It's Friday night! And I've just had a full week of weird stuff going on! You know when there are lots of small issues coming up simultaneously and you just can't deal with any of them properly? I've basically been accumulating questions the whole week!
I don't write my own posts often, but I love seeing the great ideas everyone comes up with whenever someone needs advice. So here's what I propose: I'll entertain you all with the various incidents and submit my questions to the wisdom (and infinite empathy) of the Hivemind. Anyone who wants to share their own stories (or just vent - let's be honest, this will be 50% about venting) is welcome to do so!
So, uh, on to business... Brace yourselves, this will be long :P
1) The Fatshaming Thing
(Please help me here.. I added TW to the posts, but I might not be using the best language to talk about this topic, so let me know if I messed up!)
I work in an academic research group and we have a few young interns around. Unfortunately one of the girls is.. really shallow and fatphobic, I guess. For months I've been hearing her rant about people's appearances and specifically their weight, calling celebrities fat, discussing looks in very negative ways..She does this thing where she holds herself as a standard of comparison, using that to criticise people indirectly. I've been uncomfortable with that forever because of my history with EDs, so at this point I feel obliged to cover up to avoid scrutiny (and it's the warm season in the southern hemisphere now, so really not a good time to be freaked out about sleeveless tops)... But I'd never noticed anyone else feeling uncomfortable, so I thought it was probably just that I'm oversensitive.
And then this week came around. This girl had been going on and on about weight again for days - I arrived once to hear her criticising the recent polemic around plus size models, saying anyone around size EUR 42 (US size 8 I think?) is "definitely big enough" - because she "used to be really fat, a size 42 and totally managed to get thin". I ignored that as much as possible.
But.. we have a colleague who'd be considered has been working very hard to lose weight (lots of health issues in his family, pretty complicated situation). He's lost a lot of weight (around 40 kg, I hear) but still has a long way to go to meet his goal... and for once this crazy talk seemed to get to him. So later that day, when this girl started ranting again about her own weight and he looked straight at her, lifted his shirt and said "Listen, THIS IS WHAT ACTUAL FAT LOOKS LIKE". Suddenly everyone got really awkward and silence, maybe realising for the first time that she was being inappropriate... But of course the girl herself didn't get the message! No! Instead, she decided it was totally the time to show her own size EUR 38 body AND STARTED COMPARING HER OWN BODY TO THE GUY'S, IN DETAILS.
Seriously, I just wanted to die. Or strangle her.
So guys, this is my question. Can I do anything to neutralize this toxic situation (other than strangling her?)? Has anyone here successfully defused this sort of bomb in the workplace? And while we're on the subject, what can I do to prepare myself to ignore these comments so I don't end up wearing a bunch of cover up layers in 30C temperatures?
2) The Friend in Need Thing
I have an old friend who just broke up with his girlfriend. Things were not very good (though I'd never tell him that): he's one of those serial-daters and serial-cheaters, the girl is almost inappropriately young and he went ballistic once she recently left the country to study abroad for six months. So the breakup is not a surprise.. but my friend is taking it really, really badly, and I've been doing my best to talk to him regularly and help as possible.
The thing is, in the process of talking about his feelings and discussing things... he's often being an arsehole to me. He's often dismissing most of what I say because I'm not a serial dater and he obviously thinks that I must be some heartless robot, making weird PUA-ish comments about picking up women and cheating.... Yesterday he was going on about how it's necessary to treat women badly because we don't like guys who are nice... and I tried to calmly deconstruct that, but he was such a bastard about it that we ended up in an argument, the second in 24 hours... I feel like I don't have the energy to deal with the misogynistic tones I'm seeing there, but I'm also feeling weird about not talking to him anymore...is it the bad breakup talking? Should I try being more patient, or maybe just avoiding the hot issues? I'm... not really inclined to give anyone a special license to be an arsehole, but I feel like ignoring the guy entirely may be too harsh (he's an old friend and I don't have many of those...). What do you all think?
3) The Being Friends Thing
Last January I gave in to a friend's insistence and went on a series of dates with one of his friends. This guy and I seemed to get on pretty well at the time, but things really didn't go as expected. He wanted to start something serious right from date one, which was really terrifying to me (I have baaaad history) and also complained a lot about how I didn't fulfill all these..traditional expectations he had. Ever been out with someone who texts you with complaints right after the dates? "It was nice tonight, but I thought...". I made a couple of attempts to explain that I wasn't comfortable with the insistence and had good reasons to avoid being so serious so fast. He assured me he understood and was genuinely interested in me, mentioned a lot of strong feelings and declared he was willing to slow down and even work on these issues with me.
And then he dumped me weeks later saying he'd been looking for dates in OKcupid for weeks and finally got one. (ba dum tsss)
I was completely defeated by the whole incident (because history...). My friend who set us up was pretty horrified and kept trying to come up with explanations, not that there was much to be said.
Months later... I don't know a lot of people in my hometown now, what with living away for 7 years, so when this guy and I started talking again I decided maybe we could be friends. We've been chatting online often, met to hang out a couple of times, talked about some serious stuff (including some of my issues). It seems we were definitely on our way to be good friends, I guess? But then he starting dating some other girl and suddenly not only I get ignored rather often but he keeps mentioning (humblebragging, really) the girl and the dates.. and I'm dying inside with a weird mixture of rejection, humiliation and molten lava rage! I've had a pretty bad time all around this week, so around the third time he mentioned the girl I had this sudden... ehr, bout of lack of good judgement, maybe? and told him that I don't want to hear anything about whoever he dates and it's pretty inconsiderate of him to keep bringing up the subject after everything that happened.
So now I feel even lamer than before, of course. There's something really humiliating about admitting that I'm struggling so much with all of this, so I'm super embarrassed. Have I really done the worst possible thing with this situation? Was that history supposed to be unmentionable? Have I just accidentally made myself even more vulnerable to someone who wasn't really that bothered in the first place? I really need your help with this one, you guys... been feeling terrible for weeks now :/
EDIT: Thank you all so much for taking the time to answer. Sometimes I really need someone to tell me my feelings are valid and ok. The answers are great and I'm starting to feel a little better..