How do I deal with someone who says I’m not a “real” fan?

I have an issue with my best friend’s husband’s best friend. I don’t think it’s a factor in this issue, but just to give a clear back story, I went on a few dates with him in 2007ish, but there are NO lingering feelings. The issue: we are interested in many of the same nerdy things. When he’s around, he’s always finding ways to basically tell me that I’m not a ‘real’ fan of said interest for whatever reason. He also claims to be right on everything. Avoidance isn’t always possible. Help?

“It’s impossible! I never broke the law. I AM THE LAW!“ – Judge Dredd
02-05-13-28-29 / 23

Hello Diner. First off, let us assure you that as far as Fortune Cookies are concerned, you are a “real” fan–even by more “fanatical” standards. We’re guessing you not only dedicate a lot of time and resources enjoying your fandoms, but also learning about all the minutiae about them–stuff “real” fans do. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be hurt this way.

So it’s clear that this negativity is about his insecurity and ego–things you can do little about. The standards he set by which to judge you is all about his need to feel good about himself. Whatever a “real” fan is to him, it will always be just out of your reach because it defines his identity. He’ll find ways to make it so that there is no better “him” than himself–and most certainly not you.

So how do you deal with him? Fortunately, this isn’t a Cosmo article about how to please your man. We Fortune Cookies wouldn’t know the first thing about that unless he really likes Chinese food. But that not only makes it a whole lot easier on us, but also you, the woman who wants to keep her dignity. And besides, it’s already unfair that you have to prove yourself to him when he had the privilege of passing that standard just by being who he was.

He may argue that it was his opinion, and you also had the right to state your opinion, but from a cultural standpoint, you’re compelled not to where he wouldn’t have the same restriction. That’s the tricky thing about privilege. There is nothing telling him that things need to change. He’s getting what he wants: the feeling of being superior, and as far as he knows, you’re fine with it because nothing–not his culturally based ethics, his friends, or his family–is telling him to stop.

You can start challenging his status quo by telling him you’re in fact not OK with what he’s saying. It may even be the first time he even considered that you were not happy with his behavior–after all, it was good natured ribbing, right?

Diner, it ultimately doesn’t matter how it was intended because unlike his right to judge you, you actually get to judge how you feel because they are your feelings alone. You don’t belong to him.

If you’re thinking to yourself, there’s no way I can be that confrontational to tell him to his face that he’s wrong, remember that there is no “right way” of doing this. As far as we Cookies know, there is no “right way” of telling people they have violated their boundaries (because, again, who are they to judge and by whose authority?).

So do what you have to do to get the message across accurately: that passing judgment on you is something you don’t like or want–regardless of whether said judgment has any merit or was just said in jest. No one appointed him your judge except for himself. If face-to-face communication isn’t your thing, write an e-mail. If not that, then ask your best friend or husband to pass the message along. There’s no shame in getting help.

Worse comes to worst, send him this Fortune, and let him know it’s about him.

Sir, if you’re reading this, please cut it out. She’s not happy with what you’re doing, and clearly you two haven’t reached the level of friendship where good natured ribbing is acceptable to give. Imagine how demeaning it is to be told off by pastry.

Hopefully this has given you the courage to speak your mind. But even if it hasn’t, we hope that you at least understand that the judgments he made weren’t his to give because you didn’t ask for them. Good luck, Diner.