again with her, perhaps you could point out that for the wine bag thing again, you and others were asking something of her, and, so, yes, her feelings should be a factor.

In a number of other cases, she is assuming or requiring something of others, carry my water, let me sleep on you etc. and not accepting a "no", but effectively insisting on getting her way lest she feel ... What, disappointed?  And see if there is any way to discuss why she wants others to be sensitive to her feelings, but doesn't reciprocate in kind.
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baglady

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Re: Dealing with overly-sensitive friends
« Reply #81 on: March 26, 2012, 07:12:21 PM »
First, let me say that I also have anxiety issues and so I can empathize with Touchy. I can totally imagine being her age and being very uncomfortable in the wine scenario. It isn't illegal, but maybe she was worried that someone might suspect illegal activity. A person barely of legal drinking age with *four* bottles of wine? She could be smuggling it in for underage friends! She might have been afraid someone would stop her and question her, which can be terrifying to someone with anxiety.

But it sounds as if what she's doing is beyond exhibiting little anxiety-related hangups. She's using her feelings as a weapon. I don't care if she's got anxiety, Asperger's or Australian rules asthma -- that's wrong, and she knows it's wrong. She keeps doing it because it keeps working. I did my share of this sort of thing when I was younger, and I'd like to think I've outgrown it.

My suggestion: Ease up on the friendship, and if she wants to know why, give it to her in writing. Use specifics and lots of "I" talk ("I feel X when you do Y"). Explain that she has a right to her feelings, but she has a responsibility to deal with them like an adult and not expect her friends to be her emotional caretakers, and until she's capable of doing that, you aren't going to be interested in spending a lot of time with her. It's called consequences, and it's time she got some.

JMO and YMMV, as always.
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Editeer

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Re: Dealing with overly-sensitive friends
« Reply #82 on: March 26, 2012, 08:09:22 PM »


My suggestion: Ease up on the friendship, and if she wants to know why, give it to her in writing. Use specifics and lots of "I" talk ("I feel X when you do Y"). Explain that she has a right to her feelings, but she has a responsibility to deal with them like an adult and not expect her friends to be her emotional caretakers, and until she's capable of doing that, you aren't going to be interested in spending a lot of time with her. It's called consequences, and it's time she got some.


Well said! Touchy is starting to get some life lessons. Lesson #1--grown-ups are responsible for their own feelings. Lesson #2--friends are not just there to be a convenience for you.

Touchy's problem isn't her sensitivity. It's her self-centeredness. She behaves as if she has feelings, but you and others (a) don't have feelings of your own, (b) are responsible for shielding her from anything in life that upsets her.

"Let me sleep on you" (followed by "you're mean to me")  is her treating you like you don't have feelings.
 
"Come with me to pay my bill" is wanting to be shielded from things normal adults do every day. At 22, it's no longer reasonable for her to expect this from her same-age friends. It's also going to really handicap her in life when she goes out to get a job, etc.

blarg314

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Re: Dealing with overly-sensitive friends
« Reply #83 on: March 26, 2012, 08:51:56 PM »
I'm wondering what would have happened in the reverse situation, if your friend has asked you to carry her wine bottle up to the hotel with you when you went and you said "No" and you had a nice, chilled bottle of wine to enjoy that evening while she drank warm, sitting in the car wine. I'm suspecting you would probably have gotten a similar sulky response for not considering her needs.

I've been thinking that there is a subset of the special snowflake that I think of as the 'delicate flower'.  They aren't trying to be difficult or demanding. They're just really, really sensitive/dependent/fragile and can't possibly mange to talk to strangers/eat at a restaurant they haven't chosen/hear a criticism of their favourite book/work with background noise/sit in the back seat etc.

This is different than simply having some odd quirks, or social issues, because what they don't do is openly acknowledge that they've got a particular quirk or issue, apologize for the inconvenience it causes, and do their best to find their own solutions or ways to mitigate the problems it causes for others (or be appropriately appreciative for help and accommodation). They expect that the rest of the world should re-arrange itself to accommodate them (because they can't help being so sensitive, after all, and they're suffering) and throw a very sensitive sulky fit when they don't get what they want, or people don't automatically know what they want and give it to them.

