Author Topic: How to deal with socially inept friend? (rather long)  (Read 5000 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

lily_swanne

  • Guest
How to deal with socially inept friend? (rather long)
« on: February 07, 2007, 11:54:51 AM »
Hi all, I've enjoyed reading the forum for some time - I posted on the old one, albeit very shortly and some time ago, so you probably won't remember me anyway. :)

I have a problem which I'd love your opinions on - it's come to annoy me a great deal!

I have a friend - let's call her Jane. We live just one block apart, and met coincidentally at another function, and hit it off. She's great fun, and is a very friendly person who enjoys many of the same activities that I do. We discovered that we live so close, and since then we've met up about once a month for a walk, a movie or something.

The problem is, she is very, very socially inept. She's 31, but she seems much younger in person because she acts so immature about a lot of things. I am 25, and I feel like I have ten years on her, experience-wise. She doesn't know how to do her taxes, asks me about advice on her laundry, her love life (or lack thereof - she's never dated or kissed anyone) and everything in between. This I don't mind so much.

What I mind is that I always, with no exception, do the hosting when we do things together.
Now, I've been to her apartment exactly once - I stopped by with a birthday gift (and had called ahead to ask if she was home and whether it was ok), and I swear, she is not just messy - she lives in a squalor. I can't even begin to describe how dirty and messy her place was!
Okay, fine, so we do stuff at my place instead. She's never invited me over, before or since (and it's not like I was staring in horror - I really tried not to let my emotions show), and it seems to be a quiet understanding that when we plan things, it's at my place.

I'm married, and all three of us are students. So none of us have much money - but of course, it's more expensive in some respects to live as a single than as a couple.
What bothers me is that she has not once offered to cook, bring groceries, pay for movie rentals etc. It seems like she just accepts that I always do the hosting. She never brings a hostess gift - which I wouldn't expect for such informal "dates", but considering we've payed for and cooked her dinner at least 20 times, and she hasn't treates us once... last week, we went to Blockbuster to rent a movie. We selected one, she took it from the shelf, so I thought 'hey, nice, she's paying' - except when we got to the counter, she just handed it to me. And I paid. I couldn't think of an etiquettely (heh, sp?) way to suggest she paid it.
I also can't think of a way to suggest that she brings something over just once in a while. Granted, it's not like I serve prime rib and a 5 course meal, but an extra person is still an expense - and she has a healthy appetite, and eats literally more than hubby and I put together.
She's never even offered to help with the dishes - not that I'd accept it, I think, because her definition of hygiene is different from mine - but still, it'd be nice with the offer!
She once brought over coffee - hubby and I are both tea drinkers and don't drink coffee, and she knows this. She announced that she'd brought the coffee for herself, 'because I felt like it'. She drinks tea as well as coffee. Fair enough - I was just brought up with not to bring something and not share.

I once suggested she bring some snacks of her liking for a movie watching - I told her I'd bought some rice crackers and some fruit, but if she had other ideas, she could bring some. So she brought cookies - which she didn't share. (She kept the bag in her lap all through the movie, and didn't pass it around.)

Meh, there's more to it, but I think this post is long enough as it is! I don't want to end the friendship over something so "trivial" as who pays for food - but hubby is really getting on my case about it (she's "my" friend more than a mutual friend). When I say she is socially inept, I don't mean just because of the above - there are many ways in which she is very immature and clueless about social situations. I think this is spurred by ignorance, not malice - which actually makes it harder.

Any suggestions? Thanks in advance for the help - you all give great advice!

Edited because I can't type!
« Last Edit: February 07, 2007, 12:02:28 PM by lily_swanne »

Sophia

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 11756
  • xi
Re: How to deal with socially inept friend? (rather long)
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2007, 12:16:42 PM »
I have a few socially inept friends.  Does she know she is socially inept?  It sounds like she does know this, and was just raised by wolves so she doesn't know the right thing to do.  If that is the case, I would have a sit-down with her and be straight.  Emphasize that you know she has a kind heart, and doesn't really mean the way her actions come off.  But, that friends are expected to alternate hostess duties.  Since she obviously doesn't feel comfortable hosting at her place, she can host you at your house.  Otherwise, you will start to feel taken advantage of. 

T'Mar of Vulcan

  • the lost city of Atlantis, the planet Tencton and the moon Pandora!
  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6110
  • Star Trek will always rule
    • The Flag Waver
Re: How to deal with socially inept friend? (rather long)
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2007, 12:46:00 PM »
It sounds to me like she's not really a "friend" at all - she's sponging off you. She knows you'll always pay for movies, lay on dinner and snacks, etc. You must decide if you want to keep being taken advantage of in this way or not.

