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I make people uncomfortable Empty I make people uncomfortable

Post by JonSnow on Mon Nov 16, 2015 9:59 pm

Hey everybody.

I'm feeling really depressed about my life right now over my lack of a real social life and less than ideal dating life.

Ever since I entered high school (I'm 26 now, going on 27), I've had a lot of difficulty when it comes to making friends. My dating life hasn't been too great either, as I've never had a girlfriend and I'm still a virgin (though I have had a couple of dates and makeouts). I meet all of my dates off dating sites, since I have a lot of difficulty with approaching people in public.

A couple months ago, I went on a date with a girl and didn't hear from her again in a while. One night, feeling particularly depressed, I decided to message her saying that it's obvious that she was no longer interested in me, and if she didn't mind, to tell me what went wrong. According to her, I made her really uncomfortable. I apparently stared at her way too much and didn't seem comfortable talking. It was hard to hear, but it at least gave me a better perspective on my issues.

I'd be lying if I said my life is anything ideal. Despite graduating from college, I work at a grocery store at minimum wage, still live at home, and don't have a car. I desperately want to change my life and am ashamed of my situation. I never lie to my dates about it, but I never really feel comfortable sharing it when they ask about any of these things (to be fair, she was in a similar situation herself: living at home, working low-wage jobs, etc.). I've been taking online classes on programming and have made a couple of web apps. I hope that I can break into that market with that, otherwise, I don't know what I'm going to do other than go back to school and rack up even more debt. Another alternative is the JET Program (I just sent my application the other day).

I went on another date last week and I thought things went fairly well. She even said at the end that we should do it again. When I texted her this morning asking her how her weekend was, she gave a somewhat generic reply that it was "fun and good." When I asked her what she did, she never responded. I'm worried that, once again, I've managed to scare away another interesting girl.

I also decided to try to improve my "lack of friends" situation by going to a Meetup group that I've been putting off on going (and the event was stated to be for newcomers, so I felt that it was good segway in). However, I found it hard to talk with people, and when I did, they quickly lost interest. It's clear that I'm not very interesting, since I work at a grocery store and, unfortunately, haven't been focusing on too many hobbies since I've been working on trying to improve my life. Also, I'm a little cautious about bringing up interests in things like anime, since that can have some negative stigma attached to it.

That's a big problem for me. Talking about interests and things I do. I'm always afraid of being judged and being seen as a weirdo. It's a lot easier when I know ahead of time that they're actually interested in the things I'm into. I feel like I need to expand my interests so that they're more mainstream. I'm thinking of starting to watch sports and TV shows most people are into (the only thing I watch is Game of Thrones), since that can probably make conversations easier. I also decided to start watching a move every week (I've been focusing on Quentin Tarantino movies; last night, it was Reservoir Dogs).

Usually, my weekends end up being me sitting online at a bar, and occasionally, having a girl come up to me and flirt with me. TBH, I'd rather do that than sit at home alone, but I definitely want something better than that.

I just don't really know what to do at this point. I'm glad I found this place, because it seems like a lot of other "dating advice" forums are misogynist and "brogressive" (at least, the ones targeted at guys), and I just want advice that'll help me not only get better at dating and making friends, but also make me a better person as well. I've been feeling pretty suicidal lately and am starting to lose hope (I'm thinking of seeing a therapist, but I haven't had much success with them in the past). At this point, all I really want is a friend that understands me.


Last edited by JonSnow on Tue Nov 17, 2015 12:29 am; edited 1 time in total

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I make people uncomfortable Empty Re: I make people uncomfortable

Post by Werel on Tue Nov 17, 2015 12:00 am

Hi, welcome, etc., JonSnow. Smile

First, hold up:
JonSnow wrote:It's clear that I'm not very interesting, since I work at a grocery store
Don't be so quick to draw that correlation. I know some really interesting people with very boring jobs, and some people who do fascinating work but who I find very boring. Interesting isn't about what you do 8 hours a day so much as how you interact with the world and other people; you can be interesting, even if your job isn't.

