[Advice] Help With Working Through and Process Various Feelings

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[Advice] Help With Working Through and Process Various Feelings

Post by The Wisp on Mon Oct 27, 2014 12:06 am

Hi all. I feel that I'm getting closer to being ready to actually trying to date, as opposed to just thinking about it (and socializing in general, though there are different issues there). However, I need to work through some fears, baggage, and insecurities before I can do that. Whether that means finding a way to weaken or eliminate these feelings, or taking practical steps to change my life. If I just leap into dating, I'll probably just get a bunch of stuff triggered, recoil, and end up worse off than I am now. But I also don't think I can think through these things alone. I need to talk through them with you all and hopefully come out in a better emotional place and ready to dip my toe into dating (or, at least, realize that maybe I'm not ready).

I want to preface this by saying that I am talking about my emotions and how I imagine interactions that I'm involved in will go. It's not about society, or general gender norms or social norms, it's about me, my fears, my emotions, and my experiences.

I also want to say that I don't really know where these feelings come from or why they're so strong. Though I've made conjectures in the past, ultimately there is no satisfying origin story for these feelings.

I want to experiment with different ways of talking about these issues, thinking about them, etc. with you all. If I find a particular approach very helpful or unhelpful, I'll edit in the quote on this post. Don't feel the need to address everything in my post, I realize it is long. Any advice is welcome!

Thanks in advance!




Okay, so where to begin? First, I guess what's been on my mind a lot lately is how my lack of a social life interacts with dating. There are few things I worry about pretty deeply. As many of you know, I live a pretty isolated life. I have no friends, and I haven't since I was 14. I recently transferred to a university from a community college, and my social life is pretty much nonexistent. I really want to get out and start dating in the near future, at least on OKC, but I fear this lack of a social life will hold me back. I'm kinda ashamed of it, for one. For another, I feel ashamed that I feel much more motivation to date than to get a broader social life going. Like I'm getting the order backwards. And why would anybody be open to going on a date with a guy who spends all his time on a computer or at school? The thing is, I've been trying to convince myself to find friends first, establish myself socially first, but I'm just not motivated enough to do that, where as dating actually does motivate me. I feel really conflicted about this.

Additionally, on the social front, I'm not sure what I would do with a date. I mostly have solitary hobbies. Would a woman want to date a guy like me who mostly plays video games, daydreaming, and reading the internet (and school stuff) all day? There do seem to be some women like me in that respect when I'm scrolling through OKC matches, but would they want to date a guy like them? I'm not sure.

Moving on, another issue is that I'm very conflicted about what I want, and is probably the one I'm feel the most shame about. I brought this up in my therapy group the other day (which was very hard, and I think I overexposed myself because I still feel weird about that, but that's neither here nor there), and the therapist said it sounded like I wanted a committed relationship, which didn't sit well with me. I mean, yes, it would be nice to have somebody who will be there for you and to spend a lot of time with, who you could have stability with. On the other hand, I'm terrified of having all my eggs in one basket, for one. For another, I'm terrified that if I got into a long term relationship I would end up in a very unequal relationship on my side (note: yes, this conflicts with most people's lived experience and I acknowledge this, but no, my emotions aren't influenced by that knowledge). I'm terrified I'll be weak and needy and a pushover and that I will be used. This extends to everything, from sex (where I fear I will have to do most of the work and get little back), to boundary setting, to the various "compromises" made, to even chores if we were to live together. Somebody like DNL's toxic ex.

But, it's not just fear that makes me question more serious dating and relationships, it's also sex and love. I feel like I want to explore sexuality with multiple people. I don't want to be sexually constrained. I also don't want to feel trapped, where if I develop affection or attraction with somebody I cannot act on it. Even if, given my introverted nature, I may not be in many situations like this, I still don't want to be constrained when I am there.

The obvious middle position is a committed primary nonmonogamous relationship. However, it seems that while there are quite a few women who are open to nonmonogamy, all the ones I found on OKC were only open to it if it was casual. Either they only wanted casual relationships, or they were open to both casual and committed, but based on their comments on OKC questions, they weren't open to nonmonogamy in a serious relationship. I'm not open to dating people who aren't traditional-aged undergrads (18-23), or non-college students in that age range. I'm not even sure what I should be looking for, as two of the options would leave me wanting more, while the ideal option seems unavailable.

Another issue. I am terrified I won't be understood. I'm very sensitive, very introverted, and very emotional, and I don't know how to communicate this or to find somebody who will be understanding. Maybe I'm worrying too much here, but I have felt very misunderstood by most of the people in my life.

Dovetailing with this, I'm afraid of opening up, in part because I fear being misunderstood and in part because vulnerability can make me very emotional. I've had a lot of very one-sided friendships in my past from an emotional perspective, so I'm afraid of this happening again. I'm also afraid of opening up because I fear that if I do I'll be clingy and needy and it will be unhealthy.

Finally, I'm just not sure I could believe a woman would actually want to date me, whether casually or seriously. I worry that I'll be very insecure. This is certainly how I was with my friends when I was younger (do they really like me? Is it all fake? If they knew the real me, would they still like me?), as it was with one short semi-friendship I developed last year that ended after only a few months. I worry a relationship will be that x10.

So, there's a lot here. I'm not sure to what degree this is coherent or if you all have any advice. Thanks in advance for any responses!




