I used to like people more

I have become quite the misanthrope.  (#2 has always been one and welcomes #1 to the club.)

That’s not to say I actively *dislike* people, just that I’m not seeking people out.  I’m not trying to get to know people better unless we hit it off right away.  I’m no longer curious about what makes most folks tick.

I didn’t used to be this way.  For the longest time as long as a person wasn’t a bully I would like them.  I liked crazy people who were always getting themselves into trouble.*  I liked people other folks would find annoying.  I liked anybody who would put up with me.

I think I figured out why I no longer like so many people.  Part of it, of course, is family life and work demands that lead me to not have as much time for other people’s craziness.**

But the main part, I think, and the part that came as a revelation, is that I used to have a growth mindset about people.  If they did something I found annoying, like constantly making the same stupid decisions that hurt themselves, well, that was something that could be fixed.  That was something *I* could fix.

But I no longer try to fix people, other than my students whose math anxiety I carefully remove as part of my job.  (That’s a healthy level of fixing people, I think, and they’re receptive and it’s necessary.)

And since I no longer try to fix people, that means any annoyingness, any self-destruction… that’s permanent, and not temporary.  It isn’t interesting because I’ve seen it before and there’s no reason to explore the insanity any further because there’s nothing I can do except be silent witness.  And I’d rather not do that.  Not when there’s work to do and family to hang out with.

Part of being older is realizing that I don’t like as many people as I used to… and more importantly, that I don’t really care that much.  (Though I do feel bad that I don’t care, to paraphrase Brittney in The Misery Chick episode.  Daria says that makes me a good person, even though I suspect I’m really not.)

*Disclaimer:  #2 was crazy when I met her, but I liked her because we shared hobbies and world-views and she was smart and funny and definitely not because I found her craziness interesting, because I didn’t find her craziness particularly interesting because it was too self-destructive and was definitely beyond my ability to even to try to change, though I did get her a book.  She helped herself with the help of professionals.

**Of course, we always like you, gentle readers.  Our readers are AWESOME.  Or at least our commenters are awesome.  We assume our silent readers are as well.  They at least have great taste in blogs, which is a good sign.

Have your views on or desire to hang out with random members of the human race changed over time?

41 Responses to “I used to like people more”

  1. raluca Says:

    Have you recently turned 30? 31? Because the same thing is happening to me. But I’m really fine with it. Life is too short, so search for the good things and cut the ugly ones off.

  2. L Says:

    It took my becoming a practicing, active member of a 12-step program to address my own insane self-destruction. I’ve been doing this for 18 years now and have definitely changed for the better. Of course, now I try to help others find the same serenity and peace of mind that I have. But unless someone really wants to do the hard work of looking at themselves, at their insanity, neither I nor anyone else can help them. So, on to the next person who is willing to do what it took to get what I’ve got. My tolerance for crazy self-destructive, negative people is close to zero now and I love what raluca said: “I search for the good things and cut the ugly ones off.” Ain’t nobody going to take better care of me than me, so my sanity is for sure priority #1.

  3. Holly@ClubThrifty Says:

    I feel like all of my patience was used up during my 6-7 years in the funeral industry. Now I am a hateful old hag. I prefer animals to people any day of the week.
    I have long-term best friends that I love. I don’t really want any new ones anymore.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I agree! Our patience and self-control are ALL used up in teaching (and toddlers). No room for people who make more work. We love kitties, and our families and best friends. That’s quite busy enough!

  4. Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

    I have a massive tolerance for the idiosyncrasies of people who are fundamentally decent, interesting, and entertaining to be around. I have zero tolerance for people who are fundamentally indecent, dishonest, and/or destructive to themselves or others. And I have especially zero tolerance for people with personality disorders who refuse to accept that their perceptions of reality are distorted and self-serving. (Hi mom and dad!)

