offending people who love me

Visitor (not verified)
anonymous user
Registered: 12-31-1969
offending people who love me
Mon, 07-30-2012 - 4:37pm

Hello! I used to assume my friends were happy around me and that I could understand them. With close and casual female friends, and even with strangers, I thought I could tell how they felt, and I used to think I could ask the right questions and listen to people and even make them feel a little better. People seemed to react well to me, so I figured it was the same with close family and loved ones. So...I'm married and do NOT seem to have any of these skills with my sweet husband! If he is feeling bad, I make it worse. If I just plain don't think and say or do something, it frequently makes him feel like he did something wrong. But he can read my mind and do really nice things for me. Once I realized that, I also realized...wait a minute, I pretty regularly upset my mom. I sort of frustrate my dad. It looks to me like the people who love me the most are offended and bothered by me, because, while I feel that I care about them, I end up showing them the opposite. But, unlike if I knew I had said something that came across wrong, it's a mystery to me why and how I am so...mean. My parents are stuck with me and don't live with me. My husband, though...he could eventually leave if I'm not more thoughtful. Do other people offend the people they are closest to? And what do you do to improve?

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-27-2004
Tue, 07-31-2012 - 11:59am

It sounds like you're developing sensitivity to how people may feel about the things you do--we all develop this at different ages, and some people never get there.  You don't necessarily have to address each issue ("I know you don't like it when my emails are short, but  .  .  .  ."), but you will begin to anticipate the occasions when something you do will impact someone adversely, and you may choose a different action.  Say Mom emails and you're busy.  You could stop everything and send Mom the kind of email she wants, you could reply, "I'm busy!" or you could answer, "Hi, Mom!  I'm meeting a deadline right now, but I'll tell you all about it after I get home tonight.  Love, Leila."

Many people (you husband, your dad) will not admit that something you did made them unhappy.  Doesn't matter--the new, sensitive you knows it's true.  Don't try to discuss it, just do things differently next time.  Your parents love you, your husband loves you--they think that you are pretty great, and are willing to overlook your minor flaws, like occasional insensitivity.  Continuing to develop and implement your growing understanding of how people feel will give you greater strength and depth as a human being.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-22-2007
Tue, 07-31-2012 - 7:09pm

Leila, I don't think you are messing up at all.  Instead, I think you're taking on responsibility for the feelings of those who are too sensitive.  If your mother gets offended by brief emails when you are working - that's not your problem.   Anyone who expects more than a one-liner from someone who is working is being unrealistic.    Do not apologise for being unable to spend time on personal issues while you're working.

As far as when your husband says "I'm so sorry, I ruined your evening, you're mad at me, I'm a terrible person", well that's just a load of self indulgent rubbish.    And it's designed to make you feel bad.   Unless he's done something really insensitive (like go drinking with the boys when he knows you've cooked a lovely dinner for him), this isn't an appropriate response from him.   The "I'm a terrible person" ending line is just inappropriate for any situation.     Honestly, he sounds like a reprimanded 5yo who says "everybody hates me"

Instead of taking blame for his over-reaction, I think it's time to let him know that his responses are childish and self indulgent.   The expression "oh, grow up" springs to mind.   Though I guess it's probably better to tackle the issue in a less confronting way ;-)