EDIT 1: I agree with Eselle that I'm probably not ready for super committed relationship, and that I should pursue "warm but casual" relationships that allow me to explore and get some of my needs met. I'm not exactly sure what fits into that range, but on it's face that seems reasonable.


Last edited by The Wisp on Tue Oct 28, 2014 1:03 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: [Advice] Help With Working Through and Process Various Feelings

Post by eselle28 on Mon Oct 27, 2014 12:55 am

I'm sorry you're feeling stressed right now. I don't know if any of us can make it better, but I hope at least writing it out helps. I'm going to pick a couple of particular points I have thoughts on - the others are all valid concerns too, but these are the ones where I have something to say:

The Wisp wrote:
Additionally, on the social front, I'm not sure what I would do with a date. I mostly have solitary hobbies. Would a woman want to date a guy like me who mostly plays video games, daydreaming, and reading the internet (and school stuff) all day? There do seem to be some women like me in that respect when I'm scrolling through OKC matches, but would they want to date a guy like them? I'm not sure.

All I can say to this is that there are women who enjoy these things. Some of them, when they're in relationships, might also enjoy going out for dinner or dancing at clubs or going on road trips. Some of them might shudder at those things and think the best way to possibly spend a Sunday morning is hang out in bed with their partner, each reading a book, and touching each other's arms now and then. Others are really excited at the prospect of a guy who wants to team up with them in a game. Some women like me like all those things (two people reading at once is still the nicest of all, though). The thing with OkCupid profiles is that they tend to try to express what someone would like to do with a partner rather than all of what they do when they're alone. If you can come up with your version of that, it might help you interpret profiles more than just thinking of your solitary interests. And, if you don't know yet, that's okay too.


The obvious middle position is a committed primary nonmonogamous relationship. However, it seems that while there are quite a few women who are open to nonmonogamy, all the ones I found on OKC were only open to it if it was casual. Either they only wanted casual relationships, or they were open to both casual and committed, but based on their comments on OKC questions, they weren't open to nonmonogamy in a serious relationship. I'm not open to dating people who aren't traditional-aged undergrads (18-23), or non-college students in that age range. I'm not even sure what I should be looking for, as two of the options would leave me wanting more, while the ideal option seems unavailable.

My general feeling on whether you want commitment is a bit different from your therapist's. I get the feeling that you want the benefits that come from commitment, but aren't really all that ready for the responsibilities that come with it. That applies to monogamous relationships in terms of the fears you've expressed, but from what I know of polyamory, I'm not sure you're up for what someone expects from a partner they'd call a "primary" either. And that's okay. Sometimes people want things that they're not quite ready to handle. Kind of in that vein, I think you'll probably find that few people in the 18-23 age group are both up for commitment (because so many people that age aren't, whether or not they want it) and at a point where they identify as poly.

My suggestion? This isn't something that meets all the needs you've expressed, so it may not by that palatable, but I'd suggest you seek out warm but casual relationships at this point. Seek out some women who, whether or not poly, aren't looking for anything too serious. Do your exploring and have your fun and get some real life data about who you like and get along with. Look toward people who have some natural warmth to them and who might be able to meet some of your emotional needs, and see if you can get some practice meeting their needs as well. Basically, see if you can separate things off a bit, so you can get some of what you want while working long term for all of what you want.

Basically, I think that what would help you most is getting started and moving some of this from the theoretical to the practical, without entering into anything that involves too much commitment. Once you have a bit of practice at both feeling desired and enforcing boundaries, I think you'll be a lot better-positioned to find the kind of serious relationship you might want.
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Re: [Advice] Help With Working Through and Process Various Feelings

Post by reboot on Mon Oct 27, 2014 7:09 am

In addition to what eselle said, I think you are carting before horse and too focused on outcomes and "where this relationship is going" before you have even met anyone yet. It usually takes some dating and intro periods (that include sex) to see if both people even want to start a committed relationship and most relationships do not make it to the commitment stage, especially in the 18-23 age range. And even if it does get to that point, especially in college, things like summer break and graduation tend to end them because no one wants long distance. So just go into dating knowing and telling your partner you are not up for any commitment at this time and you want something casual.

Now, during the dating phase you are neither going to get nor give the level of emotional support common to a committed relationship, but that is the nature of casual dating. This is actually a good thing for you at this point because you will need to learn how to manage your needs and your partner's needs and it is easier to do if you start with a lower level intensity at first.
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Re: [Advice] Help With Working Through and Process Various Feelings

Post by kleenestar on Mon Oct 27, 2014 11:17 am

The Wisp wrote:
As many of you know, I live a pretty isolated life. I have no friends, and I haven't since I was 14. I recently transferred to a university from a community college, and my social life is pretty much nonexistent. I really want to get out and start dating in the near future, at least on OKC, but I fear this lack of a social life will hold me back. I'm kinda ashamed of it, for one.

Can you talk a bit about why you're ashamed of lacking a social life? It sounds like you're not particularly excited about developing one, other than a romantic relationship. So what is the shame? Is it your perception of how others will see you?

The Wisp wrote:
For another, I feel ashamed that I feel much more motivation to date than to get a broader social life going. Like I'm getting the order backwards.

Do you think that if you found a romantic partner, you would be more interested in having a broader social life? If you can answer this question without fantasizing (in that way we all do; if X were different, I would be different!) I think it will be helpful for you, and also will let me give you better advice.

The Wisp wrote:
And why would anybody be open to going on a date with a guy who spends all his time on a computer or at school?

...

