“People who use sarcasm don’t see themselves as being hurtful, they see themselves as being funny. But recipients tend to interpret their remarks as hurtful.
Probably most of us are sarcastic occasionally, but if we are reasonable people and don’t set out to deliberately hurt someone’s feelings, if we are told that a person doesn’t like it, we stop. Same with teasing. We all have different tolerance levels for being teased and some are more sensitive than others, for a variety of valid reasons. But if we tell the teaser that it isn’t funny, we hope that they will stop.
Teasing and sarcasm is also a form of passive – aggressive behaviour. Another article in Psychology Today ‘How to Recognise and Handle Passive Aggressive Behaviour’ says sarcasm and veiled hostile joking (over the top teasing) is disguised verbal hostility.
Disguised Verbal Hostility. Negative gossip. Sarcasm. Veiled hostile joking — often followed by “just kidding.” Repetitive teasing. Negative orientation. Habitual criticism of ideas, solutions, conditions, and expectations.
Patricia Evans in her book ‘The Verbally Abusive Relationship‘ lists 15 different categories of verbal abuse. One of them is verbal abuse disguised as jokes. This sort of abuse never seems funny because it isn’t. I believe teasing and sarcasm come into the same category.
Hubbie # 1 with the personality disorder was a master of teasing and sarcasm that was designed to hurt and wind me up. He would tease me by driving off just as I arrived to get in the car, just a few meters up the road. I walk up again and he waits for me to reach out and open the door and drives off again. When I got upset and refused to play the game any more he would tell ME off and say ‘you’ve got no sense of humour’ or ‘you just can’t take a joke’. It might have been funny the first few times he did it at the beginning of the relationship, but 15 years later it certainly was no longer funny.
People who verbally abuse others just don’t stop. There may be many reasons for it, because they want to hurt the recipient or because they just don’t understand that it is hurtful and how it feels. Maybe they are doing it out of a feeling of being powerful and in control. As the article points out, often people who are sarcastic have low self esteem and use the cutting remarks to bolster their own feelings of inadequacy. They might have a personality disorder.
What they don’t have is respect. If your friend or partner continues to say hurtful things and tease you even after you have asked them to stop over and over again – they do not have your best interests at heart. They don’t care how you feel. They are not respecting you. They are being abusive.
You don’t have to put up with it. Walk away. Hang up the phone. Refuse to accept their emails and texts. You can take charge. No-one should treat you like that. Don’t keep putting up with it like I did, hoping that one day they will stop. It won’t.