If I’m A Sarcastic Jerk, It Means I Really Love You

Listen, dear friend/significant other/romantic interest — I know. I know that when I respond to something you said with a flippant joke about penises, you must think that I am an asshole who doesn’t care about your emotions. I imagine that it comes across like I’m not listening, or that I don’t value your thoughts, or that I am only minimally invested in the conversation. Not so! In fact, opening with a comment about how lucky you are that I showed up to your party and a bear hug is the greatest sign of love my acidic little mind could possibly muster! Allow me to explain.

At the risk of sounding like a pompous windbag, I often find (as I imagine many of us do) the need for people to be false and placating with one another exasperating. Whenever I feel uncomfortable in social situations, my first desire is to break the tension by saying something absurd or perhaps even a bit mean, to say what I imagine everyone else is thinking. (That or handing out sex toys to lighten the mood a little bit, though I imagine the cost of constantly having several dildos on hand would get impractical after a certain point.) The truth is that, on more than one occasion, this need to be a little too up-front and be perfectly honest/bold within the first few minutes of conversation with people have led me to be a bit misunderstood, even disliked. Over time, I’ve learned to restrain my desire to say something crude or quasi-judgmental about the situation around me and my new interlocutor to break the ice, and be a little more palatable to all tastes when it comes to polite conversation. Fair enough.

But if I love you, if I feel that we really get each other on a level that doesn’t occur in every stuffy brunch gathering, I’m going to be that person that I am often holding back for reasons of propriety. I’m going to make those jokes and be sarcastic and respond harshly to your comments. And I will love you all the more if you do it back.

Whenever I jokingly call you names, it is out of pure affection and admiration. Do you think I would call someone a “basic bitch” to her face if I actually felt that she were, in fact, a basic bitch? No. That would be weird, and would run too high of a risk of her knowing I was actually serious and greatly judging her decision to wear Crocs out in open society. I only call you names because I know you are in fact the opposite of these things, and therefore can withstand the absurd harshness of their use with complete indifference. You fly above all of that nonsense, because you are flawless and understand that I am constantly living out a rich inner life in which I am actually Daria Morgendorffer and you are my beloved Jane, ready to come back with an even more judgy statement about this lackluster bar we decided to get a drink at.

The point is, if I love you, almost nothing I say should be taken at face value. I will allow myself to speak almost entirely in hyperbole because I sort of see the world as completely absurd and not to be taken terribly seriously, and I would hope that my friends can understand a text along the lines of “ugh h8 u so much rite now” is not a literal declaration of disdain. I love you, and therefore want to share with you the great joy that is being mildly offended/amused/disgusted at everything you see, and wanting to comment on it with impunity.

So please, feel free to give it back and bask in the glow of mutual sarcasm. Together, we will be the human embodiment of Tard the grumpy cat. Just please remember that, when drunk, the lines between sarcasm and seriousness become blurred to the point of mutually assured destruction. We can continue to be two bitchy alumni of Lawndale Senior High, but it may end up with one of us in wasted tears saying something like, “Did you really mean that my feelings for Joseph Gordon-Levitt are weird and inappropriate for an adult woman? How could you say that?!” Thought Catalog Logo Mark


Chelsea Fagan founded the blog The Financial Diet. She is on Twitter.

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