Hey, Papa Bear,
So there's this friend of a friend (let's say his name is K, and we're both mutual friends of H) I've been in touch with more than usual. K is at every gathering or party that H invites me to. K has built a reputation for himself as an asshole, and he is always dealing out hurtful comments with a smile on his face. I'm not quite sure why H, who is a nice person, chooses to invite this guy over to her place when we hang out, but that's her decision. I get the feeling that K has low self esteem and is trying to hold people at arm's length with this asshole act he puts on. Once I choose to look past that exterior, he isn't that bad of a person.
However, the other night he tried calling me to ask if I wanted to go for a walk with our dogs. It was 10:44 PM and I'm always asleep by 10 during the week for a variety of health reasons. When I told him "Oh, sorry. I was asleep when you called." He responded by calling me a grandma and proceeded to say hurtful things. I ignored this. The following day when we DID go walking, we started talking about art. I told him I was practicing drawing birds lately, to which he interrupted to tell me how boring that was. When I got home, I texted to say, "Thank you for last night, I had fun.” To which he replied, “I thought you'd be asleep by now, seeing how EARLY you go to bed.”
So, the next morning, I texted back to say "Well, at least I'm not asleep during the day like YOU. YOU'RE more like a grandma, sleeping all day." He responded by telling me he was going to university right then, called me a third grader, and then asked me what I was doing with my life (which I find hilarious considering this guy is a complete sleaze who just mopes around home all day when he's not at uni or H's house).
So my question is this: What do I do about K? His comments hurt me, even though I KNOW they're baseless and untrue. He's flat-out rude, but isn't bad when he shuts up. He’s always gonna be there whenever H invites me over to her house. I don’t think he'd appreciate me acting the righteous therapist and trying to talk to him about why he acts like that, to which he'd probably respond, “Because it’s funny.” What can I do?
The Gryphon (age 18)
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As implied by your comment about possibly acting like a therapist for K, you recognize that you are dealing with damaged goods. There’s something up with K that causes him to be mean to other people. Typically, such people have low self-esteem. They lash out at others like you in mean ways because it makes them feel superior, thus easing their inner turmoil, though never permanently. Calling you a “grandma” is one way to slam you. Bullies feed off of the reactions of their victims. When they see you are hurt—and even when you lash back with anger—they know they have done the job right and that encourages them to do it again and again.
There are several options that might work in this situation:
And, while I don’t believe K poses a physical threat, if for some reason things escalate to that sorry state of affairs, do not be shy about going to the police. I just add that as a precaution; I don’t think it will happen here, but I don’t know K. Once, several years ago, I was threatened by a drunk biker. He cocked back his fist, getting ready to punch me; I didn’t flinch. I stared right at him and he backed down. That’s the nature of bullies and mean people. They want you to cower. Never cower.
I offer you several options here because no two situations are exactly alike. Consider the above and decide what might work best for you. Always remember that K’s behavior is not a reflection of who you are but, rather, who he is. Don’t let the hurtful remarks get to you.
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