Social Question

keobooks's avatar

How annoying and rude do you have to be before you're considered toxic?

Asked by keobooks (14303points) December 23rd, 2015

We are going to be visiting some friends we only see a few times a year over the holidays. Other friends of these people are coming as well. One of their friends has to be the most rude and annoying person I have ever met.

The very first year I met her, she told me her career. I was surprised because I had the same career. She told me that it was her first year working and she had just gotten her masters degree to get the endorsement. I told her that I didn’t have a masters degree yet, but I was thinking about starting on it. She asked me how I could possibly work without a masters degree. I told her that I found a school that offered a bachelors degree program. I had less jobs available and made less money, but I could still find work.She told me that it wasn’t possible to get a bachelors degree like that because there were no courses offered anywhere on the bachelors level in the universities. I started explaining about the school and the program, and she kept shooting me down and telling me that she’d like to see proof that the program even existed. I finally told her that I was finished trying to prove that I wasn’t lying about my degree. I told her that I found her openly challenging me like that was extremely uncomfortable. Instead of apologizing, she said that it was good that I stopped trying to prove anything to her, because she was never going to believe me.

The next year, my friends made a point to mention on the party invitation that parents were strongly encouraged to get a babysitter for the night. She wanted a more formal and quiet party with just the grown ups. On the day of the party, it was very elegant. I was also relived to see the nasty woman was nowhere to be seen. It turns out that she was running late. Soon she came in with her husband and her 18 month old son. A few guests asked her if the babysitter fell through and offered to call their sitter to see if they’d watch her son as well as their own kids. She refused and explained that she and her husband were deeply insulted that her son was not invited. She would not feel welcome at any home that didn’t welcome him. So the tables had to be rearranged to fit a high chair, conversations were interrupted because he was whining about the yucky grownup food. A few other guests started talking about their own kids, and how they wish everyone could see them, but of course they were at the babysitter’s because the invitation clearly stated no kids allowed. She would say that she was such a nurturing mother that she could never be separated so long from her son. The other parents were lucky they weren’t able to care as much as she did.

Third year: She didn’t show up because she was angry at our friends! Yay! Apparently, she kept coming over to the house for a visit and then would say she had errands to run and would my friend mind watching her son for just a little while? She’d come back in the evening. It happened so often that my friend started to say that she wasn’t going to do it unless she was paid. My friend couldn’t get any work done or even leave the house because she didn’t have a car seat for the kid. Apparently it was thoughtless and rude of my friend to say this and proved that she disliked the woman’s son.

Fouth year: I did my best to avoid her, but there was a buffet line instead of a sit down dinner. She ended up behind me in line. She was talking to some woman about how she was recently diagnosed with lupus. The other woman tried to offer encouragement and be supportive, but my buddy kept refusing to take it. She said that there was only pain and agony in her life. She probably would be dead in less than five years. Her husband was not being supportive and was probably going to leave her because he didn’t understand that you stayed married through sickness and in health. I know lupus isn’t minor, but seriously?

So this year I told my husband I wasn’t sure if I wanted to even go to the party because she wold be there. My husband refused to make up an excuse, but tried to be polite. He said that he thought it would be better to see them alone than at a party so that we’d have more time to be together and they wouldn’t have to host. Our friend somehow figured out what was going on and begged us to come. She said her friend wasn’t so bad. She just didn’t have good social skills. We should just ignore her and it wouldn’t be so bad. We are thinking it over right now.

I told my husband that the woman was toxic. He said that she probably had some sort of mental illness that impaired her social skills and we should try to be sympathetic but set firm boundaries. I want to kick her in the face instead. I’m pretty sure that she’s toxic. But it got me wondering how bad does it have to be before you write Simeon off?

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25 Answers

dappled_leaves's avatar

I’m sure you’ll have a range of opinions on this one! Personally, I would not attend – fool me once, shame on me, etc. These parties sound like a bad time, which is not what a party should be.

As to whether she (can we call her Simeon? I guess that’s an autocorrect issue, but I kind of like it) is toxic or not, I would tentatively say not, given the circumstances. You see her at most once per year, and she’s probably under the stress of seeing unfamiliar people in a social gathering. Who knows what she’s like in her normal life? I guess your friend is friends with her for a reason (though, admittedly, I’m scratching my head as to why).

I’m with your husband on the not making an excuse; I would simply tell her that I can’t bear to spend an evening with the woman. It can’t be a secret to your friend that Simeon is awful to be around. Perhaps she’ll stop inviting her to these gatherings, and everyone can enjoy themselves in future.

