17 Realistic Ways to Break Anyone Down

feature image via shutterstock

Imagining people naked as a way to get over your nerves is a terrible idea. First of all, what if that’s your end goal? Second, people you’re intimidated by don’t become less intimidating without clothing, if anything they become MORE THEIR TRUE SELVES. Third, we need things that could actually manifest in everyday life.

Instead, imagine them:

1. Angrily putting on sunglasses but then one lens is missing

2. Just neutrally putting on sunglasses but then one side slips so then they’re just hanging  down by the one ear

3. Eating grapes with seeds and gumming the seeds out

4. Eating grapes with seeds and crunching right through the seeds like some kind of terrifying human owl breaking down bones to make a pellet

5. Accidentally saying “my apologize” instead of “my apologies” at a crucial moment

6. Attempting to get on too tall of a bike

7. Being really serious about something they’re working on and not realizing the pen they’re idly twirling is marking a large portion of their face

8. Underestimating the weight distribution on a pull out bed and being slowly retracted head-first into the mouth of the couch

9. Being disheartened and saying “that’s all rice” instead of “that’s alright”

10. Trying to flirt with someone and mid-compliment hitting that bubble-in-your-throat register

11. Doing a burpee

12. Googling “pigs with sunglasses”

13. Tweeting something they were trying to look up on Google

14. Sitting down in a chair they think is locked upright and in one swift movement going from bent knees to flat on their back

15. Getting really into Snake on a old Nokia

16. Fishing for that last bit of ice that seems stuck to the bottom of the glass only to have all of it release onto their face

17. Trying to manually deflate an air mattress and get it back in its bag

If these scenarios seem tame compared to the arsenal of damning imagery you could possibly think up, this is about leveling the playing field, not destroying everything you hold sacred. Besides, this list is foolproof. I’ve already imagined Angela Basset doing all of these things and now she’s on par with Harry, my neighbor who stares at me through the blinds every morning.

The possibilities to normalize someone you admire, have a crush on, or fear are inside all of us. As we proceed in the comments, remember going too light or too heavy with a scenario can be read as either adorable or resilient, and that only makes the person stronger. Good luck!

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


Los Angeles based writer. Let's keep it clean out there!

Erin has written 208 articles for us.


    • True story I dehydrate myself pre-meeting so I don’t pee myself in front of my committee. I allow myself to drink water an hour in, though.

      • Is it actually a thing that happens, though? Do I have this to look forward to as a new fear whenever I lay down on a pullout bed??

        • some older ones didnt have legs in the center which made it easier for that to happen, definitely not saying it happened to me more than once

  1. wait but #7 is so cute what if i accidentally fall in love with them in a hilarious and wacky misstep

    • Yeah, I have definitely fallen in love with the person in these scenarios. But maybe in a way which mean that I will act in a kind of gently affectionate and kindly way towards them which will end up dissolving the tensions that were in our relationship, as opposed to replacing them with zany romcomesque ones.

  2. Okay, but #4 is actually TERRIFYING. (And something I feel like Gwyneth Paltrow would do a la that Toast piece a few months back about if she was your girlfriend.)

  3. YES! I needed this! I’ve been wondering how to ask a cute girl in one of my classes if she wants to hang out sometime. Cause she is like the most confident, hilarious, amazing person and I just want to spend time with her <3 heart eyes for dayssss….

  4. Oh…this is so much cuter than what comes to my mind when I see the words “Ways to Break Anyone Down” and would be just fine by the standards of both the UN and Miss Manners.

    *scuttles back into the shadows from whence I came*

    • Ditto, people think I don’t have a good imagination…. I have a very very good imagination that is very rarely legal in any capacity and definitely not a socially acceptable response to whatever the situation was. Glad to see some people are adorable though :)

      • Oh I’ve more than a good imagination, I have some practical experience unfortunately.
        Yep, cinnamon rolls exist still in this world. Quite gladdening.

  5. Ok but what if you’re in front of 17 people and then your imagination is good enough that you can picture each of them doind a different thing
    And suddenly it’s like “wtf is going on, brain?”

  6. Picturing my boss trying to get on a too-tiny bike is going to get me through the next few months. God bless you, one and all.

  7. This is pure gold.

    I would like to submit:

    Just slightly missing their mouth with a big spoonful of soup and dripping it all down their front.

    Opening the tupperware cabinet and having plastic containers rain down upon them.

    Taking a big swig of milk from the container only to realize that it’s spoiled.

  8. I feel I may need these in the coming weeks at work and thus am so grateful. Committing to memory now for future stress situations.

  9. Great list. I used to always use this one on high school teachers:

    In the midst of a serious lecture or stern reprimand, they take a break to eat some of the cotton candy they are holding.

  10. All good tactics!

    Also, too:
    Picking their nose, harvesting the booger morsel and being unable to flick it off. Increase desperation for a greater effect.

    While attempting to tie their shoes, end up punching themself in the face from breaking a shoe lace (first hand account)

  11. Oh my goodness, my (probably, slightly complicated at the moment) girlfriend has actually done over half of these – I guess that happens when you’re both huge dorks who’ve known each other since kindergarten. It just makes her that much more adorable and wonderful.

Comments are closed.