Additionally, on the social front, I'm not sure what I would do with a date. I mostly have solitary hobbies. Would a woman want to date a guy like me who mostly plays video games, daydreaming, and reading the internet (and school stuff) all day?

I think there are two things to unpack here.

First, one thing to think about is how you would spend your time differently (or not) if you found a relationship. What would you do all day? Would you add something to your schedule besides computer and school? If so, what? What makes you think you would like it? If you wouldn't spend your time any differently, what would be different about having a relationship? I'm not asking theoretically - I'm asking about the practical. Imagine a typical day, from when you wake up to when you go to bed. What would be different?

Second, I might suggest shifting your focus from what you do to how you do it. I have lots of very serious academic friends, and they are very different in the way they engage with their work. Yes, there are a few who are like "HEY I WILL GO SKYDIVING THIS WEEKEND" but most of us are school-work-computer-books people, and yet we find ways to share a life with the people we love by connecting to them in the choices we make within those activities. So what is your style of doing work and being on the computer?

The Wisp wrote:
The thing is, I've been trying to convince myself to find friends first, establish myself socially first, but I'm just not motivated enough to do that, where as dating actually does motivate me. I feel really conflicted about this.

Can you talk about this a bit more? What's the motivational difference between a romantic relationship and a friendship? How do you imagine you'd use your time differently? What would the different emotional experiences be?

I'll think about the rest and post at some point later.
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Re: [Advice] Help With Working Through and Process Various Feelings

Post by KMR on Mon Oct 27, 2014 1:41 pm

The Wisp wrote:
Okay, so where to begin? First, I guess what's been on my mind a lot lately is how my lack of a social life interacts with dating. There are few things I worry about pretty deeply. As many of you know, I live a pretty isolated life. I have no friends, and I haven't since I was 14. I recently transferred to a university from a community college, and my social life is pretty much nonexistent. I really want to get out and start dating in the near future, at least on OKC, but I fear this lack of a social life will hold me back. I'm kinda ashamed of it, for one. For another, I feel ashamed that I feel much more motivation to date than to get a broader social life going. Like I'm getting the order backwards. And why would anybody be open to going on a date with a guy who spends all his time on a computer or at school? The thing is, I've been trying to convince myself to find friends first, establish myself socially first, but I'm just not motivated enough to do that, where as dating actually does motivate me. I feel really conflicted about this.

My first question for this is: how much do you actually want a social life outside of a romantic relationship? I can't really tell from what you've told me so far, because wanting something and being motivated enough to take action aren't always the same thing. Another thing to consider is the degree to which you would ideally like to be social (with or without a partner). What is your ideal social environment? How many people would you like to spend time with at a time? (Even introverts differ on their ideal and tolerable group sizes; some have strong preferences for one-on-one interaction, some like small groups of 3-5, some enjoy parties of more people, as long as they know some or most of the people there.) How frequently would you like to socialize? This may depend on the group size, as well. Maybe you would enjoy spending time with one person every day or every other day, but could only tolerate larger groups once a week or once a month at most. I think these are good questions to consider first, as they may help guide your dating and social experience.

That said, I don't think developing a social life before dating is absolutely necessary. It's recommended for several reasons. One is that it helps you get more comfortable with people and helps you develop social skills that can improve your dating life. Another is expanding your social circles so you are more likely to meet people that you may become dating prospects. Third, having multiple friendships can help to reduce your reliance on a single source of emotional support (e.g. a romantic partner). So if you are interested in having friends and developing your social life, there are advantages to doing this before or concurrently with dating.

HOWEVER, dating and being in a relationship can ALSO expand your social life, so going that route first is possible as well. Somewhat like you, I had been socially isolated myself after I graduated from college and moved back home. All of my friends were living in different parts of the country, some of whom I've since completely lost touch with and others whom I see and talk to pretty infrequently. As a result, I had virtually no social life outside of dating (whenever that happened). But when I'm in a relationship, in addition to spending time with my partner, I also can hang out with his friends and family and do social things that way. My partner's friends can become my friends and lead to broader social connections from there. So again, I don't think there's necessarily a linear route from one form of socializing to another.

The Wisp wrote:
Additionally, on the social front, I'm not sure what I would do with a date. I mostly have solitary hobbies. Would a woman want to date a guy like me who mostly plays video games, daydreaming, and reading the internet (and school stuff) all day? There do seem to be some women like me in that respect when I'm scrolling through OKC matches, but would they want to date a guy like them? I'm not sure.

I'm very introverted myself, and my attitude has been to embrace that and structure my dating life to stay within my social comfort levels, so maybe my experience will be helpful to you.

First of all, if you're like me, maybe you have some activities that you wouldn't bother to do alone but would like to do if you had someone to go with. There are also places that can be fun to go to, but maybe not on a super regular basis, so they make good places to hold an occasional date. I love to go to the zoo, but I don't go there often, so it's not something I'd list as a hobby or interest, but it makes for a great place to go with a date or partner once in a while. So just thinking about what you do on a daily basis is a bit limiting; think about what you might like to do from time to time, if you have someone to enjoy it with. (I also like to just hang out at home a lot, so I do that with partners as well. Having social interests or places you want to go doesn't mean you have to go out all the time, but it is something that usually has to be done in the initial dating stage to some degree.)

As for specific date ideas... If your date has geeky interests or is geek-friendly and willing to try new things, video gaming can definitely be something to do together. Geeky board/card games are another great activity. I've played Magic: the Gathering with people on dates before. Just go to a coffee shop or bookstore, set up on a table, and you're set.

