Preventive Annoyance Mitigation

nicoleandmaggie (the Grumpies) have a new post, and one part of it resonated strongly with me. Below is the comment I left there.

n&m: “I’ve started hitting chatty. I apologize in advance to anybody that I have an even sporadic texting relationship with. I am pretty amazing in small doses, but annoying in longer interactions. Trying to be less annoying never seems to work, so I’ve learned to spread myself out. Which is hard to do these days! I am #blessed that my family puts up with me.

This hit me in all the feelz. This is what I usually do (assume I am generally annoying and try to avoid overdosing people, thinking I’m doing them a kindness). But when I brought this up (that I get to be too much/annoying quickly) a few times with a few people who I feel know me and like me, they looked at me like I’d sprouted a second head. Apparently, they don’t think I’m annoying at all and some have brought up that I actually end up seeming aloof and disinterested (whereas all I tried to do is not impose, not suffocate them with my intensity). I think the problem is not the people who want me me in their lives; they would probably like more time and interaction. It’s the people whom I for some reason feel I should impress, who just don’t like me but feel like they have to pretend they do, and who have a hard time concealing their true feelings; from them, it comes across that any amount of exposure to me is annoying, no matter how small I try to make myself or how considerate of their time I try to be. (It really sucks if such people include, for example, one’s parent. That will mess one up big time. Ahem.) I need to stop vying for these people’s approval, restrict their access to my emotional core, and stick to perfunctory interactions. It’s always hard to admit, but some people will dislike me no matter what I do (or don’t do), and they’re not worth diminishing myself into oblivion.



  1. I find you so cathartic. All these words you lay around here so warmly sound so much like what is going on in my head, you put it so genuinely out there (just like in Dragon texts with all caps — I wonder what it took for you to get yourself out of their spell, or how long until you got this freedom to allow yourself to accept this, or starting to see it in a different light).

    I used to think that I was pretty lucky to (have to) move to a new place, life, city, group of friends, very few years, given the different schools, then out of the country for grad school, and then the postdoc years, so that I could start over, be liked for a good while until I show my real face and people start to see how genuinely unlikable, and annoying, and generally too much, I really am. How crazy is that? Everybody around me was complaining about this “training” for academic life while I was just grateful for another opportunity to prove myself likable.

    It was kinda over when I realized that I will most likely stay where I am now, especially after tenure, for very long time, potentially through retirement, just like normal, regular, likable people.
    Then, little by little, I found that I am still friends with some old friends, that some people still like me after those so many years that we spent together, or simply in our minds after we had to move aways. Maybe I changed and indeed I don’t give much f&*(s anymore, or maybe they changed too, or they got to meet even more annoying types. But then indeed, there are those we grew up with, those we have been trained (by whom?) to love and seek love from no matter what, and then it’s a different story.

  2. I understand you both really well… I wonder sometimes if I also subconsciously have engineered my life such that I can start over in a new job every 1-3 years, so that I am less stressed out about fitting in or “people liking me”. I really feel dread about starting a job and staying there for the rest of my working life, because then it becomes so important for people liking me and that makes me want to twist myself into knots to please them first and then when this of course doesn’t work I start to resent both them and myself and I just want to run far away. I always enjoy the moment I can leave a job so much, since I always think that my colleagues hate me anyway and then I am surprised that some of them reach out later or seem to remember me as a nice person…. I will start a job this fall that might become my job for the rest of my life and I really hope I can finally break this pattern.

  3. This really resonated with me. I’ve spent most of my life feeling deep down that I am inherently dislikable, or annoying, weird, or too intense also. I don’t know if this is exactly what you’re talking about, but I wanted to chime in to say you’re definitely not alone, and I so appreciate you (and N&M) sharing. I’ve developed some coping strategies over the years (mostly trying to assume that people like me, even if it’s not true, and asking people for their opinion on things that aren’t charged), and that has seemed to help. IDK. Oh! And also trying to care less. That is harder though.

  4. @omdg said: I’ve spent most of my life feeling deep down that I am inherently dislikable, or annoying, weird, or too intense also.

    Yes, definitely this. I like to say I am an acquired taste. However, over the years, I have made peace (more or less) with how I am. After all, it’s not like have much of a choice if I don’t want to be miserable all the time. The truth is I probably *am* more intense than most people, but that’s not inherently a bad thing; it’s just a trait (on good days, I do believe this). This insight was helped by time and experience, as well as by meeting various intense people, recognizing parts of myself in them, and realizing that I liked and often admired those features. Also learning that some mellow people genuinely enjoy intense people like me (especially if I try to keep track of whether or not I am overwhelming them, and tone myself down on the fly when needed). Examples of mellow people who like my intensity include my long-suffering husband (bless him), my (now dead) childhood best friend, several colleagues, and my favorite mom friend. The mom friend is shy and suffers from social anxiety; my lifetime of being atuned to detecting whether or not I annoy people actually makes me good at noticing anxious people and helping them feel at ease. I acted like we were old friends from the get-go, which made her relax around me, so we have a really nice relationship now (I do try to make sure I don’t overwhelm her). It turns out I enjoy both some intense people and some mellow people, and those who like me come with varied temperaments, too. I think a lot of our issues stem from brief and shallow interactions, where only the most polished come across well. In the long run, I think people will accept all sorts of personality quirks once they realize you’re a decent person they can count on. Time, seriously. Time is key.

  5. Just wanted to say I resonated with this and that I appreciate the blog.

  6. I thought that annoying people never know they’re annoying!

    Seriously, everyone can be annoying. It just depends on the chemistry, or lack of, between the two people involved.

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