Christian response to insensitive comments?


I attend daily mass and now that I am on sick leave from work, I often chat in the vestibule with others after the mass has ended. I’ve become friendly with a gentleman in his 60s who also attends daily, and we often stop to chat. Sometimes he will give me a ride home (I walk to mass) and when I was really ill he brought food to my house and had a mass said for me. He’s been very kind.

However, he unfortunately makes many insensitive comments to me. These usually take the form of a criticism or judgement of me personally, my attitudes, my faith, my work or personal life. It hurts my feelings. In the past month or so the comments seem to have increased. Its to the point where I often cry or feel like crying after speaking to him. After speaking to him last time, I actually didn’t feel like going to mass for a few days. He made a comment about my faith (I’m a new convert) and I felt so discouraged.

I do tell him I disagree when he makes these comments, but I don’t think he realizes he’s being hurtful because when I protest he just argues and/or teases me. At first I thought I was being overly sensitive but I told one friend a couple of the comments, and she said she would be very upset, and would stop talking to him completely.

I’m not sure what to do, I suppose I could just say “your comments hurt my feelings”. I’m not keen on not speaking to him at all, as I do see him at mass everyday and that would be awkward. Not to mention, he has been very kind to me in some respects. I wish I could just not care what he says. :frowning: Any suggestions would be appreciated.


Just tell him his comments hurt your feelings, and tell him to stop making them.

If he continues, then discontinue your association.

If he says he is “just joking” then tell him to stop. He is being very passive aggressive in his verbal abuse. Perhaps he is used to people taking it when he dishes it out. If you continue to take it, he will continue to dish it. Tell him to stop, and if he can’t respect your wishes he isn’t much of a friend.


Why would you put up with this? I don’t care how caring someone is, people need to be sensitive to the feelings of others. If this man is incapable of “joking” any other way, I would discontinue my association with him. In society, it is called “cutting”. You simply refuse to communicate with this person in any way, and avoid any contact whatsoever. It is very effective.


When he is being nice I would be nice back, not overly nice but as you would to any other person you talk to outside of mass. You need to tell him when he says something that is mean or degrading. Don’t wait until the next day, tell him in a nice calm way that that hurts feelings.

If something in particular as been really really out of line, you could maybe pull him aside after mass and say “you know, you made a comment the other day that really hurt my feelings…” Let him respond. If he gets defensive or does not accept what you have to say, tell him that that is just the way you felt and since you have enjoyed talking to him and appreciated the rides home, you just wanted to be honest and up front. Then end the conversation, nicely of course.


Dear Susan:
First Susan let me congradulate you on coming into the Catholic Faith. Many blessings on your going to daily mass. I am sorry that someone talk to you the way they did to upset you. Believe me you will find most who will be happy to help you grow stronger in your faith. Go to Jesus and tell Him out you feel, and ask our Divine Savior how best to handle the situation.
Sincerely yours,
John Parisi


Thanks to everyone for the comments, they are very helpful. As to why I have been allowing it, I have no idea, other than I’m going through kind of a hard time right now with being on sick leave from work and I guess my self-esteem is a bit in the toilet. :frowning: When I get down on myself I don’t seem to defend myself well, either.

At this point I am still really smarting from the comment he made the other day, so I have no desire to talk to him, period. Truthfully, I’m scared of the next hurtful remark. But when I do speak with him again I am resolved to tell him the comments hurt and they have to stop. I also decided I’m going to speak to my priest about it. Praying is a good idea too, so thanks for that suggestion.

I will update you all on how it turns out. Thanks again for the comments.


Does this man have a romantic interest in you? Why is he around as much as he is?

If you cry or feel like crying after speaking to him, his comments have to be pretty severe.

I knew someone like this man you describe once, he was a really fun guy, very giving and helpful, but he would frequently make hurtful comments and expect things to be okay. It was just his way of talking to people, he would make hurtful comments like that to everyone and about everyone. At the same time he would share everything he had with and do a lot for those people.

One time he went too far with me and it killed our friendship, I didn’t want to talk to him afterward.


First, congratulations! :slight_smile:

Second, I’m sorry you are struggling with this. It shouldn’t be a part of what you deal with when you want to go to Mass.

Is he like this only with you or with people in general? Some people are just like that, unfortunately, insensitive and rude, but also generous in a different way.


Hmm I don’t really think so. He’s over 30 years older than me… not that that necessarily matters, but… he helps lots of people in the parish. He visits shut-ins and people in hospital, and he takes special prayer requests, spends a lot of time praying for people in the parish, so that’s more likely why he visited me and had a mass said.

[quote=flyingfish]If you cry or feel like crying after speaking to him, his comments have to be pretty severe.

Well I don’t know if they are all very severe, but there have been so many that I have been effected negatively by the sheer number of them. I’ll give a couple of examples of his comments.

I work as a research scientist in a university. I love my work. Anytime I mention work he puts it down. For instance, he’s told me on several occasions I should skip work to attend church functions (not Sunday mass, just functions of various kinds). When I say I can’t he says I am selfish and not serious about my faith. He has also said that God could care less about my being a scientist. I countered by saying that I talk to my colleagues about my faith. To which he said, I shouldn’t be associating with non-Catholics.

There is a lady in the parish who seems kind of lonely and needy, she wanted to spend time with me recently. However, I declined due to my own physical illness and said we could possibly have a coffee in a few weeks, when I felt better. Well, the man said to me that the lady really needed me, God was calling me to be friends with her, and we aren’t allowed to choose our friends. He further said that by not going out with her I was being selfish and possibly even driving her out of the church! As in, if she feels she has no friends, she might not come to mass anymore…

On another occasion, I was telling a bit of my story to some people in the parish, and I mentioned that I grew up in Mott Haven in the South Bronx, which is one of the worst neighborhoods in the US, and that I was orphaned at age 10. He commented later (not in front of the others) that I shouldn’t feel sorry for myself, lots of the saints had it worse than me. But I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself in the first place, just sharing where I came from!

