Being Judgmental

“Don’t judge me” seems to be a common defense used by those who don’t like what they are hearing.  But what draws the line between being judgmental and showing constructive concern?  Recently I’ve encountered two people who both feel like they are being judged but I’m not sure that they really are.

The first person is an internet friend whom I recently met in person for the first time.  We have several mutual friends and had corresponded from time to time on Facebook and through other channels.  When we first met face-to-face, within minutes he was sharing a very high level of personal detail about his sex life.  Suffice it to say, he enjoys collecting a wide range of sexual partners and he documents those experiences in detail.

Now, I’m a man of the world.  I’ve heard it all and seen quite a bit, too.  So there was nothing he shared that shocked or offended me.  Certainly, I can think of things I would rather discuss than how much fun he had in a threesome with a pair of Nordic men the night before, but it is his life and body and I am not going to judge his actions “right” or “wrong”.

Along the course of the conversation he shared two things.  The first was that, if I understand him correctly, he is really curious why he hasn’t found a long-term relationship.  The second is that he is frustrated with some of our mutual friends because he feels they judge him.

He didn’t say what they’ve done or said that counts as judgment.  But based on my own observation, I can only imagine that they’ve seen his behavior and listened to him profess a desire for a stable relationship and perhaps they’ve mentioned to him that one is not very helpful in begetting the other.  Does that count as judgment?  I don’t think it does.  It is a matter of people pointing out what behavior is helpful and what behavior is not helpful in terms of reaching the goals and desires we set for ourselves.

Another case: Another friend, one whom I’ve known for a bit longer, is very desirous of a long-term relationship as well.  The people to whom he is attracted are, on a number of levels, not very conducive to the things he wants.  He wants a stable relationship with someone who doesn’t just love him for his comparative wealth, someone who loves him for who he is as a person, and someone with whom he can talk about his varied interests.

The challenge is, the people he chooses to date are usually about half his age, come from a significantly lower socioeconomic status, don’t speak English very well, and are neither familiar with nor particularly interested in discussing global economics, politics and other things that are of interest to him.  Recently, he has expressed that he is feeling judged by his friends here in Bangkok – me included – about his choice of people to date. 

If we hold up a mirror and suggest that he might find the stable relationship he’s looking for if he fishes in a pool that has the right kind of fish, is that being judgmental?  I personally haven’t told him that what he is doing is right or wrong, good or bad.  I don’t care who he dates.  I don’t care how old or young they are, where they are from, what their financial position in the world is, etc.  But as a friend, if he says (and shows) that he wants to be in a relationship and is depressed when yet another guy turns out to be not the right one, isn’t it reasonable that I’ll try to help him see how he could improve his chances?

Sometimes I think that people let themselves feel like they are being judged as an excuse to avoid really looking critically at their own decisions and behaviors and the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of both.

0 thoughts on “Being Judgmental

  1. This summed it up perfectly—-> “Sometimes I think that people let themselves feel like they are being judged as an excuse to avoid really looking critically at their own decisions and behaviors and the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of both.” Great post!

  2. It’s all very relative, but I agree … I think the fact that the “judgment” or “analysis” bothers them is because it hits the nail in the head and they don’t like what they hear and don’t want to admit it/change. I guess it’s not that easy to be realistic about oneself and others!

  3. I have struggled with the same scenerios.  It is hard being outspoken without being labelled as judgemental, and sometimes the only way I cope is by not saying anything at all.  When people share their frustrations and if you, even with good intentions, try to give some good words of advice (which may point out some contradictory behaviour) it can be interpreted as quite judgemental.  I’m not sure what is the best way around this, other than not to offer any words of advice whatsoever.  I just know I can’t nod my head and pretend to agree when I don’t.

  4. I agree with your assessment. In addition I encounter the phrase “Don’t judge me” as a preface to divulging information that the speaker KNOWS will be offensive or knows is something they should NOT have done. It is preemptively stated so that if the audience reacts negatively – it is the audience that is in the wrong. I find that to be the most annoying application of the phrase.

  5. i know a friend just like the first one you described…lots of people feel others judge them but often it’s the same people that can’t the difference between judging and simply being honest…

  6. Too bad that he doesn’t openly ask for your help and advise and then follow it. He is setting himself up for problems in the future it appears.

  7. I can’t really say that I’ve been in a similar situation, but I can relate to this post somehow. Usually, I keep shut and don’t offer any advice unless asked for. It’s only for people who are close to me that I go around giving advice even if they seem to hate whatever I’ve to say.

  8. I would suggest that your friend read my following poem: To seek pleasure is humanHardship they avoidThat’s what most people are in commonThemselves they enjoy The sweetest fruits are difficult to pickBecause they are usually hiddenThe simplest problems are easy to fixBut the problem solver will soon be forgotten Most people like praiseFew people like criticismBut it is criticism I would sayThat leads to real wisdom 

  9. I agree with your other readers, I think that most people who start off a conversation this way are probably already aware that they are doing something that doesn’t show the wisest of judgement on THEIR part and they are hoping to aavoid being judged in a negative way by others.  Sort of the same pre-emptive strike idea that I use…if I mention the fact that I am overweight first…I somehow take away a little of the sting of you KNOWING that I am!! Ruth Ann

  10. I see this all the time with my friends! People like this perpetuate the idea in their heads that all their issues are due to outside circumstances (and thus the defensive “Don’t judge me). It’s this arrogant thinking that they deserve so much better yet they do nothing to really better the situation.

