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Misreading people or not?
December 22, 2003
1:00 pm
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wallace
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Hi everyone. Do you ever bump into someone you are fond of and who's friendship you really value, and feel that they've been a bit cold or off with you? You don't want to make an issue of it but it eats you up inside. So what should you do? Ask them and risk making things worse or ignore it cos you're imagining it? Do you believe your intuition?

December 22, 2003
1:11 pm
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gingerleigh
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I've had this happen to me before. When it kept bothering me, I asked them if I had done anything to upset them. Responses have been different... one friend told me that no, she was just really down lately with a lot of things going on in her life, and she eventually came out of it. My mother... ha ha, she would say at first that it was nothing, and then she would finally come out with the reason she felt that I had slighted her, and we would have some weirdness and she would get over it. Both of these are the good stories. The bad one that comes to mind is with a friend of mine who started to treat me coolly, or perhaps I just finally started to notice it, and when I asked her about it in a letter, she never answered it. A few months later, she blew up at me, years of repressed anger at me, all that time I had no idea.

Intuition is usually right on. It might not be directed at you, as in the case of my very stressed out friend. It might not be something that you can do anything about, like in the case of my friend who seethed silently for years. But you usually get the nagging sensation for a reason. It's Ok to ask someone, but you have to be prepared to either hear that you did indeed do something to upset them, or they just might not be willing to talk to you about it. At that point, all you can do is let it go.

But asking them about it, showing your concern and the priority of the friendship, certainly won't make things worse, so long as you phrase the confrontation as an open discussion, rather than a "how come you are so bitchy to me now?" type of accusation. *grin*

December 22, 2003
1:12 pm
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Wanttobewell
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Hi Wallace,,,yep,,,I do that too. Ultrasensitive I think. Even on the phone, I listen for the slightest bit of coldness in the voice. Very tuned in to the vibes I get from people. But you know what,,,maybe it doesn't have anything to do with us. Maybe they're just having a bad day or headache or something.

Don't you get tired of feeling that everyone's tiniest bit of "standoffishness" is somehow related to you? I sure do, but it's a hard habit to break. I usually just come out and ask only to be looked at quite strangely and told that of course there is nothing wrong concerning our relationship. Yes I do trust my intuition as far as being able to tell when things aren't quite right with someone. Where I make my error is thinking it's always connected somehow with me.

December 22, 2003
1:44 pm
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Zinnie
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Hi Wallace,

It depends I think on the situation. I have been with people who I thought were stand off-ish, only to realize that they were having a bad day or were not feeling good. I will usually ask right out "what's wrong?" Often times it has nothing to do with me, they are just having an off day. Sometimes, they want to talk about it, or sometimes they don't.

I have only had one situation of a person acting like this specifically to me. Kind of like Ginger's experience, when I asked her about it, she said it was nothing. Then one night I was on-line talking with my brother, and she sent me an IM - "WE NEED TO TALK NOW" - so, I told my brother I would get back with him. She let loose on me with a vengence. I was not a good friend, had never been, she was the one who had to do everything in the friendship. Even went to far as to ask for anything she ever gave me back. Yes, she did. So, I sent it all back... I tried talking to her several times, but she just kept interrupting me telling me what a rotten person I was.

Then, a few weeks later - out of the blue I get this e-mail from her. Going on and on about what she had been doing, wondering how I was, etc. I just let it go. She was already one of the most negative people I had ever met, and at that point it was my decision whether or not to continue the friendship. I chose not to. To this day, I will get an occasional e-mail from her. I don't reply.

But, I would definitely ask, no harm in knowing; and they could need your help or a shoulder.

Zinnie

December 22, 2003
2:15 pm
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Anonymous
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The problem is when they see I am a person who asks and tries to clear the air, and so then each time they want something from me, they act that standoffish way so I will come after them and ask them what's wrong and so they can say "nothing" yet keep punishing me with the standoffish attitude.

Don't know if I'm explaining myself.

December 22, 2003
2:18 pm
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Anonymous
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I mean, I sometimes don't ask, because I tell myself that they would tell me without my asking if they wanted to talk about it. And if they're not talking about it, it's because they don't want to talk about it, so why ask?

What would my asking change? Why would my asking be necessary? I don't know...

December 22, 2003
2:28 pm
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gingerleigh
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Asking isn't necessary per se... but sometimes it helps, just like exercising isn't really necessary for survival, but you sure do feel a helluva lot better when you do it. Besides, if you're feeling really low and a friend asks you if you're OK, doesn't that make you feel good? It makes me feel loved, and when people close to me are unhappy and I notice, I ask them what's up to let them know that they are loved too. Sometimes if I'm upset, I don't talk about it because I assume that no one else wants to hear about it, not necessarily because I don't want to...

December 22, 2003
3:11 pm
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arwen
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Wallace,

Trust your instincts--even if you are "wrong" sometimes. I think it's like a sixth sense we are taught to ignore. Also, someone may be upset but not willing to admit it. Sometimes people are upset and don't even know they are showing it!

I have a problem with compliments. I have struggled with my body image for most of my life, so when someone says something nice to me about how I look, I tend to ignore it. No telling how long I did this before I came to realize I was doing it! Imagine the people who looked at my back as I walked away from a compliment and thought "Man, what a bitch!"

A year or two ago I started to realize I was doing this. I would actually go back to the person, apologize, and explain that it was a struggle for me to accept their compliments because I did not see myself the way they did. I wanted to be sure they knew it was my issue and they had done nothing wrong.

There's no telling why people might react the way they do in a given situation, but for myself, I find that the more I invest in trusting my instincts, the more insightful I become. It is enabling me to understand people without them offering an explanation--an explanation which may or may not be truthful.

If you can't trust yourself, Wallace, who can trust you? Believe what you feel, and do what you feel is appropriate. You can do it!

Sincerely,

Arwen

December 24, 2003
6:34 pm
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wallace
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Thanks everyone for your advice. I'm worried about asking what is wrong or saying Hey-you've been a bit cold to me lately-but I'm sacred of being wrong and the other person think I'm paranoid or something. But I definitely feel something is up-I just know how to bring it up and look like I'm not chasing or paranoid. I saw this friend around, and he was definitely cool towards me, I tried to be as friendly as possible (although inside I wanted to punish them for upsetting me). As the day went on, he warmed up to me again like he thought I was upset or something. I thought about sending an email to say how special this person was to me in case it was that he felt I didn't care (God know why he'd think that) but I'm scared of appearing over expressive or clingy. What do you all think?

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