But, as someone who is extremely socially inept, she honestly might just be clueless. I've been clueless about many aspects of social interaction for years, to the point where I started to wonder if I didn't have Asperger's or something. (I think it was just so traumatized by high school and the abuse I suffered there that I closed myself off for many years.) One thing I do share with people with Asperger's is, I have to be TOLD how to act in certain situations; I don't pick up the behaviour naturally.

My point is, sometimes the only thing that will wake a socially inept person up is a clue-by-four. In most cases it would be considered rude, but if your friend is as socially inept as you say, you'd be doing her a favour by pointing out how to act in social situations: that you share what you bring, that you offer to do dishes, pay or host. She probably has no clue that she's annoying you by NOT sharing, etc. So tell her. In the long run you're helping her be etiquelly (? is that a word?) correct.

Edited to add: what are some other socially inept things that she does? It might give us a clearer picture.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2007, 12:48:40 PM by T'Mar of Vulcan »


The only Vulcan from South Africa! :)

ShadesOfGrey

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 12682
Re: How to deal with socially inept friend? (rather long)
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2007, 01:15:39 PM »
How well do you know her? a couple factors you mentioned make me think possible mental illness...
Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning. - Maya Angelou

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. - Maya Angelou

BatCity

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1369
    • Duct Tape and Chicken Wire
Re: How to deal with socially inept friend? (rather long)
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2007, 01:26:05 PM »
Just assuming for a moment that mental illness is not a factor:

It's not a question of paying for food and movie rentals, it's a matter of reciprocity.  It's fine if only one person does all the hosting as long as both of you agree to whatever arrangement you come up with.

The question is, can you come up with a mutual arrangement?

Let's say you approach her and tell her frankly what you posted on this forum.  You enjoy her company, but money is tight and you'd like to have her help pay for whatever...movie rentals, dinner, snacks, etc. 

If she's contrite and admits she had no idea this was a problem and agrees to contribute more, then great...you've encountered a conflict, dealt with it and your friendship may be stronger as a result.  Otherwise, one of two things will happen: either she gets mad and never speaks to you again, or she will continue to act the way she does now, you will put up with it for a while (because you're nice) and eventually get sick of it and stop associating with her.  Either way, you're okay, because she wasn't a friend to begin with.

I have a story about how this happened to me years ago, but I'll put it in another thread so I don't hijack this one.

Lara

Virg

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 5880
Re: How to deal with socially inept friend? (rather long)
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2007, 04:58:13 PM »
Just a side note: "etiquettely" isn't a word.  Go with "polite" in adjective form, and "politely" in adverb form.

So, "I couldn't think of an etiquettely (heh, sp?) way to suggest she paid it." would become "I couldn't think of [a polite] way to suggest she paid it."

I know, it's the editor talking.

Virg

kathrynne

  • Guest
Re: How to deal with socially inept friend? (rather long)
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2007, 07:00:24 PM »
It sounds to me like she's not really a "friend" at all - she's sponging off you. She knows you'll always pay for movies, lay on dinner and snacks, etc. You must decide if you want to keep being taken advantage of in this way or not.

But, as someone who is extremely socially inept, she honestly might just be clueless. I've been clueless about many aspects of social interaction for years, to the point where I started to wonder if I didn't have Asperger's or something. (I think it was just so traumatized by high school and the abuse I suffered there that I closed myself off for many years.) One thing I do share with people with Asperger's is, I have to be TOLD how to act in certain situations; I don't pick up the behaviour naturally.
I could have written this.

I overcompensate, though, both by coming off sometimes as obnoxiously outgoing and by paying for stuff probably more often than I should. I'm sometimes just so thrilled that someone would be willing to spend time with me that I'll do anything I can to extend it.

blue2000

  • It is never too late to be what you might have been
  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6803
  • Two kitties - No waiting. And no sleeping either.
Re: How to deal with socially inept friend? (rather long)
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2007, 09:28:22 PM »
When you arrange these occasions, can you tell her to bring something, do something, etc.?

For example, if you want a movie night, ask her to bring a movie with her when she comes over. Ask her to help you with the dishes after dinner. Tell her you are making some dip for movie night, and she should pick up a few bags of chips to go with it.

Just generally treat it like you were dealing with a teenager who won't think to do something unless you tell them. If she balks at paying or sharing when you specifically suggest it, you know she's just trying to sponge off you. If she agrees, and starts hesitantly asking about other things she can do, you know she's just clueless, and she might improve.
Either way, good luck!
You are only young once. After that you have to think up some other excuse.

lily_swanne

  • Guest
Re: How to deal with socially inept friend? (rather long)
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2007, 03:24:10 AM »
Thank you for your replies. I'll adress a couple of the questions you've raised:

No, she is not in any way mentally ill - that would be rather stretching it from "socially inept". :)

I sincerely doubt she's taking advantage of me - I'm 99 % sure that she is just very, very clueless about these things. She did have a rather weird family growing up (she told me this, I've only known her for a couple of years), and she has admitted to me that she lacks knowledge about a lot of things - hence asking me about laundry and taxes etc.