JonSnow wrote:A couple months ago, I went on a date with a girl and didn't hear from her again in a while. One night, feeling particularly depressed, I decided to message her saying that it's obvious that she was no longer interested in me, and if she didn't mind, to tell me what went wrong.
Assuming you're looking for advice here: ...not a great move. "It's obvious you're no longer interested in me" is a double-whammy: it presumes that she was interested in the first place, and there's really no way to phrase it that doesn't come across accusatory or snarky. Actually, triple-whammy: you're asking her to account for her extremely personal choice to a near-stranger--the specific near-stranger who's most likely to take offense to any answer she gives. So, not a disaster, not something to flagellate yourself for, but in the future: if somebody ghosts after one date, just leave it. Don't ask them to justify why they don't want to date you. It's not nice.

JonSnow wrote:Usually, my weekends end up being me sitting online at a bar, and occasionally, having a girl come up to me and flirt with me.
The good news is that apparently women cold-approach you, which is not a thing that happens that much, so you've clearly got some degree of appeal going on. Is the problem that you manage to land first dates but not second ones?

From the response you got from the first woman you mentioned, sounds like body language and eye contact might be tripping you up, but it's hard for Internet strangers to give you much concrete help on visual stuff. Do you have RL friends (not former dates!) you can ask for feedback on that?

JonSnow wrote:
Talking about interests and things I do. I'm always afraid of being judged and being seen as a weirdo.
Yeah, that's an understandable fear if people have been judgy jerks to you before, but it's also a useful self-filtering process. People who are asses to you because you like anime are people you'd never want to be friends with in the first place.

And having weird interests doesn't have to shut you off from people who don't share them; finding commonalities in the stuff you do like, commiserating over shared aggravations, being genuinely interested in others, etc., can work on anybody. Things like good conversational turn-taking, asking genuine questions, and  being intellectually curious about a wide range of topics will serve you better than trying to be Dude Who Likes All the Same Things As Target Friends. Having shared interests does give you some automatic conversation material, though, so it's not a bad idea to try and expand your tastes to include broadly-appreciated stuff. (That's the Cliff's Notes version of Ways To Reconcile Niche Interests with Desire to Make Friends; if you're looking for more in-depth stuff on that front, there's more rambling where that came from).
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I make people uncomfortable Empty Re: I make people uncomfortable

Post by JonSnow on Tue Nov 17, 2015 1:01 am

Hey Werel! Thank you for the reply!  Smile

Werel wrote:Don't be so quick to draw that correlation. I know some really interesting people with very boring jobs, and some people who do fascinating work but who I find very boring. Interesting isn't about what you do 8 hours a day so much as how you interact with the world and other people; you can be interesting, even if your job isn't.

That was probably a poor choice of words on my part. I guess what I mean is that I always feel this sense of insecurity about my job. Since I have a degree, I feel like I should be doing something that pays more (I just don't know what; I probably should have thought about that more in college). That's why I've been focusing on building a web app portfolio and applying to the JET Program.

But yeah, don't get me wrong. I know plenty of cool, interesting people that work where I work.

Werel wrote:Assuming you're looking for advice here: ...not a great move. "It's obvious you're no longer interested in me" is a double-whammy: it presumes that she was interested in the first place, and there's really no way to phrase it that doesn't come across accusatory or snarky. Actually, triple-whammy: you're asking her to account for her extremely personal choice to a near-stranger--the specific near-stranger who's most likely to take offense to any answer she gives. So, not a disaster, not something to flagellate yourself for, but in the future: if somebody ghosts after one date, just leave it. Don't ask them to justify why they don't want to date you. It's not nice.

Yeah, I see what you're saying. I guess it's more that I want to see where I might have gone wrong so I can avoid it on a future date. It was never my intention to make her feel guilty, but I'll avoid doing that again.

I actually did see her again at a party, and we got along pretty well. Also, we're a part of the same online community, so we still interact from time to time. To be fair, I wouldn't say we're great friends, though.

Werel wrote:The good news is that apparently women cold-approach you, which is not a thing that happens that much, so you've clearly got some degree of appeal going on.

From what I've been told, I'm good-looking and that I have some muscle tone (I haven't been working out that much lately, but people still seem to say this). I am on the shorter side, though, but I've yet to meet any girl that's said anything negative about it *knocks on wood*.

