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Old 10 March 2013, 12:11 PM
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Frying Pan It's gotta be for attention, right?

All right guys, I've been having this issue with a friend of mine for a while now, but a recent event has sent me over the edge and I just need to let it out. I apologize in advance if its a little long, I still haven't gotten a handle on my long windedness.

Ok, so my husbands best friend, who also happens to be one of my best friends, started dating this girl a little over a year ago. I liked her, and I thought she was really mature for only being 19 years old, and seemed to have her act together with school, life, etc. Well shortly after they started dating I got pregnant, and it seemed like every month this girl thought she was pregnant too. She'd text me asking me questions about how I found out I was pregnant and if I had any left over tests. It got really annoying, especially since she was taking her BC pills regularly. Top it all off, her boyfriend practically encouraged this behavior since he's desperate to have kids. He's 28, and thinks he's getting "too old" to have kids and wants them now. At this point they had only been dating for half a year. By the end of my own pregnancy, the baby fever died down, only no come back when my daughter was 2 months old, and the questions started all over again. Bah.

They got engaged this past Christmas, and baby fever turned into wedding fever. I'm officially her matron of honor. Which is fine, because other than the baby fever crap, I get along with her really well. The four of us can go on double dates and we all get along really well and have a good time.

But in the last couple of months or so, it's like her intelligence has gone out the window. She's started to act dumb. She'll ask the dumbest questions all the time now. She's a junior in college now, and has me, my hubby, and her fiancÚ help her out with her homework. She's taking online classes and I don't think she's even reading any of her material, and just taking the quizzes and hoping she passes to make the grade. Did I mention that this girl wants to be a teacher to elementary kids?! She'll struggle to read words and ask me to help her with them. Words that she should've covered in high school. I know what high school she went to, and its a good school, so it's not her education.

But what sent me over the edge? She begged her fiancÚ to write a 3 page paper for one of her classes on Hitlers rise to power. She didn't have any excuse as to why she couldn't do it, other than she couldn't figure it out. Whatever that means. The worst part? He actually DID it! When he told my husband about it, he couldn't figure it out either but I don't have much sympathy for him since he lets her continue on this behavior.

She likes to act like she's this sheltered little weakling, and her fiancÚ falls for it every time. He babies her constantly and treats her like the child he desperately wants. It's so weird to watch their relationship. But it's like she did a 180 the minute he put a ring on it, and doesn't feel the need to act like an intelligent human being. It's gotta be for attention right?
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Old 10 March 2013, 02:24 PM
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Probably. But it also sounds like she's acting like the kind of person she thinks (and from what you've said with good reason) that her fiancee wants her to be.
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Old 10 March 2013, 03:33 PM
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A Turtle Named Mack A Turtle Named Mack is offline
 
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Or the alternative to Sue's suggestion is that she sees herself in a particular role now, and probably without even being conscious of it, she is fulfilling her image of that role. For instance, her mother may have acted like that, and now that she is moving toward the role of 'wife' (as she understands that to mean), she may be emulating her mother. Or some other woman that she views as the examplar of 'wife'.
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Old 10 March 2013, 03:41 PM
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That's a good point, TNM, and come to think of it I knew a girl back when I was first married who was a lot like the girl Cobalt is describing. Not in the sense of getting others to do her work for her or anything like that, but definitely in the sense of deciding that she was taking on a role in life and throwing herself into it full tilt. When I knew her she and I were both young just marrieds with husbands who had graduated from the same program and then started work for the same company. She was playing the role of "wife" to the hilt. At first it wasn't too bad but then it got a little Stepfordish and I had to distance myself from her because it was just too creepy. I'd expect in her case as in the case in the OP age had a lot to do with it. Now that I'm thinking about her I wonder if she was able to keep up that Practically Perfect Wife persona as the years went by.

Last edited by Sue; 10 March 2013 at 03:47 PM.
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Old 10 March 2013, 04:16 PM
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In fact, it could be a combination - she may assume that what the fiance wants is for her to be the person she envisions as 'wife'. That may not be his vision of a marital partner at all. After all, he fell in love with the woman she presented herself as. No doubt one expects the dating-life persona to give way to a more practical self, but still one should generally expect something along the lines of the person one has come to know. As Joe Bentley said today on the LTTAY thread:
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There is very little in the world as annoying as someone who is as dedicated to making you happy as they are clueless about what actually makes you happy.
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  #6  
Old 10 March 2013, 05:23 PM
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This whole thing is making me slightly queasy. She's 19. He's 28. This is not in itself an utterly impossible combination, but: he's also in a tearing hurry to have a child, and from the sound of it was pressuring her to get pregnant when they'd only been going out a few months. Adding on to that her suddenly starting to behave as if she's got no brains: while I'm certainly not the world's greatest expert on relationships, this is starting to sound like one that one or the other or both of them should be running full speed away from.

