What If You're the Darth Vader Boyfriend/Girlfriend?

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Post by reboundstudent on Wed Oct 29, 2014 4:13 pm

Mel wrote:I think you need to get them to tell you specific concrete behaviors that they want you to change.  Saying, "you're putting your insecurities on me" or "you're pretending to be a victim" or some such doesn't really tell you anything.  If they actually want to help you be a "better" person, not just get a dig in for some reason, they should be able to point to specific manifestations of this supposed problem.  E.g., "You ask me so many more questions when I'm hanging out with friends who are girls than friends who are guys, which makes me feel as if I have to prove I'm not going to cheat on you." or "When I mention to you something that bothers me, instead of talking with me about what could happen differently, you get upset that I'm upset and I end up needing to comfort you."  And then they should be willing to discuss what specific ways you could behave differently that would fix that problem (by making their own suggestions and asking for yours).  Again, being unwilling to suggest any way you could actually act "better" indicates their goal is not actually to solve the problem but simply to take out frustrations on you, which suggests this is a lot more about them than anything you've actually done wrong.

Thanks for all of the suggestions, Mel, but I wanted to address this specific part. In the past, when people have told me I am abusive or broken or acting badly, I have asked for examples, and 9 times out of 10, the other person either claims it's a "genuine" feeling, nothing specific I've done, or say they "don't remember" a specific incident, they just know I'm doing X. (Particularly memorable response: "Dammit, I don't have a running transcript in my head!") And, I mean, it's not wrong to say "Well then the problem is you," but it's not super productive, especially when the other person has apparently Had It Up to Here with my behavior. Yet without specific examples, I do feel helpless in how to proceed. I mean, how do you fix something you can't recognize is wrong?

kath wrote:
So, you have this founding assumption that you can't trust when people do nice things. They could always actually hate you. It feels safer to go with that assumption, because then if they do something you don't like or extract themselves from your life, that was what you were expecting anyway. So you require that people offer continual proof that they like you, and you take anything that might be an indication that they don't like you extremely seriously and it takes you a long time to move past it / a very large amount of evidence that they do like you for you to be comfortable in the relationship (friendly, romantic, casual, etc).  This is a lot to ask of someone, and asking them to constantly prove themselves is exhausting - and a chore. That doesn't mean that you're doing it intentionally to be unfair to them. You're doing it for a reason - it's self-preservation. But you are also making other people responsible for what's going on in your head due to someone else's past behavior, and you would be requiring other people to do a lot of work that they may not be equipped to do.

celette482 wrote: Asking, putting needs into words, is the exact polar opposite of abuse/darth vader ness. EVEN if the needs seem... darthvadery. (Honey, I need you to never see any of your male friends again, ever.) Asking, putting stuff out there, being explicit lets the other person decide "Okay, yeah, I can do that" or "HELL NO" or "Hm, what if I never hang out with guys one on one?" or some variation of negotiation. It tells them what you expect, instead of requiring them to watch their behavior all the time looking around for signs that you're about to blow up (or shut down or whatever your response is).

I get why it's scary to ask. Same reason it's scary to ask someone out. You're basically opening the box with Schrodinger's Cat in it. As long as it isn't verbally expressed, it being "I need this, can you provide it for me or will it be too much for you?" the answer can be yes. You can go on assuming that the answer is yes and acting in a way that lines up with the answer being yes! Of course, the answer might also be no, and we're all afraid of hearing that no. The difference between someone who is a Darth Vader and someone trying very hard not to be is that the Darth Vader never stops to even consider that there might be a no in there. the Darth vader doesn't acknowledge, let alone entertain, the nullset. The Darth Vader assumes that everyone or at least THIS person is fully and completely available to handle any and all Darth Vader needs whenever they arise. The rest of us are just working up the courage to open the damn box.

I appreciate the insight and advice, but I admit this.... doesn't ring true for me. Honestly, the more genuine interpretation feels like the opposite. It feels like I get comfortable in a friendship far too quickly and will take any sign they like me, and downplay any behavior that suggests they dislike or mistreat me. I feel as if I don't ever actually demanding much evidence that they do like me until I am already waist-deep in.

Similarly, my experience has taught me that NOT voicing my needs is the far safer route to take. It isn't that I fear my needs would be denied; I fear that they will be used against me. It's actually very similar to my hang-ups over asking a guy out. I don't mind the rejection; rejection is clean and simple and, in some ways, a relief. It's that me asking the guy out will be a tool to put me on trial later down the road (Marty's desperate, Marty's weird, Marty can't get guys to ask her so she has to seek them out) that I live in abject terror of.