Werel wrote:Is the problem that you manage to land first dates but not second ones?

Yeah. I go on a date with a girl, and then they either disappear or don't respond as much to my messages anymore.

One thing I did forget to mention. There was one girl who actually did seem interested in following up with me. She would send me nude pics and tell me how much she wanted to fuck me. I did try to set up a second date, but things kept getting in the way for us. I'm not sure if I'm too interested in her, though.

Werel wrote:From the response you got from the first woman you mentioned, sounds like body language and eye contact might be tripping you up, but it's hard for Internet strangers to give you much concrete help on visual stuff.

Definitely. It's weird, because she said that I stared at her a lot, but I felt like I didn't look at her that much. It was kind of an awkward date with both of us being silent for most of it. We texted pretty aggressively the week following up the date, so I didn't have anything I felt I could talk about.

Werel wrote:Do you have RL friends (not former dates!) you can ask for feedback on that?

Not really. Like I said, I don't have much of a social circle these days. My only real friends are my coworkers (who I don't see outside of work), some guy from my old high school that I sometimes hang out with at the bar I go to if he happens to be there, and the girls he comes with.


Werel wrote:Yeah, that's an understandable fear if people have been judgy jerks to you before, but it's also a useful self-filtering process. People who are asses to you because you like anime are people you'd never want to be friends with in the first place.

Yeah. I used to be super into stuff like Digimon and Yu-Gi-Oh in middle school, and I ended up getting bullied because of it (before that, I got along with and hung out with those kids). As a result, when I got to high school, I was always low key about bringing up or displaying my interests.

Werel wrote:And having weird interests doesn't have to shut you off from people who don't share them; finding commonalities in the stuff you do like, commiserating over shared aggravations, being genuinely interested in others, etc., can work on anybody. Things like good conversational turn-taking, asking genuine questions, and  being intellectually curious about a wide range of topics will serve you better than trying to be Dude Who Likes All the Same Things As Target Friends. Having shared interests does give you some automatic conversation material, though, so it's not a bad idea to try and expand your tastes to include broadly-appreciated stuff. (That's the Cliff's Notes version of Ways To Reconcile Niche Interests with Desire to Make Friends; if you're looking for more in-depth stuff on that front, there's more rambling where that came from).

I'll keep that all in mind next time I'm talking with someone.

Edit: Also, in regards to asking friends for help, I don't have any of their (the current people in my life) numbers or Facebooks. And anytime I've asked old friends in the past, they'd say things like "it's all in your head" or "who cares what other people think".

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Post by Bumble on Tue Nov 17, 2015 2:41 pm

Sup. You are depressed and you really need to see a therapist.

It's funny when I was in college I stopped watching anime because I started taking Japanese classes and I didn't want to become a stereotype. I didn't really become friends with anyone in my classes though, or anyone from when I did a semester in Japan. These days I wear my love for anime on my sleeve and nobody cares. I watch some non-anime shows with people and some of my buddies have even tried watching anime with me.

Send me a PM if you wanna talk or something. It seems like we have a lot in common LOL. But seriously please start looking for a therapist. I had to do it myself. I'm sure you'll find a lot of helpful advice here but an internet forum is limited in what it can address.


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Post by Wondering on Tue Nov 17, 2015 2:47 pm

Do you work in a public facing part of the grocery store or in the back? Because if it's up front and you interact with customers at all, your coworker friends may be able to give you some tips about how you're coming across on personal interaction in general from what they've observed. So if there are any general things you could work on, they might be able to help there.

This, of course, depends on how close you are with your coworker friends.

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Post by Jayce on Tue Nov 17, 2015 3:29 pm

I don't think I'm qualified enough to help you with dating issues, but as someone that has won Yugioh tournaments I can definitely discuss the nerd thing with you.

Yeah school sucks, people totally made fun of me for playing yugioh as well. Plus I was chubby - overweight in school, so people will annoy me about me sitting on my fat ass playing card games all the time which made it doubly worse. And I played yugioh until throughout well into the later years of high school before cards got too expensive and KaibaCorp Virtual Duel System, Dueling Network and finally Dev Pro came out.
I wasn't all that accepted by the nerdy card game community either since a lot of them played mtg and regarded yugioh as less complex even though none of them ever played it before.