Alternatively, it also strikes me as a faint possibility that she's actually got a medical issue; though I agree that, especially at 19, it's more likely that the behavior's got to do with the relationship.
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Old 10 March 2013, 05:42 PM
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I've come across several men who did not seem like the type to marry a not so bright woman but there she was. Maybe something like this happened. She presented as smart but decided to play it down after the relationship began.

Thorny Locust I wondered about a medical issue too. I have a friend who developed a brain tumor at that age. This was long before I met her so I don't know if her behavior changed in a similar way. Of course, a woman acting dumb for a guy is the horse to a brain tumor zebra in this scenario.
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Old 10 March 2013, 05:59 PM
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Cobalt Indigo Cobalt Indigo is offline
 
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Thanks for your input guys, y'all make great points. I have thought that she's trying to fufill some role she's deemed "wifey material," but it doesn't make it any less annoying. I don't think there's an underlying medical issue either since she has this little smirk/smile/laugh look on her face every time she does something.

Now with the baby fever, they both were guilty of it. It wasn't really him pressuring her. She wants one just as bad and as soon as possible.
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Old 10 March 2013, 06:05 PM
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I think she has figured out that if they feign helplessness, someone will do the work for them. If things don't work out, it's not their fault. It's the fault of the person who is doing the work. On the flip side, he has figured out that if he can have her depend on him for even the basic things, she will always be emotionally available for him.

It's a combination of learned helplessness and artificial dependence, and IMO people who are predisposed to these personalities eventually find each other. Chances are they will be able to play they Archie-Bunker-Edith-Bunker routine for years, until something major happens in their lives.

I would leave them alone, unless there is physical abuse going on.
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Old 10 March 2013, 06:13 PM
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Yeah I try my best stay out of their drama, but we hang out a lot, so it's inevitable that I see or hear about one of her gems from time to time.

But I do know that there isn't anything physical happening. I've known her fiancÚ for has and that's just not in his personality.
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Old 10 March 2013, 07:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cobalt Indigo View Post
Now with the baby fever, they both were guilty of it. It wasn't really him pressuring her. She wants one just as bad and as soon as possible.
Ah. I might have misunderstood that because you said, if I understood you correctly, that she was on birth control at least some of the time while he was already urgent to produce a child.
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Old 10 March 2013, 10:49 PM
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No no you read correctly. I was a little strapped for time so I wasn't able to go into much detail. Yes she is on BC, but every month she was "late" and thought she was pregnant. She expressed that she wants a baby many times, yet continued to take her pills. It's like she didn't understand how it worked. It was so bizarre. It was as if they were hoping to have an "accident." I even point blank said to her once, "do you take your pills every day like you're supposed to." She said yes. I said, "well then you shouldn't have anything to worry about." She kind of snapped at me and said, " well I'm not worried about." I just left it at that. She didn't mention anything to me about that for a a few months and I was glad.
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Old 10 March 2013, 11:25 PM
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It is possible to be intelligent and have a learning disability that makes doing coursework very very difficult. I agree with what others have said about everything else, but the part about the coursework immediately pinged as possibly learning disability related. I've known a couple of adults who were diagnosed later in life--in particular when trying to do college coursework, which can require very different skills and abilities than previous school work. I don't know if there's any way to raise the possibility with her--maybe asking her if she knows about the resources at her college next time she asks for help. Some colleges have programs that will help people develop study skills, note-taking, tutoring, etc.
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Old 11 March 2013, 12:19 AM
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It is possible to be intelligent and have a learning disability that makes doing coursework very very difficult. I agree with what others have said about everything else, but the part about the coursework immediately pinged as possibly learning disability related. I've known a couple of adults who were diagnosed later in life--in particular when trying to do college coursework, which can require very different skills and abilities than previous school work. I don't know if there's any way to raise the possibility with her--maybe asking her if she knows about the resources at her college next time she asks for help. Some colleges have programs that will help people develop study skills, note-taking, tutoring, etc.
I really hope that's what'll make the difference, but I'm dubious. Those things will only work if she wants to stand on her own. Obviously I'm not in possession of all the facts, but from what I've heard I don't think she does.

