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Why would my friend make a remark that she knew I would overthink and possibly be hurt by it?

Tagged as: Friends, Troubled relationships<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (23 February 2019) 16 Answers - (Newest, 14 March 2019)
A female United Kingdom age 30-35, anonymous writes:

Recently, I was crossing paths with a friend whom I haven't seen for a while. I was walking on footpath and she was driving by.

I messaged her today to see how she was doing and mentioned that I'd been busy and had a'lot going on, so felt more heightened in anxiety, etc.

She messaged back, indirectly commenting on my physical appearance.I kind of got the impression that it felt like someone trying to put an idea into my mind that hadn't even been thought of.

I wondered why she'd wrote what she did and in the way that she had.

My intuition is: she knows I have worried about my self-image in the past, have had deeply ingrained mental health issues and knows that I am the type of person to over think.

If a friend came to me and realitered the conversation in message, my instinctive response would be: why is she making a point of pointing out your 'flaws' when you are in the process of making productive life changes.

I would also say to the friend that you are going to the gym, working on healthier habits and making all round life changes. Of all things, your friend didn't need filter negatives when things are genuinely looking up for you for the most part. Despite any adapting process that may currently be taking place to achieving long term results.

I would be really greatful for advice, beyond my own thinking, on how to stay protected, if, hyperthetically speaking, that friend isn't capable of seeing my progress in a positive light.

I want to continue moving forward and can't afford knock backs.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (14 March 2019):

The comment was along the lines of "Are you eating enough...getting enough iron"...and you are...insulted?!?!

You told her you were anxious and overtired. Of course she makes that kind of remark. It shows she CARES. and she is also probably trying to show you that, even if the rest of the world is telling you to lose weight, SHE doesn't think you need to...she would rather you be HEALTHY, WELL FED, and getting your vitamins than stick skinny...

But wait, you are insulted? I think this is definitely from over-sensitivity.

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A female reader, Ciar Canada + , writes (28 February 2019):

Ciar agony auntI assume the 'even attributed to some struggles with mental health' comment was directed, at least in part, at me.

The OP herself brought up the possibility when she referred to her 'deeply ingrained mental health issues'.

The suggestion was made, that the OP might be right in that she may be over thinking it.

Second, my suggestion about the 'mental health exercise' would apply to anyone. If physical exercise is good for the body, why would mental exercises not be good for the mind?

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A reader, anonymous, writes (27 February 2019):

This is verified as being by the original poster of the question

Thank you for the time taken to writing a response to my concern. There was also negative expression in food choices.

I feel that the lady named, without me, is on point with her perseptive in observation. Especially with the point make on sensitivity being subjective.

The next morning I felt more negative.

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A female reader, Without Me United States +, writes (25 February 2019):

Im thinking that I must be reading the wrong post when I went back and read through some of these comments.

This woman is saying that her intuition tells her that this person or "friend" made remarks that were off-beat, indirectly referencing her appearance in a way that made her uncomfortable. She had already shared that she was feeling anxious and had a lot going on.

She asked for feedback about how to protect herself, yet in several responses her intuition was questioned and even attributed to some struggles with mental health.

So, Ill add this to my previous advice....

Trust your intuition. You know the context. No matter what your struggles may be, Im not questioning your assessment of the situation.

How to protect yourself? Again I will say there are people that like to comment and make passive aggressive remarks sometimes due to their own insecurities, maybe jealousy. Keep those people out of your life. You are making positive changes and you cannot allow anyone to interfere, especially if you feel that they are negative towards your progress. You may be sensitive, but thats subjective. Only you know you, and its all about boundaries and your level of comfort. Clearly the comments left you unsettled...who am I to tell you that you are overreactive, or to discount your feelings and attribute them to your mental health?

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A female reader, chigirl Norway + , writes (25 February 2019):

chigirl agony auntPeople just say such things because they cant mind their own business. Surprisingly few can mind their own business, and the ones who do often get told they are rude for not caring more...

Look, just ignore the message or write back: Thank you for your concern, but I ask that you do not comment on my appearance.

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A female reader, Without Me United States +, writes (25 February 2019):

My thoughts are that some people get joy or pleasure out of downing others. Some people like to look for other's weaknesses and highlight them. Im not saying there is anything wrong with your appearance at all. But if this person knows youre sensitive, they intend to hurt you. Usually this type of person is jealous and/or insecure about something in their own life. I think by trying to step outside of yourself and look objectively is a good thing..I try that myself..lol. Heres the thing..you dont trust yourself and your own judgement. Really think about that. Its an issue I know and a concept brought to my attention. Its something to work on. The most important thing is to kick these types of toxic people out of your life and keep them out. Its not good for you to be on the up and down roller coaster. If you already struggling in that area...a person like this will only amplify your mood. Its counterproductive and unhealthy to undo all the work you are putting in to better your life. Hope that helps. The only expert on your life is YOU.

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (24 February 2019):

[EDIT]:

Correction of grammatical and typographical errors:

"I think you might have over-read what she said."

Post script:

After weight-loss; sometimes people who have had past issues with their weight carry those sensitivities and defense-mechanisms with them, long after the weight is gone. You're concerned about what's on the outside and meets the eye; when what's going on in your mind needs work too.

If you lose the weight, but not the old-mindset; you won't appreciate life, and you can't enjoy the progress you've made. You can't always worry about what people think; but you also have to interpret what they say correctly as well.

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (24 February 2019):

I think you might have over-reading what she said. You might be hypersensitive about anything mentioned regarding your appearance or your weight.