  5. gwinne Says:

    Interesting question. Hadn’t really thought about it in this way (so this response is not really processed yet!). But I think I see people in more complicated ways now. Not just there are people I like and people I don’t like, but I can be friends with deeply flawed people (or not, depending!). But I also think of relationships in more pragmatic terms; if I’m not “benefiting” in some way (and those ways can vary widely) I’m no longer interested in maintaining relationships.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I am now definitely not interested in pursuing social opportunities with the neighborhood woman whose father called me at my office to try to sell me life insurance. Even if she has kids the same age as mine.

  6. Liz Says:

    I can count the number of people I “hate” on one hand. These are people who have shown me that they are fundamentally terrible, narcissistic, self-centered jerks with zero compassion for others unless it makes them look good and furthers their progress toward celebrity.

    Other than that, I am generally tolerant of everyone, though certain personalities I can only be near for short amounts of time. I am, after all, a shy introvert. I enjoy the diversity of perspectives and experiences. I speak up when I think things are wrong (patriarchy, -isms, -phobias), but I don’t expect that I’ll change people; I just want my boundaries to be clear. And when people don’t respect my boundaries, I don’t generally default to hating them – I just ignore them and/or leave.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I hate the Koch brothers… does that count?

      In terms of real people, I hate bullies. So that means right now there’s only one person who I come into contact with that I actively hate. (And as soon as we change daycares I won’t have to deal with her accusing me of lying about doctors notes etc.)

      • Debbie M Says:

        I haven’t had to deal with bullies. I don’t think. But over the years there have been a few people I’ve referred to as a nemesis. They don’t know I exist. But their philosophies or policies can make life very difficult for me. Like the guy whose classes were exactly the same in every way but were supposed to count differently toward different degrees. No, buddy, the classes cannot be exactly the same and different at the same time–laws of physics. What he really wanted were different registration limits.

      • Liz Says:

        Oh, man, I didn’t even think about the figure-people like the Koch brothers. If I don’t know them personally, I don’t consider it hate – I dislike the actions I see/words I hear, but who knows why they’re putting that mask on in public. I guess it’s like “hate the sin, not the sinner.”

        Bullies is similar – if I don’t know them personally, I dislike the action but I don’t necessarily hate them as a person (until they show me that they really are a meanie down to their core). It sounds like I would definitely hate this daycare person, though!

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I can tell she’s a bully, because she’s backed down and stopped treating me so inappropriately since I stood up to her once. Now she treats me more like she treats my husband and less like she treats other mothers whose children are somehow flawed in her world view.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Also I hate the Koch brothers because their actions seriously hurt people for their own monetary gain.

  7. Debbie M Says:

    There are surprisingly few people I want to be friends with. I’m not sure why. I’m some kind of alien and don’t really get other people. I mostly hang with programmers and engineers because they have such nice brains even though I really don’t want to do that kind of work.

    On the other hand, there are surprisingly few people I don’t want to work with. At work, people are generally trying to do a good job even if they are ignorant or afraid. At dance class, people are trying to learn even though they are stepping on my feet. I’m not a very patient person, but my empathy lets me simulate patience. Also I have powerful rationalizing skills–I’m very good at thinking of non-evil reasons people have for doing some of the crazy things I see.

    But then I’m noticing that I don’t do as well when I’m dealing with people only one time each rather than with the same group of people over a period of time. I think when people only deal with you once, they aren’t as polite or understanding and it’s harder for them to get where you’re coming from. In my current job, I evaluate petitions. On a regular basis I encounter students who feel their course should count automatically and don’t understand why they have to jump through the hoops of submitting a petition, especially for a degree requirement they may not even respect. I get that. But when they refuse to answer the questions because they shouldn’t have to, or they alter a syllabus to make it look like theirs (which they couldn’t find), I start to feel a little like David Banner trying not to turn into the Incredible Hulk. I’m polite; you’ll still like me when I’m angry. But I don’t like me when I’m angry. It’s no fun.

    And finally–I love, love, love reading all kinds of stuff, and all the things I read were written by people. I find it much easier to like people’s writing than to like the whole person. Plus, if I don’t like their writing, I don’t have to keep reading, and they don’t even know so they don’t have to feel insulted.

