Unfriendly? Her problem, not yours

Published: March 25, 2010 | Last Updated: March 25, 2010 By | 3 Replies Continue Reading


Dear Irene,

There is a woman who has a child in my son’s class, and we have volunteered together on occasion. She is very visible as she is also one of the PTA vice-presidents, and is very active on campus.

Several times I have smiled at her, said hello, and basically tried to send the vibe that I am open to knowing her, and she flat out looks the other way, frowns if I smile at her, and looks right through me when talking to others. A couple other moms have told me she did this to them, and then suddenly stopped.

It is March, and I am uncomfortable around her, ignore her and basically turn my back to her now. What is up with this person?




Dear Amanda,

Either this woman has vision problems and doesn’t recognize you, or she has poor social skills. I suspect the latter. It sounds like you acted friendly, which was appropriate for this context, and she ignored you or frowned. Whatever her reasons, her behavior was pretty tasteless.

You said that she does this to other moms so I wouldn’t take it personally. It has to do with her, not you. She may be an unhappy person or someone who is wrapped up in herself. Sometimes when self-important people are in a position of power, they selectively befriend only those people whom they view as instrumental to their ambitions.

I’m not sure what’s up with this woman either. But since you are involved with your child’s education and will be seeing her from time to time, act cordially, remain somewhat reserved, and don’t take her behavior too seriously. Hopefully, the next PTA election will resolve this problem.


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Comments (3)

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  1. Irene says:

    You make a good point that people can be preoccupied with their own problems and appear cold for that reason.




  2. Anonymous says:

    I have a good friend who often acts this way–in fact, when we were both on the PTA board together at our childrens’ school, people would tell me that they were surprised I was so friendly, since they saw me with her! She is actually a lovely person, but very intense and focused. So much so, I’d venture to guess that she is generally abstracted and misses these little social cues entirely.

    Unless she is cold to you in face to face dealings, I would give her the benefit of the doubt. If she isn’t like my friend, she may be going through a divorce, have a sick parent, or worry that she’ll be laid off at work–plenty of things could be keeping her inside her own head or make it hard for her to respond to a friendly smile in the hall. In any event, it’s VERY unlikely that she’s acting this way due to some specific grudge against Amanda.

  3. Jess says:

    I know this might sound crazy but…she might be socially inept or socially insecure. So, she may be so uncomfortable with new people that this is the way it comes out physically.

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