I have pretty much always recognized that I’m not the easiest person to deal with. I’m totally worth the effort, but if you are really going to get to know me, you will have to put forth some effort. For a long time, I tried to hide or balance that fact by having a very pleasant, easy-to-like personality for more shallow interactions. Are you the girlfriend of the week of one of my male friends? I’ll be nice and stuff, but that’s a surface interaction for me. We are unlikely to ever get to know each other because you just won’t stick around long enough. This happens to apply to a lot of coworkers and friends of friends. Why? Because it’s easier for me to put up a facade in those cases than to be me. Getting to know me takes effort on your part- and on mine. I’m only going to expend it if I think it’s worth the energy I have to muster for it. Lately, though, the facade has gotten annoying outside of required interactions. If you’re not going to like me for who I am, then why should I foster the relationship?
I’m explaining this because as a woman on a particular social site, I get a fair amount of unsolicited friend requests. I’m not so inundated that I can’t read them all, but I am choosy about those I accept. I like internet friends, so being from another city or state isn’t a reason to be rejected. However, being boring or potentially dangerous is a reason to be rejected. When an unsolicited friend request comes in, I go and check out the profile. After all, maybe the sender is shy or isn’t the best with language, so they’re silently asking me to start the interaction. If the profile is interesting, I’ll probably accept. If it’s empty, and you haven’t sent me a note to catch my interest, you’ll be rejected.
Some time ago I got a friend request with a pretty empty profile that looked suspiciously familiar. It still offered nothing of interest, so it got rejected. Again, I’m pretty sure. The next day, I again got a friend request without any sort of note. The profile still hadn’t been improved. This time, I rejected it and sent him a note:
“Dude. I have said no because you have given me absolutely no reason to say yes. Give me a reason to say yes or piss the fuck off.”
“Ok …I like talking to nicer people, so bye :)”
Was my note as polite as maybe it could have been? Nah. But that’s because on strike three, the rejection has to be stepped up. Clearly he wasn’t accepting the polite rejection of not accepting the friend request. Please note that I did give him yet another chance to redeem himself. Had he come back with something smart/funny/interesting, he might have gotten further attention from me. Instead, he chooses to decide that I’m the difficult one.
Boring is pretty easy to spot, but potentially dangerous can be more difficult. I was having an online conversation with a guy that was charming and interesting, but occasionally I got a red-flaggish hint. When he pushed for us to meet, I declined. I couldn’t say exactly why, but I was not comfortable and I told him so. He continued to insist while insisting that he wasn’t insisting. That lack of acknowledgement did make a red flag pop up. Then he confirmed that he wasn’t all that good at respecting boundaries. That, in and of itself is bad enough. Considering some of the claims he was making in his profile, that was scary. Right about then I cut contact.
I did reach out to him once after that, but promptly realized I’d made a mistake and let him know that I was cutting contact again because I shouldn’t have resumed it in the first place. He has since sent me a lot of notes. Folks, when you’re getting notes like that from someone who has triggered red flags- hold on to them. Hopefully he won’t escalate into full-blown stalking, but if he does, I want a paper trail.
The note that confirmed that I had made the right decision asked me to “just bend a bit and meet [him]” because he’s not ignoring my fears, he’s “just trying to help [me] get over some of them.” Maybe some of my fears are irrational, but that’s not his decision to make. The only time boundaries should be crossed and fears bypassed is if the person with the boundaries and fears believes it needs to happen. I firmly believe that someone that can’t respect boundaries will never be the person to change mine.
I freely admit that I am difficult. I am difficult because I have no other choice. I am difficult, because that’s what a woman gets called when she doesn’t meekly accept compliments she doesn’t want, or friend requests with no substance. I am difficult because I have boundaries and I am learning that I am the only person who will defend them. I am difficult because I am a woman who is rediscovering her self-worth and is willing to defend it and the world doesn’t seem to like that.
I am difficult, and I am ok with that.