  8. chacha1 Says:

    I am pretty much a lifelong misanthrope, in the sense that I do not value, or necessarily trust, the opinions of most people and I don’t want them closely involved with my life. I don’t want other people defining my values or weighing in on my choices. On the flip side, I don’t give a crap what other people do as long as they are not hurting anyone else. If people leave me alone I will return the favor. I am an introvert.

    My indifferent view of my fellow humans started at age seven (if not earlier) when the parents moved our family from Wisconsin to south Georgia. That was a culture shock that I never really recovered from. I was in my late 20s before I finally brought to the surface the source of much rage. :-)

    I find, in the workplace, General Friendliness Absent Intimacy is completely sufficient. In L.A., everyone lives at such great distances from each other that work friendships rarely venture outside anyway. And in the office, due to the nature of my position, it is very very easy to avoid people who rub me the wrong way for whatever reason (there are so many potential reasons).

    The husband and I have a broad circle of acquaintance which is almost entirely trivial in nature. We both speak fairly freely with our closer acquaintances about events affecting our lives, I have a couple of close girlfriends that hear my more private confessions. Neither DH nor I seems to feel the need for adding more people to our circle or for trying to draw people closer, though I personally think he would benefit from having a close male friend.

    I don’t hate anybody, but I despise many.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I really like the wiccan creed, “An it hurts no one, do what you will.” Too bad there’s so many ways to hurt people. :(

      General Friendliness Absent Intimacy is awesome at work!

  9. hush Says:

    I’ve actually come to value less-intimate but healthy friendships with other people much more as I get older, and I have so much more appreciation for the variety of levels of friendships. This probably has to do with the fact that I moved across the country a few years back to a place where I didn’t know a soul. I definitely remain open to making more friendly acquaintances who respect boundaries and reciprocate invitations, and I’ve gotten really good at figuring out who those people are pretty much on first meeting.

    In the small town context, there’s certainly a benefit to having a few close friends, and a great many friendly acquaintances – that’s how I get crucial information about my business, plans, school issues, etc. My husband and I entertain a lot, and have a few different groups we populate. Our best friends who really know “the real us” live far away though. But I feel like being on friendly terms and having a little party once a quarter really keeps us in the know locally. I doubt we will ever make BFFs here though, and that’s cool – we are lucky enough to already have 2 BFFs each, plus each other to fulfill our most authentic intimacy needs. ;)

  10. Revanche Says:

    I’m a combo of #2 and CPP.

    I’ve always generally despised/loathed people as an entity because so many of them are crappy and society makes me shake my head.

    On a one to one basis, if they’re alright then, fine. But if they are ok with fundamentally crappy actions, whether they commit them or whether they approve of others committing them, I have no patience or time for that nonsense. I also don’t have a great love for the people who keep suggesting I should make friends with women who are expecting their babies at the same time just on the basis of we’re expecting at the same time. That’s not how I make friends.

    I’ve rather accidentally made a few friends via blogging/Twitter both of which are conducive to a much more relaxed comradery than I would have expected and is far easier to cope with than some of the needier people in my acquaintance circle. So that’s a nice side effect of this blogging hobby.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Here’s a secret: With DC1 it was absolutely the worst hanging out with a subset of people whose babies were born about the same time mine was. Why? Because my baby could do things theirs couldn’t. (Whether or not their baby could do something mine couldn’t or their baby would be able to do the same thing in a week… it didn’t matter for this subset.) It is the worst feeling in the world having someone compare their kid to yours and find their kid lacking. That poor kid. I feel like every parent should think their own baby is perfect in every way.

      I would see it on “birth month” threads of mommy blogs too– they’d say nasty things about the first baby to start crawling or what have you. Accuse that mom of lying, either to her back or to her face.

      Obviously most people aren’t like that, but the only time I’ve ever met anyone like that was when participating in mommy groups with firstborns my firstborn’s age.

      You don’t get that so much when there’s a nice age difference. And even nicer are parents with multiple kids who know that all kids are different and that doesn’t mean one kid is better or worse.

