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Saying 'I' when he means 'we'.

  • 18-09-2022 12:33am
    Registered Users Posts: 2

    I'm a long-time boards member, this is a throw-away account to preserve anonymity.

    This post turned into a bit of a novel. I'm not even sure what I'm hoping to get from this. Sadly, seeing it all laid out like this has given me a bit of a fright.

    A good friend of mine, who I have known for about 25 years, has really tried my patience with some very selfish behaviour. A couple of years ago it came to a bit of a head when he did something so momentously self-entered to me that one of our mutual friends had to sit him down and explain why it just wasn't ok. His parents were disgusted by his actions and his dad called me to check I was alright. Once it was explained to him he was mortified. He apologised and was suitably contrite. Still, he continues to suit himself pretty much all the time. A lot of the time it's almost comical, like the porridge incident detailed below, but the thing is I come away from so many interactions feeling kind of down about myself. The porridge thing is very typical in that he always comes up with a logic that makes his actions perfectly fine as far as he's concerned.

    Anyway, I noticed recently that he always says 'I' when he's telling me his news or talking about something he's planning to do. He was outlining a cycling and camping holiday he's going on in Spain next month. It was "I'm going to stay the first night in an AirBnB in Barcelona, then I'm hoping to reach X campsite by around 5pm the next day. I'm planning on doing about 70km a day. I'm not too pushed about actually reaching Seville but I don't want to be under pressure to get back to Barcelona in time for the flight home." He went in in this vein for a while. I made a comment along the lines of "The great thing about travelling on your own is that you can abandon the schedule if you feel like it." He looked confused for a second and then told me that he was going on the holiday with two other lads. He genuinely didn't understand why I thought he was going alone.

    This reminded me of a time a few years ago when he texted me during the day and asked if he could come down to my house to stay a few days. He texted something like "I'm finishing work now, I'll leave at 6, I'll be there around 8:00pm." I tore around trying to get the house in order, sheets on the spare bed, quick shopping etc. I wasn't arsed cooking so I got a takeaway. He arrived with his brother in tow, who was also planning on staying for a few days. I tried to hide my surprise but the takeaway was very obviously for two and his brother was very embarrassed by the whole thing. My friend insisted he had told me his brother was coming and was a bit surprised when he re-read the texts he had sent where he just used 'I' throughout.

    Recently I have noticed that in fact he does this all the time. If he's telling me about something he did with a group of friends it always sounds like he's on a solo adventure, when absolutely everybody else I know would begin by mentioning the other people involved and use 'we' throughout. I can't shake the feeling that he just doesn't think other people matter at all and that this is subconsciously expressed in the way he just uses the singular pronoun.

    He's great company and a good person to have on hand in a crisis but I think I've had it with his selfishness. The fact that I have noticed how rarely he says 'we' means that while we're chatting I have a constant reminder that he doesn't appear to think other people are important, and quite a lot of the time the unimportant person is me. (I could give a million examples of times he unintentionally demonstrated his lack of regard because he had used his selfish logic to explain his actions.)

    I would miss him enormously if we stopped being friends but this is balanced by how insignificant he sometimes makes me feel. I wonder if he might be on the spectrum or something, and sometimes I seriously think he has some psychological deficit.

    I realise now that what I'm asking is quite upsetting. I think I'm asking if one of my closest friends might be a sociopath or something. He's not capable of violence or anything, I'm not asking if he's dangerous. I consider the friendship one of the most important relationships in my life and I'm increasingly aware that he couldn't possibly believe I'm as important to him as he is to me.

    Obviously I haven't described all the reasons he's a great guy, you're very much seeing the negatives here. I wouldn't have put up with him for so long if he was as bad as he appears in this post. He has great qualities, I think I'm just becoming hyper-aware of his selfishness.

    In case you're wondering about the nature of our friendship, there has never been anything even vaguely sexual between us.

    Well, it looks like my questions are A) is my friend psychologically abnormal? B) Would I be better off without him? C) What are the magic words I can say that will make him see that he needs to rethink his attitude to others?