  11. I think you’re being an excellent friend by listening and giving honest pointers.It’s just that some people think constructive criticism and/or friendly guidance is the same as passing judgement. Maybe it’s because they are embarrassed that the “obvious” answers you give were so easily missed, or maybe they just want to complain without getting good advice.Either way, keep up the good work. Everyone needs a good friend to bring them back to reality from time to time. 🙂

  12. Again, I agree. These are not so much examples of Judgment as they are examples of what True friends do for one another. A false friend is one who simply smiles and nods and coddles, re-enforcing the insecurities; while a True friend will tell exactly what they believe the problem is, and suggest solutions — with tact, of course.It often takes a True friend to point things out to us. I know I have many faults that I don’t see myself; and I have many more that I do see, but just accept them as being part of “me” — it takes a friend to tell me about them many times. Yes, it’s embarrassing and yes, I don’t like hearing it, but it is, in the end, the best thing.I never told you btw, but I ended up following your advice with my Xanga Commercial, to the tee. I produced a version that was in-spec to everything you suggested and it was much better, empirically. I submitted my original though, because it “felt” best to me; and although it wasn’t the most efficient version, I felt it represented me the best.

  13. If people are truly friends, they should not take the words of the other half as being judgmental. Instead, it should be looked upon as friendly advice. My friends have often given me words of advice that were not to my liking. They may have stung but in the end they helped me progress as a person. I think you should give your friend your opinion and leave it up to him to take it as judgment or advice.

  14. Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.Albert EinsteinCriticism by others is not what will change an outcome, it is criticism from the self. Unfortunately most people do not have the internal strength to hold a mirror up to them-self and say, “What am I doing wrong?” while also accepting the need for themselves to change.

  15. i don’t think you are judging these people; i think you are giving them your perspective as an impartial party, and from your description of them it sounds like they are both in need of some advice and guidance. the thing is, if these people want advice, then they should be willing to listen to what you have to say!

  16. @CurryPuffy –  Gosh, I don’t know if I’d want to spend my days listening to others’ problems!@kunhuo42 –  Well, you could argue that maybe they didn’t want advice in the first place.@marc11864 –  That’s very true, we are prone to avoiding self-criticism and the awareness that requires.@brooklyn2028 –  @TJs_Lady –  There is the question as to whether either of these people really are friends, but your broader point is well-taken.@TheCheshireGrins –  Very true.@arenadi –  Can you send me the recut version? I’m curious to see how it turned out.@Rm2046 –  Lots easier to blame an external factor, isn’t it?@Redlegsix –  Ha ha! You’re very funny. Nice self-deprecating humor.@choyshinglin – Nicely written.@secade –  I should have just left it at the one sentence, huh? Would have saved us all the time and gotten to the point.@Dezinerdreams –  That’s probably what I should do. Just keep my mouth shut.@ZSA_MD –  With the first person I never offered my own advice just because I didn’t feel I knew him well enough to share my perspective. It seems he would benefit from it, though.@onmovement –  I hope your friend eventually “gets” it.@yang1815 –  Thank you.@murisopsis –  Wow, that’s a really good point. People often use it as an (unconscious?) admission that there are their own faults they aren’t willing to own up to.@lil_squirrel4ever –  That’s the struggle, isn’t it?@TheLatinObserver –  No, it isn’t easy. People don’t want to look that deeply into themselves.@notjus4ne1 –  Thanks – I’m glad you liked it.

  17. I agree with many people here about people putting the ‘don’t judge me’ guard becuase they just cannot acccpet critisism.With my group of friend, we like to share, and expect to be given, the jugdmental perspective.  Because we know that we want all the best to each other.  So if we see something that doesn’t go right, it is our resposibility to wake them up with our honest thoughts and feedbacks.  This is only to my close friends, we judge but we are kind.

  18. it’s not being judge mental. it’s called being a friend. though i could really be more of that way to my own friends, instead, i just keep my mouth shut to avoid hurting them.

  19. @rudyhou – I suspect most of us are the same way.  Especially with people whom I wouldn’t call close friends, I’m more inclined to keep my mouth shut or limit myself to writing a blog entry about it!

  20. the problem with me is, a couple of my friends are also members here on xanga. ranting about our friends’ problem on xanga doesn’t really help my reputation in my circle of friends. i can only do so in my head.

  21. hhmm… the thought did cross my mind. after all, i do have a couple accounts with facebook. then again, i rarely write as it is. having 2 accounts means even less writing activities here on my first xanga account.

  22. Just when I thought I was all caught up with your entries… Maybe those two are subconsciously looking for help but not sure how to ask and perhaps not quite ready to accept any coaching yet. But I think deep down inside, they know something is amiss.

  23. @ElusiveWords –  I don’t know, Matt. I’d like to believe that they do realize that something is amiss but I keep running into people who don’t seem to see that they are part of their own problem. Tawn has a very close girlfriend who is from a wealthy family, is in the press from time to time as a member of high society, is fabulously beautiful, has a meaningful job as the director of her family’s university, has a loving, devoted and handsome husband, and a smart and cute young daughter. And yet she is tremendously unhappy with “settling down” and is out spending money trying to buy happiness and lusting after younger guys. What in the world does she have to be unhappy about? And yet she doesn’t seem to get (even when Tawn has tried to explain as her best friend) that her unhappiness lies within herself, not because she is lacking something outside her.

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