I was having lunch the other day with a good friend, M.  We have been friends for over 20 years, having bonded in the trenches of corporate America.  We had always seen one another across the sea of desks, but became friends in the bathroom one day when she had a wardrobe mishap and she needed help pinning up an errant hem.  After that, we realized we shared a love of the ballet, 19th century art, and using the gym as stress relief.  She can be really uptight sometimes and says annoying things, but she has an amazing heart and would walk over fire for people she cares about.

But anyway.

So we finished lunch.  She went to use the rest room because she had to get back from Manhattan to the northern suburbs.  I waited outside because I had a 7 block walk back to my house and could use the facilities in private.  When she came out of the restaurant, she was ashen.  I thought she was going to cry.  She handed me her phone.  Of course, I feared that something had happened to her family.

“Look at the story and then look at who it is” she said.

I began to read the text forwarded to her by someone else we used to work with.  He sent a link to an article with horrible allegations against someone else we had once worked with.  Horrible, despicable vial things.  Things I don’t even want to say out loud.  Now, this is an article, and it’s still alleged, and there are all sorts of innocent till proven guilty stuff.  I get that.  But at this moment, none of these things mattered.  The tabloid article was all the proof my friend needed to get herself, I can’t even think of the right word- horrified and sad and crazed.

Back in the day, my friend looked up to this person.  Thought this person was pretty close to perfect.  Brilliant, and I mean, one of most blazingly intelligent people I’ve ever met- true genius, not a fake pretentious genius.  Humble- and in the industry we worked in, this was rare.  Patient- if you didn’t fully understand something-  they never talked down to you or made you feel inferior- just figured out a better way of explaining their way of thinking- which was new and different from anything before.  You could say the ideas that this person came up with were groundbreaking- most of what they did had never been done before.  This person treated everyone fairly, was non judgmental, was courteous and kind.  This person also helped my friend get promoted and recognized because they saw all that my friend had to offer our company.  This person was almost her mentor.

Now, that image was shattered.  That image was broken.  Along with the image of this person, my friend M began to doubt her internal radar, the piece of her that allowed her to judge someone’s character.  Before my eyes I saw M start to crumble, as she began to think about all the other people she may have misjudged in her life.  How many people had she trusted that she shouldn’t have?

So here’s the thing:  how good are our internal barometers?  How often can we discern good from bad?  Is there really anyway to know that someone has internal flaws?  Flaws that are so against everything that you value?

We all know that you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover.  But sometimes, you meet someone, and you get that inkling that something is off?  How much attention should you pay to that little inkling?  Is that little voice in your head really a warning that there might be chapters in the book that you don’t want to read?

I like the idea of meeting new people and assuming that they have character traits that are generally strong- they don’t steal, they don’t harm others, they have a sense of morals.  But….what’s the phrase- still waters run deep?  How can you know which strangers are not danger?

I’m not a trusting person by nature. (the biggest complaint I’ve ever had from ex boyfriends is that I never let anyone in- that’s my fatal flaw)  That’s just me.  But my friend M is a trusting person.  She walks around with her heart on her sleeve.  Which way is better?  Is there a good way we should face the world?

So, my friends…here’s the thoughts for the day:

  1. when you meet someone new, in any capacity, are you open or withdrawn?
  2. have you ever known someone and been completely fooled by who they actually were (exes are included in this)?
  3. do you listen to the little voice in your head that says something if off?

65 thoughts on “They Seemed so Nice

  1. I’m wary. It typically takes me a long time to let my guard down and let anyone new into my world. I don’t think that I have ever known someone who is completely the opposite of how I initially read them so I suppose that little voice is giving me pretty good hints. Now my choosing to ignore those hints in a few cases has led to some delays on my part in making changes… one being my marriage, but I suppose I could call those ‘learning experiences.’
    I feel fortunate that I am not among those who have moved through a world where there are potentially some real sleazeballs roaming, so perhaps I have just been lucky rather than being really smart about who I surround myself with.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. People surprise me all the time. You assume people have similar values and morals and then, well, you realize they don’t. I still prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt. Call me too trusting or a fool, but that’s how I roll.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I usually quietly observe first. I almost never approach a stranger for conversation, no matter the environment. Yes, people are often not what they seem. Far too many examples to list here. So many are caught up in games of charade. It’s tiring trying to uncover the essence of the human being. Yes, I trust that internal voice. Two things I often tell others: (1) You can’t rationalize the unreasonable. We want behaviors in others to make sense to us. We want to find a reason they did a particular thing. Often, no such “reason” is revealed. It is unreasonable and irrational, leave it at that. And, (2) You can’t judge a person’s character by their good deeds. It amazes me how often we still do this. People go to great lengths to cover their ugly truths.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I was open and trusting all my life … until the last year or so. It seems like the curtain has been opened and naked self-interest revealed. Leadership around the world is not helping, but, on the other hand, its “shortcomings” have opened our eyes, whether I wanted mine opened or not!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I will talk right away when I meet you. My mom said she never trusted people(this included her kids) who didn’t talk. So I may say a lot &nothing. Is being heart on your sleeve or skeptical better?I think they balence each other. I cant tell if someone is lying and feel akin to a happy puppy when I meet you.But I will trust my gut. Literally my stomach gets in knots around some to be careful of. I’ve learned to pay attention the hard way. My husband balences my overt trust with healthy skeptsism. He’ll wait a few days before making choices.(good for net shopping too;)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Excellent post. I always listen to my inner voice. I trust everyone with a small baseline until I see their actions and words, then I raise or lower the trust. If I would share something on the internet (like my blog), I’ll share it in person. But I do keep something private.