Example for both of these. Years ago, I dated a guy. I pursued him, not shamelessly, but probably more ardently than I should have. He accepted my pursuit, but rarely reciprocated. Anyway, almost from the start, he would drop bombs; like how he'd actually liked my friend first, but she'd turned him down. How it was good I was cute because he didn't like "hot" girls ("They're stuck-up!").... oh, except both his ex and my friend were both cute AND hot. How his ex was freaking perfect (never fought, tons of sex, lots of things in common.) How his female friend was so awesome-amazing-smart-pretty-fun. How my friend was hotter than me. How he was totally in love with a girl in another country, and would totally be with her but didn't want to move.

Each time he voiced these, I would speak up about um, hey, that really bothers me. Each time, both he and my friends would slap me down as being "insecure." Voicing my need ("Hey I need you to knock off mentioning other girls like that") got me labeled as pathetic, needy, and insecure. When I finally dumped him because, to me, it was clear he was not interested and was passive-aggressively driving me off, I was the one who got the blame from friends. To this day, our mutual friends still insist he "really liked me!" and I was just too "insecure" to see it.

Or another, more recent example. I voice my need, multiple times, for more frequent communication with a partner. He insists that I give him "exact specifications," because obviously I have some "amount" in mind. I insist that I really don't, but after further prodding, finally say "Maybe <this frequency." His response is "Oh so now you're telling me what to do, like I'm an errant child who needs to follow instructions?"

What If You're the Darth Vader Boyfriend/Girlfriend?  - Page 2 Giphy

What I've learned is that there is something shameful about my needs, something that makes other people react aggressively. That's a big reason why I wonder if I'm a Darth Vader-why else would people be so angry. I must be doing something wrong; I'd think it was the communication, but I've tried every direction I can think of (use I statements, talk only about my feelings, try not to blame.) But maybe there's something wrong with the needs themselves.

And maybe I'm actually too self-involved to see that people actually hate me. Like, the idea that I put up tests that people must pass to prove they like me seems... counter-intuitive when the reality seems to be that people really, really dislike me/my behavior and I don't see it until the other person has reached boiling-point-destruction. It seems more like I'm not careful enough making sure people like me before I try to be their friend.
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Post by eselle28 on Wed Oct 29, 2014 4:24 pm

reboundstudent wrote:
Thanks for all of the suggestions, Mel, but I wanted to address this specific part. In the past, when people have told me I am abusive or broken or acting badly, I have asked for examples, and 9 times out of 10, the other person either claims it's a "genuine" feeling, nothing specific I've done, or say they "don't remember" a specific incident, they just know I'm doing X. (Particularly memorable response: "Dammit, I don't have a running transcript in my head!") And, I mean, it's not wrong to say "Well then the problem is you," but it's not super productive, especially when the other person has apparently Had It Up to Here with my behavior. Yet without specific examples, I do feel helpless in how to proceed. I mean, how do you fix something you can't recognize is wrong?

I've mostly stayed out of this, but sometimes when people do that, it's because they're assholes. Or they're gaslighting you. Or worse things. Or all three of those.
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Post by Mel on Wed Oct 29, 2014 4:41 pm

reboundstudent wrote:Thanks for all of the suggestions, Mel, but I wanted to address this specific part. In the past, when people have told me I am abusive or broken or acting badly, I have asked for examples, and 9 times out of 10, the other person either claims it's a "genuine" feeling, nothing specific I've done, or say they "don't remember" a specific incident, they just know I'm doing X. (Particularly memorable response: "Dammit, I don't have a running transcript in my head!") And, I mean, it's not wrong to say "Well then the problem is you," but it's not super productive, especially when the other person has apparently Had It Up to Here with my behavior. Yet without specific examples, I do feel helpless in how to proceed. I mean, how do you fix something you can't recognize is wrong?

I would say, as I suggested before, that if they can't tell you something concrete to work on, then they can't expect you to "fix" the problem. And you should say as much to them. Like I said, anyone who actually cares about you and wants to have a better dynamic with you will make the (minor!) effort to pay attention to what exactly you're doing that bothers them. If they can't even do that, then they obviously don't care that much and are probably just vaguely venting and wanting to feel they're in the right when really you're just not very compatible people.

reboundstudent wrote:
Example for both of these. Years ago, I dated a guy. I pursued him, not shamelessly, but probably more ardently than I should have. He accepted my pursuit, but rarely reciprocated. Anyway, almost from the start, he would drop bombs; like how he'd actually liked my friend first, but she'd turned him down. How it was good I was cute because he didn't like "hot" girls ("They're stuck-up!").... oh, except both his ex and my friend were both cute AND hot. How his ex was freaking perfect (never fought, tons of sex, lots of things in common.) How his female friend was so awesome-amazing-smart-pretty-fun. How my friend was hotter than me. How he was totally in love with a girl in another country, and would totally be with her but didn't want to move.