Not specifically geeky but introvert-friendly date ideas:
-The obvious: a movie (not great for conversation during, but can be an easy conversation topic for later)
-Zoos, museums, interactive science centers, etc.
-Walking in a park or any other scenic outdoor area (weather permitting) and/or people-watching
-Concerts (rock, band/orchestra, etc.), plays, or other artistic performances
-I personally like going bowling, even though I'm mediocre at it at best

Pick whatever suits your interests and your date's interests. I like to give people several options for a date activity (and ask if they have more ideas) and negotiate from there.

ETA: To your question of whether introverted women with solitary hobbies and interests would want to date a guy like them... I, for one, definitely prefer to date other introverts. As I said, I embrace my introversion and prefer to do activities that are either within my comfort levels or don't go too far out of them. So dating another introvert, with similar preferences and behaviors is very comfortable for me and makes me happy. Like I said earlier, I like to just stay in and hang out a lot of the time, and a similarly-introverted partner would be perfectly content with that. I'm sure I'm not the only woman like me. Wink
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Re: [Advice] Help With Working Through and Process Various Feelings

Post by nonA on Mon Oct 27, 2014 6:54 pm

http://www.doctornerdlove.com/2013/07/do-or-do-not/

http://www.doctornerdlove.com/2013/03/field-experience/


I recently transferred to a university from a community college, and my social life is pretty much nonexistent. I really want to get out and start dating in the near future, at least on OKC, but I fear this lack of a social life will hold me back. I'm kinda ashamed of it, for one. For another, I feel ashamed that I feel much more motivation to date than to get a broader social life going. Like I'm getting the order backwards. And why would anybody be open to going on a date with a guy who spends all his time on a computer or at school? The thing is, I've been trying to convince myself to find friends first, establish myself socially first, but I'm just not motivated enough to do that, where as dating actually does motivate me. I feel really conflicted about this.

You're allowed to want what you want, and should learn to catch yourself any time you start to worry that you're committing thoughtcrime. It's one thing to ask yourself what's more or less effective, but ineffective is a very different thing from wrong.

I'm terrified that if I got into a long term relationship I would end up in a very unequal relationship on my side (note: yes, this conflicts with most people's lived experience and I acknowledge this, but no, my emotions aren't influenced by that knowledge). I'm terrified I'll be weak and needy and a pushover and that I will be used. This extends to everything, from sex (where I fear I will have to do most of the work and get little back), to boundary setting, to the various "compromises" made, to even chores if we were to live together. Somebody like DNL's toxic ex.

If your SO is your primary social outlet, that does become a significant risk. That's more about a lack of social outlets than it is about dating while introverted. You can always bounce ideas off the board. And if you wind up dating someone and enjoying their company but things don't quite work out, they can become alternative sounding boards. It'll take some time to build that up, but it'll take time whether you start tomorrow or you start next year.

Finally, I'm just not sure I could believe a woman would actually want to date me, whether casually or seriously. I worry that I'll be very insecure. This is certainly how I was with my friends when I was younger (do they really like me? Is it all fake? If they knew the real me, would they still like me?), as it was with one short semi-friendship I developed last year that ended after only a few months. I worry a relationship will be that x10.

...And this is why I'm such a strong proponent of cold approaches. Not because I think the girl standing in front of you in line is likely to become The One, but because having a perfectly pleasant chat with her will help keep your social skills from getting rusty and will help you ground your expectations in real women instead of abstract mental constructs. When you get a better sense what sort of socializing feels right for you, it'll make the warmer approaches that much easier.

In fact, try that now. Make a goal that for the rest of the week, you'll try to initiate conversation with at least one new person a day. It'll be uncomfortable (and frankly, a little bit terrifying) at first, but seeing how much of a big issue it isn't should help you stop building it up so much in your head.

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Re: [Advice] Help With Working Through and Process Various Feelings

Post by The Wisp on Tue Oct 28, 2014 1:01 am

Thank you all. I really do appreciate the advice Smile

eselle28 wrote:
All I can say to this is that there are women who enjoy these things. Some of them, when they're in relationships, might also enjoy going out for dinner or dancing at clubs or going on road trips. Some of them might shudder at those things and think the best way to possibly spend a Sunday morning is hang out in bed with their partner, each reading a book, and touching each other's arms now and then. Others are really excited at the prospect of a guy who wants to team up with them in a game. Some women like me like all those things (two people reading at once is still the nicest of all, though). The thing with OkCupid profiles is that they tend to try to express what someone would like to do with a partner rather than all of what they do when they're alone. If you can come up with your version of that, it might help you interpret profiles more than just thinking of your solitary interests. And, if you don't know yet, that's okay too.

Hrm, mostly what I imagine doing with a partner is hanging out and talking, cuddling with or without talking (maybe doing separate things), and sex. Maybe watch a movie or play a video game together if they're into that stuff. Generally pretty mellow stuff with just us two (even when out and about).

eselle28 wrote:My general feeling on whether you want commitment is a bit different from your therapist's. I get the feeling that you want the benefits that come from commitment, but aren't really all that ready for the responsibilities that come with it. That applies to monogamous relationships in terms of the fears you've expressed, but from what I know of polyamory, I'm not sure you're up for what someone expects from a partner they'd call a "primary" either. And that's okay. Sometimes people want things that they're not quite ready to handle. Kind of in that vein, I think you'll probably find that few people in the 18-23 age group are both up for commitment (because so many people that age aren't, whether or not they want it) and at a point where they identify as poly.

