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Case study: J. The Jester

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Hello guys,

I think this will be an interesting case study. This is about my friend JB.

Context :

I met him about 1.5 year ago while we were hitchhiking with A. (the nasty social climber). JB and his roommate took us in their car and we got along fine and became friends. We live in the same city. He’s been doing a university degree in hospitality but never really used it. He comes from another european country. came to Switzerland for the scenery, outdoor sports and the high standard of living (I think). He worked for about a year as a delivery man and quit his job because he did not like it (totally fair). He’s been jobless for about 6-8 months and now found a job as a helper on a construction site. He broke his wrist, got depressed and went back home. Now he’s back and found this new job.

We play board games together, go out and have a lot of fun. I consider him my friend. He likes politics but he’s not a philosopher of the deep like I am. So I learned that we can have a good friendship but not a deep one. He’s quite supportive I would say. So I found out he’s mostly a friend for fun activities in a group. I invited him many times at my place and for activities. I consider him part of my inner social circle. I thought he was going to be one of my best friends but I changed my mind.

However, due to my higher power-awareness I realized he’s been playing power moves on me, hence this thread.

Here are some facts about him :

  • He’s good at bantering and joking around, he has great humour
  • He’s quite smart
  • He’s a quite hedonistic
  • He has a smile on his face most of the time.
  • He was judged high quality by Lucio, which I agreed in the beginning and now I’m re-thinking about it.
  • We don’t have the same political opinions. I’m more for personal responsibility he’s more for social justice. He hates Macron and I try to have a more nuanced view (or so I think). To me he’s the kind of leftist who does not acknowledge his dark side. However we are both rational and have fair debates.
  • He has the «jester» kind of power attitude.
  • I think he’s actually quite selfish. Not self-centered but selfish.

Here are the facts that made me realize he’s been playing power moves on me:

From the beginning I’ve known him it took him some delay (2-4 days) to answer my texts. When he was in his country with his broken wrist for about 3 months I could never get ahold of him. He answered on the phone to one of our friends on the same night I called him. He apologized for not answering during this period because he was depressed. He told me he was happy to be back in Switzerland and in the group (that I created). I understood that now here was his best option and he realized the value he was getting. Now he answers faster to texts (hours or within the same day).

He did not like when I ostracized A. the nasty social climber and I think he might still be resentful towards me about this as he might think it was unfair. For instance one night we called some of the friends from the group and he was partying at A.’s place (for his house-warming). This is fair, however I could feel that there was something «off» with this situation.

This week-end, we were at a festival and 3 of my friends including him preferred to buy a kebab outside the festival not to wait on the line. I said that I preferred to buy food from the festival as there was some specialties and you can always buy a kebab in town anytime oft he year. Later on, I bought a hot dog at the festival, slipped and fell on the ground. My friends laughed at me which is fair. The power move is that he said mockingly : « so was it better to buy something at the festival ? »

They went to a concert the very morning and went to the beach with his roommates. He did not propose me to come or told me there was an event. I invited him dozens of time.

He started to resist my leadership: at the festival I proposed to go one way. He proposed the other way more out of contradicting me.

In board games, he’s quite competitive. We are playing a game since 1.5 years with several games in a row (game is not fiished yet) and he’s winning. It’s a game about political cunning, influence, manipulation and hidden interests. I bought the game, but I’m currently losing. He has a bit the attitude of a con man and he’s more power aware than me I’m quite sure.

We started rock climbing together about a year ago. 2 of his male roommates are also rock climbing. I think he wants to better than one oft hem and for sure better than me. He goes to train but does not tell me or propose me that he’s going to train. We go together sometimes, but it’s not automatic from him.

There was a 50% discount for a rock climbing subscription for a year. He knew about it but did not tell us. He told me the last day of the offer when we went to climb together. Had we not go together he would have not told me. I think he knew I might get a proposition of the staff from the rock climbing room where we were so he told me before they did. Otherwise I would have learned it from them and would have understood he did not tell me. When our common friend (who also dabble in rock climbing) learned that there was a discount days later, JB burst out laughing and said that he could steal buy it at 100%. So he was fully aware that we would have been interested and were not willing to share this information with us.