Each time he voiced these, I would speak up about um, hey, that really bothers me. Each time, both he and my friends would slap me down as being "insecure." Voicing my need ("Hey I need you to knock off mentioning other girls like that") got me labeled as pathetic, needy, and insecure. When I finally dumped him because, to me, it was clear he was not interested and was passive-aggressively driving me off, I was the one who got the blame from friends. To this day, our mutual friends still insist he "really liked me!" and I was just too "insecure" to see it.

Or another, more recent example. I voice my need, multiple times, for more frequent communication with a partner. He insists that I give him "exact specifications," because obviously I have some "amount" in mind. I insist that I really don't, but after further prodding, finally say "Maybe <this frequency." His response is "Oh so now you're telling me what to do, like I'm an errant child who needs to follow instructions?"

Okay, so in both of these examples, the problem I see is that you're voicing your need "multiple times" without reaching a consensus with your partner during the discussion. I'd imagine that's why it ends up coming across as insecurity/neediness. You're not actually setting your foot down; you're still letting yourself be walked over.

In the first example, when it got to the point where you were uncomfortable with the comments, my suggestion would have been to sit down (when the two of you were alone--never good to have a couple discussion with spectators) and say, "Look, when you make comments like X and Y I feel uncomfortable, do you think you could avoid that?" And if his response was, "I shouldn't have to, you're just being insecure," you could say, "Well, you don't have to, but I don't think I can be comfortable continuing to date if you continue to talk that way. Is it really that important to you to say those things?" And if he said yes and continued blaming you, then you say, "Okay then, I guess it's just not working out." And if anyone else accused you of not being tolerant enough or some such later, you could ask them if they'd really want you to stay in a relationship with someone who was making you uncomfortable and who wasn't willing to adjust their behavior over something as minor as that to make you more comfortable (because really, how much can someone care about you if they won't even negotiate on that point?).

It sounds like instead you backed down each time and tried to pretend to be okay, but you really weren't. And that would only encourage him and others to think it really must be okay and you should be able to get over it (because otherwise why would you accept the "you're just insecure" instead of insisting on some sort of change?) and probably increased the sense that it was your "fault" somehow after the eventual break-up.

Now, I'm not saying I don't understand the accepting and trying to accommodate. Tons of people do that. But it does seem to be a dynamic that's working against you and I think getting clear with yourself what you can accept and not before you have the first discussion, and then making sure you get something that you can truly accept by the end of the discussion (whether that's exactly what you hoped for, an acceptable compromise, or the two of you not seeing each other the same way anymore) would solve at least some of the issue.

Similarly with the second example, I think the two of you needed to hammer out exactly what an acceptable change in behavior would be the first time it came up--and if he's asking for a concrete "amount" fair enough, you can always say, "Let's try X" if you're not sure--and if he expresses discomfort then you say, "Okay, sorry, I'm just trying to work out something we're both okay with. What would you suggest instead?" or whatever, but don't let the discussion end until you have actually gotten agreement to something. Again, the bringing up of the same subject over and over without resolution I suspect is a big part of why you're also getting non-ideal responses over and over.

I also think, as touched on above, that criticizing a partner or friend in front of other people is generally going to work against you. If it's something specifically related to you (rather than, say, calling out a general problematic comment that might have offended anyone listening), you're going to get much less defensiveness, and avoid support from the crowd, if you bring it up later when you're alone--or, if it's really urgent, ask to speak to them apart from the group for a moment and get at least a little distance.

So those are two factors you could work on: making sure your discussions about needs end in with a real resolution, and making them private discussions.
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Post by reboundstudent on Wed Oct 29, 2014 4:58 pm

Mel wrote:
It sounds like instead you backed down each time and tried to pretend to be okay, but you really weren't. And that would only encourage him and others to think it really must be okay and you should be able to get over it (because otherwise why would you accept the "you're just insecure" instead of insisting on some sort of change?) and probably increased the sense that it was your "fault" somehow after the eventual break-up.

