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  • January 17, 2018, 07:27:29 AM

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Author Topic: Aunt making unwanted personal comments  (Read 3348 times)

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DaDancingPsych

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Re: Aunt making unwanted personal comments
« Reply #15 on: January 11, 2018, 08:26:46 AM »
OP, you say that you like this aunt. To me, that says that she must be a reasonable and kind person (who happens to have bad habit.) I would just try to level with her. "Aunt, you may not realize that when you comment on my appearance that it bothers me so much that I am starting to dread your visits. I love your company and hate that I have these feelings. Can we agree to leave such discussions off the table?" A reasonable and kind person would try to be more sensitive to your feelings. If she is not that kind of person, then I think you learned something and would probably need to adopt other tactics.

gellchom

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Re: Aunt making unwanted personal comments
« Reply #16 on: January 11, 2018, 11:36:26 AM »
OP, you say that you like this aunt. To me, that says that she must be a reasonable and kind person (who happens to have bad habit.) I would just try to level with her. "Aunt, you may not realize that when you comment on my appearance that it bothers me so much that I am starting to dread your visits. I love your company and hate that I have these feelings. Can we agree to leave such discussions off the table?" A reasonable and kind person would try to be more sensitive to your feelings. If she is not that kind of person, then I think you learned something and would probably need to adopt other tactics.

This is pretty much what I was going to say, but you said it well.

OP, you say you love this aunt a lot.  And she evidently means well -- she thinks she is being helpful; she doesn't mean to be hurting your feelings (is that right?).  So I think it's doubly appropriate to do both:

- talk to her about it, because it affects your relationship, which she probably doesn't want any more than you do

- don't use sarcasm, snappy answers, walking away, etc.  Keep it gentle, loving, and respectful, as in DaDancingPsych's suggested wording.  And do it in private so as not to embarrass her.  After all, the goal isn't to school her about the "right" way to do things, prove how clever you are, smack her down, or hurt her back.  It's to (1) let her know how you feel when she does this (which apparently she doesn't), (2) tell her what you want, and (3) preserve your good relationship -- maybe even strengthen it, if you really pull it off well.  Note that these goals aren't about who is right and who is wrong or about how she needs to change -- just your feelings and needs, all in the context of mutual affection.  The old "'I' message" approach.

In my experience, staying on the same side by asking for help rather than making it a confrontation by accusing works much better.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2018, 11:40:18 AM by gellchom »

Chez Miriam

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Re: Aunt making unwanted personal comments
« Reply #17 on: January 11, 2018, 02:01:00 PM »
OP, you say that you like this aunt. To me, that says that she must be a reasonable and kind person (who happens to have bad habit.) I would just try to level with her. "Aunt, you may not realize that when you comment on my appearance that it bothers me so much that I am starting to dread your visits. I love your company and hate that I have these feelings. Can we agree to leave such discussions off the table?" A reasonable and kind person would try to be more sensitive to your feelings. If she is not that kind of person, then I think you learned something and would probably need to adopt other tactics.

This is pretty much what I was going to say, but you said it well.

OP, you say you love this aunt a lot.  And she evidently means well -- she thinks she is being helpful; she doesn't mean to be hurting your feelings (is that right?).  So I think it's doubly appropriate to do both:

- talk to her about it, because it affects your relationship, which she probably doesn't want any more than you do

- don't use sarcasm, snappy answers, walking away, etc.  Keep it gentle, loving, and respectful, as in DaDancingPsych's suggested wording.  And do it in private so as not to embarrass her.  After all, the goal isn't to school her about the "right" way to do things, prove how clever you are, smack her down, or hurt her back.  It's to (1) let her know how you feel when she does this (which apparently she doesn't), (2) tell her what you want, and (3) preserve your good relationship -- maybe even strengthen it, if you really pull it off well.  Note that these goals aren't about who is right and who is wrong or about how she needs to change -- just your feelings and needs, all in the context of mutual affection.  The old "'I' message" approach.

In my experience, staying on the same side by asking for help rather than making it a confrontation by accusing works much better.

I wish I had taken this approach...

I ended up almost completely avoiding one aunt because I couldn't take any more of her personal comments/questions.  It was only after her death that I realised I'd hardly seen her in years.  She was very kind-hearted, but I really didn't know how to deflect what felt to me incredibly intrusive nosiness.  Reading eHell has helped me so much, but I didn't think to post for advice before her Alzheimer's set in.

I hope you do manage to change her behaviour before it drives you to avoiding her completely.
"All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well."  - Julian of Norwich

malfoyfan13

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Re: Aunt making unwanted personal comments
« Reply #18 on: January 11, 2018, 03:20:04 PM »
I'm currently having the same type of problem with a relative and all the comments here are very helpful.  It's really hard when a person seems to think they're being "helpful" but you don't receive/experience it that way.  I was also raised with the idea that it's rude to comment on other people's appearance or habits and I often don't know how to respond when people do this to me.  My knee-jerk response is to tell them to *&^% off but if one is trying to preserve the relationship that doesn't really work!

gellchom

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Re: Aunt making unwanted personal comments
« Reply #19 on: January 11, 2018, 04:34:20 PM »
Well, you won’t be able to change their behavior completely, probably at the most just a little and just temporarily. But you will learn to let it roll off you, and having that conversation will help reduce it a little ... maybe.  Just be sure not to tell them they are being rude, just that it is bothering you.

