Why do I end up alienating people whenever I stick up for myself or won't do as they say?

(43 Posts)
911AreBack Wed 06-Feb-13 14:46:33

Other people seem to get away with being true to themselves and everyone respects them for it.

First example; my 6 year old DD fell out with a friend at school. Her mum was a friend and blamed the argument solely on DD, which I thought was unfair, as having heard DD's side of the story it did sound as though it was just six of one and half a dozen of the other. The mum phoned me up and was quite aggressive about it all and really was very negative about my DD, and I said that I thought it was just a kids' argument and that perhaps we should leave them to sort it out amongst themselves. She slammed the phone down and has refused to speak to me ever since. This was about 4 months ago.

Second example: my sister keeps cancelling plans we've made to meet up for lunch, as she's been invited elsewhere by friends. It happened twice recently and when it happened for the third time the other day I said that I was upset that she kept cancelling on me as I'd been looking forward to meeting. Cue a torrent of nastiness from my sister, saying I was difficult and I would alienate people by being the way I am.

Third example: A friend relied on me to do lots of favours but it was never reciprocated, and when I started saying that I could not do things for her, she got quite arsey each time I said no, and now never contacts me and is passive aggressive towards me on Facebook and if she sees me.

I want to just be true to myself and not care what anyone thinks but whenever I try to act as anything other than a door mat people get annoyed with me.

CailinDana Wed 06-Feb-13 14:59:53

There could be a couple of things going on.

One - if you're generally a people pleaser and tend to keep the peace people you will have attraced people who like to take advantage of that and they won't like it when you suddenly change and challenge them on behaviour that they know deep down is wrong. Thus they will react angrily and try to make out you're in the wrong when in fact you're just standing up for yourself. If this is the case then all you need to do it stick to your guns and the advantage-takers will fuck off and you'll start attracting people who will treat you with respect.

Two - you could be standing up for yourself in an unnecessarily aggressive way which makes people feel attacked. This could be happening because you associate assertiveness with rudeness. Be sure that when you're standing up for yourself you're doing it in a dignified reasonable way.

WRT to the first incident it could be that the mum had a genuine grievance and felt you were being flippant.

Do you find it difficult to understand/interpret social situations?

911AreBack Wed 06-Feb-13 15:04:05

thank you CailinDana; I don't assert myself in an aggressive way, I'm really not that kind of person tbh. I try to always be polite and fair.

With the mum, she is very PFB about her DD and always blames everyone else for anything her DD is involved in, when in actual fact her DD is quite bossy and has bullied a few other children. She was very aggressive when she called me, I was trying to diffuse the situation a little, and it was just an argument over something very minor; my DD wanted to play with a girl her DD doesn't like and refused to ditch this other girl to please my friend's DD.

No, I don't find it difficult to understand or interpret social situations. Does it sound like I do from my post then?

tiggerishtom Wed 06-Feb-13 15:05:43

I fully understand what you are saying, it seems some people in life can get away with standing up for themselves and some of us can't.

I too, always seem to fit in latter category.

911AreBack Wed 06-Feb-13 15:07:10

I actually think CailinDana, that you are right about the people pleasing scenario you have described. I am and have always been a people pleaser to an extent. I think I have attracted a fair few people that just want to take advantage.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 06-Feb-13 15:07:12

YANBU It's the lot of people who stand up for themselves to get flak in return.... I've had it my whole life. Others would far rather you were compliant and obedient and can get pretty shirty if you don't knuckle under. smile Don't let it put you off being assertive, however. Just shrug your shoulders if someone turns nasty and move right along. It's their problem, not yours.

nefertarii Wed 06-Feb-13 15:07:23

As pp said its difficult to say why.

I know a lady who feels the same as you. That people are awful to her when she stands her ground. The problem is she is quite timid. She winds herself up and stands up for herself by blowing up. But she doesn't see it that way.
I am not saying you do, by sometimes we don't come across as we think we did or plan to.
it could be that you attract people who are just knobs and expect you to dance to their tune and get shitty when you don't pr it could be your handling of situations.

Only by speaking to these people and really being honest with yourself, will you know.

I am quite assertive but don't get bad reactions. I really think about what i am saying and how i am saying it. I don't mind taking a pause while i plan what i need to say. I don't just jump in iyswim.

I think Cailin's 'One' scenario sounds likely. It's not really you, it's that the people you have to (or choose to) associate with are not very pleasant people. In which case it's not actually a bad thing if you alienate them, because who needs people like that?

Do you have friends and relationships where this doesn't happen? If so, focus on them and try not to worry about unpleasant people.