    Porridge incident: We were at a wedding and stayed in the same hotel. We had breakfast together the next morning. He had porridge, I had a curranty croissanty thing. I went to get us both some coffee and when I got back he was in the process of picking the currants out of my croissant and adding them to his porridge. His logic was that he always takes fruit in his porridge and croissants don't usually have any fruit so really he was just leaving me with an ordinary croissant, so I shouldn't complain. There were other people there who we both knew so I called them over to witness his selfishness. They were merciless in their slagging and he got very annoyed but pretended it was all hilarious.

    Other examples: He is very cynical about relationships, firmly believes that absolutely nobody is faithful to their partner. He includes his parents in this, though he has no reason to believe either of them had affairs. He just thinks they managed to keep it secret. He believes his sister married for financial reasons and can't understand why she's still with her husband after his fortunes changed and they had to sell up and move in with his parents.

    He goes out of his way to ingratiate himself with elderly relatives so he'll inherit something. He is very open about this. He has talked about buying a camper van when X dies because he expects to inherit a specific valuable thing, which he'll sell. He is aware that if X does leave it to him it's because she believes he has the same sentimental attachment to it that she does. He frequently reminds her how much he likes this thing.

    He places a lot of importance on how exotic, rich or cool the people in his social circle are. (We are far, far too old to worry about how cool our friends are. Far too old.)

    His concept of friendship is very transactional. He often says things like "I'm walking Z's dog while he's away because Z has an apartment in France and I'd like to stay there during the winter," and "Y asked me to water his plants but I said no because I did it before and he brought me back a cheap souvenir instead of a proper present."

    He had a pet who he spoiled and made a huge fuss of until he had a chance to move abroad for work ten years ago. He left the pet with some neighbours he barely knew and never made contact again. His logic was that he had looked after the pet extra-well for half the expected lifespan, so the pet had done ok out of it because it's the same as if he had just looked after it normally for the full lifespan. (I asked him recently and he couldn't remember the neighbours' name at all and he got the pet's name wrong until I reminded him.)

    A member of my immediate family died four years ago, and I was hit by a sudden wave of grief about two years later when I found something under a seat in my car that could only have been dropped by the deceased. I lost it, bawled and bawled. My friend got out of the car and went into the shop, coming out a few minutes later with an ice-cream for himself (none for me, of course). He asked me if I was finished being dramatic. He did not believe that my grief could possibly have been genuine because the death had occurred two whole years previously. At the time I put it down to just not understanding the effects of grief because he had never lost a family member.

    I visited him in his city and at about 9pm on the first night he said that he was meeting somebody from Tinder so he was going to head out. His logic was that if he wasn't going out he would probably be getting ready for bed soon anyway, so I shouldn't be annoyed that he was abandoning me. I sat in his apartment alone for the evening. The next day he reminded me of the logical reason why what he had done was perfectly acceptable.

    He organised an event at my side of the country. I couldn't go because I had a work commitment. On the morning of the event people I didn't know started arriving at my house. It turned out they were expecting to stay at my house. He had given them the postcode but hadn't told me. There was a bit of a standoff when I had to tell two burly Brazilians that the were not coming into my house. They kept showing me texts from my friend as evidence that they had 'booked' a room for the night. Some other people arrived with tents planning to camp on the lawn, but got annoyed when I said I'd be locking the house when I left and they couldn't use the bathroom while I was gone. My friend's logic was that he thought he had told me the plans, I like having guests (I don't, particularly) and he had invited me to the event so if I had been able to go I would have been part of the whole thing.

    Post edited by HildaOgdenx on



  • Registered Users Posts: 7,002 ✭✭✭MrMusician18

    The person you are describing is one that has either no concept of acceptable social behaviour or is a person manipulating you. I personally can't see, from what you've told us what you are getting from this relationship that adds to your well being.

    Some of the things you've written could be passed off as that of someone that's poorly socialised but the last - having people turn up at your door expecting board would have been where I would most certainly have drawn the line and ended it.

    Ultimately though you have to ask what are you getting from this and if it's worth this behaviour. You say he's good to have in a crisis - tbh I cannot see how someone so self obsessed could be of any value to anyone but themselves.

  • Registered Users Posts: 563 ✭✭✭CrookedJack

    I don't think anyone here will really be able to give you a proper diagnosis, or know if he's a sociopath or has ASD, or something else. Certainly not just from hearing your anecdotes.

