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Calling out vs ghosting

shellpell's picture

Here's a question; When do you decide to cut ppl off vs calling them out? I've gotten advice not to call out my in-laws, for example, but it's so hard to "let things go" instead of telling  ppl that they're doing something hurtful or shitty. I guess it has to do with the desired effect, right? What if it's BM or skids?


Gimlet's picture

I know I was one of those people.

If you don't think that the person who hurt you/overstepped/etc will actually listen to you, then I would not waste my time. If they aren't willing to accept your feedback, it is pointless.  They are just going to see it as an attack, or an opportunity to manipulate and gaslight you, or a way to cry victim, or something else negative.  You will not get the closure you desire or deserve.

Edit: You are estranged for good reasons, unless you think you will get something out of this, I would keep it that way.

Kes's picture

DH and I called out his mother and step father in a major way,  in Spring of 2018, and as of then have been estranged from them.   He has recently begun exchanging the occasional email with her, but I doubt I will ever speak to her again.   If you do call them out, you need to be prepared that this might happen. 

tog redux's picture

I think you should at least TRY to talk to them about how you feel, but if it's an endless cycle of you doing that and them being defensive and dismissive, then you have to decide if it's time for you to let go.

shellpell's picture

Yes, it has been an endless cycle with DH having a handful of conversations with FIL about this subject.

ESMOD's picture

When deciding whether to say something, I think about that saying "Is it true, is it kind, is it necessary".

Now, we can argue whether it's necessary to "be kind" to someone that may be intentionally hurting us... but to an extent, when dealing with people that are close to us, there may be some level of giving someone the benefit of the doubt.  If my DH says something that can be taken two ways... "hurtful and not hurtful".. why would I automatically assume that someone that loves me is trying to hurt me... so if the inlaws aren't particularly toxic.. maybe their intent hasn't been totally ill.

Anyway, so, then on to the other two points.

First, is it true, Is what they are saying untrue? Is what you would need to tell them true.  If they have a misconception about a reality.. have facts wrong.. then you definitely can proceed to the third point

Is it necessary.  What is the possible outcome?  Is saying something going to fix or improve the situation?  Is it necessary for them to understand your POV so that they don't repeat their mistakes in the future?

I mean, sometimes we can disagree with someone's POV.. and we know they aren't going to change their belief, so we could talk till we are blue in the face and they will never see our viewpoint. In these cases.. sometimes just ignoring their advice.. is all we need to do.  "Yeah, thanks for the input, I will look into that" or whatever.  

It all depends on the closeness of the person saying something.  LIke your inlaws.. as long as you are in the relationship, you will have to deal with them.. so how worth it is it to start some big conflict with them.. I am actually in a situation currently with my MIL and to a certain extent... it is an uncomfortable situation.. BUT.. my DH supports my position.. it's also his position.. so we kind of are where we are on it.  

But, if you think that your inlaws are somewhat clueless and a kindly worded response could prevent them from saying the things that you find hurtful.. then I would speak up.  If you think they are boorish and are intentionally out to get you, you have nothing to gain by confronting them.. might as well just disengage to the extent you can.


ESMOD's picture

BTW... in your particular case, you are estranged from these people.. so ghosting is entirely appropriate.  Why on earth break that distancing by trying to call them out on some poor behavior.

Per your last post, you are upset they didn't give you condolences but sent you a card for your birthday.  I don't know why they did that? maybe they have cards on auto send? who knows.. but obviously you have reasons to not speak to them.. so why does it matter what people that don't matter to you do?  You don't have a relationship with them.. just discard the birthday card and move on with your life.

Aniki's picture

My SIL has an evil SM: a beeyotch whose been a high school mean girl for 7 decades. Because my parents raised me to be respectful of my elders, I bit my tongue for damn near 4 decades. Until Thanksgiving 2 years ago...

She was already at 2 strikes when...

SM: Aniki, have you lost weight?
Me: Yes, a little.
SM: Well, good. You need to. You're pretty damn fat.

What kind of person says that? Yes, I'm overweight, but I'm not a freaking beached whale. And Stepmonster, who is built like a stack of tires, has NO room to talk. That was the last bloody straw and my temper - usually a unicorn - let loose.

Me: I feel sorry for you, Stepmonster.
Me: I feel sorry for you.
SM: SORRY for me - why??
Me: For whatever happened in your life to make you so negative and hateful that you find it necessary to talk down to people and treat them like shit. You must feel terribly ugly on the inside to try and make others feel badly about themselves. I know you're old, but it's not too late to go to therapy, get help, and strive to become a decent person.


ETA: I'd forgotten you're estranged from your out-laws. Ghost away! However, if for some reason you decide to associate with them, find your voice!

Aniki's picture

Her mouth was flapping like a fish out of water, but no words came out. Several others started laughing. It is a gem in my jewelry collection. 

Iamwoman's picture

There is a saying: "Don't throw pearls to swine."

If you have never called the person out on something before, then sure, give them a chance. Try to help them see the error of their ways in the most appropriate manner possible.

If you have called this person out on this thing before, and they have not heeded your advice/feelings/thoughts, then save your pearls of wisdom for those who appreciate it.

Some people are content to be swine.

shellpell's picture

Thanks so much for your perspectives. My DH does keep trying to explain to FIL, but FIL still acts like he doesn't "understand."  He seems very good at sticking his head in the sand and skirting around the issues of boundaries with BM and undermining DH's parenting when it comes to SS. And you can't even say anything to MIL without her crying so there's no way to have a conversation with her. My main issue is my kids. I don't want them to go without grandparents since they only have my dad on my side (and he is long distance).

But I also don't want to serve up my kids to them as if they haven't disrespected me and DH and our boundaries. And there's also the issue of in-laws sending gifts to SS at BMs and not sending gifts to our kids, even though DH asked for no or minimal gifts for all of his kids. And even though we are long distance from them, we will be moving to their country at some point.

Iamwoman's picture

I feel sorry for your bios. Sad

However, in this case it sounds like no paternal grandparents are better than what is there right now.

Favoring one child over another causes lifelong psychological damage.

shellpell's picture

I feel like all of this will come to a head when we move and when they will be acting like nothing ever happened and that we'll bring our kids over. I will do my damnedest to protect them from any favoring situations or even knowing about the favoritism. If they do become aware of it and ask, I will tell them that in-laws feel sorry for SS.

lieutenant_dad's picture

My general framework:

If I don't have to interact with them, ghost them.

If I do have to interact with them again, try to work it out as a first step. Then call them out if talking it out won't work. Then ghost if that didn't work, either.