It's true I have a love-hate relationship with People. I love to meet new ones and make friends; but at the same time I loathe the general public and am wary of newcomers. I know: another complete contradiction in my life. Just call me Ms Hyjekell.
I think one of the reasons that I am wary is because I have been bitten many times by the Desperate Newcomer (DN). That friendly person you meet at playgroup / the park / the pub whose company you find pleasant enough such that you casually swap phone numbers and a ‘we must meet again'.
Only there’s nothing casual about it.
We must meet again.
You catch up for coffee with the kids in tow. You go to the pub for a quiet glass of whine. After that they are stapled to your sleeve at every social engagement you find yourself at and before you know it, they've invited themselves to your family BBQ. People soon refer to you as Besties and thus you bewilderingly find yourself ensonced with someone whom you barely know and are fast starting to loathe on sight. Don’t they have any other friends?
So, just how do you edge out the DN before the claustrophobia sets in?
1. Be wary of anyone who talks incessantly about how many friends they have
They haven’t got any.
2. Be alert around the Pinnerdownerer
The Pinnerdownerer is that person who when you vaguely say ‘we should get the gang together soon' says ‘how about tomorrow at 7, my place, you bring dessert, Mary's on nibbles?’ Every group of friends needs a Pinnerdownerer or no one would ever actually meet up. We would all just stay home cosy and comfy in our little nests watching How I Met Your Mother A Thousand Shows From Now re-runs. So, while we acknowledge that the Pinnerdownerer is an important organising role it is very easy for them to tip into DN territory. Try not to be pinned down too regularly.
3. Time the first contact
Both the timing of and the duration. If someone you’ve recently met calls you within a matter of days and spends at least 10 minutes getting to the ‘come over on Saturday point, you will not want to be available on Saturday.
4. Observe during the Uncomfortable Absence
Sometimes you meet a family and you all just get along so fabulously that before you know it you’ve spent the past three weekends together, are planning to share a holiday house over Easter and your children are wearing each others’ clothes. Regardless of how much you like the family, how similar you are and how great your time together is, you will wake up on the Monday after the third consecutive Sunday BBQ and think ‘Oooh. Awkward’. Whereby you will avoid them like the plague for at least two weeks before happily resuming your friendship. This is normal, they feel the exact same way and they will be avoiding you right back.
If you receive any type of contact from the other family during the two week Uncomfortable Absence period, you can be sure they are Desperate Newcomers and no further contact should be made.
5. Sadly, you can’t just avoid them
If you fail to spot a DN and soon find yourself the object of their affection, it’s tempting to use our favourite Difficult People technique: ignore them until they go away. Unfortunately our old stand-by just doesn’t work with the DN. Ignoring them makes them perkier and more time-consuming than ever as they try to win their way back into your heart. You have to remember that you are new forever best friends with this person.
No, the only way to successfully eradicate a DN is to find them a new best friend. Have a chat to your social team and find out if anyone else has a DN they are trying to palm. Introducing DNs to each other is not just a community service, it’s a match made in everlasting heaven.
I’ve lost full years of my life trying to avoid DNs. Have you experienced one and lived to tell the tale? Do you have some other techniques to share with the group?
[As always, Difficult People image by Suse Bauer via Revoluzzza... note that Desperate Newcomers often look like butter wouldn't melt but there are always big sharp teeth involved. Don't let that innocent face (and rather scrumptious fabric choice) deceive you!]