For people that are just impossible, especially ones you see all the time, I can share the trick that I use. Before you see them, think of the thing they do that really annoys you. Then choose a really good reward that you are going to give yourself the next day if they do it, say, three times or five times or whatever. It doesn’t stop them from doing it, but then as you count each time they do it, in a way you kind of like it, because it gets you close to your reward! And then remember to really give yourself that treat.  It works for me. :-)

Mikayla

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Re: Aunt making unwanted personal comments
« Reply #20 on: January 11, 2018, 05:40:34 PM »
OP, you say that you like this aunt. To me, that says that she must be a reasonable and kind person (who happens to have bad habit.) I would just try to level with her. "Aunt, you may not realize that when you comment on my appearance that it bothers me so much that I am starting to dread your visits. I love your company and hate that I have these feelings. Can we agree to leave such discussions off the table?" A reasonable and kind person would try to be more sensitive to your feelings. If she is not that kind of person, then I think you learned something and would probably need to adopt other tactics.

This is pretty much what I was going to say, but you said it well.

OP, you say you love this aunt a lot.  And she evidently means well -- she thinks she is being helpful; she doesn't mean to be hurting your feelings (is that right?).  So I think it's doubly appropriate to do both:

- talk to her about it, because it affects your relationship, which she probably doesn't want any more than you do

- don't use sarcasm, snappy answers, walking away, etc.  Keep it gentle, loving, and respectful, as in DaDancingPsych's suggested wording.  And do it in private so as not to embarrass her.  After all, the goal isn't to school her about the "right" way to do things, prove how clever you are, smack her down, or hurt her back.  It's to (1) let her know how you feel when she does this (which apparently she doesn't), (2) tell her what you want, and (3) preserve your good relationship -- maybe even strengthen it, if you really pull it off well.  Note that these goals aren't about who is right and who is wrong or about how she needs to change -- just your feelings and needs, all in the context of mutual affection.  The old "'I' message" approach.

In my experience, staying on the same side by asking for help rather than making it a confrontation by accusing works much better.

Perfect.  I love some of the other suggestions, especially answering with a question, but not all efforts to change behavior are equal.  There's a big difference between the boorish and very rude nurse in your doc's office vs a loving and caring relative who merely needs redirection (assuming OP is reading it right).

Semperviren

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Re: Aunt making unwanted personal comments
« Reply #21 on: January 12, 2018, 09:54:10 AM »
One thing I've tried that sometimes works is saying, in a friendly and polite manner "You know, I'm kind of a private person about weight and diet and stuff; let's talk about something else."

Admittedly, it gets mixed results. Some people take the hint and back off respectfully. Others have a thicker hide and require something more direct.

gellchom

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Re: Aunt making unwanted personal comments
« Reply #22 on: January 12, 2018, 12:29:09 PM »
One thing I've tried that sometimes works is saying, in a friendly and polite manner "You know, I'm kind of a private person about weight and diet and stuff; let's talk about something else."

Admittedly, it gets mixed results. Some people take the hint and back off respectfully. Others have a thicker hide and require something more direct.

I really like that!  I'm going to remember it.

"Let's talk about something else" is really great -- even if "I'm kind of a private person about __" doesn't quite fit the bill, other things often will:

"Oh, we've been over that so many times, let's talk about ..."
"Ugh, talking about dieting is so boring, let's talk about ..."
"That's a story for another time.  Let's talk about ..."

"... something else" is good, but it might even be more effective if you can think of some specific topic (i.e., beandip), especially one that they love to talk about:

"... your mothball collection"
"... your trip last month"
"... how you learned to knit for hamsters"

GardenGal

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Re: Aunt making unwanted personal comments
« Reply #23 on: January 12, 2018, 07:44:21 PM »
A friend’s response to this is ‘why do you ask?’ Which puts the onus back on them.

My grandmother would ask nosy people, "Why do you need to know?"
"No matter where you go, there you are." Buckaroo Banzai

SamiHami

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  • No! Iz mai catnip! You no can haz! YOU NO CAN HAZ!
Re: Aunt making unwanted personal comments
« Reply #24 on: January 13, 2018, 08:05:44 PM »
Another possible approach might be to just not respond at all when she makes offensive comments. Just act as though she said nothing at all. If you don't react, she may stop making that type of comment.

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

VorFemme

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Re: Aunt making unwanted personal comments
« Reply #25 on: January 13, 2018, 08:41:24 PM »
I second the "why do you want to know that" question - my own background...

I have an aunt who is only five years older than I am. 

At five, I was willing to believe that she knew a whole lot more than I did and I listened to her.

At ten & even  fifteen, I was willing to listen to her, because she was enough older than I was that I believed she might know something that I didn't.

Sometime between 25 and 30, I quit believing that she knew enough more than I did that I wanted her to stop telling me everything, as if I were still ten years old and she was so much older & more experienced than I was. 

We're both considerably older by now and she still tries to talk to me as if five years is an insurmountable mountain of experience...I quit listening after menopause - except about the medical condition that we both share...that I still believe that she knows more than I do...since her specialist told her that she knew more about it than he did....about that one subject, at least.

But on pretty much everything else, I figure I've pretty much caught up to her experience - at least enough that I should be treated as another adult.  Which includes not answering nosy questions or letting her tell me what I need to do when I don't want to do *that*!
« Last Edit: January 13, 2018, 08:44:02 PM by VorFemme »
Let sleeping dragons be.......morning breath......need I explain?