AdventureElephants's avatar

It almost sounds entertaining. It’s at least been worth the shared stories to us. It’s only one night of the year. I’d go just to add to the obnoxious collection. Go with plenty of things to egg her on about, and have fun with it!

keobooks's avatar

They are friends because they come from the same very small town, went to the same college, were room mates and moved to the same college town after school. She lives a few blocks away only one neighborhood over. It’s one of those deals. Apparently, my friend is constantly having to apologize on her behalf and makes excuses for her behavior. I don’t know much because it was just vague gossip and stuff hinted around. Like, they rented a house together in college and couldn’t keep a third room mate because the woman kept getting into fights shortly after one moved in that were so bad the room mate would move out. This wasn’t a one time thing. Apparently there are jokes about the third bedroom of the house having a revolving door.

I think she’s here to stay. Otherwise my friend would have ditched her years ago.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Simeon is toxic. Now that that’s settled, you have a decision. You can go and play a game to avoid her, you can go and not be drawn in by her presence, or you can stay away.

Is there a way to make the middle choice? Go. Enjoy yourself. Refuse to interact with her. Tell her bluntly, if she tries to start a conversation, that you will not talk to her. Be very blunt.

You can say something like, “I am here to enjoy myself, and that won’t happen if I have a conversation with you. I will choose to leave you alone and enjoy myself.”

I know this type of toxicity, and saying that will probably evoke a response from her. Smile at any response and move away. If she pursues you, go straight to the hostess and explain what is happening. If it continues, say goodnight to the hostess, explaining why you’re leaving, and then leave.

tinyfaery's avatar

Throw her a bit of this

I agree with @Hawaii_Jake.

Honestly, I love to f*** with people like this. I just find a way to piss them off and they leave me alone forever.

Being toxic is something that happens to an individual. I doubt anyone can be universally toxic. She might be toxic to you, but there is no toxic diagnosis.

keobooks's avatar

I should have mentioned that after the very first conversation we had that went so bad, I’ve never spoken to her once. I do everything I can to avoid her. But she’s so awful that she can ruin the fun for everyone just by being there. We were all having a great time until she showed up with the baby, for instance. The baby changed the entire party. There was no way to avoid her presence because every person affected just by having the baby that wasn’t expected to be there. The other times weren’t so obvious, but I feel like Obi Wan Kenobi when he notices great disturbance in the force. Even if I can’t see her, I can always feel her presence. Ugh…

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Google Borderline Personality Disorder.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

Goodness, she sound like a nightmare. We have a beautiful friend and his partner is also quite toxic. She hasn’t always been with him, and he has been a friend for a long time. With your situation, do you see the people who hold the party at other times? If you do, I’d skip the party and spend time with them outside that situation. If you don’t see them often, and they matter to you, I’d go and just avoid this other guest.

With the friend I mentioned, we had to decide if we loved him more than we disliked her. He loves her. She’s his wife now. We want to keep seeing him. And she really does love him. As a positive, while she’s still lacking in social graces, she’s improving. Or maybe we’re more tolerant of her. I’d definitely rather put up with her to still see my good friend.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Earthbound_Misfit I would do the same in that situation, but it’s a bit different when you’re having to decide whether to deal with an obnoxious spouse than an obnoxious friend. There will still be opportunities for the OP and her husband to see their friend without Simeon present. That would be a lot harder to arrange if she were a spouse/partner/SO.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I can’t help but notice how the nickname “Simeon” is so close to simian.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

@dappled_leaves, that’s why I asked the question about whether they can see the people outside of this situation. If they can see their friends easily outside of this situation, skip it. If they can’t, it does come down to how much they want to see, and how easy it is to see, the friends holding the party.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake I think that’s why it’s so pleasing. ;)

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Wait five years then go back to the party. She should be dead by then. Problem solved. ~

Dutchess_III's avatar

I agree with those who say skip the party and see them in other circumstances if you can. If sim-eon is that bad, your friends will soon find more and more people skipping their party. I mean, it’s supposed to be fun! It’s supposed to be something to look forward to, not dread.

Or…perhaps you could host your own party?

Let us know how it goes, though. (And if I have a party, you better bring your kids!!)

Dutchess_III's avatar

Wait….do you have contact with the other guests at all?

canidmajor's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake: I just thought “Simeon” was a weird autocorrect for “someone”.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

You are more than likely correct, but it’s fun to use.

canidmajor's avatar

Yes, yes it is. :-)

keobooks's avatar

@RedDeerGuy1 – When I heard her go on about her lupus and she said that she’d be dead in less than five years, I’ll admit that I imagined myself asking her if there was anything at all to be done—to make that time shorter.