911AreBack Wed 06-Feb-13 15:10:25

Cogito that is very helpful, thank you!! Yes you're right, I need to shrug my shoulders and move on. I know inside that I've not been rude to anyone and have been polite and calm when refusing to do favours or stating how I feel.

911AreBack Wed 06-Feb-13 15:11:58

dreamingbohemian, yes I have friendships where that doesn't happen. Those people never do anything to upset me or to take advantage. I do think over time I've attracted my fair share of unpleasant people. The mum that got very angry, for example, has no friends at all. I've felt sorry for her and have tolerated her and her behaviour for quite a long time, and also didn't ditch her as I thought it was wrong to ditch a friend.

When you put a behaviour on extinction, you usually get a negative response initially. It's the person tebelling against the new rules that won't work to their advantage. Make challenging your sisters cancellations a regular thing and she'll behave better once she knows you mean it. Stick up for your dd, and your friend will stop whinging about her.

CailinDana Wed 06-Feb-13 15:17:29

I was asking about interpreting social situations because I know a couple of people who try to be assertive and instead just end up overreacting or misinterpreting situations - seeing slights and problems where there are none. You're not necessarily like that at all, just wanted to ask so you could have a think about it.

From what you say I would agree that the people pleaser scenario is probably the more likely one for you.

IMO the key to being truly assertive is genuine confidence - you have to really care very little what people think of you. I'm not saying you shouldn't need people's love and approval or in any way be rude, more that, say, in the situation with that mum it should be possible for you to say "Oh well she's very PFB" and move on and not let it bother you. Being assertive doesn't mean everyone agrees with what you say, far from it. I'm assertive and I get a lot of respect from people but I am certainly not everyone's favourite and I have fallen out with people over the years. But the people I respect appreciate and understand my assertiveness - I'm not aggressive, I'm totally willing to back down if I see I'm wrong, I'm just not easily swayed!

Your sister sounds like a piece of work - is that normal behaviour for her? I ask because I have a very very difficult sister who does not like me standing up for myself either. We don't have a relationship at all because I won't accept her oh-so-helpful stream of bullshit constructive criticism.

And, try and care less. If friend is out of your life, so what?

Goldmandra Wed 06-Feb-13 15:21:34

I think I'm quite like you 911.

I think people I see socially expect me to be a bit of a pleaser so if I do stand up for myself they aren't expecting it and react more strongly.

I have noticed that since I've been fighting for school provision for my DDs I have become more assertive from first meeting people involved in that struggle and they seem to accept me standing my ground more easily. Maybe they don't expect me to bend to their will so easily so it's not a surprise when I stand firm.

I have been in the position of taking a phone call from someone whose DD had been bullying mine (significantly for two years) and she then laid into me for not backing down and agreeing it was my DD's own fault. It's a horrible feeling and the injustice stays with you but you did the right thing by not engaging with the mother who was blaming your DD. She is the one with the problem, not you.

CartedOff Wed 06-Feb-13 15:22:21

I think it's them, not you. All of their behaviour was over the top and extremely rude. What you said was civil and fine.

Block that rude cow on facebook btw.

MrsBethel Wed 06-Feb-13 15:23:02

Yeah, I wouldn't worry about it. I don't see three examples of you alienating people. I see three examples of other people being a bit nasty. That's life.

However, it does sound a bit like disagreeing with people could be a bit of a 'big deal' for you. I know a few people who find disagreements difficult, and so avoid them whenever possible, and often sort of passively end up in a position where they have to 'make a stand'. It sort of ramps up the tension, whereas someone a bit more free with their opinions would have nipped it in the bud a long time ago.

911AreBack Wed 06-Feb-13 15:23:22

Starlight you are right, I need to care less. It's hard though.

Cailin, thank you for clarifying what you meant. I completely see what you are saying. Whilst I am confident to an extent, I do also care about the hows and whys of a situation, and it worries me, for example, what other school mums may think of me because this other mum doesn't speak to me any longer. When actually it doesn't matter? Have you got any tips on how to just not care about things? Have you always been like it or is it something you've developed over time?

Lets just say my sister is fine and dandy if everything is going her way. If I accept her cancelling things and accept being treated a bit second class then yes all is fine. If I disagree or challenge things then it's not fine. I worry she will cut me off though if I protest too much but I was just so upset at the incident I described earlier that it just came out of my mouth that I was disappointed.

