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cookieman's avatar

What do you do when someone you love exhibits behavior you detest in other people?

Asked by cookieman (31467 points ) May 18th, 2014 from iPhone

Non-stop talking, emotionally unpredictable, needlessly argumentative. These are behaviors I cannot stand in other people. I cannot be around them for any length of time. Luckily, I don’t have to associate with such people… unless, it’s my tween, early-pubescent daughter who (as a result of her hormones doing the Watusi) has recently begun displaying them. Gaaahhhh!

Don’t get me wrong, I love the kid more than the world, and I realize these are natural changes and likely just a phase, but sometimes, she’s reeeaaalllyyy difficult to be around and I may just sell her to the highest bidder. What to do?

Have you experienced something similar with a loved one? A child feeling their oats? A teen, being a teen? An elderly parent, changing due to age? What do you do when they become someone you wouldn’t normally be caught dead with?

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15 Answers

Mimishu1995's avatar

“Accept what you can change, change what you can accept”.

That’s the saying I always stick to.

To tell the truth, my best friend has some behavior that I really dislike. But I still try to put up with it. The reason: she’s my best friend, and her bad behavior and her good one are just like a drop of ink on a white paper.

Or maybe I’m just too tolerant…

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I’m experiencing this with my sister at the moment, and it’s driving me nuts. We usually get along great, but right now… it’s bad. She’s under a lot of stress, as am I, but she is completely impossible to talk to about her attitude, no matter how I approach it. It’s beyond frustrating, and I’m at a loss. On one hand, I just want to give up entirely, but on the other hand that seems completely crazy. She’s always been pretty emotional and definitely somewhat controlling, but I’m under so much stress now (and trying to improve my life a lot) it’s not something I’ll tolerate anymore.

The only thing I can think to do right now, to save my sanity (and maybe her sanity) is to increase the distance quite a bit. Give us both some breathing room, maybe. It might help with your daughter, as well. I know you obviously can’t get a ton of distance, but maybe just give yourself a little more breathing room.

Mariah's avatar

It’s tricky. I’ve dropped good friends in the past because I didn’t like the person they were becoming, or maybe I just found out who they really were. It’s hard to realize when someone you previously loved has become a toxic person, and it’s even harder to walk away once you do.

(Obviously it’s different in your case because it’s your daughter and she’s just doing what young girls do).

I dropped a friend because he asked me out and when I turned him down he decided that gave him the right to use me as a therapist. I hate that. I told him about 100 times to stop and when he didn’t I dropped him. It sucked, because we had been close.

It’s interesting though, because I’m in this situation again currently with someone else, and for the first time I feel like I love the person enough to put in a large amount of effort to make it work instead of just walking away. I haven’t felt like that in the past, in the past I’ve just gotten resentful to the point where I was willing to cut the person out of my life. Right now I’m having this struggle with my roommate, who I adore but he has got the worst, stupidest temper, which I hate. I mean like he’ll lose a round of video games and start punching things. It’s absolutely ridiculous and unacceptable and if he were just a stranger I would tell him to fuck off without hesitation. But I otherwise love the guy, you know? I’m struggling with the dissonance between how much I hate that behavior from him in specific situations and how much I love him the rest of the time. Mostly I’m just trying to handle it by avoiding being in his presence when he’s mad but that’s not the easiest thing because, y’know, roommate. We’ll see how that ends up working out.

Everyone’s got their flaws…I probably need to get better at accepting that.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

I do nothing. Who am I to judge anyone, especially my loved ones. And what then should I do about my behaviors which my loved ones find detestable?
Live and let live. Acceptance is difficult sometimes, but we are human beings and subject to behaviors which others might find detestable.
This does not mean you need to hang out with people when they begin to exhibit behavior with which you disagree. That is why there are doors.

funkdaddy's avatar

Something that’s worked for me in the past is to be really tolerant but note exactly what the person is doing (not in general, or wishy washy terms), then let them know it bothered me when we’re going to be apart for a while anyway.

It’s over, note that it’s over, but that it bothered you. It puts things on both of you. You for being bothered, and them for the behavior.

So in your case, I’d wait until your daughter is about to go her own way. Maybe when you get home, if she usually takes time to herself (or you do), just say “hey, we don’t have to argue about every little thing. I’m on your side and think you’re an amazing young lady, but it really bothers me when you get so argumentative. I’ll try to explain myself better in the future if you’ll try to ask questions respectfully, ok? Dinner’s at 7, see you then?” She’s off the hook to defend the behavior and you’ve noted it bothers you. Change takes time.

For me it was my (adult) younger brother. He always had to be making noise in the car. Singing, tapping, asking why, talking at people (totally different than conversation)... One trip he played with the tab on his soda can for a solid hour. If you asked him to quit while he was doing it, he would get offended and you were the new focus. A friend referred to it as “jabbing you with his pointed intelligence”...

Anyway, if you caught him after, and said “hey it’s done, but the singing was getting old there at the end…” he’d generally see your point and understand you’d put up with it already, and therefor weren’t bringing it up to embarrass him or be a dick. It didn’t always work, but it worked better than anything else I found.

turtlesandbox's avatar

You accept them for who they are because you love them. You either play along when they annoy you, or you leave the room. Or make them leave the room, but that’s kind of mean.

longgone's avatar

Distance and distraction. I distance myself either physically or by pretending that I’m studying a different species. I turn this into a game, trying to predict what my lab rat will do next and simply observing quietly.

I also distract. If someone was babbling, I’d hand them a drink. In your daughter’s case, make it non-alcoholic, but laced with a sedative.

Lastly…consider it training. Being able to accept annoying behaviours is a skill.

ucme's avatar

Suck it up & move on

ibstubro's avatar

My immediate response upon reading the question was “Suck it up”, so even if it’s repetitive, I’ll still add it here.

cookieman's avatar

Yes, clearly, “suck it up” is part of being a parent. I have no intention of disowning the kid. This is just a matter of coping with behavior you would normally walk away from.

Giving her more space is a great idea. We’re certainly trying that. But given that she’s a minor who lives with us (‘natch), there’s only so much avoiding you can do.

A woman I work with told me her daughter basically hated her from ages 12 to 20. Now, she’s adores her and can’t get enough of her “mommy”.

Louis CK (who has two girls) said, “Boys fuck things up, but girls, will fuck you up”.

And, as detailed above, this isn’t just about parenting. Sometimes someone you love changes or goes through a phase — and while you want to be supportive, there’s only so much you can take.

ibstubro's avatar

Frankly, there are traits in my S/O that I detest, and that’s where my “Suck it up” answer came from. You can’t change people, so you have to accept that which you cannot change. Hopefully, over time, the good outweighs the bad.

funkdaddy's avatar

I guess I disagree with “suck it up” because it’s your daughter. Part of our responsibility as parents is to raise good people and to prepare them for the world. There’s a reason they call these “formative years”, she’s building who she will be separate from her parents.

If you show her what good behavior looks like and the advantages of it, then she decides being arrogant or impolite is just her thing as an adult, then that’s her choice. Never letting her know the alternatives to childish behavior because someone thinks you shouldn’t make those choices for someone just fleshing out their identity is completely different, and probably not in her best insterest.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Well said, @funkdaddy! Completely agree. Not to mention the fact that he’s asking for help coping with a stressful situation. “Suck it up” isn’t helpful at all.

ibstubro's avatar

Q: “What do you do…”
A. “Suck it up.”

turtlesandbox's avatar

Sometimes the best way to cope is to suck it up. Totally legit answer.

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