Not that it is super relevant, but just to clarify, the therapist who said that and who runs the group is different from my individual therapist. My individual therapist knows me better.

You know, I think you're spot on with this. I think I have skewed view of relationships among people my own age based on who I happen to have had contact with. Really small sample size. You're right that I'm probably not ready for serious relationships.

eselle28 wrote:My suggestion? This isn't something that meets all the needs you've expressed, so it may not by that palatable, but I'd suggest you seek out warm but casual relationships at this point. Seek out some women who, whether or not poly, aren't looking for anything too serious. Do your exploring and have your fun and get some real life data about who you like and get along with. Look toward people who have some natural warmth to them and who might be able to meet some of your emotional needs, and see if you can get some practice meeting their needs as well. Basically, see if you can separate things off a bit, so you can get some of what you want while working long term for all of what you want.

Basically, I think that what would help you most is getting started and moving some of this from the theoretical to the practical, without entering into anything that involves too much commitment. Once you have a bit of practice at both feeling desired and enforcing boundaries, I think you'll be a lot better-positioned to find the kind of serious relationship you might want.

This is a very reasonable and helpful way of looking at it. I think this may be what I will do.

Could you describe in more detail what you mean by"warm but casual relationship"? Obviously every relationship is different and not predictable, but that statement, while I think I understand, is a bit vague.

reboot wrote:Now, during the dating phase you are neither going to get nor give the level of emotional support common to a committed relationship, but that is the nature of casual dating. This is actually a good thing for you at this point because you will need to learn how to manage your needs and your partner's needs and it is easier  to do if you start with a lower level intensity at first.

Yeah, I agree, but it is somewhat hard to accept. I still fantasize perfect relationship where all my needs are met, though I know it is unrealistic and searching for anything even approximating that is not something I'm really ready for.

kleenestar wrote:Can you talk a bit about why you're ashamed of lacking a social life? It sounds like you're not particularly excited about developing one, other than a romantic relationship. So what is the shame? Is it your perception of how others will see you?

You're right that I'm not very excited about forming an active social life aside from dating. I think it is a mixture of things. Partially I've picked up on messages that I really shouldn't be dating before I establish a social group. I don't know where that came from, though. Partially, I do feel people will judge me. Partially, I've felt like a failure for not having a social life in high school and college (so far).

kleenestar wrote:Do you think that if you found a romantic partner, you would be more interested in having a broader social life? If you can answer this question without fantasizing (in that way we all do; if X were different, I would be different!) I think it will be helpful for you, and also will let me give you better advice.

I do think about this sometimes. Often it is the "my life would be totally different if I dated" fantasy. It's impossible to say how I'd feel for sure. I'm leaning towards no, however, at least in the short term. This isn't to say I would be totally against meeting the friends of a woman I was dating or occasionally hanging out with them for limited periods of time (< 2 hours), but I don't think I'd be super interested in that as a frequent thing, nor would I be interested in integrating into the broader social circle (I already eat lunch with my brother and his friends a couple times a week, so I can definitely enjoy that sort of interaction in moderation). Again, though, I can't say for sure. Also, I have a feeling that maybe a series of positive dating experiences might make me more motivated to seek out non-romantic socializing, but that's a longer term thing.

So, I'd assume it wouldn't from my current perspective.

kleenestar wrote:I think there are two things to unpack here.

First, one thing to think about is how you would spend your time differently (or not) if you found a relationship. What would you do all day? Would you add something to your schedule besides computer and school? If so, what? What makes you think you would like it? If you wouldn't spend your time any differently, what would be different about having a relationship? I'm not asking theoretically - I'm asking about the practical. Imagine a typical day, from when you wake up to when you go to bed. What would be different?

Second, I might suggest shifting your focus from what you do to how you do it. I have lots of very serious academic friends, and they are very different in the way they engage with their work. Yes, there are a few who are like "HEY I WILL GO SKYDIVING THIS WEEKEND" but most of us are school-work-computer-books people, and yet we find ways to share a life with the people we love by connecting to them in the choices we make within those activities. So what is your style of doing work and being on the computer?

Okay, I'll break this up into school day and weekend/off-day. I hope I understood what you're asking, correct me if I misinterpreted what you were looking for.

On a school day,  I would probably go about my day as I do now, except I would meet up with the lady I was dating for lunch or between classes and just eat/chat/study together. If we had plans, we would hang out at one of the other's places(much more likely hers if she didn't live with her parents like I do) and study together, or watch a movie together, or cuddle while be both read books/the internet, or play video games together if she's into that. Some sex, too. Maybe see a movie or get dinner out. Probably limit the time on a weekday to a 3-4 hours max, and not every day. On the weekend, take the mellow hanging out and extend the time, maybe even stay at her place overnight. I would definitely make room to talk to her and spend time with her, though generally in an introvert-friendly way.

My style of doing work... well for school work I like to focus on it on my own. I would study with somebody, but not interact much with them. A lot of my time of the computer is just time-filler, though, if I'm being honest. So it's not like I must be on it 6 hours a day or anything.

I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "we find ways to share a life with the people we love by connecting to them in the choices we make within those activities", could you be more specific and/or give an example?

kleenestar wrote:Can you talk about this a bit more? What's the motivational difference between a romantic relationship and a friendship? How do you imagine you'd use your time differently? What would the different emotional experiences be?

