I’m sure some of you—on reading that headline—thought “Wow, she must have been having quite a time since her last post….”
In fact, things have been generally delightful. What prompted this post was the recent behavior of an acquaintance who—on seeing me at any industry event for the first time since my mother died—started patting my face and cooing “Oooh sweet little one…”
For the record: If you see me, don’t do that.
Now I do not doubt that her intentions were impeccable, but the fact remains that my state of mind was not factored in; and while I don’t believe my state of mind should be considered by everyone at every turn, I do think that when you are expressing condolences you need to consider the time and place of their delivery as well as the general personality of the recipient.
Upon my relaying my disquiet to my beloved chum, Timothy, he acquainted me with the phrase ‘Intimacy Terrorist.”
It was love at first hearing.
“Now,” you may be wondering, “How does an Intimacy Terrorist differ from a Psychic Vampire or a Foul Weather Friend?”
Based on my own findings, an Intimacy Terrorist generally leaps out of the woodwork, ambushes you with a bizarrely inappropriate remark, then vanishes. The Psychic Vampire, on the other hand, takes a more pervasive, insidious tack: omnipresent, soft-spoken, seemingly thoughtful, it is only when you find yourself prone under the covers with no will to live that you realize you’ve been being drained. Finally, the Foul Weather Friend is that person who miraculously shows up in your life the day you lose your job, your divorce papers are delivered, or you’re planning your parent’s funeral, but are somehow never free to come to your holiday party, your child’s graduation, or your anniversary celebration.
In every case, they can be identified by their initial query, which will always be, “What happened?” not “What can I do?” as their ultimate goal is not your well being, but instead detail-collecting in an effort to make themselves feel better about what’s going on in their lives (not to mention the boost of self-importance they get from being “there for you.”)
You will also find they have time to spread your story far and wide.
In every instance, once you you’ve targeted, I recommend keeping explanations short and sweet. For example, if you’ve been laid off simply say, “I got laid off.” That’s it. Further detail is unnecessary. Should they follow up with an, “Oh, I’m so sorry. Did you see it coming?” all you need to say is, ‘Thank you. Yes. (Or no, if you didn’t see it coming.) I appreciate your concern.” They are not entitled to more.
Frances Cole Jones