To like or not to like
We are probably all familiar with the uncomfortable feeling that maybe we dislike someone. Perhaps we get introduced to a new colleague at work and immediately we have the sense that we are not going to get on. Or a friend introduces us to their new partner and straight away we are sure we are not going to hit it off.
It’s not a welcome feeling. It is much more pleasant to like someone and to want to spend time with them. When we dislike someone, we can spend a lot of time managing our dislike, rather than focusing on the content of the relationship.
So, what can we do?
When my sister from another mister Vashti suggested this topic my first thought was that this would be controversial. After all, what do we say in the community? Love is Love. We want to be accepted for who we are, we want to be treated the same as everyone else and have the same basic human rights that everyone else has. So to me, writing about it being ok to dislike someone seemed wrong. How can I dislike someone when I want to be accepted and to live my life as me? In today's PC world many people feel voicing their opinions or feelings in fear of them receiving backlash. Especially if it stems from a dislike of someone.
In my personal life I've experienced people tip toeing around me for fear of offending me and I only ever started to experience this after I came out as transgender. I find that absurd. Granted, I'm not as PC as others in the community and don't get offended easily. But after thinking about topic and how I could word it I thought back to conversations I've had in the past since coming out. A coworker and I once talked about outing me for my safety (a topic for another day) and the discussion came about because he was taking with his neighbor. The conversation was they neighbor saying something awful about transgender people in general and my coworker asked him 'Do you know anyone that is transgender? Because I do. My old boss is transgender and I see the struggle she goes through just trying to live her life the way she is.' He went on to talk about how when I first came out how his only concern was could we joke around like we used to. We still talk about that to this day actually. And he reminds me that he doesn't care who or what I am, if I'm good people then we'll get along. If I'm a jerk and he doesn't like me, it's not because I'm transgender, its because I'm a jerk.
It's simple statements like that we should try to embrace. Yet it's such a profound statement all the same. All too often we use descriptors for people. We might say 'that white person' or 'you know, that black guy' the same happens for our community too. Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Trans, Queer. Those are labels we use, sure, but are they even needed most of the time? Does it add value to the conversation? More importantly is it a reason to dislike someone? No, it's not. Being trans has nothing to do with the kind of person I am. And should therefore not be a factor in whether someone dislikes me, or anyone else.
It's really just a prejudice against that community or nationality or race to automatically dislike someone because of what they are. Sadly, as members if the LGBTQ community, we experience that all too often. And for me, going through all this just after turning 40 was a very humbling experience. I had to look in the mirror and closely analyze my actions from now and in the past when I presented a cishet normative lifestyle to the world. I had to learn compassion for myself and for others but I still disliked people because of their actions. I tried to understand the reasons behind peoples actions but unless you're in their head or they are honest with you, then you're just wasting your time.
The other thing is that those people can really drain your energy so I found it best to avoid them as much as possible and not let them occupy space in my head. That last part is really hard for me to do btw. So how do you deal with people you dislike? What steps do you take when you've really tried to get along with others but you can't bring yourself to like this person, be it because they are manipulative, narcissistic or they just aren't a good person?
Abraham Lincoln once said when he was appointing former rivals to cabinet positions 'I don't like that man, but I must get to know him better.' So making the effort to get to know someone better is a way of respecting their individuality. Instead of going with our prejudices we are willing to investigate a bit deeper and see if we were wrong. Sometimes we come to find that we are wrong and sometimes we were right. And that's ok.
So, the person we dislike will most likely also be dealing with all kinds of pain and disappointment, just like we do. Reminding ourselves of this does not necessarily mean we will begin to like the person, but we might start to feel a kinship. If we can shift our focus from the characteristics that they have that annoy us and look instead at their vulnerability, our dislike can maybe take a back seat.
One of the things that happens to me when I do decide that I dislike someone, is that I almost resist finding out things about them that are positive. It’s as if once I have decided that I don’t like someone, then I don’t want to be shown that my dislike is unfounded and unnecessary. When I realise that this is happening then I can give myself a shake and try to take another look. It’s not something I am proud of and that spurs me on to try a bit harder.
The bottom line is even after putting in the emotional labor to not dislike someone, it's perfectly ok to dislike someone. Just don't let it consume your thoughts. How do you deal with people you dislike? In what ways have you tried to better understand your feelings for that person? Is there a topic you would like to see written about in the future? Please feel free to let me know in our Facebook group or you can reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org