That makes sense, but.. how do you avoid that initial fault as well? In the past, how it's usually gone down is:

(Marty finds an early incompatibility Guy is disinclined to change. Marty decides to end things.)
(Marty is then talking to a friend about the difficulties of dating)
Friend: Well, what about Guy? He liked you.
Marty: But he wouldn't change/compromise on X.
Friend: Well, it's really inconsiderate to ask him to change. / Yeah, but he still liked you, so it's kind of on you for not having a boyfriend right now. / That's really not a big deal, don't you think you're being insecure/unreasonable?

Even in that situation with my ex, my friends continued to insist that he "really liked me" and I just thought he didn't because of "insecurity." Not, ya know, the him mentioning his attraction to other women constantly. The overwhelming message I get is that I'm not allowed to put my foot down. That to have a boyfriend, I better copulate and abandon any needs, because otherwise I'm being "unfair" and it's my fault when I end up single. I just don't know how to avoid that, and every time it happens, it feels like I lose a little more of my resolve to ever discuss my feelings.
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Post by celette482 on Wed Oct 29, 2014 5:02 pm

Your friends are not an expert of guy X

He clearly didn't *really like you* if he let his attraction to other women get in the way of being in a relationship with you.

Your friends are actually shitty. We've had this conversation before, you and I. I think they are vested in the idea of making you miserable and constantly move the goal posts so that you are always wrong.
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Post by Mel on Wed Oct 29, 2014 5:20 pm

Yeah, I think as soon as a friend suggests a guy "really likes you" even though he wouldn't adjust one small element of his behavior for your comfort, you know you're talking to an unreliable source.

You're not dating to make your friends happy, right? You're dating to make you happy. What they think should make you happy matters fuckall if that doesn't actually make you happen, excuse my french. And if you're worried for yourself that your needs are eliminating too many potential friends/partners, my footnote in my first post in this thread addresses that.
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Post by Mel on Wed Oct 29, 2014 5:34 pm

Oh, and to add--another confounding factor in those sort of conversations with friends, from what I've seen in your online discussions, is the framing. If you complain to a friend, "I can't find any guys who like me," then it sounds as though you want any guy who likes you regardless of other factors, and it probably sounds reasonable to the friend to point out you have actually found guys who like you. I think you'd get less pushback if you framed it as, "I can't find any guys I really enjoy being with," or even (if you know from past experience they see your standards as being high, "I know I might be asking a lot, but I wish it wasn't so hard to find guys who fit what I'm looking for," or whatever. Own the fact that you have standards--there's nothing wrong with it.
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Post by Gentleman Johnny on Wed Oct 29, 2014 5:37 pm

Its not your "fault" that you end up single. Its your responsibility that, having considered available options, you find being single preferable to being with someone who you are not happy being with. This is not a bad thing.

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Post by reboundstudent on Wed Oct 29, 2014 6:03 pm

Mel wrote:Oh, and to add--another confounding factor in those sort of conversations with friends, from what I've seen in your online discussions, is the framing.  If you complain to a friend, "I can't find any guys who like me," then it sounds as though you want any guy who likes you regardless of other factors, and it probably sounds reasonable to the friend to point out you have actually found guys who like you.  I think you'd get less pushback if you framed it as, "I can't find any guys I really enjoy being with," or even (if you know from past experience they see your standards as being high, "I know I might be asking a lot, but I wish it wasn't so hard to find guys who fit what I'm looking for," or whatever.  Own the fact that you have standards--there's nothing wrong with it.

That framing seems dishonest to me. I mean, it's like celette said... how much can they really like me if they didn't adjust to a very reasonable request? Not saying they have to, but it isn't exactly a sign they were into me. In one instance, what made me go "Whelp, moving on" was a guy who didn't seem to want to date me. And yet my friends still insisted he liked me when my standard was "A guy should at least want to date me."

I guess from my perspective, it really does seem like my trouble is I can't find guys who like me, especially when my standards don't seem that unreasonable (stop talking about how much hotter my friend is. Actually want to date me.) I might be totally off here, but I already have to practically run guys down to get them to even consider me, so framing it as "I just have high standards" seems... not accurate?
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Post by Mel on Wed Oct 29, 2014 6:11 pm

reboundstudent wrote:That framing seems dishonest to me. I mean, it's like celette said... how much can they really like me if they didn't adjust to a very reasonable request? Not saying they have to, but it isn't exactly a sign they were into me. In one instance, what made me go "Whelp, moving on" was a guy who didn't seem to want to date me. And yet my friends still insisted he liked me when my standard was "A guy should at least want to date me."

