Friday, November 6, 2009

One Uppers and Fake Questioners

You know the people that I'm talking about. The people who couldn't listen if their life depended on it. The people who are so geared up to respond to what they haven't listened to you say that they often start talking before you're done telling the story. I can't stand these people but I am surrounded by them and, at times, I admit that I am one of them.

I am not a person who opens up to people very easily so when I decide to confide in someone it hurts my feelings when they don't listen. It makes me less likely to confide in them or any one else in the future. The most recent situation that I encountered was with another German Shepherd rescuer. He complimented me on my dog and asked me where I rescued him from and what his story was. I barely got one sentence out before he told me about a German Shepherd that he had rescued that was in worse shape than my dog at the time of rescue. He might as well have said "Oh yeah, I can do better than that." If you just want to talk about yourself then go ahead but don't try to justify it by pretending that you care about what I have to say. This is a pretty mild situation but it is a perfect example of the one upper. Everything that he has been through is worse, more difficult, more gruesome, more trying that anything that you could have ever been through.

This annoys me a little but what really hurts me is when its more serious topics. My weight, my father's death, his illness, racism, sexism and abuse that I have suffered, person tragedies that my family and I have been through, etc. These are the topics that people frequently steamroll me on to tell me about their dad who died from cancer or how their babysitter hit them when they were a kid. I'm not saying that your feelings are less valid than mine but I'm not going to talk about myself when you need a shoulder to cry on and you shouldn't either. People often claim that they are empathizing with me by telling a story that they think relates to my situation but they aren't. They are one-upping me and not being a friend.

I don't understand why its so difficult to just listen to what someone else is going through. If you have some unresolved issues that you haven't dealt with then do that on your own time. If I come to you to cry on your shoulder then you should be available to listen to what I have to say. Nothing that you say in response should be about you. How you dealt with a completely unrelated situation does not help me deal with my situation. It devalues what I'm going through and that is not cool.

The fake questioners are a little trickier to spot. Sometimes it seems like they're asking a question that is harmless like "Do you always rinse your dishes before you put them in the dishwasher?" But really its just setting the stage for them to criticize you. When I responded to this question from my former roommate she went on for 5 minutes about how wasteful it was to wash the dishes before putting them it in the dishwasher and why did I have a dishwasher if I was just going to wash the dished by hand and how her father did this and it was a completely obsessive compulsive behavior that drove her mother crazy, blah, blah, blah. My former roommate is the queen of the fake questions. Everything to how you drive, picking up your dogs waste, the type of clothes you wear, etc. are all subject to her criticism because she is perfect and everything she does should be emulated. She will usually try to comment on it in a joking way so that if you tell her she's being an ass she says "Oh I was just joking, why are you so sensitive?"

I've gotten pretty good at preempting the fake questions by shutting down the line of questioning the moment it starts and calling the person out for their behavior. If you want to criticize or make fun of the way that I do something then have the nerve to do it without any false pretense. But be aware that what you think about how I live my life is not important to me. You live your life the way you want to and stay the F out of mine. If my habits are so annoying to you that you can't spend time around me without being critical of me then go be somewhere else. Your lack of self esteem and need to be critical of others is your problem.

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