Someone asked for other examples - for instance, if I have invited her along with other people, she kinda "clings" to me. She can strike up conversations with others, and she isn't shy (she said this herself), but she only joins in my conversations and kinda follows me around.
She also talks a lot - I mean, seriously, she doesn't breathe, and she can jump from subject to subject so noone can follow the conversation. I've noticed it tends to wear people off talking to her. Sometimes when she's over, she'll talk and talk and ignore my discreet yawns and looks and the watch etc. Even if I say "well, I think it's time for bed", she'll say "oh, okay" and then chat on - argh! :) She'll also talk about any topic in any social setting - sometimes she gives out way TMI, and once, when some of my family were also present, she started this huge rant about how stupid (and she used less nice words) Bush and his government is, and how she understood why the muslims decided to do terror actions. (I'm not trying to start a political debate! I just mention it because I thought it was so ill-timed to bring up at a birthday, you know?)

I've thought about doing the direct approach and tell her to bring X when she comes over, but I just think it's so condescending. :( I'm her friend and equal, not her mother - I don't want to tell other adults how to behave.

lady_disdain

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 5839
    • Contemporary Jewelry
Re: How to deal with socially inept friend? (rather long)
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2007, 05:45:44 AM »
once, when some of my family were also present, she started this huge rant about how stupid (and she used less nice words) Bush and his government is, and how she understood why the muslims decided to do terror actions. (I'm not trying to start a political debate! I just mention it because I thought it was so ill-timed to bring up at a birthday, you know?)


My family rather likes a good political discussion, in any family setting (including birthdays and Christmas), but everyone involved is expected to be civilized about it. So no calling names and listening is mandatory.

Quote
I've thought about doing the direct approach and tell her to bring X when she comes over, but I just think it's so condescending. :( I'm her friend and equal, not her mother - I don't want to tell other adults how to behave.

I can understand your point, at the same time, it seems to me that you are the person she is closest to. So, if you don't point a few things out, no one ever will, most likely. Just as a friend would point out the toilet paper stuck to your shoe, perhaps a few hints... Don't "adopt her" as a charity case, though!

ShadesOfGrey

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 12682
Re: How to deal with socially inept friend? (rather long)
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2007, 08:02:30 AM »
The problem is, she is very, very socially inept. She's 31, but she seems much younger in person because she acts so immature about a lot of things.

What I mind is that I always, with no exception, do the hosting when we do things together.
Now, I've been to her apartment exactly once -and I swear, she is not just messy - she lives in a squalor. I can't even begin to describe how dirty and messy her place was!
and it seems to be a quiet understanding that when we plan things, it's at my place.

She's never even offered to help with the dishes - not that I'd accept it, I think, because her definition of hygiene is different from mine - but still, it'd be nice with the offer!
She once brought over coffee - hubby and I are both tea drinkers and don't drink coffee, and she knows this. She announced that she'd brought the coffee for herself, 'because I felt like it'. She drinks tea as well as coffee. Fair enough - I was just brought up with not to bring something and not share.

there are many ways in which she is very immature and clueless about social situations. I think this is spurred by ignorance, not malice - which actually makes it harder.

Any suggestions? Thanks in advance for the help - you all give great advice!

lily_swane - these are all signs of [various] mental illness, fyi.  They are also signs of other things, and I am glad that you have ruled out mentail illness on her part, but sometimes, socially ineptness is a symptom of a larger cause.  Based on your subsequent post, I would say there are still more signs of mental illness (talking alot, not knowing what is appropriate, etc).  Of course, it is difficult to say without knowing how all these factors interact with each other.  Of course, she could just be VERY socially inept, but I did want to bring out the possibility for you to consider, since not all mental illnesses are immediately discernable. 

I dont think that there is anything wrong with asking her to bring something to your house when you are hosting - it's quite common in many circles among friends, especially if mentioned the way that blue2000 suggested. 

Alternatively, you could be direct: Hey Friend, I'd love to get together, but my budget is a bit strained this week- would you mind picking up the movie tonigh?

OR: Hey Friend, I would like to talk to you about something.  I dont know if you've noticed, but I host our activities many times, and while I dont mind doing it, it's putting a strain on my budget.  I'm going to have to cut back on the activities.  I dont want to stop hanging out with you, but I think it needs to be split more evenly between us. 

good luck.
Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning. - Maya Angelou

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. - Maya Angelou