In the OP's case, I suspect that tactful conversations aren't going to be effective.  I think what I'd do is wait for a situation where she's pulling a sulky fit, and call her on it fairly bluntly  "Touchy, I told you that I can't do X. If you're going to sulk all afternoon, maybe we should get together another time."  It will very likely cause a scene, but it will also serve as notice that you're not going to ignore or indulge the sulky fits.  The other options are completely ignoring the whole thing, as in no apology, no questions if she's feeling okay, no cutting the evening short, you completely and convincingly act like everything is perfectly normal, and you're all having a great time, or, finally, to cut back on the time you spend with her, or restrict it to situations where a sulky fit isn't going to pull everyone else down (no overnight trips, for example, because you can't get away from her).

In the original case, Touchy didn't say no. What she did was give reasons why it wouldn't work - "I think it's illegal", "I'd be uncomfortable carrying it without something to cover it."  The problem was that what she meant was "No I don't want to" and was put out that you didn't understand that, and instead gave perfectly good solutions to per problems ("Carrying closed alcohol in public is perfectly legal." and "It's in a bag, and there's a cover here you can use.")

And even if she said no directly, I think that as her friend I'd be kind of put out if she were happy to carry up her own bottle of wine to have it nice and chilled, but wasn't willing to take up the others - a pretty minor and reasonable request.  She has the right to do that, of course, but it's not really the kind of attitude I look for in a friend. I'd be tempted to go ahead, park and walk back myself with the wine, which of course would mean that she wouldn't get dropped off at the door but would have to walk with the rest of us.
 

LifeOnPluto

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Re: Dealing with overly-sensitive friends
« Reply #84 on: March 26, 2012, 09:23:29 PM »


My suggestion: Ease up on the friendship, and if she wants to know why, give it to her in writing. Use specifics and lots of "I" talk ("I feel X when you do Y"). Explain that she has a right to her feelings, but she has a responsibility to deal with them like an adult and not expect her friends to be her emotional caretakers, and until she's capable of doing that, you aren't going to be interested in spending a lot of time with her. It's called consequences, and it's time she got some.


Well said! Touchy is starting to get some life lessons. Lesson #1--grown-ups are responsible for their own feelings. Lesson #2--friends are not just there to be a convenience for you.

Touchy's problem isn't her sensitivity. It's her self-centeredness. She behaves as if she has feelings, but you and others (a) don't have feelings of your own, (b) are responsible for shielding her from anything in life that upsets her.

"Let me sleep on you" (followed by "you're mean to me")  is her treating you like you don't have feelings.
 
"Come with me to pay my bill" is wanting to be shielded from things normal adults do every day. At 22, it's no longer reasonable for her to expect this from her same-age friends. It's also going to really handicap her in life when she goes out to get a job, etc.

The more I read the OP's updates, the more I believe that Touchy has some sort of social anxiety disorder. Her behaviour definitely ain't normal.

I do have some sympathy for her; however, I also agree with these two posts, especially the bolded. Her behaviour is affecting other people's peace and enjoyment of any given situation. If she does have an undiagnosed social disorder, the onus is on her to manage it properly, and not expect other people to walk on eggshells and cater to it.

I also think Blarg gave some good advice above. Next time Touchy sulks or pouts, I'd just cheerfully carry on as if everything was normal.

Adelaide

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Re: Dealing with overly-sensitive friends
« Reply #85 on: March 26, 2012, 09:40:21 PM »
I have an actual update! It doesn't deal with her "sensitivity" issues so much but it does touch on her "no one else has feelings but me" issue.