I'm very familiar with the interests that are not as known and require some explaining. In addition even when I'm in nerdy communities there are divides, for example in anime club at university most people there watch anything but popular stuff and I read one piece and bleach every week (plus naruto, but that ended). Or I meet gamers and they've played all the single player big name titles like Dragon Age, Fallout, Skyrim, Mass Effect while I only ever played age of mythology, mobas and Runescape. Most of the people I meet don't know what kpop is.

Although my interests are not that obscure to the point where barely anyone knows about it, in fact that are lots of communities built around these things with lots of people, it's just that there's no community near me for things like, lets say, talk about one piece every week when the new chapter comes out. But they are obscure enough to the larger world where people would not know about them and here is an example (context: This youtube channel sometimes makes videos about things that people might not know about, and have them react to it).

However, once you are outside of high school, most people aren't going to make fun of your interests and yes, there is definitely the issue of "they don't know anything about what I'm into". This is where being relatable is extremely important. You need to be able to present your interest in a way that most people that have not heard of it, can understand. I'll focus on the k-pop example (because I go to dance class every week, and I perform the dances in front of hundreds of people in the dance community so it' definitely one of my big hobbies and I explain it to everyone when they ask me what my hobbies are). The way I explain it to most people that have no idea, is that it is korean & sometimes chinese & japanese, pop-py sounding music that is very danced focused, and I talk about how cool it is that they have music videos where they just dance + it's one of the only genres of music out there where they release their dance practice videos, and that's really helpful to people, like me, who are trying to learn how to dance. Most people, I've explained it to, have understood it reasonably well. It's because I talked about it in a way that they can understand since it's really easy to get what pop music is like and what dancing is like. Now this does take practice and skill, I was terrible at explaining at first but I've done it enough times that I got better at it.

For interests that are more obscure for example Dungeons and Dragons, which I love, it take's a bit more skill. The best way I explain dungeons and dragons is "it's kind of like acting, but at the same time we're playing a board game where we work together".

An exercise I would recommend is to practice it in your head, if you had to explain an interest to a person that has absolutely no idea about it, how would you explain it to them so that they can easily understand it? I'm professionally studying education, where we get taught skills about how to explain things easier all the time so I know a bit of the theories. A big key is to use a person's prior knowledge (what they already know) (in the case of my k-pop example, I used pop music & dancing) to help them understand new knowledge. If you are able to connect prior knowledge to new knowledge it would be easier for someone to understand it, compared to a explanation that does not draw upon prior knowledge.

An example of not enough drawing on prior knowledge: Dota is a game where we have 3 lanes, top, bottom and middle. We lane against other players and people play as either carry or support.
To a person that has at least some knowledge of mobas would think this is a very simple explanation of the game, in fact too simple that it generalises way too much. If someone explained it to me, I would get it instantly because I've played mobas since the Warcraft 3 days where it wasn't even it's own game, just a custom map.
Lets break this example down a bit: Game, ok most people know what video games are. Good. However "lanes", it's really hard to explain this concept to someone that has no idea about it. One of the keys in explaining is to use less jargon (I do it all the time when I tutor math students and they don't know what x+x is, and I refer back to 1+1 in comparison to talking about variables & constants, cause they do know it.)

You want to be as relatable as possible. It's not about "dumbing it down" for your audience either because that is condescending and we never do that in Education. It's about connecting with them through what they already know.

Another idea is show, don't tell (a theory used in creative writing). Showing a video like this immediately makes Dota easier to understand because there are visuals accompanied with speech explanation. But show, don't tell is usually something you do online, with people who are already friends with you, and you facebook message each other stuff. And show, don't tell dosen't help you practice your conversational skills either. But, hey, if you just want to let someone know easily what you are into, it can be a reasonable tactic.

