The Luv Doc: Truth Tellin'
Being diplomatic isn't being deceptive; it's being thoughtful and caring
Dear Luv Doc,
One thing I have always admired about my partner is that she tells it like it is. She has absolutely no tolerance for lies or deception. She is brutally honest 24-7. If she thinks someone is bullshitting her, she will call them on it. If she doesn't like someone's shirt, she will tell them. If she doesn't like the music on someone's stereo, she will let them know. If she doesn't like the cookies someone brings to the office potluck, they are going to hear about it. If your friend is an asshole, she will tell you – and tell your friend too. Now, while I find this honesty refreshing, not everyone feels the same. Our friend group has shrunk considerably and people have subtly (and sometimes not) let me know that they find her abrasive. It troubles me that we (she) might have been alienating people over the years, and even though I know my partner might not care, I do. So, how do I go about mending fences with people who have written us off because of her behavior? And how do I get her to see that being more diplomatic might mean that we're happier in the long run?
– T. Ruth
That's easy. You just need to be every bit as honest with her as she is with everyone else. Tell her that all but a few of your friends can't stand to be around her because of her "refreshing honesty." Let her know – and this is a really important one – no one really gives a fuck about what she thinks. If they did, they would ask her opinion – and really when they ask her opinion they are more likely just seeking ratification and approval and not some sort of ruthless, withering critique. Tell her that while she may have a really low tolerance for lies and deception, a lot of other people – some of them recently your friends – have a very low tolerance for assholes.
In fact, most people have zero tolerance for assholes. No, it's not printed on their T-shirts, tattooed on their lower backs, or engraved in driftwood on their mantles. Instead, their zero tolerance is exhibited by the amount of time they willingly spend with assholes: zero. People who have zero tolerance for assholes don't stick around to argue with the asshole about how he or she is being an asshole, they just leave the asshole alone.
A good test to see whether or not you're an asshole is to call all your friends and ask them if they think you're an asshole. If you have no friends to call, BINGO! OK, that's not 100% accurate, there are any number of mitigating factors. You might be super wealthy and have lots of "friends." You might be really creative and introspective and spend all your time immersed in your art. You might simply refuse to bathe because it dries out your skin. I mean, theoretically you could be the nicest person on Earth and still smell like cat vomit or maybe the grease dumpster behind a Cajun restaurant. If that's the case, just chat your online friends and see if they think you're an asshole. Everybody online has an opinion. Increasingly the internet is where assholes congregate to masturbate. I mean intellectually and not just literally.
Most importantly you need to be very honest with her about how her "honesty" is affecting you personally. Assholes tend not to care so much about what other people think, and one of those people, sadly, may be you. Your partner might not give a fuck about what other people think, but there is a sliver of a chance she might care what you think and amend her behavior accordingly.
Believe it or not, there are people who manage to tell the truth diplomatically. Being diplomatic isn't being deceptive; it's being thoughtful and caring. It's also a lot more difficult than simply being an asshole. As for mending fences with your friends, the only person who can truly do that is your partner. I imagine that is going to take some amazing tact and diplomacy. I wish you and her all the luck in the world.