Growing up in a Catholic home, when I was young, I remember, often, being reminded of the biblical quote, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” As a kid, and clear into my 40s, I believed that to mean don’t be so judgemental of new people or new experiences, they might surprise you, in a positive way.
I’m not religious, anymore, but on the surface, I do think it’s important not to be too judgemental, but there are people that come into my life that seem to be abusing the privilege.
Now, I’m not talking about judging a book by its cover, you can never tell much about people or things on the surface. You should dig deeper, if you want the best available information.
I’m talking about once the book is open, when a person shows your their true colors, for instance, and you have to then decide if you want to keep reading.
I’ve taken some hard knocks, trusting in people who didn’t deserve my trust, because I was trying not to be “judgemental”. I’ve learned the hard way that sometimes you have to judge people, to avoid getting hurt.
When I first meet a person, I try to take them at face-value. If they are nice to me, I will be nice to them. But, more than once, I’ve been taken advantage of by people who think that since I didn’t judge them, when we first met, that I won’t ever judge them, even when I find out that they are lying to or manipulating me. And, when I was younger, they would have been right. Afraid of offending them or losing a friendship, I would put up with a lot of crap that I should have judged as disrespectful, at the least, and practically criminal, at the worst.
I have been told so many tall-tales that I can probably parse out the code words when someone is trying to take my money or waste my time for their own benefit (and none of mine). Like the lady who once asked me for money to help her car get out of impound because of a ticket that she claimed she got for having bad air-bags (she had been claiming that the cops were harassing her about this issue), but when she sent me a copy of the ticket and I looked at it very closely, it said nothing about air-bags (it did say she was ticketed for running a stop-sign and not being able to produce a driver’s license). Then she texted me at two in the morning, two days later, claiming that she was out in the middle of nowhere, thinking about killing herself, because she didn’t have the money to get her vehicle out of impound. We live in the city, so I asked her how she got to the Boonies and even offered to send help, if she would tell me where she was. I got no response. Then, about 12 hours, later, she texted me claiming that she was in the hospital with her kid and she’d been there all day. I asked her how she got back and forth and she claimed that her mother-in-law had gotten her car out of impound. Now, I’m no Sherlock Holmes, but I do know how the city runs and I know when something stinks. The day her car was supposedly impounded was a Friday. She, supposedly, still didn’t have her car at 2 a.m. on Sunday morning. The city impound is only open Monday through Friday, so how did she get her car out of impound on Sunday? Her story smelled so bad, nothing, even if it were true, that she ever told me, after that tall-tale, ever passed the smell-test, again. I had made the mistake of helping her out, once, and for almost a year, afterwards, she continued to try and woo me with similar stories to try and extract more money from me. She finally went away when she realized that I was judging her and that I judged that she was a manipulative person who just wanted to use me as her personal ATM machine.
Now, when I meet people, if their first thing to do is to tell me a sob story about their finances, I hold on to mine, very tightly and only offer moral support.
I have met people who pretended that they wanted to be my friend, then invited me out to lunch, only to give me a sales pitch for some direct marketing scheme. When I say, “No, thanks!,” I have, at best, never heard from them, again, even if we (supposedly) had things in common, like kids or hobbies. At worst, I’ve been left with the check!
Now, when I meet people who want to make instant friends with me, and I haven’t met them before, I do not accept invitations to meet, at a later date, until we have communicated, at length about any topic, including solving the world’s problems and even then, I still may not meet if they let slip that they sell “Acme Product XYZ.” I’ll always be polite, but I won’t accept their friendship. In these cases, it rarely matters. As soon as they realize that I am not picking up what they are putting my down, they judge me as an unsuitable friend and go on to (hopefully) greener pastures.
I judge dating relationships and work relationships the same way. I am polite and respectful to everyone that I meet, but the minute that I can judge that I am being lied to, lied on, or manipulated, I will, respectfully move on. I won’t make a big deal out of it. I won’t post on Facebook, “Hanna Montana is a fraud, don’t be friends with her!,” I’ll just quietly go my own way and I won’t deal with folks, anymore, even if it means inconveniencing myself to avoid them.
I used to be afraid of being called “Judgemental” because I thought that it meant that I wasn’t a good friend, now I know that it’s important to be judgemental if you want to be sure that your friends are good to you.