General Question

SuperMouse's avatar

When you are going through a major life change would you rather people ask about it or pretend it isn't happening?

Asked by SuperMouse (30798points) April 12th, 2009

As most of you know I have gone through some pretty major life changes recently (divorce chief among them). I find it rather interesting that most of my family is just avoiding me rather than asking me what is going on and how things are going. I talked to a sister-in-law today who said she didn’t want to pry so she hasn’t said anything, but I know she is talking to other people about what is happening. So would you rather be left alone at times like that or would you rather people just come out and ask if they are curious?

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24 Answers

chyna's avatar

My family is different in that they called me to find out what was going on when I went through a divorce. Each of my brothers called, asked and listened. None of them judged me, or even gave me advice. They let me know they were there for me and asked if I needed money. In that case, I was glad they asked and let me know they were behind me. If I felt they were just trying to get the scoop or tried to convince me to change my mind, then I wouldn’t want them to talk to me about it.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

God yes…I’d rather have people ask about me & what was going on. Then I’d know they cared. I’d be mad & hurt if people avoided me or the elephant in the room.

jessicar's avatar

Depending on the situation I most of the time would perfer people not to ask questions. I find myself to be very compossed in a bad situation and can handle them quite well. That is until someone asks the question I so dread which is “How are you doing or How are you feeling”. Once they ask that I usually loose it and cant stop crying. So yeah I would say please dont ask.

cak's avatar

Depended on my mood; however, when they pretended (when I was going through my divorce) I finally just asked at a family dinner one night, “Instead of talking about me behind my back and guessing at the solutions that we are trying to work out, would you like to actually ask me, or just continue speculating? If you would like to continue speculating, please…just so you know, some of you are seriously cracked. There is no way I’d agree to some of those oddball terms.” I believe I asked someone to pass the water after I asked my question.

I don’t think they mean to do it, but some people just don’t know how to handle strife. Divorce is a biggie, well when you are talking about any huge life-changing event. People just good all kinds of crazy on you, don’t they?

Either address it and let them know what is okay to discuss, or roll with it, I doubt it will ever be perfect, but they might try to honor your wishes!

VzzBzz's avatar

I’d like to have the people I love and feel closest to acknowledge my situation but not pry too deeply. I also had a divorce, an amicable and non contested one but even that had a few months of really high tension and the reactions from people around me just added to the stress. Some loving friends were shocked and disappointed (no help), some family I never doubted turned their backs on me (no support) and some friends I didn’t ask anything of stepped up to help me in ways I really needed but never would have been comfortable talking about.

*Don’t be afraid or too proud to ask for what you think you need because good people will surprise you, people will come through for you.

flameboi's avatar

Hi super
Well, you don’t need approval of what you are doing, you are an adult, and, as an adult I’m pretty sure you are taking the right decisions, if no one wants to sneak into your life, then fine! If somebody asks, and you can tell is a question right from the heart, you can talk to that person about how your life is changing, there is nothing worng when people don’t ask… they just trust your judgement all the way to the end that’s it :)
By the way, I’m sure you are doing wonderful!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

my first response was ‘neither, it depends’
there are only a few people that I’d want to ask questions
seems like everyone else would ask questions and then bother me about it
ignoring it is not good sometimes either
especially when it concerns them and they just don’t talk about it
my parents do this a lot
about major changes in my life
they think i’ll just forget about what i am planning on doing

filmfann's avatar

During the worst crisis of my life, which involved my daughter’s drug addiction and gang life, I was very honest and open with family and friends. I made it clear to them to ask my wife and I any questions about it, and any advice they had would be welcome.
This worked very well for us during the crisis, but when my daughter turned her life around, and wanted to be reintegrated with the family, there was a lot of resistance from those same family and friends. My wife and I needed their support at the time, but damaged my daughter’s return.
In the end, it all worked out, but it took years.

SeventhSense's avatar

Pretend what isn’t happening?

wundayatta's avatar

In my family, if you ask questions about personal lives, you either extremely uncomfortable silence, or “none of your damned business!” I wish I came from a family that talked about stuff, but we don’t. Sometimes I think it’s in the genes. My children divulge information the way a mandrake root let’s itself be pulled out.

Anyway, in an atmosphere like that, you have no idea how anyone will react to anything. So no one talks. No one barely even knows there’s an issue to ask about. My brother was in the hospital this weekend, and no one would have known about it had his girlfriend not posted it on my Facebook wall. Apparantly he thought he’d be out sooner than he was, and that no one would know the difference.

By the way, his “girlfriend” has been his girlfriend for more than a decade, and he’s never officially admitted it, nor has he brought her home as his girlfriend. It’s an open secret, since she was my friend before she was his girlfriend. She talks to me. In fact, I find out more about my brother through her than I ever did from his mouth.