Part of my feelings on this just have to do with the fact that I've found a lot of my friendships in the past to be unsatisfying. When I was younger, I mostly maintained my friendships due to proximity and a fear of being alone. They were draining. I did briefly join a guild in an MMO, and that was nice, but those weren't lasting or meaningful friendships. That one brief friendship from last year I alluded to was also unsatisfying. I liked it at the time, I liked the idea of the friendship more than the reality. I wanted us to be closer than she did (note: I had no sexual or romantic feelings for her) and it ended up feeling draining and one sided (I asked her about herself much more than the reverse, for instance).

I guess the difference between friendships and romantic relationships is warmth and closeness. Friendships, in my experience, tend to have a distance to them, and tend to be about shared interests but lack the personal closeness. I would like a few really close friends in my idealized fantasies, but it seems like it actually takes much more time and effort to get from acquaintance to close friend than it does form acquaintance to romantic partner. I don't want to go through the long middle stages. I'm not even sure most people my age want close friends like I do. Especially with men. Also, I just don't know who "my people" are, if they even exist, and how to find them.

The big difference between friends and romantic partners is the attraction. In my mind, the attraction makes the relationship much warmer and closer in a reasonable amount of time, even if it is just casual (though, obviously, not nearly as close as a long term relationship). Unlike friends, it makes just being the presence of that person rewarding. It just feels more human, and much easier to get to that point. Also, it feels like a romantic relationship would be energizing rather than draining.

KMR wrote:My first question for this is: how much do you actually want a social life outside of a romantic relationship? I can't really tell from what you've told me so far, because wanting something and being motivated enough to take action aren't always the same thing. Another thing to consider is the degree to which you would ideally like to be social (with or without a partner). What is your ideal social environment? How many people would you like to spend time with at a time? (Even introverts differ on their ideal and tolerable group sizes; some have strong preferences for one-on-one interaction, some like small groups of 3-5, some enjoy parties of more people, as long as they know some or most of the people there.) How frequently would you like to socialize? This may depend on the group size, as well. Maybe you would enjoy spending time with one person every day or every other day, but could only tolerate larger groups once a week or once a month at most. I think these are good questions to consider first, as they may help guide your dating and social experience.

I might be repeating what I said before a little bit. There is a theoretical non-romantic social life in my fantasies that is appealing. 2-3 really close friends, and maybe 2-3 friends of those friends I see occasionally, too. However, I'm not sure I'm willing to do what it takes to get to the "close friend" stage with somebody, nor do I even know where to find these people or what kind of people they might be beyond very vague generalities. The reality of finding and developing close friendships just seems very draining and requiring a lot of work. My somewhat limited experiences confirm this, but maybe I'm doing something wrong. I don't have any current motivation to seek out friendships right now.

My ideal social environment is one-on-one or 3 people. A pretty mellow environment. Maybe a larger social thing once or twice a month max. Generally, I would have a time limit on all these interactions. I doubt I could spend most of a day with somebody and not be totally drained.

KMR wrote:That said, I don't think developing a social life before dating is absolutely necessary...

...My partner's friends can become my friends and lead to broader social connections from there. So again, I don't think there's necessarily a linear route from one form of socializing to another.

I have thought many of the same things. I would be open to socializing with a partner's friends sometimes, though in smallish doses.

KMR wrote:
I'm very introverted myself, and my attitude has been to embrace that and structure my dating life to stay within my social comfort levels, so maybe my experience will be helpful to you.

First of all, if you're like me...

...I like to give people several options for a date activity (and ask if they have more ideas) and negotiate from there.

Thanks, this post really is helpful. I like you're date ideas, and you're correct that there are things I'd like to occasionally do with someone that I probably wouldn't do regularly. Yes, I agree that going out with dates is important especially earlier. I'll have to brainstorm additional ideas.

KMR wrote:ETA: To your question of whether introverted women with solitary hobbies and interests would want to date a guy like them... I, for one, definitely prefer to date other introverts. As I said, I embrace my introversion and prefer to do activities that are either within my comfort levels or don't go too far out of them. So dating another introvert, with similar preferences and behaviors is very comfortable for me and makes me happy. Like I said earlier, I like to just stay in and hang out a lot of the time, and a similarly-introverted partner would be perfectly content with that. I'm sure I'm not the only woman like me. Wink

Thanks, you're post was very helpful and comforting, KMR! It's good to hear from another introvert.


Re: nonA

Yes, I know I have to get out more and "just do it". Like I said, I think I will, I just feel like I need to work through this a little more. I have had bad experiences of pushing too far too fast and ending up worse off than before.

nonA wrote:If your SO is your primary social outlet, that does become a significant risk.  That's more about a lack of social outlets than it is about dating while introverted.  You can always bounce ideas off the board.  And if you wind up dating someone and enjoying their company but things don't quite work out, they can become alternative sounding boards.  It'll take some time to build that up, but it'll take time whether you start tomorrow or you start next year.

Yeah. I do have the forums here, and I also have my therapist and group therapy, so these will provide some protection from getting lost in a single relationship.

\"nonA wrote:In fact, try that now.  Make a goal that for the rest of the week, you'll try to initiate conversation with at least one new person a day.  It'll be uncomfortable (and frankly, a little bit terrifying) at first, but seeing how much of a big issue it isn't should help you stop building it up so much in your head.