Actually the more I write about this and describe it the more I realize how ridiculous it is and that I can’t put up with it anymore…


Thanks! :slight_smile:

I haven’t seen him around others much, but he seems politer to others in general. He did tell me once that he’s had the experience on more than one occasion where people are friends with him and then suddenly stop talking to him and avoid him, and he doesn’t know why. I think I might have an idea… :rolleyes:


This man sounds like a disgusting person. You shouldn’t even tell him his comments hurt your feelings, you should just stop associating with him. You don’t owe him any explanation.

It’s impossible to know what his motivations are for his behavior. It could be he has a lot of religious pride, and does seemingly good deeds for those reasons. It could be he’s genuine but is a nasty person at the same time.


Don’t tell him that his comments hurt your feelings. Tell him instead that he is way out of line and you will not tolerate that kind of talk, and neither should anyone else. Speak from strength, not weakness. Maybe no one else has ever spoken to him that way. The others just drop him as a friend and he’s confused about it. You can help him understand.

And I’m so happy that you’ve been baptized! How wonderful for you!



That’s a really good idea, I’m not sure how it would turn out but I am willing to try. Thanks for the suggestion.


hi judith,
someone already stated something similar, but this man might be confusing “good works” with being a good Christian. he obviously doesn’t have a good comprehension of who Jesus is, and he probably doesn’t have a good relationship with Him either. he cannot work his way to heaven, and it sounds like that’s what he is trying to do. if you must talk with him again, and he continues to criticize, respond with “that wasn’t very Christian of you” or “that wasn’t very charitiable”. maybe he will start getting a clue. sadly, we Catholics come in all shapes and sizes of faith understanding. this man isn’t very well formed in his faith.


First of all Welcome SUSAN!! CONGRATS! Another thing, you don’t need to talk to him all the time and if he asks why you have been ignoring him just tell him you just don’t feel it’s ok for him to criticize you…But if you want you can go up to him and let him know this all ready so that he doesn’t think it’s ok to treat people like that you know?!

Yes praying is definitely a good idea…GOD bless hon!


*This man is a total stranger, and just insults you? Wow…that’s something. Being it is what it is, sometimes God places us in paths that aren’t for us, but for another. Maybe this is an opportunity to say…remember when you told me that people just suddenly stop talking to you, and you don’t know why? Well, I think I have a slight idea as to why.

It can be very kind, gently said. But, maybe he needs to hear this so he doesn’t hurt another’s feelings. I have sometimes been put in these paths by God…it’s not always fun (for me) but if God calls us to help someone else, He will give you the right words to say. Look at Moses. He did not want to do what God asked…’‘send someone else.’’ But, God wanted him to be His voice to the Jewish people.

Might not be that big of a mission, but if we help others…we are following the Lord. I would not hold back, I’d (kindly) tell him what you feel. Or you could completely run in the opposite direction when you see him…lol :p*


I had a problem sticking up for myself at one time in my life. Probably for similar reasons. I will pray that you learn to defend yourself. Don’t forget, you are a child of God and therefore deserve to be treated with respect.

At this point I am still really smarting from the comment he made the other day, so I have no desire to talk to him, period. Truthfully, I’m scared of the next hurtful remark. But when I do speak with him again I am resolved to tell him the comments hurt and they have to stop. I also decided I’m going to speak to my priest about it. Praying is a good idea too, so thanks for that suggestion.

Don’t be scared, you are going to stick up for yourself remember? You will feel better.

Talking to your priest and praying are great ideas.


Welcome Home!

I had a roommate once much like this. Some people (usually men!) somehow don’t develop a good sense of boundary between their thoughts and what they actually say. Admit it, we ALL sometimes THINK things we know darn well we can’t say to the people were are thinking it about.

I agree you should NOT talk about your hurt feelings. Instead, speak his language. Tell him he’s being inappropriate and his comments intrude beyond the level of your friendship. Tell him you don’t mind his company, but he had better learn his manners or you will end up like those other people in his past that suddenly stopped talking to him.

Guys like him NEED blunt talk, even if it is hard for you to give it. Good luck and God Bless!


Thanks everyone for all your wonderful advice, I really appreciate it. I’m still not feeling the greatest physically, so I don’t have the energy to type a thank you to each of you personally, but I will add you all to my prayer list and I am definitely taking much of the advice to heart.

I said I would provide an update also. I spoke to my priest, and it was a huge relief to do so. He has known this man for years and told me that he is “just that way”… he basically rubs everyone the wrong way and creates his own misery as people don’t want to be friends with him. My pastor has tried to reason with him over the years to no avail. He told me the man is a good soul but is terrible at communicating with people. He told me to act as he does, that is, to be firm and stand my ground, tell him what is and is not acceptable, and then pray for him. And of course in my case, limit my contact with him as its hurting me.


I hope things are well. I will pray for you today. Also, I was thinking about your situation and reading the post again and thought about why this man might say some of these things to you. I would be willing to bet that either that is how someone talked to him for a good part of his life or for some reason he is pretty unhappy. Pray for him. Sometimes people have no clue how they come across to others. I know I have been guilty of that before. There is also a good chance he is really hurting inside and is taking out his personal frustration on others. Of course that is not right or morally okay, but he may really need prayers.

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