Guest columnists and contributors are generously sharing their talents and insights while I’m taking some time to care for my new baby. Today’s letter comes from “His Take” contributor, Dennis Hong, who writes about relationships and other topics at Musings on Life and Love.
Recently, he added me on Facebook. Shortly after this, he “poked” me on Facebook. I wasn’t sure why. I mean, I understand that it means someone likes you, but the only people who have ever “poked” me on Facebook are my little sister and my friend who doesn’t have the firmest grasp of the mechanics of Facebook. It just felt very juvenile, like the notes from grade three with the question “Do you like me? check ‘yes’ or ‘no.'” Anyway, I playfully pointed out the childishness the other day in a passing comment that totally took the wind out of his sails. There was a marked difference in his demeanor. I approached him a bit later and apologized for the comment and he laughed it off, but that didn’t fix it. I don’t know if the awkwardness will be a lasting thing (I haven’t seen him since, as I only see him at this club once a week). This might turn out to be a non-issue, but I’m still confused. Was my remark unintentionally mean-spirited? Or was his response childish? — Miss Construed
Facebook poking? People still do that? I thought Facebook poking was something people stopped doing like five years ago….
I wish you had been more specific in what you said to him, because it’s hard to gauge his response otherwise. You may believe that you “playfully” pointed out his childishness, but that may not have been how it came across at all. Maybe to you, it was playful, but to him, it only sounded insulting. And unfortunately, in these types of interactions, it doesn’t matter how playful or tongue-in-cheek you were trying to be. What matters is how he took it. And it doesn’t seem like he took it well. Either way, I’m going to be blunt: I can’t imagine how you can accuse someone of “childishness” and not have it come across as an insult. I don’t think even an actual drool-dispensing, diaper-pooping child would appreciate being called childish. That word just doesn’t have any positive connotations, ya know? So if that is the actual word you used, I’d say that you’ve got your mouth well past your ankles at this point.
At the same time, you did apologize sincerely, right? Not, ahem, “playfully”? Because clearly, your “playfulness” and his “childishness” don’t mesh. If you did apologize sincerely, then that’s about all you can do. Perhaps he’s feeling awkward around you only because of your perceived insult. Or perhaps he’s feeling awkward because he’s finally realizing that you’re not interested in him and is feeling kinda rejected. If that’s the case, then his self-esteem is smarting already, so the last thing you want to do is try to talk to him about it and make him feel even more awkward. Above all else, I suggest that you treat him no differently than you did before. If or when he asks you to dance, respond as you did in the past. But also don’t go out of your way to ask him to dance any more than you did previously, because then that smacks of pity. And certainly don’t let him (warning: geeky swing dancer in-joke impending) pull any aerials on you on the social dance floor.
Dennis Hong is a teacher of juvenile delinquents, freelance comedy writer, group blog overlord, and internet entrepreneur. His personal mantra is: “Always stay positive in life (except when taking a drug or STD test)!” You can read more of his musings on life and love here.