I guess from my perspective, it really does seem like my trouble is I can't find guys who like me, especially when my standards don't seem that unreasonable (stop talking about how much hotter my friend is. Actually want to date me.) I might be totally off here, but I already have to practically run guys down to get them to even consider me, so framing it as "I just have high standards" seems... not accurate?  

Okay, but my point is that you have the option of saying things in a way you consider to be as accurate to your perspective as possible and having other people you know see things differently argue with you... or saying things in a way that acknowledges their perspective (that there are guys who like you to some minor extent anyway, that you have turned guys down who seemed willing to date you) so that they will be more likely to give you the sympathy you're looking for. Which is more important to you?

You are being kind of absolutist about it--if he didn't like me enough to do X then he didn't like me at all and it's dishonest to say he liked me. I would say, yes, if he didn't like you enough to do X then it's reasonable to feel he didn't like you enough for you to want to date him... but that doesn't mean he didn't like you at all, and it doesn't make someone else wrong to point out he "liked" you if you claim he didn't like you at all. So phrasing it as, "he wasn't into me enough" is technically more honest. And I can see why people would be frustrated if you insisted on saying it was not at all when from their perspective he clearly had at least a little interest.
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Post by nonA on Wed Oct 29, 2014 6:49 pm

I think you're cute, Marty. I'd totally be down for a thing where we hang out from time to time, mess around, and generally have low-key fun. Feel down for it?

I don't want you to hide behind technicalities here like "I have a boyfriend", "You don't live anywhere near me" or "we've never actually met in real life before". I want you to come right out and say that what I'm offering isn't something you'd enjoy. In the process, accepting that it's totally cool for you to reject something if you don't feel that it's worth your while. And that someone can have a generally positive image of you - like you, even - while still being either unwilling or incapable of offering something that would make you feel fulfilled.


Again, I think it's worth remembering who we're talking about here. The girl who feels like mutual nerdery is important for her to feel compatible with someone. The girl whose major social outlets are nerdery related. The girl who lives in an area where people are encouraged to get married young. (And as such, most of the higher quality nerds will already have been snapped up.) And the girl where, for all her virtues, mastery of social graces isn't one of them.

I guess what I'm trying to say here is, the single boys she's likely to run into, they're all going to be somewhat socially awkward. It's only a matter of scale. Combine with other popular nerd social flaws like bullheadedness, poor empathy, and resistance to making change, you have a much better explanation for a lot of the behaviors seen. Even if their feelings towards Marty are best described as liking her.

This outlook best fits the available evidence. (Remembering that there's nothing wrong with rejecting someone who can not or will not make you feel like it's worth your while.) It also should make it easier to explain your side of the story to other people. ("I can't find anyone who likes me" is demonstrably false, but "dumbass wouldn't stop going on about other girls to me" should shush other people. If it gets back to the dude through the grapevine, all the better.) Unfortunately it doesn't cover what to do in the moment whwn both parties are bullheaded and idiosyncratic (a real flashpoint in nerd-nerd relationships), but that's an easier problem to work on when you can focus on it specifically.

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Post by reboundstudent on Wed Oct 29, 2014 6:54 pm

Mel wrote: Okay, but my point is that you have the option of saying things in a way you consider to be as accurate to your perspective as possible and having other people you know see things differently argue with you... or saying things in a way that acknowledges their perspective (that there are guys who like you to some minor extent anyway, that you have turned guys down who seemed willing to date you) so that they will be more likely to give you the sympathy you're looking for.  Which is more important to you?

You are being kind of absolutist about it--if he didn't like me enough to do X then he didn't like me at all and it's dishonest to say he liked me.  I would say, yes, if he didn't like you enough to do X then it's reasonable to feel he didn't like you enough for you to want to date him... but that doesn't mean he didn't like you at all, and it doesn't make someone else wrong to point out he "liked" you if you claim he didn't like you at all.  So phrasing it as, "he wasn't into me enough" is technically more honest.  And I can see why people would be frustrated if you insisted on saying it was not at all when from their perspective he clearly had at least a little interest.

