Feelin' Stuck (some mental health stuff)

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Feelin' Stuck (some mental health stuff)

Post by DoubtfulGuest on Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:08 am

Lot of brain weasel activity tonight-I'm still hung up on this idea that I need to “be” more, and this idea that in order to pursue the sorts of romantic relationships I want, I need to “fix” all this stuff that may be wrong with me. I feel like the standards I set for myself are too high, and I have had other people tell me this, but at the same time, I don't want to be this guy who “expects a cookie” for doing the bare minimum (and if my standards are too high, why am I not an overachiever? It's like I have the stress without the tangible successes...but maybe I have had tangible successes, I honestly don't know). Plus, I have this idea that overthinking things like this is itself unattractive (because it's not CONFIDENT. Everybody needs to be CONFIDENT. ALL.THE.TIME) and one of the things I need to "fix".

Now, I am getting “better”, in general. I actually feel like an adult now, which is nice. I guess I'm still hung up on this idea that, I don't know, I'm in my early thirties, I'm running out of time. I'm finally, hopefully, getting tested for ADHD (I was never hyperactive as a kid, so I'd always just sort of ruled it out based on the assumption that ADHD=hyperactivity). Seeing a psychiatrist next month, so..that's something. If I could just get over this idea that “I'm in my early thirties, I'm running out of time”...running out of time for what? Being inexperienced in relationships, I guess. Being bad at stuff and having to ask for help sometimes? I don't know. I want to be doing better, but I don't know what to do or where to go.

A lot of this probably sounds like the same downer stuff guys say in the comments on the main site, and...maybe it is. I just don't know where to go, because I feel like I'm not making progress (in terms of “getting my act together”) fast enough, and, sure, I get the idea that there's no expiration date on relationship skills, but...ah! I would love to “put myself out there”-on OkCupid, or whatever (I don't think Tindr would work for me), but I'm uncomfortable with this whole idea of marketing myself...see, I can find all these reasons I shouldn't be dating, because I don't have enough active skill-based hobbies, or haven't traveled enough, or whatever, but these are things I've been telling myself for years, and I don't know when to stop, especially since, with the difficulty I have concentrating at times, I can't seem to motivate myself to the degree that I feel, based on Internet advice, that I ought to. Of course I love myself, but I'm not this amazing, captivating, super-confident guy who dazzles people, and I don't know how much self-acceptance is healthy and how much is “just making excuses for not doing the work to make my life awesome” (or whatever).

I feel like the only way to really challenge some of my assumptions is to have experiences that run contrary to them, but I feel like I have to reach some vague "level" before I can even...try (as in, actually ask people out. I mean, maybe it's not going to be as difficult finding people who are into me who I'm also into-I really have no idea). Just feels like me talking about the same stuff over and over, finding reasons I shouldn't put myself out there...maybe I should just avoid advice about being passionate and having these active hobbies. I'm clearly passionate about all sorts of stuff, even if it doesn't always translate to me "producing" tangible things, and I'm starting to be active with two volunteer groups. Maybe that's "interesting" enough...I'm not sure what sort of advice I'm looking for. I mean, I either date or I don't, whatever I choose to do. I guess...I want to be making progress on my dating life, and I have no idea where to go. Did I mention I'm in my early thirties? I think I only mentioned it a dozen or so times.
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Re: Feelin' Stuck (some mental health stuff)

Post by Enail on Sun Sep 24, 2017 1:52 pm

You don't need something exceptional to not be someone who expects a cookie for the bare minimum. If you're going into dating with the understanding that not everyone's going to like you (and it's never guaranteed that anyone will), and that no one's wronging you if they're not interested or not interested in the same thing you are, then you're not really expecting anything in the entitled sense.

And if you're trying to put forward your good traits and work on your less good ones, and being considerate and interested, and you're prepared to meet the other person halfway and put effort into them having a good time/good relationship/good life together (depending on what seriousness of relationship it is), you're not just trying to skate by on the bare minimum. It's not about being a Nobel Prize-winning astrophysicist pastry chef/model, it's about being willing and able to put things in to have fun with someone else, to connect and let them get to know you, to let someone you'd like to spend time with feel comfortable/safe/interesting, and to contribute your fair share emotionally and logistically to whatever portion of life you spend together (whether that's a quickie or a picnic or a marriage).

A lot of the advice on DNL focuses on active hobbies and cool stories and that kind of thing, I'd say in part because a common problem in dating is not really doing anything that allows you to meet other people or give you much to talk about with someone who doesn't share exactly the same interests, and in part because that's what he's into, and in part because where his experience is focused.  But that doesn't mean it's the only thing that matters or that it should be taken to its extreme. Self-improvement has its place, and giving an eye to broadening your outlook if you tend to be more passive and inward-focused can be a good idea sometimes, but I think the constant, high-energy self-improvement mindset in our culture can be excessive and unhealthy.

You have passion for things, you're doing some active things, you're generally handling your life and not looking for someone else to do it for you, you're aware you have good points and that you need to let others see them; it sounds to me like if you want to make progress on your dating life, you know exactly where to go. Suffer through the marketing enough to make a good OLD profile, ask some people out.
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Re: Feelin' Stuck (some mental health stuff)

Post by Werel on Sun Sep 24, 2017 3:05 pm

Just from what you've said here, I second the people in your life in saying it sounds like your standards for yourself are a little too high. You come across as thoughtful, well-spoken, and willing and able to consider other people's needs and adjust your behavior accordingly. That's way more than a lot of people have going for them! Like Enail said, being "enough" is less about being THE MOST CONFIDENT and #1 TOP INTERESTING PERSON, and more about being ready to pull your weight in interactions/relationships.