    That said, he certainly sounds both extremely selfish and very hard work. he would want to be AMAZING company for me to put up with a fraction of what you describe. In fact, I would question you about that, how can he really be amazing company if he also makes you feel down on yourself?

    So to answer your questions:

    a) Psychologically abnormal is a pretty loaded term and one we probably can't determine, but I would say I've met very few people as selfish as the one you describe. I wonder would he agree with your description? would his other friends?

    b) Only you can decide this one. I know for me I wouldn't really bother with someone like that - it's very difficult to have a close relationship with someone so transactional, I find they don't really understand intimacy or trust.

    c) There is none. people don't change who they are fundamentally just because someone explains things to them in a certain way.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,860 ✭✭✭Pissy Missy

    Why are you friends with this person? The fact you would get other people to stop and look at him at breakfast shows you don't have much respect for him anyway. I think it's time to pull the plug. I also think you need some introspection as to why you would put up with this behaviour for so long. Is it low self esteem? Low boundaries? This person talks about what they can gain from people, and it seems their gaining from you. Best of luck OP

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  • Registered Users Posts: 708 ✭✭✭dontmindme

    You've known this guy since you were both teenagers? Has he always been the same? Have you ever observed him alone? The stories you tell are very sad and I possibly would find his friendship hurtful and possibly draining also. You mention a pet, what sort of pet, and did he say why he got it? (I think he should get another one). He definitely sounds like a malfunctioning human being. Have you ever witnessed his humanity, or has he always been cold, calculating, and logical like you describe? What are his family relationships like? How were his interactions with his brother? You say you would miss him enormously, what would you miss? What do you get from this relationship? Have you ever seriously confronted him about his behaviour?

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,118 ✭✭✭Idle Passerby

    What exactly has kept you friends with this person so long? He's obviously got some good points, he seems to have lots of friends so what makes anyone like him? From your description he's an odious character very few would want to tolerate for long. Yet he's surrounded by friends. What's he bringing to anyone other an illusion you know is staged?

    To answer your questions: A) probably but it's not for you to diagnose. B) if the bad outweighs the good, then yes. C) it sounds like he has no ability to empathise at all so any acknowledgement of his wrongdoing is purely academic. When confronted he agrees that he's done wrong in upsetting someone but it sounds like he's utterly baffled by the upset so it's not genuine remorse. He's not sorry for what he did, just that it upset you. He hasn't learned anything so will do similar again because to him, there's nothing wrong with what he's doing

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,912 ✭✭✭Jequ0n

    If he’s annoying you and you start to see every interaction in a negative light then you might be better off reducing contact or phasing him out. He sounds annoying but not like a bad person and I can’t really see any manipulative or vengeful behaviour here. You said something happened and his parents explained to him why his behaviour had been unacceptable, and that he had been “mortified”, so he is taking things on board it they are explained to him.

    The porridge incident you mentioned is a different story and I think you come across as a bit of an ass here. Someone with vengeful streak would have retaliated here, but it seems that he just accepted the ridicule.

    The inheritance plans: lots of people do exactly this so I don’t find his thinking odd but I think it’s interesting that he tells you about these plans. He obviously trusts you with this information though it’s possible he is also trying to boast a bit.

    The extended invitations etc would have annoyed me, but you seem to have boundary issues here. It is unclear what sort or discussion on the matter you have had, but remember that he is capable of understanding others povs when they are explained properly.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    What your post effectively is, whether meaning to or not, is a character assassination. There is little or no mitigating character traits.

    All the answers are going to be very similar. What I would add is that this friend doesn't hide who he is, so you only have yourself to blame by continuing the relationship. Now, if you could put some effort into why you stayed friends with him for so long I... meaning we... would appreciate it and possibly give you more rounded answers.

  • Registered Users Posts: 447 ✭✭HerrKapitan

    Has your friend been diagnosed with anything? Like aspergers?

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  • Registered Users Posts: 16,486 ✭✭✭✭osarusan

    A) is my friend psychologically abnormal?

    Nobody on here can make any kind of diagnosis like that.

    B) Would I be better off without him?

    It's up to you, there are obviously good elements to your relationship with him. Personally, if he'd done even a fraction of what he's done to you, I'd have drifted away by now. He sounds like a dick who is openly using people for his own benefit. You've let him get away with too much for too long.

