From my perspective, profanity "is what it is", I don't use it frequently but I have no real issue with it. Though, I do understand that some people do have issue with profanity. Because of this, often I only use it when around those who I believe will not be offended, or where it's more normal (like in online gaming).

But, people have been taken aback when they hear me curse, and after explaining my view thought it was dishonest to act differently depending on those I was with. Is this a the general consensus?

So, my question is:

Do people feel worse about their friends knowing that they curse when they aren't around?

Is this perceived as "two facedness" or is just normal human behavior?

  • This is entirely dependent upon the people involved. I'm voting to close this as primarily opinion based.
    – sphennings
    May 16 '18 at 15:00
  • @sphennings isn't all social interaction dependent on the people involved? (not disagreeing with your vote, just trying to understand IPS better) May 16 '18 at 15:02
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    You are right, everything will depend on the people involved :) I think sphennings meant the question isn't specific enough about which people are involved (demographic, relationships, etc.). But I think this falls in the category of "Is this rude?", which we have determined is off-topic.
    – Em C
    May 16 '18 at 15:19
  • @EmC To be clear, I'm not trying to validate my actions, I'm trying to determine if I should continue this behavior. Would an acceptable edit be to change "Do people feel..." to something in the vain of "Should I continue to do this, or is it more respectful to curse everywhere/nowhere?" (Really I asked this question to learn about IPS ;) ) May 16 '18 at 15:29
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    We like to have questions with specific goals, rather than "should I do this?" type questions, so I don't think that would work either.. Maybe something like "how do I find out how a conversation partner feels about profanity", but you'd still need to add some context for that.
    – Em C
    May 16 '18 at 15:39

A good question

Showing respect for the feelings of others is very important. My kids swear with their friends, and not at home. It is about emotional expression and how they want to come across. It would simply not be appropriate with us, their parents, as it is not like they have to prove anything to us, but rather respect a more caring approach.

As far as hypocrisy is concerned, everyone can swear, and in certain places you are happy to show frustration this way. It is simply not appropriate to show frustration everywhere one goes, because most of the time you just have to do what you need to do, and no one wants to know how frustrated one is. Swearing in these circumstances, is saying ones frustration matters more than what one is doing or what others are doing.

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    I would even add that it is a very positive attitude to have. It means that you respect other beliefs even though you do not share them.
    – guillau4
    May 16 '18 at 15:17

There is nothing two-faced about talking and acting appropriately to the situation. Think of a formal event, or of a children's party - it's not two-faced to watch your tongue in those situations, even if normally you would use profanities, right? Same for people - in certain company you might feel that using profanities is inappropriate (because they're not comfortable hearing them, or for any other reason), while in another company you're comfortable to use language as would make sailors blush. That's normal human behaviour.


I have several friends who are Preacher's Kids. Needless to say, they watch their language around their parents. Yet they can weave a colorful tapestry of profanity that would hang out over Lake Michigan to this day.

There's a word that guys use in conversation with each other that women (as a group), to put it mildly, find very objectionable. So many guys don't use that word around women.

Is that being two-faced? No, I would say it's being respectful. I would say it's more offensive to curse around those who don't than to not curse around them. It's a good interpersonal skill to use appropriate language around your audience and that includes people that would be offended by certain words. On the other hand, I would say that being the "profanity police" or telling people to lighten up with their discomfort with profanity would be a poor interpersonal skill.

WRT your question: I don't think people really care, unless they're really uptight. Sometimes it's more the surprise factor: they aren't used to hearing you curse and when you do, it's a surprise.

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