DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was called too sensitive by a close relative. The relative then explained to me that there is a way to cure being too sensitive. Then the relative said it was just a joke, which I clearly did not find amusing.
As a guy, is there anything wrong with being overly sensitive? I have always found this relative to be a kind and caring person. It is situations like this that make me question my impression, as it's not the first time something like this has occurred.
GENTLE READER: Allow Miss Manners to translate for you the current use of the accusation of being “too sensitive.” Although it is a strange accusation to make in an era that values sensitivity, it is a common one. What it generally means is, “You are not supposed to object to my being offensive.” So perhaps the response might be, “Well, I suppose you can show me how to be insensitive.”
That your relative then used the also-common joke defense makes Miss Manners reasonably sure that you were responding to an insult or otherwise offensive remark. In that case, you would not need to question your reaction.
But it worries her that this is not the only instance, and that you know your relative to be kind and caring.
Is it possible that you have a habit of insult-collecting? That you examine ordinary conversation for hidden digs at yourself, or presume that general observations are meant to be taken as being about you?
That would be insensitive.