    C) What are the magic words I can say that will make him see that he needs to rethink his attitude to others?

    I actually think he knows exactly what's going on, but just doesn't care. He will do exactly as he pleases and if and when called on it, will explain it away with nonsense logic that everybody know is nonsense but are not willing to confront him about. He's going to go on doing that as long as people let him.

    But if you want to do it, you need to sit him down and make it crystal clear that stuff like inviting others to stay with you without knowing is utterly f**ked up (and those are the words I'd be using) and he cannot pretend that he doesn't know how utterl f**ked up it is.

    I don't think this is an issue of him needing to have his eyes opened to his behaviour, I think it's a case of somebody calling him on the bullsh!t behaviour that everybody, him included, knows he's engaging in.

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,799 Mod ✭✭✭✭Hannibal_Smith

    I suppose OP, as far as he's concerned his actions do seem fairly logical on some level. But the logic may explain what he's doing, but doesn't excuse it.

    All the incidents you describe have the same theme. He doesn't care what your reaction or thoughts are he's manipulating the situations so he gets what he wants and your hands are tied. Of course hes got a 'reason'. He has to come up with something to convince you he's being perfectly rational.

    For example the porridge. If he wanted the raisins, why not simply ask you? Because he knew it was odd. He knew you might say no, but he really fancied them for his porridge! So he got what he wanted whether you liked it or not.

    With the friend landing at your doorstep, he's trying to turn it around and lay the blame at your door that you some how misunderstood he'd be bringing a friend to stay at your house. With the event guests, that could have turned extremely sour very quickly for you. Actually the explanation he gave you for that one makes no sense whatsoever.

    Maybe there are undiagnosed issues there, but no one here can know that, nor can you. Maybe he feels if you've been close friends for so long the familiarity means he can cross boundaries with you that he can't with anyone else.

    Either way a conversation with him would be where I'd start where at the very least he understands he doesn't get to assume what you'd think or invite people to stay at your place. End of.

  • Registered Users Posts: 15,314 ✭✭✭✭AMKC

    He sounds very selfish. His logic for how he treated the dog makes absolutely no sense. He did not in the slightest think about how the poor dog might feel or take the dogs feelings into account at all and he is doing the same with all the people he has used including you. You would be much better off without him.

    You could tell him you have enough of his selfishness and just stop talking to him or you could give him a chance warn him if he does not chance that's it but I think you already have.

    It's really up to you.

    Live long and Prosper

    Peace and long life.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,618 ✭✭✭growleaves

    Some of that is extremely odd behaviour.

    You've got to be very assertive and have a serious talk about boundaries at least.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,204 ✭✭✭HBC08

    You should get a camera crew to follow him around,he sounds like a great character for a sitcom.Hes a bit like Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm.

    As for being friends with him? That's on you.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,076 ✭✭✭Damien360

    Good god. I read all that and I was thinking this guy is toxic and then it got worse as I read further. How do you put up with this ? If he is so open with you about manipulation of others for his sole benefit, how do you not see the exact same thing happening to you ? I’m trying to understand what you say you would miss if this person was out of your life.

    I read this from the point of view that you are single (the random people incident to your house tells me this), and you maybe that you think you will be lonely without him. He is not supporting you in any way. He would walk on your grave and think nothing of it. You need to get out to clubs of any description (bingo, sport…anything) and get different friends. Drawing a line in the sand won’t do. You will have to break his heart, if he has any, and dump him from your life.

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,799 Mod ✭✭✭✭Hannibal_Smith

    Mod Note

    @Lewis_Benson welcome to PI. When posting here posters are asked to post constructive advice in a civil way. Your post falls far below the standard expected here. Further, suggesting violence as a solution is strictly against the Charter.

    The Charter can be found here. Please read it before posting in PI/RI again. Post deleted.


  • Registered Users Posts: 930 ✭✭✭TheadoreT

    I mean it reflects very poorly on you too that you're associating with someone capable of such acts of extreme selfishness. By sticking by him it may seem you're condoning his behaviour in the eyes of others.

    Anyone with such clear likelihood of dragging me down with them by association I'd be cutting up of my life fast. It's life, friends groups evolve, we get a better idea of who we are and those we'd like to be in our lives the older we get. To stick with someone rotten to the core like this piece of work will never enrich your life.

