I’ve mentioned a number times that it concerns me when Lora & Jon snipe at each other. I’ve struggled a bit defining sniping and also why it bothers me so much. I finally came up with a good, simple example that I hope is pretty understandable.
Let’s say that Lora is wearing a gorgeous dress one day. The three of us meet up somewhere, and Jon says “Lora, you look absolutely wonderful today”. Sometimes Lora sees this as the compliment that it is. Other times, when she seems to be feeling insecure or stressed, she sees it as a backhanded compliment, or even a passive-aggressive attack on Jon’s end. When that happens, her response will be something along the lines of “Sure, I look wonderful today. As opposed to most days, when I look like shit”.
(If I’m a party to this exchange, this is when I start to feel a faint headache rearing its head, as I wait to see how this plays out.)
Jon will response with something like “I always love the way you look, but the dress you’re wearing today is extra-beautiful. You look amazing”. Lora will respond with another unhappy remark: “No, you just don’t want to admit that you think I usually look like shit, but I cleaned up well for once”.
This conversation is going to go one of three ways. There may be a few more snipes back and forth, as Jon continues to deny that he meant anything negative and Lora continues to insist that he did. But after those few exchanges, it fizzles out. It might turn into a full-blown freak-out (I’m not sure what word would work better than freak-out) with crying (and sometimes yelling) that will ultimately end in Lora admitting that she’s feeling really shitty and unattractive and unhappy and asking for reassurance that she isn’t as unattractive/gross/awful as she feels.
It could actually turn out that Lora is joking; this is one of the ways that she jokes (which I really dislike, but I know some people do find it funny). If it is a joke it could peter out or depending on how Jonathan reacts (like if he gets upset or worried, because he thinks she’s serious), it could turn into Lora saying something like “Geez Jon, I was only kidding. Maybe you’re getting upset because you really do secretly think like I look like shit all the time”. And that will either diffuse or (more usually) turn into Lora quizzing Jonathan for a span of time on how he really feels. Does he really feel like she does dress poorly most of the time? Is she unattractive to him? She let her hair grow out – is it too long? She can get it cut if it’s too long. Should she get it cut? How should she get it cut, since he doesn’t like this length? (For the record, all he’s said is about her hair is that it looks fine the way it is. Repeatedly). She knows she’s put on some weight – is it too much? Is it bothering him? Is he sure it’s not bothering him? Well, he might be saying that he’s sure that it’s not bothering him, but she’s pretty sure that it secretly does bother him, which she totally understands, because she looks fat and gross and awful.
When this starts, I have no idea what to do (but running away screaming does look rather appealing). It’s not something that I want to butt in to, and I’m not sure if there is a way to comment that isn’t going to have negative consequences.
No matter what happens, it’s stressful to me. It seems like it’s stressful to Jon too, and if it is a prelude to a fight or fit of insecurities on Lora’s behalf, then it’s probably stressful to her.
Given that it seems to be an insecurity-driven behavior that doesn’t seem to be quashed without Jonathan giving Lora a sustained amount of attention and reassurance that she looks great (assuming that it doesn’t turn into a full-blow fight before we get to that point), I’m really not sure that I can do anything – it’s not about me, I’m just a bystander. It has started making me feel nervous and jittery when we’re all together because I never know when it’s going to happen until it starts and if it goes down one of the less pleasant trails, whatever we’re doing becomes sidelined for the time (tens of minutes to hours) that it takes for Jon to reassure Lora enough that she can move on.
I just wish I knew if there was away to make this happen less or decrease the intensity of the negativity when it does happen.