Cutting contact with an acquaintance without explanation

Postby Rey302 » Thu Oct 01, 2020 7:43 pm

So I got to know this guy at my uni last year (I'm also a guy). He seemed ok at first, but as time went by it started turning out that we have little in common. And in the last months he has actually almost always been contacting me when he needed help with his studies while in the rest of the time, I didn't hear from him at all. But that wasn't the main reason why I decided to cut contact with him. A couple of days ago he did something that totally confirmed that he's just an opportunist who has been taking advantage of me. So yesterday I decided to simply block him online without giving him an explanation why. We may still happen to meet each other in the university, but it will be pretty rare since this semester we have almost everything online. And if he tries contacting me through other means or in person, I will tell him the reason for this. But I think that now I don't owe this person an explanation since we weren't that close to each other. And it's also possible that he gets the hint himself and simply moves on to someone else. We also have some common acquaintances from university, but I don't really care if they cut contact with me as well because of him - that would mean that I wouldn't want to be in touch with them anyway. Did I do the right thing with this? What are your thoughts?
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#1

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Fri Oct 02, 2020 1:07 am

Rey302 wrote: So yesterday I decided to simply block him online without giving him an explanation why. Did I do the right thing with this? What are your thoughts?


No. Blocking someone accomplishes NOTHING. It accomplishes zero, zip, nada. It doesn't strengthen you, it doesn't help him, it does nothing for you, your family, or your community.

Blocking is the digital equivalent of hanging up on someone. And hanging up on someone is a 1980's version of shunning. It's like putting your fingers in your ears in order to ignore someone you don't want to deal with.

You have identified this person as an opportunist. Fair enough. An opportunist is very easy to handle. You learn to say one word, "No". Instead of blocking, deleting, or in today's lingo "canceling" another person, you learn how to tell them you have no interest. Don't rationalize that good social skills means blocking someone and then being ready to tell them why if asked.

You are currently a "Yes" person. This has allowed this person to be an opportunist. How do I know you are currently a "Yes" person? Because of this thread asking if blocking a person is the appropriate way to handle an opportunist. You said, "Yes" repeatedly, and having realized he takes advantage of this instead of learning how to strengthen your social skills. You are using the digital "easy button".

The good news is that you are conflicted about your actions, hence the questions you asked. That's great. It means you have reflected, you are uncertain and are questioning if blocking this person was the right approach. No. It's not a good approach.
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#2

Postby Candid » Fri Oct 02, 2020 10:35 am

I see this a bit differently.

Rey302 wrote:So yesterday I decided to simply block him online without giving him an explanation why.

I think you need to get comfortable with this, get your head down and concentrate on your studies. What's done is done, even though it could easily be undone and presumably he wouldn't even know you'd done it in the first place. You're at university to study and you don't need time-wasters.

Your action is unassertive, as Richard has made clear, and it's true you'd be better off learning to say no. However, you're learning more important stuff and that needs to be your focus. As another one who's been known to accept users and abusers for a while, I've perfected my disappearing act. People do get the message!

We also have some common acquaintances from university, but I don't really care if they cut contact with me as well because of him - that would mean that I wouldn't want to be in touch with them anyway. Did I do the right thing with this? What are your thoughts?

Ouch. The knock-on effect can be nasty. You tell me, do you have a network of other people whose company you enjoy and who operate in fair dealing?

To me, the best thing is to take your eye off The Problem and put your energy into the things, ideas and people you do want around you. You don't want hangers-on ruining your uni experience.
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#3

Postby Rey302 » Fri Oct 02, 2020 11:45 am

Thank you for the answers. I agree that I should definitely get better saying "No". I don't regret cutting this person out of my life at all, just the way I did it, but like already said it's done. Regarding the other people we both have contact with, yes I enjoy their company sometimes, but I couldn't call them friends, just acquaintances as well so I could easily do without them if necessary - as you also mentioned, studying is my highest priority instead of wasting my time with the wrong people.
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#4

