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Language Log

Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023 - 12:02 p.m.

Let’s say you have a person in your life who you’ve known a very long time and they helped you some in the distant past, but in general, they want to spend much more time with you than you want to spend with them, and so most of the times you’ve seen them in recent memory have only been in order to please them.

You just don’t enjoy being around them that much. In fact, you’ve come to pretty much dread it, because they tend to dominate the conversation and then criticize you for not conversing the way they want you to. Every time you see them or talk to them, you’re left feeling exhausted and terrible. Despite this, they continue to ask for dates, and if you can’t see them or don’t respond to their bids for attention as quickly as they’d like you to, sometimes they get mean and sarcastic, like they feel entitled to your time and attention and are punishing you for not giving it well enough. They apologize, though, and they don’t do it every time, and so that’s okay, right?

Honestly, you’re thinking about breaking up with them. But they use the nice things they did in the past to make you feel like you can’t, especially because they don’t have anyone else to spend time with. No one they like as much as you. Sometimes they bring you flowers, even though you don’t like flowers and have told them that. Then they get mad when you don’t take care of the flowers, and imply you’re ungrateful.

Do you try harder? They like you and miss you so much, after all. Everyone seems to agree that because this person likes you so much, it’s unkind not to try harder.

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