CailinDana Wed 06-Feb-13 15:23:47

X-posted - I saw what you said about feeling sorry for that mum and maintaining the friendship in spite of her behaviour. I would definitely say in that case that you're sending out the signal that you'll tolerate being treated badly and when you suddenly don't tolerate it any more then you get a very negative reaction. At some point you've picked up the idea that you must keep others happy even if they don't reciprocate. Not a good way to be, it just leads to the situations you're experiencing at the moment. You need to be clear in your own mind what you want and expect from people and be prepared to let a friendship go if that's not what you're getting. All relationships should involve give and take and you should get pleasure and fun out of them - they shouldn't be all hard work and maintenance.

911AreBack Wed 06-Feb-13 15:25:19

CartedOff, I think I will block her.

MrsBethel, yes you are right I do find disagreements to be a big deal. I think in my head it puts a big of a wedge there between the other person and I and like you say it ramps up the tension. Whereas if, like you say, I was more free with my opinions, I would have nipped these things in the bud ages ago, probably before the 2 friends actually became my friends. As I wouldn't have let them behave badly in the first place let alone again and again.

911AreBack Wed 06-Feb-13 15:26:51

That all sounds very accurate, CailinDana. This was the first time I'd spoken up to that mum, even though she's not always been nice in the past (bit of a frenemy). I think I've always been a bit scared of incurring her wrath as I've seen her be very nasty to others.

CailinDana Wed 06-Feb-13 15:30:00

It might sound weird but the thing that makes me confident is the knowledge that while I'm worrying about what everyone thinks of me they're worrying about what everyone thinks of them. People are basically self-absorbed - their main concern is their own life, their own looks, their own children etc. It might amuse them briefly to make fun of me or criticise me but in the end it all comes down to their own insecurities and anyway I'm forgotten in ten minutes. The only person whose opinion I really have to live with is myself and I quite like myself, we're good friends. So I please myself and keep her sweet smile

Why are you worried that your sister will cut you off? It doesn't sound like much of a relationship anyway.

911AreBack Wed 06-Feb-13 15:31:11

I like your thinking! Very true that people are all generally self absorbed.

I don't know why I'm worried. Probably because it would cause unease and upset in the family and people would blame me

CailinDana Wed 06-Feb-13 15:32:32

So what if they blame you? I mean that as a genuine question.

911AreBack Wed 06-Feb-13 15:39:29

It would probably have repercussions. My parents would side with my sister. It would affect my kids.

CailinDana Wed 06-Feb-13 15:41:41

I think I'm seeing where your people-pleasing tendencies might have come from! Do they always side with your sister?

911AreBack Wed 06-Feb-13 15:42:16

They do, yes.

CailinDana Wed 06-Feb-13 15:51:11

IMO that explains a lot about why you worry so much about what other people think. Would you agree?

911AreBack Wed 06-Feb-13 15:56:51

Yes, absolutely. I think as a child I had to really fight to keep myself liked within the family. Slightest indiscretion and I'd be in trouble and ignored for days on end. I find it really hard to cope these days with anyone ignoring me

CailinDana Wed 06-Feb-13 15:59:21

Understandable. And a very difficult thing to shake off. It seems to me that in the long run distancing yourself from your family would be good for you. But you don't necessarily want to do that.

hattymattie Wed 06-Feb-13 16:12:28

I also find myself in these situations, I think the problem is like caitlin said it's very difficult to shake off. Some people seem to be able to give out a load of stick and forget about it whereas with me it goes round inside my head - I suppose that's just how we're made. Also the injustice of some of these situations is very difficult to handle.

Cherriesarelovely Wed 06-Feb-13 17:16:08

I have this very same problem. I've had several scenarios like the ones you describe and I just don"t understand. One thing is that I am definitely a people pleaser but also that I tend not to say how I feel at the outset. Instead I stew about it and when I finally do speak up it is hard to do it calmly. My DP is the opposite, she just says things in a calm, assertive way and people take notice of her. She is famous for it at work and is often called in to deal with tricky situations and people that noone else will touch. I am a bit mystified by it!

Oblomov Wed 06-Feb-13 17:34:53

I totally 'GET' OP, because scenario number 1 happened to me, only it was even more dramatic and destructive.
And on my thread it was suggested that I was a people pleaser and I accepted that indeed I was.
Am enjoying reading the responses from people to the Op, and taking on board their comments too.
Hope this gets better for you OP.

911AreBack Wed 06-Feb-13 17:37:27

Cailin, I try to distance myself from them as much as possible but then they make out I'm the bad guy and I get moaned at for upsetting them all and not getting in contact. Glad it's not just me that is in this situation. I think there is definitely something from the people pleaser element

EuroShagmore Wed 06-Feb-13 17:39:42

I think you need to learn to give less of a f***, personally.

pigletmania Wed 06-Feb-13 17:40:00

Look op you sound lovely, thse people you described are not very nice. They did you a favou revealing their true colours, in waste a second thought f those 'so called friends, your sister is family which is more difficult. After that abuse I would definitely keep my distance unless it was ut of character and there could be more to it

911AreBack Wed 06-Feb-13 17:43:17

Euro, I agree! I need some tips as to how I can stop giving a fuck though!