I guess accuracy is the most important to me; I'm uncomfortable with the idea that someone else's perspective must be acknowledged if that perspective is wrong. And I don't see much of a difference between "he didn't like me" and "he didn't like me enough." I think I'm also skeptical that it would get me sympathy, because then I'd just be on the hook for criticism about how my standards are too high/I'm unreasonable/I'm too insecure. It seems to me like people insisting on the "enough" part is just another way to blame me for still being single.
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Post by reboundstudent on Wed Oct 29, 2014 7:06 pm

nonA wrote:
I don't want you to hide behind technicalities here like "I have a boyfriend", "You don't live anywhere near me" or "we've never actually met in real life before".  I want you to come right out and say that what I'm offering isn't something you'd enjoy.  In the process, accepting that it's totally cool for you to reject something if you don't feel that it's worth your while.  And that someone can have a generally positive image of you - like you, even - while still being either unwilling or incapable  of offering something that would make you feel fulfilled.

I don't see it as unfulfilled vs. fulfilled. I see it as... something like using me? And I don't see how you can use someone you genuinely like. By "use", I mean the whole "hang out and have fun times" reads to me like "I could care less about your needs, or you as an individual person, and just want a warm body to temporarily fill a space that will accommodate what I want." If someone is incapable or unwilling to offer something that would fulfill the other person's needs, that is completely their right, but claiming they like the person while simultaneously keeping them around seems suspect to me.

Put another way-I'm not gonna buy someone liking me when their like of me is tied up with them ignoring my needs and getting theirs fulfilled.


nonA wrote:
I guess what I'm trying to say here is, the single boys she's likely to run into, they're all going to be somewhat socially awkward.  It's only a matter of scale.  Combine with other popular nerd social flaws like bullheadedness, poor empathy, and resistance to making change, you have a much better explanation for a lot of the behaviors seen.  Even if their feelings towards Marty are best described as liking her.

I guess I'm not following. How do the behaviors have anything to do with popular nerd social flaws?

nonA wrote:
This outlook best fits the available evidence.  (Remembering that there's nothing wrong with rejecting someone who can not or will not make you feel like it's worth your while.)  It also should make it easier to explain your side of the story to other people.  ("I can't find anyone who likes me" is demonstrably false, but "dumbass wouldn't stop going on about other girls to me" should shush other people.  If it gets back to the dude through the grapevine, all the better.)  Unfortunately it doesn't cover what to do in the moment whwn both parties are bullheaded and idiosyncratic (a real flashpoint in nerd-nerd relationships), but that's an easier problem to work on when you can focus on it specifically.

Again, I don't get how it's demonstrably false. Perhaps it's just not specific enough. "I can't find anyone who likes me as myself, and isn't looking to use me in some way and claim they like me while taking advantage of me." There have been guys who "kinda liked"* me when I had no needs, desires, or personality of my own besides fulfilling their needs, but I'm pretty sure that's not the definition of "like" most people subscribe to.

*The truly sad part is even when scrubbed of personal needs, desires, or anything remotely individualistic, some of them still only liked me in a passive, got-nothing-better-to-do sorta way.
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Post by Enail on Wed Oct 29, 2014 7:17 pm

<mod> I feel like things are getting off-topic and we're veering onto pretty well-trodden roads that are unlikely to lead anywhere productive. Could people try and stick a little more towards the specific topic of 'how do you tell if you're the harmful one in a difficult friendship or relationship?' Thanks! </mod>
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Post by nonA on Wed Oct 29, 2014 7:45 pm

I don't see it as unfulfilled vs. fulfilled. I see it as... something like using me? And I don't see how you can use someone you genuinely like. By "use", I mean the whole "hang out and have fun times" reads to me like "I could care less about your needs, or you as an individual person, and just want a warm body to temporarily fill a space that will accommodate what I want." If someone is incapable or unwilling to offer something that would fulfill the other person's needs, that is completely their right, but claiming they like the person while simultaneously keeping them around seems suspect to me.

I guess the best parallel I can use is long distance relationships.  It's possible to say "I have very strong feelings for this person" and at the same time be reluctant to uproot your whole life to move to where they are.  Or even travel upwards of an hour every time you want to get together.  People can have all sorts of feelings that they're unable/unwilling to follow through on, or else piss-poor at expressing.

We can move this to PMs or a different topic if you like.  I'm just trying to get across that they may well have certain feelings, even if their expression may leave a lot to be desired.  Also that poor expression is a totally valid beef to have, but that it's easier to articulate as its own issue.


If we're going back to the original topic as per mod request, I kind of want to tie it in with the "means well, expresses it poorly" point.  Darthness generally means that the person doesn't care about the consequences of their actions until those consequences come back to them.  It might be better to ask how to both spot and control unhealthy habits in otherwise well-meaning people.  Including how much is actually on you, vs. how much can be attributed to on some level preferring drama prone people.

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