So, yeah. No one knows anything in my family, and no one tells anything, and it is a big pain, right in the middle of Egypt.

Bluefreedom's avatar

If the change I was encountering was a particularly sensitive or problematic one, I might feel more comfortable trying to come to terms with it on my own before I wanted everyone else to know about it.

As far as a change that was a painful and distressing one for me that might require help and support from family or friends, I would feel better if they knew so that I had someone to talk to and a shoulder to lean my head on if I needed it.

It would all be largely dependent on what the situation was and how things were going in my life at the time.

RedPowerLady's avatar

I have been through some serious life changes recently. And I have been very open about them. Mainly because I don’t want to have to pretend it didn’t happen. It did and it affects me everyday. I would much rather have others bring it up to me than ignore it. It may be painful for both of us but it works. Whereas acting as if it doesn’t happen breads frustration which is quite difficult to get over and it also makes one feel isolated and abnormal. I appreciate and respect when people are sensitive about the issue though. I certainly would rather have them ignore it than be rude, insensitive, or feed me overly cliched responses.

One thing that bothers me quite a bit is that I understand most people don’t talk about these things with us because it is uncomfortable for them. I think that is quite selfish considering the circumstances. And I don’t believe that selfishness, in this type of circumstance, is the way to go. It should be about empathy and support.

SeventhSense's avatar

@daloon
That’s why you do the talking for the whole family. ~_~
Just Kidding.:)

SeventhSense's avatar

@daloon
Sounds like my family. But at this point I am more grateful every year to be further and further out of the loop

augustlan's avatar

If someone has a genuine question to ask, I don’t mind that, but just to ask for ‘juicy gossip’ purposes would feel like an invasion of privacy.

What I’d most prefer is that people acknowledge it. You know, just say “I heard about <insert life change here>. If you want to talk about it, I’m here.” So many people completely ignored the situation when I was going through my divorce. It was very awkward.

Zen's avatar

The former. (Great Q)

mcbealer's avatar

For me it depends, and the dividing line is not parallel with blood lines. I have found over time that my close friends have been much more understanding and supportive than my actual family.

That being said, I tend to group the inquiries into several categories:

-those who truly care and are concerned
-those who are voyeurs and are just asking
-those who may not know the whole story but are concerned because they’ve noticed things are a bit off/different

I pretty much do not discuss my personal life at work, and try not to bring work home with me at the end of the workday.

Inadvertently, people who do not need to know will find stuff out, and I usually try not to elaborate if they’re in group 2 above.

Other than that, I would say my close friends and family members are going to know what’s up, and their concerned questions are well intentioned and helpful when I’m thinking things through.

The hardest thing for me, like @jessicar mentioned, is when you’re dancing as fast as you can and trying to maintain your compusure during a difficult time and someone brings you out of that zone by casually asking, “How are you?”

wildflower's avatar

I think I’d like to know they were interested in how I’m doing and that they’re there for me if I need them, but both they and I would know that I wouldn’t turn to them until I had resolved the situation for myself (personal flaw of mine; I don’t care to share things I can’t laugh at, be proud of or at least comfortably say is behind me).
Bottom line, I would like those around me to express interest/sympathy, but not be pushy about it. Just knowing is enough.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@augustlan What I’d most prefer is that people acknowledge it. You know, just say “I heard about <insert life change here>. If you want to talk about it, I’m here.” So many people completely ignored the situation when I was going through my divorce. It was very awkward.

Sums up my feelings as well.

mcbealer's avatar

(self edit) I guess voyeur isn’t really the correct term, I mean the type of people whose entire existence revolves around keeping tract of everybody else’s.

SuperMouse's avatar

@mcbealer I knew exactly what you meant. It seems there are people out there whose lives revolve around being part of other people’s drama. Whenever anything big happens there are people who come out of the woodwork just to get a piece of the action. It is creepy if you ask me.

mcbealer's avatar

@SuperMouse ~ oh yeah. I guess reality TV isn’t enough for them, ha ha.

Zen's avatar

Off topic: Which is imitating which, at this point? Life, Art, “Reality” TV shows – my life doesn’t look like Survivor, Big Brother, Celebrity this and that – so what’s so “reality” about it? Entertainment, and the cheapest, most ingenius kind: no actors (read: fees, agents, talent scouts…)

In real life, there are people of all sorts, like those mentioned above by @SuperMouse and @mcbealer . This phenomenon is very interesting, and exists in every (online or “real”) community. It takes all kinds.

markdylan's avatar

I think it just depends on how serious the situation is.

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