When I talked about a climber (Alex Honnold) he dismissed him as there are climbers much better than him, just not being daredevils and risking their lives (anecdotal).

So basically our friendship moved a bit in the direction of a rivalry. There is the risk of becoming frenemies so I am in the process of repairing the relationship while being aware of his dark side that I did not know before.

I think he does feel inferior career-wise and try to one-up us in board games, rock climbing and leisure activities.

I’m sure he does activities with his roommates but does not invite me.

What is my current attitude

  • I still consider him a friend for fun activities but I don’t try to build a deeper friendship now.
  • I’m more aware of his power moves
  • I will build a good relationship but still be cautious

Thank you for reading this long thread.

I’m happy to have your opinion on this case study.

I hope this also helps you to conceptualize if you have or had a similar case in your life.

Kavalier, MMC and Emily have reacted to this post.
KavalierMMCEmily

He was judged high quality

Was that a public thread I missed or it is from your private communication?

 

I take the persons in your example as neutral subjects of studying (i.e. I comment based on information I have and I don't take sides). So please give me the permission to summarize his actions based on the recent two posts:

  1. Competitive in board game
  2. He likes banter a lot (if some banters are clearly unwanted and disrespectful, then I would say he is crossing others' boundary; otherwise, he could probably just having fun)
  3. He always smile: friendly and having fun
  4. He does not share some information for events and discounts; instead, he makes fun of your ignorance. (Possibly he considers it a type of banter; possibly it is a sign of selfishness. Did you explicitly ask him to clarify his intention behind his action?)
  5. Make fun of you, when you fell with a hotdog: do you consider it another "banter"? I'd say it is a lack of sympathy towards friends. I personally would laugh at the misfortune of a person only if he's been disrespectful or harmful.
  6. Slow replies: if he does not use phone that much, then I would say it is OK (For example I try my best to not to be addict to cellphone or internet so I often reply super slow).  However, if he replies to girls super fast, while replies to guys super slow, then this is not a good sign. I'd personally choose to befriend with someone who treats different sexes equally.
  7. Make fun of you to please a girl during rock-climbing: I consider this as the major sign of low-value. If he repeatedly does similar things, I'd say he is a white knight or an obiter. Clearly he crosses others' boundaries to make the girl laugh.

If I were you, I'd try to be more explicit and direct. For example, if I want to learn about discount and deals, I'd directly ask him:" do you know any deals around us"? If I want to join his activities, I'd direct ask:" Do you know any good activities around that I can try?"

Other than that, I'd try to focuses more on his positive traits and encourage him to do more good than harm, and see if it will work.

Of course, you could be already doing those things or more advanced things that I am not aware of; you could share your previous actions taken if you want. Please let me know if I missed anything.

Thank you very much for your answer, MMC!

Other than that, I'd try to focuses more on his positive traits and encourage him to do more good than harm, and see if it will work.

Great point.

Other than that, I'd try to focuses more on his positive traits and encourage him to do more good than harm, and see if it will work.

He made fun of my friend not being able to get the deal whereas he could have told him. So totally one-up.

  1. Make fun of you, when you fell with a hotdog: do you consider it another "banter"? I'd say it is a lack of sympathy towards friends. I personally would laugh at the misfortune of a person only if he's been disrespectful or harmful.

I don't mind people laughing at me in a funny situation. Someone falling with their food definitely has a funny side. It's the added comment that I did not like. However, I do agree. Nobody expressed empathy for me. It's a guy's group so one-ups are part of the deal (thread to come).

Slow replies: if he does not use phone that much, then I would say it is OK (For example I try my best to not to be addict to cellphone or internet so I often reply super slow).  However, if he replies to girls super fast, while replies to guys super slow, then this is not a good sign. I'd personally choose to befriend with someone who treats different sexes equally.

I do not have this information.

I agree that to be more direct and assertive is a good strategy in this situation.

MMC has reacted to this post.
MMC

Its an interesting case study indeed.  I find that guys groups can become that turkey spiral where banter goes too far and it becomes punch for punch.  I'm curious how to avoid that because guys don't do much building each other up.  Maintaining rapport is often seen as a female style of relating.