Piglet, I guess they did do me a favour, at least I have found out now what they are like.

Do any of you other people pleasers also find that throughout your life you've taken flack for other peoples' bad behaviour? A friend of mine recently fell out with another friend and commented on a FB status of mine but slagged off this friend they had fallen out with. I deleted their comment but the friend that was being slagged off saw it, and instantly deleted us both from FB. Those two have now made up, but the friend who it was written about won't speak to me, even though I phoned her to say I wasn't involved in any way. I get scapegoated a lot.

EuroShagmore Wed 06-Feb-13 17:47:35

911 age helped with me. In my 20s I cared desperately what people thought of me. In my 30s, I give far less of a f***. At this rate, by 70, I will be the eccentric old bat lifting her skirt at pretty young men in the supermarket and swearing at everyone who gets in my way. grin

takeonboard Wed 06-Feb-13 18:04:43

I often think this, I get walked all over or I say no and it turns into a huge issue. Yet I know people who without a second thought for anyone else just go ahead with what they want to do or say and still come out smelling of roses.

There is a knack to it - being assertive and friendly at the same. I just don't seem to be able to do it.

911AreBack Wed 06-Feb-13 18:47:54

Euro, I really hope I care less and less with age; I'm in my 30s now and admittedly I do care less than I used to but still care far more than I wish to!

takeonboard, I need to discover how to have that knack too!

CailinDana Wed 06-Feb-13 20:44:51

Another way to look at it is like this:being a people pleaser isn't actually a positive thing for the person you're trying to please. The message people pleasers tend to send is - "I need you to validate me." That is quite a lot of pressure and can be extremely annoying. It's much more fun and interesting to be with a person who is sure of themselves and who you know will tell you if something is wrong. With a people pleaser you never quite know what they're thinking - you always get the "oh whatever you want," "I don't mind," etc etc. so you're constantly second guessing yourself.

I have one particular friend who is a terrible people pleaser. If she wasn't such a wonderful kind person I don't think our friendship would have survived as long as it has (ten years). Her inability to say exactly what she wants and needs drives me batshit and in fact I find it quite insulting that she doesn't trust me enough to be honest with me. It is great to have a friend where you can say "How about the cinema?" and you know for certain that if they don't want it they will say so and suggest something else - it's so much easier than wondering if the person saying "I don't mind" actually means it or not!

Salbertina Thu 07-Feb-13 06:19:18

V true.
Op - can relate to much of what you're saying, right down to the rather toxic dsis. I now realise family roots have caused me doubt myself so much and need to be permanently vigilant to this.

2rebecca Thu 07-Feb-13 09:33:19

I think that if you are assertive and stand up for yourself then people who like other people to be doormats will avoid you.
In the first instance if you were sure your daughter hadn't been bullying the other girl and you had listened to the mum putting her daughter's angle on the story then if the mum decides not to be your friend that's OK, your daughter doesn't like her daughter anyway, if the friendship won't survive this sort of thing it's not a real friendship.
The same goes for the 3rd case, this doesn't sound like a real friend anyway. If any of my real friends said they felt I took advantage of them I'd be upset and would try and sort things out. The fact that she didn't makes it sound as though she didn't value your friendship, block her on facebook.
Your sister just sounds as though she didn't like hearing a home truth.
Try finding friends you like and who like you. Dropping people who take advantage is OK, but it's not surprising that they have a huff when they are dropped as people who use other people tend not to see other people and their emotions as being as important as theirs.
Accepting some people will like you and others won't is part of life. Concentrate on the people who you can have proper reciprocal friendships with.

911AreBack Thu 07-Feb-13 15:49:10

What upsets me a lot too is if someone falls out with me, all my friends continue being friends with them yet the person I've fallen out with's friends shun me too. The woman that I did the favours for who has got the hump has a friend she always talks to at pick up time and I always got on well with her. As soon as said friend stopped talking to me this friend did too. She's just walked past me this afternoon with her nose in the air and ignored me. Yet the women I did favours for is still pally with all of my friends, nothing has changed for her.

Don't get me wrong I don't want my friends to stop talking to her, but it'd be nice if her friend still spoke to me, seeing as I didn't actually do anything wrong at all other than refuse to be my friend's slave.

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