I know what you're getting at, but... I don't think I'm ready for so many complete cold approaches, even non-romantic ones. Maybe one person this week Razz
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Re: [Advice] Help With Working Through and Process Various Feelings

Post by reboot on Tue Oct 28, 2014 9:40 am

The Wisp wrote:Thank you all. I really do appreciate the advice Smile

eselle28 wrote:
All I can say to this is that there are women who enjoy these things. Some of them, when they're in relationships, might also enjoy going out for dinner or dancing at clubs or going on road trips. Some of them might shudder at those things and think the best way to possibly spend a Sunday morning is hang out in bed with their partner, each reading a book, and touching each other's arms now and then. Others are really excited at the prospect of a guy who wants to team up with them in a game. Some women like me like all those things (two people reading at once is still the nicest of all, though). The thing with OkCupid profiles is that they tend to try to express what someone would like to do with a partner rather than all of what they do when they're alone. If you can come up with your version of that, it might help you interpret profiles more than just thinking of your solitary interests. And, if you don't know yet, that's okay too.

Hrm, mostly what I imagine doing with a partner is hanging out and talking, cuddling with or without talking (maybe doing separate things), and sex. Maybe watch a movie or play a video game together if they're into that stuff. Generally pretty mellow stuff with just us two (even when out and about).

eselle28 wrote:My general feeling on whether you want commitment is a bit different from your therapist's. I get the feeling that you want the benefits that come from commitment, but aren't really all that ready for the responsibilities that come with it. That applies to monogamous relationships in terms of the fears you've expressed, but from what I know of polyamory, I'm not sure you're up for what someone expects from a partner they'd call a "primary" either. And that's okay. Sometimes people want things that they're not quite ready to handle. Kind of in that vein, I think you'll probably find that few people in the 18-23 age group are both up for commitment (because so many people that age aren't, whether or not they want it) and at a point where they identify as poly.

Not that it is super relevant, but just to clarify, the therapist who said that and who runs the group is different from my individual therapist. My individual therapist knows me better.

You know, I think you're spot on with this. I think I have skewed view of relationships among people my own age based on who I happen to have had contact with. Really small sample size. You're right that I'm probably not ready for serious relationships.

...

Could you describe in more detail what you mean by"warm but casual relationship"? Obviously every relationship is different and not predictable, but that statement, while I think I understand, is a bit vague.

reboot wrote:Now, during the dating phase you are neither going to get nor give the level of emotional support common to a committed relationship, but that is the nature of casual dating. This is actually a good thing for you at this point because you will need to learn how to manage your needs and your partner's needs and it is easier  to do if you start with a lower level intensity at first.

Yeah, I agree, but it is somewhat hard to accept. I still fantasize perfect relationship where all my needs are met, though I know it is unrealistic and searching for anything even approximating that is not something I'm really ready for.

.....


Thanks, this post really is helpful. I like you're date ideas, and you're correct that there are things I'd like to occasionally do with someone that I probably wouldn't do regularly. Yes, I agree that going out with dates is important especially earlier. I'll have to brainstorm additional ideas....

A few things here I would like to touch on:

1. Eselle can correct me on this, but awarm, casual relationship is one where you are emotionally close (but not as close as an LTR) but you know it is not a forever thing. It can be exclusive or not. You will likely have most but not all of your emotional needs met and meet most but not all of your partner's emotional needs.

2. I notice in your fantasy you get all of your emotional needs met, but are you prepared to meet all of your partner's needs? It is a two way street. It is also not something that will develop instantly. It takes some time to get to the point where you are invested enough to want to fill their emotional needs and they want to fill yours. There is a lot of trial and error in dating, but that is a good thing because it teaches you what you really want from a relationship and how much you are willing to give, so expect to have some situations where it is just a bad fit and learn from them.

3. In a relationship, casual or otherwise, you are always going to be doing activities together, maybe more at the beginning, maybe more as the relationship progresses. Some will be your idea, some will be hers, and some will be things you come up with together, so do not worry about coming up with a huge list.
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Re: [Advice] Help With Working Through and Process Various Feelings

Post by Autumnflame on Tue Oct 28, 2014 11:58 am

For me, a warm, casual relationship is one where you're happy to see the other person and spend time with them, and genuinely concerned with their well-being and interested in them when you're with them, but you don't make a whole lot of effort to incorporate them into your daily life or necessarily keep up with them much outside of the time you're together. Sort of an "I like you and your company, but I don't yearn for you when you're not here" thing.
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Re: [Advice] Help With Working Through and Process Various Feelings

Post by eselle28 on Tue Oct 28, 2014 1:16 pm

The Wisp wrote:
Could you describe in more detail what you mean by"warm but casual relationship"? Obviously every relationship is different and not predictable, but that statement, while I think I understand, is a bit vague.

On a school day,  I would probably go about my day as I do now, except I would meet up with the lady I was dating for lunch or between classes and just eat/chat/study together. If we had plans, we would hang out at one of the other's places(much more likely hers if she didn't live with her parents like I do) and study together, or watch a movie together, or cuddle while be both read books/the internet, or play video games together if she's into that. Some sex, too. Maybe see a movie or get dinner out. Probably limit the time on a weekday to a 3-4 hours max, and not every day. On the weekend, take the mellow hanging out and extend the time, maybe even stay at her place overnight. I would definitely make room to talk to her and spend time with her, though generally in an introvert-friendly way.