So I saw Touchy this evening in a clump of people, there were 5 of us total from high school. We were discussing going shopping at a local mall before dinner. Earlier in the day, I overheard Touchy say "I get really whiny and complain a lot when I'm hungry and my blood sugar's low" with a sigh and a laugh. No one commented, and neither did I, as I was farther away in a different section of the store. Later, as we were walking in the parking lot, Touchy said "Good, the restaurant isn't too far away. I won't have a chance to whine that much about being hungry before we eat".

I turned to her, and in an upbeat tone said "Well, we're all 22 here. No one expects you to whine about being hungry".

She just...stared at me. For a minute I thought that I had broken her.  The phrase "Does not compute" might as well have been scrolling across her forehead. She literally had no idea what to say. She wasn't mad and didn't pout, but it was like someone had pushed the "mute" button. So we continued walking and I don't really remember when the conversation resumed, but everything was normal after. And no, she didn't whine about being hungry. I just wish that I had a stock phrase for everything to get her to get that "REVELATION" look on her face that she'd had.  ::)

SamiHami

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Re: Dealing with overly-sensitive friends (genuine update post #86)
« Reply #86 on: March 26, 2012, 09:49:11 PM »
Bravo! Well done!

What have you got? Is it food? Is it for me? I want it whatever it is!

Lynn2000

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Re: Dealing with overly-sensitive friends (genuine update post #86)
« Reply #87 on: March 26, 2012, 11:22:39 PM »
I keep trying to say something in this thread, and I type and type and then in the end delete it because it's not coming out right. :) Bluntly, I get the impression she uses her ill temper to get what she wants from people--her initial issues may be real enough, but how many times has the OP said they didn't ask/talk to her further about something because she throws an even BIGGER fit if anyone makes a critical comment?

I personally don't think it's worth trying to "retrain" her. I think if you try, she's going to throw the biggest fit yet, and you'll have to hang on and ride it out, and tell her you aren't going to stop or go away until she addresses this issue. To me, that's way too much effort, and maybe not even something I ought to do for another adult, unless it was someone I was super close to like my mom or my sister.  :-\

There was this guy I used to work with, who was a decent guy at heart, but he had some issues that led to behaviors that pushed people away and covered up the good stuff. He was also super sensitive to any criticism or advice, no matter how delicately stated--he actually believed, as a life philosophy, that it was a sign of weakness to change your behaviors and beliefs over time. The rest of us often talked about trying to find this method or that phrase that would get through to him, but I finally came to the conclusion that nothing SMALL was going to do it--someone had to take on the commitment of giving him a "full body makeover," if you will, and who wants to (or even should?) do that? Instead we just slowly pulled away from him.  :-\
~Lynn2000

cicero

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Re: Dealing with overly-sensitive friends
« Reply #88 on: March 27, 2012, 05:02:34 AM »
following your update, i have a feeling that she will start to "get it".

I know people like Touchy. in fact, my current officemate is very much like that - and since i work in a very tiny organization, and we work together, we "have to " get along and it isn't easy. like touchy, she is very aware of others being annoying or whatnot, but is oblivious to her own annoyances (or doesn't care ). examples - when i asked her to stop popping her gum she said "oh, i know it's really annoying" and she *still* does it every now and then "until she finishes up the box". or she complained that another co worker is always sniffing (like runny nose) and that's so annoyiung - and forgets that she very loudly yawns and/or burps every.five.seconds (she always says "excuse me" like that makes it ok). and she can be very PA as well...

I think what you said to her was what she needed to hear. i think that the only way that a PA/touchy person can "get it" is if people stop catering to her whining and stop walking on eggshells. this doesn't mean to be rude - but you weren't rude.


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Fleur-de-Lis

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Re: Dealing with overly-sensitive friends (genuine update post #86)
« Reply #89 on: March 27, 2012, 08:21:10 AM »
Who needs to be told that there is no need to whine between leaving for dinner and arriving at the restaurant? Seriously? She actually said, "Oh, good, I won't have much time to whine?"

?????

Touchy doesn't just have issues; she has a subscription.  Sheesh. 
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