[Rant/Advice] Catch-22

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[Rant/Advice] Catch-22

Post by The Wisp on Thu Nov 13, 2014 2:58 am

Vulnerability came up in Sam's thread, and a couple of posters responded that weakness isn't appealing. I agree with that, but that dovetails with something that has been on my mind lately.

I feel like I'm in a catch-22. I don't have much to offer anybody as a lover or as a friend. The only way I can develop traits that I could offer people is if some of my emotional wounds and psychological issues are healed. I can only heal them by having positive relationships with other people. But, why would anybody want to enter a relationship/friendship with me if I have nothing to offer?

Furthermore, many of the aforementioned psychological wounds and issues make me have difficulty even liking other real life people. I'm very uncomfortable receiving positive attention from others, but I also felt resentment in past friendships where I was giving all the positive energy and getting none back. I generally don't like other real life people. That adds another layer preventing a positive relationship with another.

It feels impossible sometimes.


Last edited by Enail on Fri Nov 14, 2014 12:58 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Tag change)
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Re: [Rant/Advice] Catch-22

Post by Jayce on Thu Nov 13, 2014 4:33 am

Sometimes I feel like I don't have much to offer as well. However I found out that I always have something to offer to others even though those things aren't particularly too special or unique. Those things are curiousity, positivity, being relatable, being adventurous, willing to spend time with them, my presence.

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Re: [Rant/Advice] Catch-22

Post by Guest on Thu Nov 13, 2014 5:04 am

This is a sentiment I've expressed on DNL prime, so I feel you.

It really is a big leap of faith to assume so much goodwill from people, when you're aware of your own limited offerings.

And somehow, I don't feel like a lot of people here get that.

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Re: [Rant/Advice] Catch-22

Post by nearly_takuan on Thu Nov 13, 2014 6:16 am

There's a claim in there that feels strange to me, but this was a rant so I'll just say: thanks, Wisp.

I'm not glad that your life is going this way for you. I really do wish it weren't. But I am glad, at times, to know that there are people out there who do get it, in a way that all the people local to my meat-life, lamenting recent ex-es and complaining about mildly inconsiderate spouses, just can't. If we lived anywhere near each other, I think I would want us to be non-electronic friends, just so we could occasionally meet up and hang out and agree on mutually-understood falsehoods about how bad we think we currently have it.

Hermit, thank you so, so much for calling me out when you saw things getting out of hand. Thank you for letting me offload some uncharitable thoughts, even though I now realize that wasn't what you were asking for at all, and I hope I didn't give you too much of an additional burden. I know first-hand that being a negative-emotion heat-sink isn't fun (even though it can be helpful to others), so I'm sorry for using you as one. Thank you for being there for me.

Jayce, I don't feel like I know you well enough to say more than this, but just the post you've made here has given me a couple of things to think about and possibly step back to appreciate more often, in myself and in others.

These are each rare things you've brought to my experience on these forums.

A water-toast to a slightly less crappy future for all of us.
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Re: [Rant/Advice] Catch-22

Post by reboot on Thu Nov 13, 2014 9:22 am

I have a bad feeling it was my post you are reacting to, and I am sorry about that.

My point was that weakness and vulnerability are not sexy in men and women in anyone it is safe to date. Just think of how fundamentally squicky it would be to hear, "I just met a man/woman and he/she is so weak/vulnerable! How sexy/hot is that!" Or, "You are so vulnerable/weak and I find that so sexy!"

If you ever hear that run, fast. Anyone that is attracted to your weakness or vulnerability is bad news.

What vulnerability and weakness are is a way to open up and get closer to your partner and let them know you better. It is a way of strengthening emotional bonds. Close emotional bonds can be sexy/attractive.

So to;dr: Sorry if I set you off. Explanation above.
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Re: [Rant/Advice] Catch-22

Post by The Wisp on Thu Nov 13, 2014 4:35 pm

reboot wrote:I have a bad feeling it was my post you are reacting to, and I am sorry about that.