Postby Candid » Fri Oct 02, 2020 12:11 pm

Rey302 wrote:I don't regret cutting this person out of my life at all, just the way I did it,

Yes, I get that. It does feel infinitely better to make a statement of what you want or what you don't want, what you're happy to do and what feels like an imposition. This https://www.skillsyouneed.com/ps/assertiveness.html might get you on the right track. Having been shat upon for many years, I am now free of people whose conversation grates, and life feels a lot better.
I enjoy their company sometimes, but I couldn't call them friends

A little anecdote from my chequered past. When I was infinitely less assertive than I am now, I didn't really let people see me. There were people I saw interacting with others and thought "I can't handle that". I'd just stay away.

About 20 years ago I met my closest friend when we worked together. There was another woman who I'd decided was unsafe and steered clear of. Then my bestie told me she and this scary loudmouth had been talking about something. Surprised, I said to her: "You'll be friends with anyone!"

Bestie looked me up and down, grinned and said: "Quite."

I love her to bits and admire her style. To her, everyone is a friend until they prove otherwise. She's a wiz on boundaries. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_boundaries

I think you're a bit like me. You learned early that Other People couldn't be trusted. More, you were probably punished in some way if you stood up for yourself, so you became afraid to do it. It's the worst thing parents can do to their children, wrecking the capacity for wise judgment and setting us up for all kinds of troubles later in life.

I hope you'll take a look at the stuff on assertiveness, and practice it in small ways until you get comfortable. Always ask yourself "what do I want right now?" and "is this reasonable?" Learn to ask other people for small favours. It all boosts self-esteem, which I suspect is lacking in your case.
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#5

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Fri Oct 02, 2020 2:01 pm

Rey302 wrote: I don't regret cutting this person out of my life at all, just the way I did it, but like already said it's done.


I agree with Candid, in that you should practice your "assertiveness" social skills.

I like to imagine being trapped on a raft, boat, or small island with people. I imagine being part of a small tribe of hunter/gatherers. I imagine how people have learned to interact and live with each other for hundreds of thousands of years.

Then the Internet happened.

I'm exaggerating, but the luxury of "cutting" people out of your life is a relatively modern invention that doesn't do anyone any favors. The ability to block, delete, and/or cancel another person with a few clicks is promoting weak social skills.

Historically, "cutting" a person out of your life was almost never an option. This person is part of your tribe. Even if they were an opportunist, you had to learn the social skills to deal with them. You had to learn how to say no. You couldn't just click a button.

That said, I can appreciate in a modern world we can overextend ourselves with superficial social interaction. Instead of a handful of people (roughly 150 in tribes) with stronger connections, it is common to have 200, 300, 1000 "friends" with most being superficial.

So I can appreciate "cutting contact" with an acquaintance. I can appreciate making that decision. I can appreciate having other priorities in life. Still, IMO blocking someone is a weak move.

And an interesting side note, I spend more time reading Candid's posts and participating in this forum than in other social arenas. Arguably, even though we live on different continents, have never met, and disagree on some issues, Candid is one of my more frequent social contacts. If I had to list 150 people in order of frequency or time spent communicating, Candid would be on that list.
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#6

Postby Candid » Fri Oct 02, 2020 3:12 pm

Richard@DecisionSkills wrote:the luxury of "cutting" people out of your life is a relatively modern invention

That's quite a leap, Richard! Somewhere between my 'gathering' and cave-sweeping duties and being hunched over a computer for hours most days, I managed to cut off several significant people. It didn't feel good, still doesn't, but all attempts at rapprochement were met with curled-lip unpleasantness, so there are times you just have to say "enough". Ouch.

You had to learn how to say no. You couldn't just click a button.

I daresay when scapegoating came into being (it was certainly around in biblical times) people just wandered away from the tribe. I understand it was pretty much a death sentence, and evolution hasn't entirely wiped that out. Ouch again.

Instead of a handful of people (roughly 150 in tribes) with stronger connections, it is common to have 200, 300, 1000 "friends" with most being superficial.

I lament that too. Despite all our labour-saving devices everyone's so damned busy! Why do you suppose that is?