And 'Bros before Hoes' never works.  There will always be some guy who throws his mates under the bus as soon as a pretty girl appears.

John Freeman and MMC have reacted to this post.
John FreemanMMC

Thank you very much for your answer Transitioned! Yes that is the situation about guys groups. True about Bros before Hoes.

I would love to hear from other forum members as well!

It's an important topic for me as this situation is a blueprint for many situations I encounter in male friendships (maintaining equal-to-equal relationship, keeping a collaborative frame, defending against one-upping, staying high-power yet warm).

MMC has reacted to this post.
MMC
Quote from Transitioned on July 7, 2022, 2:15 am

Its an interesting case study indeed.  I find that guys groups can become that turkey spiral where banter goes too far and it becomes punch for punch.  I'm curious how to avoid that because guys don't do much building each other up.  Maintaining rapport is often seen as a female style of relating.

And 'Bros before Hoes' never works.  There will always be some guy who throws his mates under the bus as soon as a pretty girl appears.

Very true. I hand-picked a very very small circle of guy friends and girl friends who try their best to practice egalitarianism (i.e. treat different social classes or sexes equally) and not one-upping anyone unless being offended. This type of person is hard to find and most of them are girls in my narrow circle... Probably I need to go out more and meet more people.

These friends are more comfortable than my previous circle of banterers. They are knowledgeable but relatively lack a sense of humor comparing to the banterers. Sometimes banterers are more fun and exciting. So tradeoffs are there in my view.

John Freeman has reacted to this post.
John Freeman

Hey, John

I've been thinking about your case since a few days, when I read it.

I thought, why not have JB have it (be THE guy in rock climbing in the social group)?

Perhaps what is happening here is: you are the undisputable leader of the group, you have a stable job in a profession that is very well respected, provide the group with both good experiences and resources (e.g, you buying the board game, often being the host). JB in contrast is in a lower level job, is often unemployed, doesn't have a place where he can bring people (he has a roommate, so I assume logistics and infrastructure are complicated).

Perhaps JB resents it, because it doesn't feel like it's a relationship between equals anymore. So he clings fiercely, and is very protective, of the one thing that you do together that he's the best at: rock climbing. In adition, he tries to undermine your leadership in other opportunities: making jokes when he can; winning games when he can. I also assume he doesn't always win, so he may use these opportunities to tone up the jester humour a bit.

I think group leadership is something that must be free-flowing, everyone must have a setting where he's the leader. For example, you lead in board games (and you are already the group's doctor. You are pretty much the go-to guy when health is an issue, i.e, when people really need something from someone), A. in hitchhiking, JB in rock climbing...

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John Freemanleaderoffun

You nailed it, Kavalier.

Actually my ego was in the way. Here is my journey: I was not a competitive person. I've been more of a collaborative person. When I started board games I realised I did not have the winner mindset. I preferred to have fun with my friends than to win.

So I realised and changed my mind to wanting to win.

First, we all deep down want to win. I was prioritising the fun over winning. It's not that I was not interested in winning.

Second, as I'm learning how to become more competitive and wanting to win I might have taken it overboard and want to be better than JB at everything.

So I acknowledge my responsibility in it.

Thank you very much for taking the time to think about it. I'm very grateful. As said above it's an important topic for me as I made many mistakes out of clumsiness in friendship.

Part of my dark side is the desire to dominate. The positive side is to lead people to an enjoyable experience. The negative side is wanting to be on top and people bowing to me. As I said I acknowledge both sides in me. I'll feed the other one.

It's a really interesting and challenging journey here. To balance the positivity, authenticity with the machiavellian and dark side. It's quite a journey and I love it.

So far so good. 🙂

Thank you for being a friend on this journey.

Kavalier has reacted to this post.
Kavalier
Quote from John Freeman on July 8, 2022, 10:45 pm

Thank you for being a friend on this journey.

C'est très émouvant de lire cela! Merci beaucoup d'être mon frère d'armes dans ce combat san fin vers la lumière!

