Is Your Friend’s Laugh Saying, ‘I Hate You’?

I’ve been scouring the Internet for months now looking for an article or study, anything really, that will validate this theory that I have but nothing’s turned up so I’ll just tell you what I think and you can tell me I’m wrong.

Have you ever had a friend whose laugh has changed? Like, one day their laugh sounded one way, like it came from this one place, and the next day it sounded completely different? Like the laugh was rooted in a place deep within that you didn’t even know existed?

I’ve experienced this phenomenon twice in my life. The first time I noticed it was with a girl I was friends with in college. She was one of the funniest and smartest people I knew. She was emotionally troubled and struggled with major self-esteem issues. They were typical self-esteem issues—she was great, she couldn’t see what was so obvious to the rest of the world herself and she started to totally distance herself from everyone and create kind of a new identity. It seemed like over the course of a week, she went from a cool girl with brilliant thoughts and a true sense of the person she was, even if she didn’t like the person that was.

She started changing her voice a little. First it was the way she’d say, “cool.” She’d make the “o”s sound longer and the “l” had almost a “w” quality to it. To be honest, she sounded like a 90s cartoon lesbian. But she wasn’t a 90s cartoon lesbian. It was like, this new her that she thought would bring her all of the guys and other forms of validation that she’d always wanted. Her hearty laugh turned into this Jane Lane-esque chuckle. It was subdued, unreal.

I should have known that when the new laugh started that I was on my way out the door. She was going for a lifestyle reboot and I was too tied to the person she was when she more openly hated herself. Of course that stung because I loved her in any form that she came in and just really wanted her to be happy and know that she was a great person, but I’m naïve. I slowly started to get the axe through biting little remarks that eventually got super personal. I put up with it for about two years because I guess I hate myself just as much as she did/does. I always operated under the assumption that if she felt she needed to hurt me in order to feel good, than that’s what she needed to do and I was strong enough to take it. But I should have known when that laugh changed.

The second time this happened to me, it was with a co-worker. She always had this meek, girly laugh. She played mom to everyone at work that she didn’t flirt with. It took me a couple years to even realize that, in her mind, the only way for her to survive was through manipulation. Manipulating men into thinking they had a chance and manipulating women into thinking they had a true friend. Her laugh was like her speech—soft and girlish. At times she’d truly sound like a young, slightly rattled child. I knew she had a cunty side to her, I’d heard her say a lot of bitchy things about people behind her back, but because (as I’ve stated) I am naïve, I never assumed that I’d be on the other end of those remarks.

Then her laugh changed. Someone else in the office made a joke that wasn’t outwardly at the expense of me but so clearly was and the sound that came out of her was unlike anything I’d ever heard. From her anyway. I’d heard that laugh before. It’s the laugh of a mean girl. It’s the laugh, the true laugh, that a person has at the expense of another that isn’t laced with a “oh my god, we’re so bad” quality. It was a laugh that said, “you’re so right about that loser.”

It socked me in the stomach because I knew. This was the first sign of not knowing someone that you used to call a close friend. She’d turned on me. I was no longer in on the truth of our situation. I no longer knew who she was and maybe I never did. Sure enough, within six months, we couldn’t even be brought to look at each other. She stabbed me in the back on a regular basis. Well, she stabbed me in the front because “the back” implies that there’s some sort of effort in covering up the distain.

So I want to know if I’m the only one who has noticed this as a marker of the beginning of the end. Or the middle of the beginning of the end. I want to know why and how this happens. I want to know what the psychological reason for this is and if there’s a word for it in a more evolved language. I guess I just want to know what happened to my friends. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Molly McAleer lives in Los Angeles with her chihuahua and can be found on Twitter (@molls) and on Instagram (@itsmolls). Her writing has appeared on your television, your Internet and the bathroom walls of your favorite cyber cafes.

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