... even though we live on different continents, have never met, and disagree on some issues, Candid is one of my more frequent social contacts.

Interesting. Last night was one of my long and sleepless, and one of the many garbled thoughts to pass through my mind was I wonder if I'll ever meet that DecisionSkills guy face-to-face?

Seems like you 'got' that.
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#7

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Sat Oct 03, 2020 2:18 pm

Candid wrote:...I managed to cut off several significant people.

I daresay when scapegoating came into being (it was certainly around in biblical times) people just wandered away from the tribe. I understand it was pretty much a death sentence, and evolution hasn't entirely wiped that out. Ouch again.


That is why I say we have the "luxury". I understand to this day it is very difficult mentally to leave the tribe but from a material/physical perspective, we don't often face the death sentence.

Imagine wanting to leave the tribe. Put aside the physical ability, what about the knowledge. Do you have the knowledge to navigate, hunt, build a fire, shelter, a weapon, know which herbs are safe, deal with inclement weather, cure an illness, know which animals are dangerous, etc.

We share cognitive labor. Most people don't have all the knowledge to safely wander from the tribe.

Pure speculation, but my guess is very few people wandered off by themselves. I think groups would break off to form new tribes. The 'scapegoat' would work towards forming and/or joining these groups. I also think elders might also arrange for "marriages" or relationships with other tribes to deal with family issues. This was an alternative to banishment.

The bottom line, in our world the ability for an individual to leave a tribe is much easier. It is a luxury that our ancestors did not have.

Last night was one of my long and sleepless, and one of the many garbled thoughts to pass through my mind was [i]I wonder if I'll ever meet that DecisionSkills guy face-to-face?


Who knows. Maybe one day we happen to end up in the same corner of the world.
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#8

Postby Candid » Sun Oct 04, 2020 11:33 am

Richard@DecisionSkills wrote: Imagine wanting to leave the tribe.

I can readily recall being ejected! Worst day of my life.

Put aside the physical ability, what about the knowledge. Do you have the knowledge to navigate, hunt, build a fire, shelter, a weapon, know which herbs are safe, deal with inclement weather, cure an illness, know which animals are dangerous, etc.

Come to think of it, I didn't have the modern equivalents. There were wolves everywhere and they soon spotted me. I knew what to do in a supermarket but I struggled with what to do when I got the stuff home. I've never had a driver's licence so I've been something of a nuisance to my friends, and when I wander off my (very small) turf my navigational skills lead me astray at least as often as they get me where I'm going.

I did have some natural advantages, probably the very attributes that got me ejected, but I can't claim to have charted my own course. Yet here I am.

I think groups would break off to form new tribes. The 'scapegoat' would work towards forming and/or joining these groups.

Scapegoats have a way of finding others, 'tis true, but we're saddled with relational difficulties and suspicion that naturally includes of each other. According to my late father, I started running away when I was three, and I get the 'gotta go' feeling whenever I think I could be at my final address. It took decades to find my tribe and there were some life-altering mistakes along the way.

Having to break off a relationship without warning... that's something I've done many times. As I intimated to our OP, it's a matter of personal boundaries. If our own are pierced with arrows, we have trouble distinguishing I from thou. There's enormous shame at having done it, and fear of running into that person again.

I also think elders might also arrange for "marriages" or relationships with other tribes to deal with family issues.

Indeed. When a wealthy and age-appropriate man took a fancy to me Dad truly hoped that was the solution. My solution was someone much younger than myself (and potless) so we could muddle along together.

The bottom line, in our world the ability for an individual to leave a tribe is much easier. It is a luxury that our ancestors did not have.

Ability to leave is one thing; being ejected is another. It's the classic scapegoat, arrows sticking out of its side when it's driven off into the wilderness. It isn't the arrows that hurt so much as the being driven off. Possibly evolution of our huge brain is responsible for the fact that so many of us now need psychoanalysis in great doses.

Our OP asked "What are your thoughts?" My own, as you might expect, are that he hasn't told us about what goes on at home.
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