I think others responding have the same general idea that I do - something between a pure hookup and a serious relationship of any sort, with some elements of a more casual friendship included. In comparison to the serious relationship you described, you might only hang out with this person on that one weekend day, maybe watching a movie together one evening, spending the night together, and hanging out and getting something to eat for the first half of the next day, and then not necessarily talking all that much before then next time you hang out. In this kind of relationship, it's generally acceptable to talk about your life and things that are going on in it, but not to expect the same kind of emotional support that you would from a committed partner. Something not quite so intense might give you a chance to practice a bunch of different social skills related to friendship and dating, without the pressure being quite so high.
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Re: [Advice] Help With Working Through and Process Various Feelings

Post by Dan_Brodribb on Tue Oct 28, 2014 1:47 pm

The Wisp wrote:Hi all. I feel that I'm getting closer to being ready to actually trying to date, as opposed to just thinking about it (and socializing in general, though there are different issues there). However, I need to work through some fears, baggage, and insecurities before I can do that.


I've found this strategy ineffective. My experience is you don't know what's going to come up in dating until you actually start dating. You only know what you THINK or FEAR is going to come up. Often the thing you worry about never happens or you handle it better than you dreamed. And sometimes some other goddamn insecurity rears its head that you never knew you had.

I don't believe you will be 'worse off than you are now' if you go out and 'get a bunch of things triggered.' I believe you will be better off because you will learn for certain what those triggers, fears, insecurities, and baggage actually ARE as opposed to hypothetical mind-monsters that may or may not exist outside your own worries.

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Re: [Advice] Help With Working Through and Process Various Feelings

Post by The Wisp on Wed Oct 29, 2014 10:50 pm

Dan_Brodribb wrote:
The Wisp wrote:Hi all. I feel that I'm getting closer to being ready to actually trying to date, as opposed to just thinking about it (and socializing in general, though there are different issues there). However, I need to work through some fears, baggage, and insecurities before I can do that.


I've found this strategy ineffective. My experience is you don't know what's going to come up in dating until you actually start dating. You only know what you THINK or FEAR is going to come up. Often the thing you worry about never happens or you handle it better than you dreamed. And sometimes some other goddamn insecurity rears its head that you never knew you had.

I don't believe you will be 'worse off than you are now' if you go out and 'get a bunch of things triggered.' I believe you will be better off because you will learn for certain what those triggers, fears, insecurities, and baggage actually ARE as opposed to hypothetical mind-monsters that may or may not exist outside your own worries.

Yeah, I'm intending to build my OKC profile this weekend, so I'm ready to jump in. You're also right that crappy experiences can be learning experiences. I very briefly delivered Chinese food last year, but I quickly realized that I don't have the personality to deal with the public regularly and maintain my sanity.

I think just getting this all out has been helpful; helpful advice is also, obviously, helpful.

eselle28 wrote:I think others responding have the same general idea that I do - something between a pure hookup and a serious relationship of any sort, with some elements of a more casual friendship included. In comparison to the serious relationship you described, you might only hang out with this person on that one weekend day, maybe watching a movie together one evening, spending the night together, and hanging out and getting something to eat for the first half of the next day, and then not necessarily talking all that much before then next time you hang out. In this kind of relationship, it's generally acceptable to talk about your life and things that are going on in it, but not to expect the same kind of emotional support that you would from a committed partner. Something not quite so intense might give you a chance to practice a bunch of different social skills related to friendship and dating, without the pressure being quite so high.
Autumnflame wrote:For me, a warm, casual relationship is one where you're happy to see the other person and spend time with them, and genuinely concerned with their well-being and interested in them when you're with them, but you don't make a whole lot of effort to incorporate them into your daily life or necessarily keep up with them much outside of the time you're together. Sort of an "I like you and your company, but I don't yearn for you when you're not here" thing.

Makes sense, that was what I had in mind. It sounds nice.

reboot wrote:2. I notice in your fantasy you get all of your emotional needs met, but are you prepared to meet all of your partner's needs? It is a two way street. It is also not something that will develop instantly. It takes some time to get to the point where you are invested enough to want to fill their emotional needs and they want to fill yours. There is a lot of trial and error in dating, but that is a good thing because it teaches you what you really want from a relationship and how much you are willing to give, so expect to have some situations where it is just a bad fit and learn from them.

I don't know how much I would want to give nor how much I could give. My hunch is that I couldn't give enough for a more serious relationship at this point in my life. But I don't know for sure, so I think casual dating may allow me to figure this stuff out more.
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Re: [Advice] Help With Working Through and Process Various Feelings

Post by nonA on Wed Oct 29, 2014 11:17 pm

The bad news: starting out means you're going to flub a decent amount. Again, this will happen whether you start tomorrow, a year from now, or a decade from now, so you might as well take your lumps now. (In fact, it's easier when you're in school, as opposed to out in the world where it's more effort to find time and schedule a get-together.)

The good news: While there will be a fair number of false starts, I'm guessing you'll enjoy the simple fact of being in the company of a cute girl, where you both enjoy the experience. Aim for that without trying for anything more. If something more happens eventually, awesome. If not, you've exercised your skills by that tiny bit and had an enjoyable experience on its own. Focus on that, and you should have an easier time finding your exact socialization style.

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Re: [Advice] Help With Working Through and Process Various Feelings

Post by Olmajor on Sun Nov 09, 2014 5:34 pm

In your first message you wrote that you're afraid that in a relationship you'll become needy or a pushover. I think that comes down to how you will set your personal limits. Maybe that could be something you can talk about with your therapist.

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