A third key point that Werel has mentioned is to be better at conversational skills and socialising. Things like relating your interest that they don't know about to interests they are already familiar with (example- explaining the theory of prior knowledge to someone in a conversation that has just talk to you about how they found out what good coffee tasted like last week, and is now asking you about what you learn in your degree: "Prior knowledge and learning is kind of like, when you drink your first coffee, and last week you've drunk this coffee so now you know more about what coffee tastes like and what you prefer so you have a better idea of what to choose next time). Of course none of these explanations are perfect, far from it, but they at least get some idea across.

It's pretty hard and takes a lot of practice, I got scared a lot that people will find my interests childish or unrelatable or make fun of me for it. But I kept trying, because the only other two viable options are to either never explain your more obscure interests to anybody which dosen't work well, or give up on your interests to pursue things people will easily understand at a click. I chose to not give up on my interests so I worked on explaining them better. It does come at the cost of meeting people that just don't get it, but you know what, I really like my interests, and don't feel like changing them at the moment, so I'll do what I can to talk about it easily, and if they don't get it then I guess, they don't, and I'll have to find someone that finds what I do, interesting enough.

But through experience most people are willing to hear you out and are at least somewhat open to think about it, maybe they won't 100% get it or even 60%, but at least they'll have some idea about why you like it, and hopefully that's good enough. Cause liking things and being involved in them conveys passion, and it tells people about what your life is like.

I know I'm a bit more of a benefit here, because a lot of the things I like, there are huge amounts of people that like it too, and most of them happen to be young people, just like me. But in Australia, people like to watch and talk about sport and go to the beach so there is a huge amount of people near where I live that have no idea about what I'm into, not to mention the nerd scene is not that big in Sydney (the city in which I live in). So I definitely have had lots of experience in trying to talk with other people that are not into similar things.

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Post by JonSnow on Thu Nov 19, 2015 12:24 am

Wondering wrote:Do you work in a public facing part of the grocery store or in the back? Because if it's up front and you interact with customers at all, your coworker friends may be able to give you some tips about how you're coming across on personal interaction in general from what they've observed. So if there are any general things you could work on, they might be able to help there.

This, of course, depends on how close you are with your coworker friends.

I'll be honest; I know I can do better at my job when it comes to interacting with customers.

There are days when I can be upbeat, but a lot of days, I have a lot of trouble mustering up any enthusiasm on the job. I feel like I'm missing out on a lot working at a grocery store and long for a job that pays more so that I can do more in my spare time (that, or the ability to just go on some kind of adventure and explore the country, or maybe even the world).

But anyway, I notice that, in general, old people tend to be more receptive of me. Young women seem to be the least receptive (I'm not sure if this is just my bias giving that I probably give more value to what women think of me). It seems like they won't even look me in the eyes or smile, and that can really hurt my self-esteem. I know all that probably sounds sexist, so I'm working on fixing that.

I never meet my coworkers outside of work (I don't even have their numbers or Facebooks). There really isn't anyone I'm too close to.

Jayce wrote:KaibaCorp Virtual Duel System

Not to get off topic, but I've been away from the game for a long time. Does this mean that they released some sort of holographic component, because that would be awesome!

Anyway, I'll keep everything you said in mind, Jayce. That was an incredible post and has made me think more about how I should present myself to people.

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Post by Wondering on Thu Nov 19, 2015 1:01 am

JonSnow wrote:I never meet my coworkers outside of work (I don't even have their numbers or Facebooks). There really isn't anyone I'm too close to.

I meant to talk to them while you're at work, not outside of work. I'm assuming you have some social interaction with some of the people you work with since you talked about them as work friends.


JonSnow wrote:But anyway, I notice that, in general, old people tend to be more receptive of me. Young women seem to be the least receptive (I'm not sure if this is just my bias giving that I probably give more value to what women think of me). It seems like they won't even look me in the eyes or smile, and that can really hurt my self-esteem. I know all that probably sounds sexist, so I'm working on fixing that.

I'm not sure what you mean. Receptive in what regard? Are you approaching people to start social conversations with them at the grocery store? If so, yes, young women are frequently going to be much less receptive of that than other people because being approached while just trying to go about their business is a challenge many young women face. It doesn't seem sexist so much as...unempathetic?

But if you meant something else that people are being more or less receptive to, can you explain?