    I hope things turn out ok for everyone involved.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I’m always wary and it takes me a while to let people In. I have a fairly good radar and always go with my gut feeling and generally it’s right. I hope you’re friend is ok.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I trust the voice in my head. It’s a pretty good radar that I’ve learned to listen to. The times that I’ve ignored the voice (it usually involved a cute guy when I was much younger, certain coworkers as I got older), I ended up regretting it. We want to trust, which is a good thing, but not everyone deserves it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That actually seems fairly healthy to me. It’s kind of what I had to learn to do when I got clean and sober: expect the worst and be prepared for it, while keeping hope alive because without hope there’s just no point

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I was a paramedic and went blindly (not really) into strangers homes ALL the time. We must ALWAYS trust our instincts about people…especially those little hairs on the back of our neck. In the end, we are animals and at one time those instincts were in place to save our lives. We must learn to keep this in mind and start using this skill these days in this world.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. One of my exes turned into a person I would not like and would possibly change sides of the street to stay away from. Good thing we are no longer together and I can now forgive my lapse in judgement. Recently I have met what appears to be a sweet young person whom I am trying to like and understand but a few recent events have made my inner voice louder, I am not ignoring this voice but I am trying to work at this. If a person is important to someone important to you I think it is worth the effort to try.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. 1. Having previously confessed to being an ambivert, open or closed is often a coin toss. That, and an healthy reliance on the hard earned currency of situational awareness.

    2. Actually might be too strong and subjective an adverb, but yes, and the fooling has falling both ways…for the bad, and for the good.

    3. Living longer has seemed to make those “little voices” less ritualistically judgmental, and more accepting of the numerous mask one must wear just to get through the damn day.

    Regards,
    Doug

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I have an excellent bullshit radar unfortunately I try to ignore it which leads to disaster – my biggest flaw is I try to see the good in everyone when I should acknowledge the bad

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Sad story… more and more we find we cannot look up to anyone as being noble or good anymore, as soon as we do, we hear a story like yours today. Well, we’ll be waiting to hear your update… as Paul Harvey would say, “And that is the rest of the story.”

    Liked by 1 person

      1. True, it will be interesting to see how your story unfolds. There are lots of stories coming out… I just read that Sen Rand Paul was in a fight with his neighbor and it ended with him in the hospital with broken ribs. What was that about? Then Weinstein, Cosby, Fox news… the actor from House of Cards (name is escaping me)….

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Its hard when someone you look up to isn’t what you thought, I just hope for your friends sake that this story is being blown out of proportion.

    It takes me a very long time to let anyone in, I am always very wary of people and have learnt to be from childhood.

    I have been fooled by someone, my first husband. He was the one and only person I let down my guard for and went against my gut feelings for, it didn’t end well.

    Now I always listen to that little voice in my head and the feeling in my gut.

    Like

  15. Lordy would Sunshine & Mr B have a field day with the fringe science behind this: the neuroscience, the psychology, the philosophy… But it’s entirely too early in the morning and I haven’t had enough caffeine.

    Ultimately, I’m very introverted and it takes me a while to warm to new people. I also try and listen to those intuitions, those feelings, because they haven’t steered me wrong yet.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’m open when I meet new people. I am who I am. I’ve found that way I can determine quickly if they’re kindred spirits or not. That being said, if I feel something of “off” with how a person reacts to me, I just shut up. Their loss…

    [Also, I’m not ignoring you but your blog disappeared out of my feedly feed. I thought you were gone. Something is goofy with that service, again.]

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I wear my heart on my sleeve, but I am aware if someone is off and I back off myself so as not to put myself in harm’s way. I try to give the benefit of the doubt, but obviously I’ve been fooled before. Hell, I’m divorced! But I think it’s incredibly hard for some of us to hear bad stuff about those we respected and/or loved. And when/if it’s proven true, we can’t help but wonder if we had blinders on to the reality or if we just didn’t pick up the signs. This was a great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Great post! I feel I’m a little bit of both! Sometimes I can be really naive and trust someone because of who they are e.g. Pastor and I have learnt the hard way but I find myself making that same mistake.
    Then I’m also like you where I never ever let people in. No matter how closei get no one ever gets ‘in’. Then

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Your poor friend. She was truly crushed. It’s hard to find out that someone you admire and trust has done horrific things.
    As for me, I’m very jovial so I tend to want to think the very best of everyone until they give me a reason not to. I don’t think I’m the greatest judge of character because of my Anne Frank attitude about people in general—
    “In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
    I look for the good in others and hope that they’re genuine, but as we know people can have dual personalities. Some people have been neighbors with a serial killer and never suspected their sinister ways. However, I was born and raised in NYC, so I think I will always have a CRAYdar that will at least, to some degree, give me an indication if someone is a little off.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. You could say of me that I “never met a stranger,” which makes me a great ice-breaker, but a poor judge of character. I am so open with you on first meeting that I hide behind pillars when I see you the next time. Moderation is not in my DNA. But those with good hearts do seem to appreciate my charisma, and those without grace don’t see me again, and that’s the way it works out.

    Liked by 1 person

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