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  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    This is an amazing story , the op seems like a good person, the friend has something going on for sure

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,297 ✭✭✭Count Dracula

    A couple of things op. You may not like my interpretation either, but please read it anyway.

    Long term friendships are extremely powerful influences in our lives. you have indicated that you know this person an extremely long time, but it does appear that after a mere 25 years you are beginning to notice deficits in one half of your friendship, when did this start? Or more importantly for you, when did you start noticing your friend's behaviour more thoroughly?

    One thing that strikes me is that you have listed a litany of behaviours which you are having issues with, when did your irritation develop?

    I am not here to judge you, it may be as simple as a fact that you have grown out of your friend's behaviour, I am not surprised either. He has demonstrated textbook sociopathic tendencies with a smorgasbord of broad, either Schizoid or and/or Schizotypal behaviours, with a heavy hint of dependent, histrionic and even hints of narcissistic disorder conduct, what a concoction.

    Take my advice here, you need to develop more definite boundaries with your friend at this point in your relationship. If you really care about this person you need to give them some positive distance for the time being and try to communicate your feelings in a positive way. Don't forget that you have already invested 24 years of your life in this person, there must be a multitude of good reasons why you have enjoyed his company over the years?.... If there isn't, or you cannot recall any, the bit of space you now develop will offer you a good opportunity to finally jump ship in the next few years if his behaviour continues to deteriorate, which it might well do if he does not elect to help himself via counselling or other treatment.

    I wish you luck, but you need to ask yourself why you have been friends for so long and why things have changed in your eyes, he may not even realise?

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,912 ✭✭✭Jequ0n

    I still don’t don’t see how the man is callous or manipulative with the OP. Self-serving and self-centred no doubt, but it’s not like he gaining anything by sharing his thoughts with the OP.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,244 ✭✭✭Brid Hegarty

    @MrMusician18 I personally can't see, from what you've told us what you are getting from this relationship that adds to your well being.

    I assume it's because this lady isn't married, and would be lonely without the option of having him around. Or at least that's what she thinks.

  • Registered Users Posts: 337 ✭✭NiceFella

    Friends for 25 years, your in too deep now to turn back.

    On a serious note, no one here can give you the answers to this. Has to come from you and how you feel about it overall.

    I have a friend who is very cavalier and quite self centered (not remotely on the level you have described your friend as) but even though he is roundly known in my group as being so and it's actually funny. He has done some awful things in the past but he was always funny about it. We have the craic with him about how selfish he can be and he reciprocates it. And funnily enough, it actually made him change somewhat for the better. Do you and friends in common not do a bit of slagging?

    Now your friend weather he has a condition or not is certainly not the norm. However, you have known him for 25 years so there must be some hook on why you are still engaging with him? Has he ever bought you a card for your birthday? You said he is amazing in other ways?

    The question here is are you putting up with too much crap from this chap and I think it's a very easy and straight yes. But, only you can tell if the intensity of the negatives are outweighing his positives. If there are very few positives, then you need to look inward as to why you are allowing yourself to be involved in with such a person for no benefit.

    Personally, I actually like people who are a bit different. They are some of the best craic in my experience. Not sure in the way you are describing this guy as the last paragraph for me, would probably be a line in the sand.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,244 ✭✭✭Brid Hegarty

    Sorry, but are you saying it's an unjust character assassination??

  • Registered Users Posts: 337 ✭✭NiceFella

    No, clearly they mean that the OP has given the friend in question no redeeming qualities, so naturally one would say, why the friendship?

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  • Registered Users Posts: 6,118 ✭✭✭screamer

    I didn’t read the whole thing, but it seems like you like being friends with him and are annoyed by the fact he only tells you half of his plans. Simple as this, ask him, are you coming to visit me on your own or are you bringing someone? Same as with his holiday plans- ask him. It’s a very simple fix for someone you want to stay friends with.

    honestly, he just sounds like a total skin flint who wouldn’t spend Christmas. Such people can be selfish to the nth degree, Scrooge comes to mind.

    only you can decide what to do, personally, I wouldn’t take a present of your friend.

This discussion has been closed.