I've known people in the past for whom helplessness is a learned behavior. I don't think it's as simple as doing it for attention. Every time they fall short there's someone there to pick up the slack and they start taking it for granted. I'm ashamed to say I've been that person. I don't even think she's fabricating the anxiety over being pregnant, I'd guess she just has so little awareness that the passing thought she might be pregnant becomes priority number 1 in everyone's lives.

It's not about intelligence. I've known people who wouldn't score highly in IQ tests but who are made of grit, look at what they can do, choose the best option and make it happen. And I've known way too many people who whinge and wheedle their way into careers they're not suited for.

But Cobalt, do you really want to be the one to point out the emperor has no clothes and is not a delicate rare flower but actually a normal human adult like the rest of you? If you're a martyr you might try to take her on and figure out just what her roadblock is but 10:1 she won't engage and won't thank you for it, and if you value your friendship with the fiance I think it's a bit of a risk. If you go down that route I'd feel your way with open questions about where she's running into trouble with school and just what she thinks of her fiance's urgent desire to fill her uterus.
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Old 11 March 2013, 12:36 AM
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She didn't have these problems last semester. She even admitted to me that she bull shitted most of her work.

In all honesty I don't plan on any confrontation. But I'm not going to play into her games or put up with her antics.

Last edited by Cobalt Indigo; 11 March 2013 at 12:56 AM.
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Old 11 March 2013, 01:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cobalt Indigo View Post
In all honesty I don't plan on any confrontation. But I'm not going to play into her games or put up with her antics.
If you're looking to avoid confrontation, it sounds like you're on the right track already. Just keep distancing yourself from these people, slow and steady, and they're much less likely to notice your diminished presence than if you just cut them out of your life all together - which might cause even more drama. I've had to back burner more than one friendship because the person's partner was not a healthy person, and as desperately as I wanted to point that out to said friends, I realized it would only hurt the situation further.
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Old 11 March 2013, 03:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cobalt Indigo View Post
Yes she is on BC, but every month she was "late" and thought she was pregnant. She expressed that she wants a baby many times, yet continued to take her pills.
This makes me wonder if she really does want a baby or is just saying so to please her fiance.

Honestly, my first thought when reading this was that it sounds almost exactly like the plot of an early House episode. The patient of the week had been taking fertility treatments because her husband wanted a baby, yet she was secretly taking birth control because she felt overwhelmed with the child she already had and couldn't handle another.

Since you're not going to be able to change her behavior, you're going to have to figure out what you can do for yourself to lessen the annoyance. You may have to adopt the MST3K Mantra and say to yourself, "It's just her creating drama; I should really just relax!"
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Old 11 March 2013, 09:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cobalt Indigo View Post
She didn't have these problems last semester. She even admitted to me that she bull shitted most of her work.

In all honesty I don't plan on any confrontation. But I'm not going to play into her games or put up with her antics.
Saying she BS-ed her way through last semester is still entirely consistent with some kinds of learning issues. I've heard that exact term used by someone who was extremely intelligent but had (at the time) undiagnosed ADD. She was able to get by without studying in some classes, but in classes that truly required studying she did poorly.

In any event, it still gives you a way to respond if she asks you for help. You can mention the campus resources to her, and if you want you could even offer to get the number/link/etc. for her. If she turns you down but still asks for your help in cheating on her coursework, just repeat that you'd be happy to help her contact the learning disability assistance center, or say you've already provided the only help you're comfortable with providing.
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Old 11 March 2013, 10:09 PM
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Is it possible she's just really very lazy and/or passive?

A person who is intelligent but doesn't want to make the effort can easily stop seeming intelligent when they find somebody else to do their thinking for them, either because it's easier or because they hate making decisions and would prefer life to carry them along.

Being passive would explain the BC problem, too. Perhaps she just wanted things to happen but didn't want to have to make the decision to stop taking BC. It would also explain why she'd prefer somebody to look after her and think for her and baby her, and why it's getting worse.
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Old 11 March 2013, 11:12 PM
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Is it possible that she isn't fully literate? That would explain not reading the material, getting someone else to write the essay and possibly even being vague about how the Pill works.
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