I remember reading a book about “Roommates from Hell” and this woman talked about herself having MS and she moved in with a woman who also had it. The room mate would make a huge production about being in constant pain and having so little life left in her body. She took the woman to these support groups where she met great people who had severe cases of MS and really were in serious trouble, but the roommate always seemed to have it worse. She had suspicions, but didn’t want to assume that she wasn’t as bad off as she claimed. The woman was starting to have some more serious problems, but the room mate acted so weak and in such a terrible state that even though she herself was having issues, she ended up doing most of the housework and helped pay the bills. She ended up doing almost everything and was nearly waiting on the woman hand and foot. Then the room mate said something without thinking and the woman realized that the room mate had MS, but it was very minor nerve damage and hadn’t progressed at all in several years. (This is common. If you have only a single flare up and it never gets any worse for the rest of your life, you will still have MS, according to your medical charts.) The woman moved out.

Anyway, I later found out that lupus and MS are both autoimmune disorders, and lupus has the same sort of thing. Once you are diagnosed with lupus, you always have it. You’re just in remission when it’s not active. And many people find it debilitating and it can be fatal, but there are many people who have it and live with it for a long time. They have pain management issues, but lupus isn’t a death threat. My great grandmother had it. It was the kind that only appeared on your skin and the least severe type, and she lived to be over 85.

I strongly suspect that old girl is one of those belly achers. I don’t say anything be sure I’d feel like a heel if I was proven wrong. But I wouldn’t be surprised at all if she’s mostly fine and just being a drama queen.

I guess we can skip the party and go another time. It’s sad because this is our friends big special yearly thing the wife gets excited about at least a month in advance. But yes, we can see them other times.

keobooks's avatar

I seriously need to quit posting on my cel phone here. Please ignore some of my more unusual phrases created by auto correct.

Dutchess_III's avatar

It’s all good @keobooks. So did you decide what to do?

CWOTUS's avatar

I like @Hawaii_Jake‘s first response, but I don’t agree with him – or you – that this woman is “toxic”. Oh, undoubtedly she’s a royal PITA; that’s perfectly clear. She’s probably quite narcissistic as well (and that certainly can be toxic; if her husband is really planning to leave her, that may be the ultimate reason). So I don’t doubt that she could be toxic to someone, but if you only see her once a year, that’s hardly toxic, any more than getting slightly drunk once a year is toxic, even though alcohol is a toxin.

I’m probably not making myself very clear.

Assuming she’s not actually (diagnosed or not) mentally ill or somewhere on some “syndrome / spectrum” where you can simply take pity on her, but she’s really just a boor, then from a distance she could be somewhat entertaining. For example, and by way of comparison, I could never have lived with Don Rickles. That kind of biting sarcasm, cynicism and pointed satire would wear me down. (Even me.) But to see him perform once in a while, such as at a roast or on Johnny Carson, when the time was limited and the performance one could expect was pretty well known in advance? Yeah, that was fun. I could even imagine being the temporary target of a Don Rickles performance – for a night.

That’s partly why I like Jake’s response, I think. Treat it as a kind of jousting match if you have to. Put your game face on for her: “Are you a troll? Is there a countervailing Guardian Angel to you, my Afflicting Angel? Did someone pay you to goad me as you do? I promised my husband that after this sentence I would only say three words to you: Leave me alone.”

Be your own Don Rickles with her. Have fun with that.

keobooks's avatar

Party got cancelled because many people had stuff come up. I’m going to pretend it’s all That girl’s fault. The stuff that came up because the other couples didn’t want to be around her either.

My friend and her husband are the sweetest, and most generous people I’ve known. I think Miss Nasty is basically family to them. They’ve been friends since preschool or something. I need to remember that.

Dutchess_III's avatar

It may very well have been because of Simeon, especially if this has been an ongoing function for so many years. I mean, isn’t it odd that “many people” suddenly had other things to do?

BTW, do you ever talk with the others?

keobooks's avatar

I don’t know them at all. Most are friends who live in the same area as the couple. We live the farthest away. They have groups of friends they see separately—like the gamer friends, the book club friends. Her lifelong buddy is part of none of these groups. And I can tell they don’t like her either (at least from what I’ve seen. A few dont even bother to pretend and are outright hostile.)

Anyway, no. I see them in Facebook posting now and then, but I don’t know any of them.

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