Plus, I think some of the frequently-given advice about "making your life awesome," while not off-base, glosses over the fact that dating is largely about compatibility. You don't have to be objectively fascinating in order to click well with another person, nor does being a Nobel Prize winning astrophysicist pastry chef/model guarantee that any given person will want to spend time with you. Among the people in my life I like most, or could imagine dating if I were single, most wouldn't be described as super-amazing, dazzling, captivating people-- from an outside perspective, they probably seem unremarkable and/or kind of weird, but they click really well with me. You are who you are, and there will be people who mesh with that person and people who don't. Definitely focus on bringing out your good pieces and controlling the bad ones, but at the end of the day, you're not going to change the pieces which fundamentally compose you. What you're looking for is someone who's pleased by the configuration of pieces you're made up of, not someone who's looking to check surface-level boxes like "want a dude who has traveled to 10 countries minimum and has Level 5 proficiency in >3 skill-based hobbies."

And yeah, the way to do that is just to bite the bullet and put yourself out there, as uncomfortable as it is. It sounds like you're actually in a good place to make yourself stop going "but... but... I'm not [X] enough" and just try it, because it sounds like you're getting a little sick of the same old inaction. Maybe it'll be scary, and awkward at times, but maybe it'll also feel really good to get unstuck. So give yourself permission to quit dragging your feet, and just give it a shot. This internet stranger thinks you can do it!
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Re: Feelin' Stuck (some mental health stuff)

Post by DoubtfulGuest on Mon Sep 25, 2017 5:28 pm

Enail wrote:A lot of the advice on DNL focuses on active hobbies and cool stories and that kind of thing, I'd say in part because a common problem in dating is not really doing anything that allows you to meet other people or give you much to talk about with someone who doesn't share exactly the same interests, and in part because that's what he's into, and in part because where his experience is focused.  But that doesn't mean it's the only thing that matters or that it should be taken to its extreme. Self-improvement has its place, and giving an eye to broadening your outlook if you tend to be more passive and inward-focused can be a good idea sometimes, but I think the constant, high-energy self-improvement mindset in our culture can be excessive and unhealthy.

Definitely, and it doesn't help that sometimes I exaggerate whatever I'm insecure about and turn pretty normal, well-intended advice (that's not even necessarily intended for me specifically) into this sort of caricature. I also think...and I think a lot of other people similarly, probably men in particular, for whatever reason...the idea that there are these sort of gray areas surrounding building attraction is really uncomfortable to me, because I like to be sure of what I'm doing, and there's really no way to do that when it comes to human relationships (other than avoiding agreed-upon bad stuff). I want there to be a map that spells out "Here's exactly what you need to do to meet the right person and then everything will work out", and, of course, there's no such thing, and I understand there's this beauty to this uncertainty, and that it's actually good thing...but when it's something that I've had hangups about since at least early adolescence, the uncertainty doesn't appear attractive to me, even though, yes, I get that I have to accept and, ideally, grow to appreciate it. Make sense? I mean, there's no guarantee anyone will be successful, it's not just me who has to be open to the possibility that, maybe, I won't be able to attract the interest of anyone. That possibility is there for the guy who seems like "the whole package" as well as for me, even if...I mean, the odds are probably less in my favor, but that's probably impossible to prove, and what would be the point, anyway? Like, why waste time trying to do that?

The ambiguity doesn't bother me as much with friendships, or even things like work relationships, because I at least have the knowledge that I've been able to make those work in the past, so I probably will again.

Also, I don't know if, from a woman's perspective, some of this comes across as insulting. Like a lot of negative thought patterns, this anxiety over this hypothetical "checklist" seems reasonable until I write it down, and I notice "this sounds a little sexist, actually", so...I mean, I don't think it's a gender thing, but in a sexist society, I'm not going to pretend that crappy messages never had any effect on me (and I certainly said and thought some really crappy things as a younger man. Fortunately, Reddit wasn't as big of a thing yet, and I had enough positive influences from women in my life that I always, sort of, pulled back before going anywhere too dark). Moreover, I love the idea that other people are, I don't know, more understanding about imperfection than the anxiety jerkbrain makes them out to be. That's what I want to believe, and I just need to be better about taking others' word for it.

Enail wrote:Suffer through the marketing enough to make a good OLD profile, ask some people out.


Yeah, I'm trying to make it not sound pretentious, but also not completely frivolous (I had to drastically cut down the part where I just listed a bunch of movie directors I like. Less is more in this case). It doesn't help that...I certainly have, I'd say, a vague "type", I guess, that I'm attracted to, but I don't know who I'm actually compatible with. Like, I don't know if I would actually work well with the women I'm attracted to (which overlaps with some lingering hangups about my looks, but I just kind of have to periodically silence those thoughts, because obsessing over my looks just doesn't seem very interesting to me. I've definitely caught myself thinking "well, I seem to have a good rapport with so-and-so, but she's too good-looking", a statement full of crappy underlying assumptions. It does bother me that I'm, I would say, not a great-looking man, but it's not like I'm the only not-great-looking-man in the world, and, I mean, I have some physical traits I like. Just feels awkward to think about them, after spending years focusing on the negative).

Werel wrote:Maybe it'll be scary, and awkward at times, but maybe it'll also feel really good to get unstuck. So give yourself permission to quit dragging your feet, and just give it a shot. This internet stranger thinks you can do it!

Hey, thanks a bunch! I am going to worry-I am, more than likely, someone who has to accept that he will probably worry a little more than many people do-but I want to get to where I'm worried about actual concerns with actual people, not all this hypothetical stuff about hypothetical people (I do interact with people in real life, I swear. I just typically have only two or three close friends at a time, and it just happens to be a time when none of them live close to me).
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