I used also to be very competitive in the past... (just discovered in the other thread that I still am lol)

I learned the very hard way - losing a lot of friends. I'm glad I could help while it's still time 🙂

EDIT

Talking about competitiveness, this is funny: just the other day I went to my uncle's house (a 60 year old man), and he was there, staring at the TV and playing video-games. His 5 and 6 years old grandchildren running around the living room, and I was surprised to see that. I usually find them on the video-games instead. Then I ask my uncle:

Kavalier: don't you and the boys like to play against each other?

Him (without even moving): No, they don't like to lose. And since they can't beat me...

 

 

 

 

John Freeman has reacted to this post.
John Freeman
Quote from Kavalier on July 9, 2022, 2:09 am
Quote from John Freeman on July 8, 2022, 10:45 pm

Thank you for being a friend on this journey.

C'est très émouvant de lire cela! Merci beaucoup d'être mon frère d'armes dans ce combat san fin vers la lumière!

Hey man (@kavalier), I missed this post. I see it now. I'm honoured! I see it exactly as you see it: a never-ending journey towards the light as brothers and sisters. This is what mankind can be so let's stand up to it! Thank you very much for writing in French 🙂

Are you based in Germany, Norway? I did not understand so far.

I used also to be very competitive in the past... (just discovered in the other thread that I still am lol)

We all have an ego, man. Totally normal. The challenge is not being controlled by it and use it appropriately.

EDIT

Talking about competitiveness, this is funny: just the other day I went to my uncle's house (a 60 year old man), and he was there, staring at the TV and playing video-games. His 5 and 6 years old grandchildren running around the living room, and I was surprised to see that. I usually find them on the video-games instead. Then I ask my uncle:

Kavalier: don't you and the boys like to play against each other?

Him (without even moving): No, they don't like to lose. And since they can't beat me...

Hahaha, I love this story 🙂 It remind me when I talk to parents and show them by example that they don't need a smartphone and they are perfectly happy making a drawing. They don't even skip a bit -> right on the pencil and focused on the paper. Screen is forgotten.

As I told you I discovered your post now, thanks again! 🙂

I came here to update you.

I'm taking my responsibility: there was ego from my side. And because I was always leading, he felt inferior and he resented me for it.

So one of the key is also to follow his lead. I'll write a post about this.

I actually learned twice that I was not invited to events where other from the social circle were. Because of my solid network I got informed:

  1. He planned on doing a Petanque yesterday evening with F. I learned it through F. And this is after I wished JB happy birthday! That means: I send him a text wishing him happy birthday, he replies and does not invite.
  2. Him and his roommates planned on doing going down a river: I learned it through one of his roommates.

What is my answer to that?

"Why did not you tell me?" (light shaming, publicly, surprised tone)

Both times he justified himself. So he knew what he was doing. The second time he was slightly annoyed. That was perfect because that showed I could get to him and he knew he was planning things behind my back intentionally. I may be not wanting to go, but at least let me know there's an event.

What I learned is that he's quite power-aware and a social strategist. He just pretends he's not and just likes to fool around. He chose the easy (professional) life but his private life he's very invested in. So he's kind of gatekeeping his social circle where he's the leader (or one of the leaders): his shared house.

He does not give me easy access to them because he knows that soon they'll be under my leadership. This is my ego speaking. However, this is how it goes.

Why?

Because I told him (see "expanding my social circle"): "I'm going to introduce you guys to more people and show you this town and this town and this town."

He was not so excited. Why? Speculation: Because he'll be again following my leadership and he'll be part of my social circle instead of the other way around.

So there's a huge part of sharing Power and also being a follower with people in your social circle. Otherwise they will resent you if you're always leading and they feel they're just a member of the group and it's "your" group.

The Solution

  • Go for win-win rather than leadership-at-all-cost. As Kavalier said, in a social circle, I do not have formal power over my friends (no coercion power).
  • Get enmeshed in other people's social circle and then invite them to your events (Machiavellian).

I do not have always the best ideas and make mistakes, so following other people's ideas and going to other people's ideas is definitely win-win.

However, I had to reach this stage of social power where people actually invite me.

Cheers!

Edit: so basically I've been a bit too much machiavellian and too obviously "the leader". Also when I ostracised A. the nasty social climber, I got framed myself as "being nasty" despite my explanations so I'm understading I still have to recover from this. I could have faded him but I could not stand him anymore.

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Kavalier
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