People show us what they want us to see.
Whether it’s an edited Instagram or a well-written cover letter, the person being presented is often a very calculated version of the real person.
Often, this is an important tool to keep our social circles together.
We cultivate a different facet of ourselves for different aspects of our lives.
A stoic for work, a partier for the weekend.
Of course, we can get so caught up in the editing that we hide whole facets of ourselves from even people close to us.
What happens when those secret facets slip and we find out someone we thought of as a friend might be anything but?
That was the issue facing professionalbluebirb when he came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for some outside opinions.
“AITA for ruining my friend´s relationship?”
He began with the background.
“I (26 male) have a friend, Oliver.”
“We briefly dated, he broke up because he figured he was straight so we remained friends for the last seven years.”
Everything was okay until…
“A few months ago he began to hang out with some new people he met at work and started to date Lisa (23) from said friend group.”
“Recently said friend group hung out at a bar and Oliver asked me to come along, which I agreed to.”
“We spent the evening together, had a few drinks, had fun, until Lisa started to talk about a childhood friend of hers she recently reconnected with and told everyone with great disgust that he turned out to be gay.”
“The others also had some opinions about that and let´s just say things were pretty ugly and disgusting against queer people and POC.”
“I really didn´t want to deal with that bullsh*t so I told everyone straightforward that I was gay and that what they were saying was derogatory, inhuman, and vile.”
“At first they thought I was joking because I am ‘straight looking and too masculine’ but eventually the penny dropped and after a few moments of embarrassment they just continued, now directly targeting me.”
“Oliver hadn´t said anything, he had just laughed along until now and as the banter started again, he chimed in and claimed that he ‘had no idea I swing that way’.”
“I was baffled because first of all the two of us used to date, he knew every boyfriend I had in these past years and went to Pride with me and his (bisexual) sister and now he was laughing at these insults.”
“I snapped, said ‘funny, thought that was clear’ and told everyone the story of how we used to date.”
“And then hell broke loose and I left.”
“Oliver later called me and yelled at me that he needed me to tell his girlfriend that I had been joking and that we had never dated as she broke up with him because ‘she needed a real man and not some si**y who fu**ed a fa***t’.”
“He told me that he loved her and really liked her friends and he didn´t want to lose any of them.”
“I asked him whether he had lost his mind because these people were homophobic and racist and that I could not understand why he would even want to deal with them.”
“He told me that should have kept my mouth shut and ‘only because they have one flaw doesn´t mean they are bad people’.”
“I asked him whether our friendship and his sister meant nothing to him and he said that we mean the world to him and that he supports us, but he is still allowed to hang out with people who ‘have other opinions’.”
The conversation with Oliver did give OP some doubts.
“Then he said something that actually had me thinking why I might be the AH after all:”
“He said that first of all I didn´t have the right to ‘out’ him and that I don´t have the right to ‘choose’ whom he hangs out with just because I disagree with them and feel personally attacked and betrayed by him.”
He was left to wonder.
“AITA and should I lie to mend things between him and his GF?”
Having laid out the situation, he turned to Reddit for some outside thoughts.
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided: NTA
Some tried to offer the benefit of the doubt.
“He does sound like someone who would bend over backward to get along with anyone and everyone, to the point of agreeing with anyone in fear they would hate him and would exclude.”
“Though I’m probably extrapolating since I hardly know anything about this person.”
“Either way, he’ll have to learn at some point, and clearly the hard way, that you just can’t.”
“There’s no way to ‘be besties with everyone’, and boundaries are not a bonus, just for when you’re in the mood for conflict.”
“Moral boundaries, ethical boundaries, emotional boundaries.”
“He will need to think for himself about notions of right and wrong, because I don’t know how he’s going to figure out what he wants and doesn’t in the future.”
“As a wise man once said ‘if you stand for nothing, Burr, what do you fall for?’ ~ Choco-chewy
Others were less forgiving.
“I wouldn’t normally be okay with outting someone, but your friend was almost asking for it.”
“What they and your friend was doing was awful.”
“You were defending yourself. Your friend should have immediately shut the conversation down with the first homophobic comment that was made.”
“Him saying he supposedly didn’t know you weren’t straight almost comes off as a dare to me.”~ mothertothemax
It was clear to some that Oliver had some deeper issues.
“I think he’s trying to distance himself from who he truly is.”
“After all, if this homophobic asshole thinks he’s straight, he must pass, right?”
“That must count for something, right?”
“The past is in the past and is a silly mistake, right?”
“Poor, self-hating a**hole. You probably saved him a lot of pain in the long run.” ~ Neurotic_Bakeder
Others made an important distinction.
“Common disregard for basic humanity is not an ‘opinion’.”
“Why does your ‘friend’ (in quotes because he’s not much of a friend) think its ok to defend people who’s ‘opinions’ fall in line at least 2/3 with the monsters behind the holocaust?”
“Because gays and POC were sent to the concentration camps too.” ~
“You said he was laughing along with them.”
“If this was something he was hearing the first time, he wouldn’t have been laughing.”
“He would have been confused/ surprised/ shocked at the very least.”
“A straight ally would have been pissed and told them to fuck off before you had to say you’re gay.”
“He should have broken up with her on the spot and taken you to a different bar to celebrate taking the trash to the curb.” ~ MonitorCautious1971
“Why does he deserve protection when he hung you out to dry and joined in attacking you?”
“He betrayed you and his sister.”
“Does he not realize that bigot would’ve told him to choose her or his sister?” ~ Knittingfairy09113
OP did return to offer some updates.
“Oliver thought it was a smart idea to talk to his sister and ask her to talk to me to convince me ‘to do the right thing’.”
“She is furious.”
“She basically packed a few of her things and stormed out of the flat they share because ‘she is not going to live under the same roof as a person who thinks homophobia and racism is an opinion that can be laughed at’.
“His sister is at my place, we have beer, two very spoiled cats, movies and a few missed calls and texts from Oliver who is desperate to talk to us and who is apologizing for everything.”
“People asked for this:”
“As I mentioned the spoiled cats, here is one of them.”
“Her name is Minusch, after the movie “Undercover Kitty” that I loved as a kid.”
People show us what they want us to see.
They hide aspects of themselves that they are uncomfortable with, or that might hurt them outside the right context.
That’s a necessary part of dealing with a complex society.
However, when the facade slips and we find out that the real face beneath is hurtful or hateful or cruel, we have a responsibility to protect ourselves from that revealed truth in whatever way we can.
Be wary of friends who delight in your pain, or laugh at jokes meant to harm you or others you love.
Mostly though, draw the boundaries you need to protect yourself and the people you love from anyone who is cruel.
Whether that cruelty comes from so-called friends or not.