You vs. Social Aggressors

One night, almost four years ago (read this in Sir Ian McKellen's voice — it's much more stoic), I went head-to-head with a social aggressor. It went a little something like this:

Him: "Girls don't want nice guys."

Me: "What? That's not true."

Him: "No, they want guys that treat them like shit because they leave me for guys who treat them like shit."

Me: "No, that's not–"

Him: "And another thing!"

Me: "Wait what–"


Me: "??!?!?!?!?!!!"

Him: "Awwww, we're still friends, come on [hug]."

And while I absolutely forget what exactly was said between he and I at some point during the course of that conversation (because I blocked it out consciously), I do remember feeling compelled to hug him; like if I didn't apologize or accept his apology, I was doing something wrong. But no! Hell no. No thank you indeed. What we have here, boys and girls (*hits the chalkboard for effect like those teachers that command a classroom*), is a social aggressor. A person who is out for blood, and gives zero fucks about who they engage with while they pursue it.

I could've told him I agreed. I could've said something even more offensive. I could've said the reason all those girls left him was because he probably yelled at them in various bars. Either way, the outcome would've been the same:

Him: "MY OPINION!!!!!"

We all know this type of person well. The person who has to tell you why Titanic sucks. The person who goes on and on about why you're wrong to love Scandal. The person who doesn't quit until you somehow either say something incredibly mean, or nothing at all because you've walked away. And even then, it's away from their smug faces because that person always thinks they're right. It is a situation you cannot win. So here's how I like to put an end to it.

1. Say "no"
And I don't mean "no" in a "shout it in their face and make everyone turn around and look at you" way (though if you did, that would be awesome). I mean "no" in "yeah, no." Nothing stops the momentum of a conversation like somebody casually shutting it down. You don't even need to be mean. All you need — and trust me from experience — is a simple "yeah, no thank you." And then they're so taken aback, you will have three minutes to flee. Because that's ultimately the end game here.

2. Literally walking away
I love winning arguments, but even I (a person so stubborn I once honked every time some dude who'd cut me off moved their steering wheel to try and get in front of me during a traffic jam) will walk away from "the guy who knows everything." He knows everything! Which means no matter what you or I say, even if you are holding your phone and pointing to a website that proves just how correct you are, will be null and void according to this person who has the facts*. (*Their opinion.) You cannot win. You're wasting time, and your time is valuable.

3. Don't be afraid to call them out before shutting it down
I would love a time machine to go back and tell that guy what I really think about his "nice guy" persona (the worst persona of all), but I do not have a time machine, so that ship (or time machine) has sailed. So learn from my mistake. I hinted that he was sexist during our conversation, and he froze up and got more defensive than even the most guilty politician. Imagine I'd said "you're victimizing yourself because you want to manipulate women"?! Imagine his inability to speak? "That's not true!" he will probably say. But it is true. And because he won't let up until you think it is, you walk away while he struggles to form an articulate argument to prove why he wasn't and isn't trying to manipulate you. (I say "he" because I'm specifically thinking about my own experiences here.)

4. Print this article out and hand it to him
"Here," you will say. "This is about you." Then get more snacks, knowing you are finally free. (Or: avoid them at all costs because damn it, you have things to do.)

Tags: friendship, parties, party etiquette, social aggressors

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  1. Avatar
    • Ellen Wardle
    • July 30, 2014
    I like this article, and I think you bring up some really good points & valuable advice. Although I think it’s also worth pointing out that there’s a big difference between this kind of person (someone who pumps out false, negative opinions) to people asking questions that might be percieved as aggressive. That’s a tricky line to navigate. I know I often irritate people with my need to ask extremely random & often displacing questions :/


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