      With DC2 we had the first same age playdate um, about a month ago (ze is 2), and only because DH and hir parents wanted to play boardgames. I didn’t even realize I’d been avoiding them until then. (It was a great playdate– me and the two two year olds while everyone else played games, but boy did I have shinsplints the next day)

      • zenmoo Says:

        Yeah, I am a bit conflicted by the ‘be friends because your babies are the same age’ thing. On one hand, I certainly didn’t find a BFF in my mothers group and some women were definitely not my type of person. However, a few were nice enough people and given I was the first of my friends to have kids, it was kind of nice to have someone to hangout with once a week and talk kid stuff. Although, to be honest – I found it more useful to be talking kid stuff with blog people who’s kids seem more like mine.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I hope your DC2 doesn’t bite!

      • Revanche Says:

        Replying to both you and zenmoo:

        From what I hear about SF-area playgroups, that sort of backbiting is not unusual around here. With the added plus of mommy wars of the SAHMs vs Working Moms vs whatever else… it sounds pretty offputting. Sure most people may not be that way but why risk it? ;) Seriously though, I’m not all gung ho about meeting new people anyway much less opening the door to that.

        A fair number of my non-internet friends have kids now but we don’t really talk much so I don’t see that changing a ton just because we have a kid so I suspect I’ll be only look for mother-related conversation on the internets [turns to look at you both] via blogs. No way in heck am I going to mommy forums. Unless there’s a certified non-toxic one but much like playgroups, meh. I don’t have the brainspace for the special sort of bullying that comes from insecure (is that what it is?) parents.

  11. NZ Muse Says:

    I am getting more and more hardcore introverted with time.

    Just spent 3 days with other newbie staff members on induction and gosh darn was it exhausting. So cranky.

    Another similar thing in a couple of weeks, though at least it’s all staff so will be with my awesome team mates and not just strangers. Much more manageable.

  12. independentclause Says:

    I hate people at large, but not individual people (except the Koch brothers, Mitch McConnell, and a few others). I have a ton of tolerance for quirky, awkward people and their quirks and awkwardnesses. However, I am in the messy aftermath of my second friend breakup in two years (women with whom I was very close), and I am trying to go by the rule: You can be crazy and my friend, but you have to be working on the crazy. Watching people in their mid and late thirties making majorly self-destructive decisions (again and again, as you say) is not fun.

  13. Mel Says:

    I’m with Gwinne — I think I’ve become more relaxed about being friends with people I disagree with. That I don’t seek out people that I have a lot in common with anymore, but rather connect with people for a variety of reasons. That said, I have never been one for big crowds or being social. I avoid places where I’ll have to interact with a lot of people.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Would you say you become friends with people you disagree with, or just friendly acquaintances?

      • chacha1 Says:

        I have lots of friendly acquaintances with whom I fundamentally disagree. No close friends however. If we are that far apart on social values, I wouldn’t feel like I could trust them to respect my personal values.

  14. becky Says:

    Wow! I just had this conversation with two friends from high school, whom I’ve known for 20 years now. Our general conclusion was, “We hate people – except for our friends.” Now in my 40’s that pool is getting teeny tiny and I am more okay with that. I have a few super-close friends I see a few times a year, a good network of work acquaintances/colleagues and a small group of parent-friends from the daycare. Anything more is exhausting. DC1 just started kindergarten and I am totally resisting making friends with the parents – mainly because they keep inviting me to “coffee dates” during weekdays mornings when I have to be at work?!

  15. MutantSupermodel Says:

    In general, I just don’t have the energy to devote to people. So even though I do love to hang out with my friends and have them over, I do think that I keep all of my friendships at a casual level these days. I don’t want to get too emotionally involved with anybody because I just don’t have the energy. I’m too focused on fixing myself I guess. And my kids. And my family is seriously tight so there’s that too. I have a co-worker who’s needy and I get sucked in often but it’s ok because when I NEED to vent she’s willing to listen and that helps.

    I just… I dunno… I like the casual acquaintances so much better. I don’t want to hear about sex lives, or financial worries, or family drama, or romantic conflicts, or anything anymore. I want to hear about the happy fun cute staff and das eet.

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