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Post by JonSnow on Thu Nov 19, 2015 2:42 am

No, I meant when they approach me when they want me to ring something up. I'm a cashier. Older people generally act friendlier (smiling, making jokes, etc.), while younger women seem like they want nothing to do with me (avoiding eye contact, not smiling, etc.).

I'd never approach someone in an unprofessional manner at work.

Also, I didn't mean talking to my coworkers outside of work. I'm just stating that I'm not that close to them.

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Post by Jayce on Thu Nov 19, 2015 5:11 am

JonSnow wrote:

Jayce wrote:KaibaCorp Virtual Duel System

Not to get off topic, but I've been away from the game for a long time. Does this mean that they released some sort of holographic component, because that would be awesome!

Anyway, I'll keep everything you said in mind, Jayce. That was an incredible post and has made me think more about how I should present myself to people.

I'd wish it was that cool lol. The Virtual Duel System started out in 2007 to 2010ish as a community project to make playing Yugioh online possible. It allowed everyone to play Yugioh for free and have access to all the cards, which was a big deal because the game started to get expensive with the release of powerful rare cards like Dark Armed Dragon, Lightsworn and Blackwing which were so much more powerful than previous sets. It was not perfect because we had to manually type in commands in the program in order for it to function. Eventually it evolved into Dueling Network which still required manual work but it had very good servers, and finally DevPro was created which is an automated system that automatically programmed every card interaction and we finally could play Yugioh flawlessly for free with access to all the cards, including ones that are only released in Japan.


But anyway, I'm glad I could help you out.


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Post by Caffeinated on Thu Nov 19, 2015 12:42 pm

Just out of curiosity, how are younger men as far as acting friendly, smiling, making eye contact, etc, when you ring them up?
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Post by JonSnow on Thu Nov 19, 2015 1:47 pm

Honestly, it's probably about the same.

To be fair, on a good day, I might end up having everyone act friendly, but most days, they're dismissive and want to get out as soon as possible. It mostly depends on my mood, which I feel like I have a lot of trouble controlling, and I feel like I wear my heart on my sleeve too much, so it's obvious when I'm not feeling 100% cheerful.

Also, I feel like the reason older people tend to act friendlier is because they probably feel like a parent/grandparent-like figure when I'm ringing them up.

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Post by Wondering on Thu Nov 19, 2015 2:22 pm

There's probably some generational differences, too. But, to be stereotypical, in addition to what you said, older people may be in less of a hurry because they're not working and they don't have themselves or kids to get somewhere on a schedule. They may also enjoy going out grocery shopping because it's an opportunity to interact with other people.

If you're noticeably cranky, though, that's going to lead to less friendly responses from customers.

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Post by JonSnow on Fri Nov 20, 2015 1:02 pm

Wondering wrote:There's probably some generational differences, too. But, to be stereotypical, in addition to what you said, older people may be in less of a hurry because they're not working and they don't have themselves or kids to get somewhere on a schedule. They may also enjoy going out grocery shopping because it's an opportunity to interact with other people.

If you're noticeably cranky, though, that's going to lead to less friendly responses from customers.

Yeah, I think that's probably the reason. I just need to work on how I present myself (even if I happen to be not feeling great that day). I just don't know how to work on this.

==========================================================

Anyway, do you think maybe the reason for both of those botched dates was due to location? I took the first girl to the Cheesecake Factory and the other one to a bar that happened to be loud and crowded that night (and we ended up running into some of her friends).

Also, I'm going out on a Meetup tonight, so wish me better luck for this time. And if you guys have any tips, let me know.

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Post by Caffeinated on Fri Nov 20, 2015 5:25 pm

Location can make a big difference. Like a lot of people, I hate places that are loud and crowded. If I have to yell in order to be heard by the person I'm with, I'm likely to kind of shut down conversationally, and when that happens it can be very hard to do any kind of bonding. It could be really worthwhile to scope out the location in advance, so you know if it'll be quiet enough for a conversation to turn personal, and also for little things like how big are the tables? A really big wide table can be a hindrance because even if you wanted to casually touch the other person's hand, or even hold hands, you kind of couldn't because the giant table is in the way. Little bistro tables have a more intimate feel.
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I make people uncomfortable Empty Re: I make people uncomfortable

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