You did mention in the first post that you are concerned about your self-image. I gather that this hypersensitivity and defensiveness is a symptom of your mental-health disorder. Don't just worry about your weight and appearance; perhaps it would be more important if you focused on your mental-health, and how you cope with interacting with other people. You're not sure how to take any mention of your weight or appearance, it seems to trigger you.

Learn to handle compliments and insults. Try to tell the difference, without presuming there's some dark intention behind what people say. Learn to press on even when people don't say nice things, or acknowledge your progress. You are making yourself a better person for your own sake, and because you care about yourself. Stay on course!

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A female reader, Ciar Canada + , writes (24 February 2019):

Ciar agony auntI don't think your friend meant anything negative.

It would be a good mental health exercise to remember that people don't have YOU and YOUR issues in the forefront of their minds. Trying to juggle one's own hopes and fears with the thought processes of others can be challenging.

In short...it's not all about you.

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A female reader, ClairM United Kingdom + , writes (24 February 2019):

If you messaged her about how you felt it just seems to me she commented on how she saw you based on the only thing she could do, what you looked like.

As i said if you don't want to attract comments then you would be wise to not welcome the conversation in the first place.

To be fair when i lost a lot of weight people showed concern i shouldn't lose anymore, who knows maybe she was genuinely showing concern.

You don't sound like you have become underweight and from what you have wrote you have been making POSITIVE changes in your life with going to the gym, healthier eating etc. You can't stop people having their opinion OP, but what you can do is trust yourself and know as you have acknowledged that you are working towards a healthier life in mind and body. Don't let this be a 'knock back' remember you DO NOT have to accept someone else's opinion, so long as you know you are working towards a healthier you that is all that matters.

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (24 February 2019):

Honeypie agony auntI'd take that as a person who is interested in your well being.

Other than that? I wouldn't address it, other than letting her know you are doing good and feel great.

I don't think it's pointing out your "flaws" to ask if you are being healthy. Especially if the weight loss has been super fast.

What is her profession? Is she a health-nut herself? Or maybe SHE has gone though being anemic herself recently.

You see it as a flaw, YOU are very sensitive about it. Had she not noticed your weight loss you might have hit on that too.

However, if you two have history of HER being NEGATIVE about your looks, then I'd quite frankly not discuss it with her. And I wouldn't call her a friend.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (24 February 2019):

This is verified as being by the original poster of the question

I messaged her to say hi and gave her my new number. Explained that I hadn't been in touch, because my anxiety levels were higher than usual.

She is aware that I am someone who has had a long history with mental health.

There was nothing wrote in the message to ask for any feedback on physical appearances. It came unsolicited.

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A female reader, ClairM United Kingdom + , writes (24 February 2019):

I don't know what she said to you but by what you have wrote you explained to her how you felt and how you feel she would have perceived you and from that she gave you feedback?

The thing is you don't want knock backs and i understand that but if you talk to people openly about your problems, how you look, how you come across you are opening up the chance for them to comment and tell you what they think.

If you feel you need to work on yourself then that is great but i personally i would only be opening up to very close friends at best, close family or professionals, not some 'friend' who is clearly not a close friend and you are second guessing but don't know for sure what impact it may have had on you.

But i agree with Honeypie unless we know what you messaged and her reply it is hard for any of us to agree with what you are feeling about the interaction...

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A reader, anonymous, writes (24 February 2019):

This is verified as being by the original poster of the question

The message was commenting on weight loss.

I've never been that big in build, so was more jibes towards loosing too much weight.

"Are you eating enough...getting enough iron"... it was along those lines.

I'm 10-12 in clothes now, rather than being a filled out 12.

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (24 February 2019):

Honeypie is correct. You may want to explain what she said and give some backstory.

I can address the matter regarding who we consider friends; and why sometimes a friend could turn on you.

Maybe you awarded her the honor of friendship when she doesn't deserve it, or she may not have felt the same towards you. Perhaps over time that old friendship has eroded.

Even when someone is on the road to recovery from a life-tragedy, addiction, alcoholism, weight-loss, mental-illness, or rehabilitation after incarceration; some people will not appreciate their progress. They may only remember the damage you've done in the past; or the old person you used to be.

Sometimes you may lose trust and credibility; if you have a history of doing harm and making trouble. Even if you may not have hurt anyone but yourself. Recovery and improving yourself is one thing. Regaining lost trust is another.

You have to be prepared for these roadblocks and obstacles.

There are always consequences to our actions; and sometimes when people have seen the damage left in your wake; they don't care about your feelings. If you parted on reasonably good turns; she may only be playing head-games, because she's a nasty person. You may have misjudged her to be a friend. People don't have to have a reason to turn on you or go toxic. Maybe her life sucks, and your progress reminded her just how much!

If she was once a partner in crime, she isn't going to want to see you making progress towards becoming a better person; because she fears you'll think you're better than she is.

Knock-backs are a part of life. You learn to roll with the punches; because the reality is, not everyone is happy for you. If you've been down, or hit rock-bottom at some point in your life; then the only way is up from there. Anyone or anything that gets in your way; you simply push it aside, and you don't look back.

The problem of being overly-concerned about self-image, is that you put the power in the hands of others to define who you are. You'll live by public-opinion without considering bias, or the credibility of the source. While never trusting yourself. Instead of being confident and proud of who you are. You can't please or impress everybody!

Don't sweat it. You know what the plan is. Congratulations on your success towards your goals!

When we've received more details, we may be of more help.

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (24 February 2019):

Honeypie agony auntWhat exactly did she say?

It's kind of pertinent for what kind of answer I'll give.

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