My point was that weakness and vulnerability are not sexy in men and women in anyone it is safe to date. Just think of how fundamentally squicky it would be to hear, "I just met a man/woman and he/she is so weak/vulnerable! How sexy/hot is that!" Or, "You are so vulnerable/weak and I find that so sexy!"

If you ever hear that run, fast. Anyone that is attracted to your weakness or vulnerability is bad news.

What vulnerability and weakness are is a way to open up and get closer to your partner and let them know you better. It is a way of strengthening emotional bonds. Close emotional bonds can be sexy/attractive.

So to;dr: Sorry if I set you off. Explanation above.

That may have reminded me of it, but this has been on my mind for some time. Yeah, somebody attracted to one's weaknesses is Bad News.


ETA: I raise my tea to your toast, Nearly.
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Re: [Rant/Advice] Catch-22

Post by Dan_Brodribb on Thu Nov 13, 2014 5:34 pm

The Wisp wrote:Yeah, somebody attracted to one's weaknesses is Bad News.

You rang, sir?

I am drawn towards vulnerability and people with problems because it gives me someone to fix. Otherwise I have to deal with people as equals, and I don't believe in my ability to that without them seeing how little I have to offer and leaving me.

That leaves me stuck coming and going. If they make progress, they won't need me and will leave so that's terrifying and unacceptable. On the other hand, if they DON'T make progress, it means that I'm a Bad Fixer--the one thing I believe I'm good at--and so I resent them.

It's helpful for me to read threads like this, because it's a good reminder that it isn't all about me. I'm very glad you guys are here, and whether you realize it or not, I gain a lot from your continued presence.

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Re: [Rant/Advice] Catch-22

Post by kleenestar on Thu Nov 13, 2014 5:48 pm

You have earned a huge amount of respect from me, Wisp, because of your flaws and vulnerabilities. It's not that I particularly want to fix them; it's that they give you the opportunity to show me your best self. If you weren't wounded and afraid and confused, you would never have had the chance to show me your courage, your humility, and your perseverance. I admire these parts of you enormously. I wish you didn't have to be in pain to show them to me, but that's how life works sometimes: the things that we struggle with the most are the ones that let us show other people who we really are.

I won't give you advice, as this is a rant, but I hope it helps to know that I see things rather differently from you.
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Re: [Rant/Advice] Catch-22

Post by The Wisp on Thu Nov 13, 2014 9:33 pm

kleenestar wrote:You have earned a huge amount of respect from me, Wisp, because of your flaws and vulnerabilities. It's not that I particularly want to fix them; it's that they give you the opportunity to show me your best self. If you weren't wounded and afraid and confused, you would never have had the chance to show me your courage, your humility, and your perseverance. I admire these parts of you enormously. I wish you didn't have to be in pain to show them to me, but that's how life works sometimes: the things that we struggle with the most are the ones that let us show other people who we really are.

I won't give you advice, as this is a rant, but I hope it helps to know that I see things rather differently from you.

Thank you, I really appreciate that.

However, there is a difference between being able to earn the respect of people, and being someone people could enjoy being with and have fun being with. I feel like I lack the latter two qualities.
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Re: [Rant/Advice] Catch-22

Post by Guest on Thu Nov 13, 2014 10:12 pm

Wisp, I've been avoiding offering advice because this was posted as a rant, but if you'd like some, I know I've been where you are, and I suspect a lot of other people have, too.  I know the catch-22 really well. :-/

ETA: And I just realized Kleenestar said the same thing above. Tired tonight. Sorry.

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Re: [Rant/Advice] Catch-22

Post by The Wisp on Thu Nov 13, 2014 11:58 pm

I'd be happy to hear advice, actually.
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Re: [Rant/Advice] Catch-22

Post by Enail on Fri Nov 14, 2014 1:00 am

<mod>I've added an advice tag to the subject line, just to keep things neat. </mod>
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Re: [Rant/Advice] Catch-22

Post by nearly_takuan on Fri Nov 14, 2014 2:41 am

The Wisp wrote:The only way I can develop traits that I could offer people is if some of my emotional wounds and psychological issues are healed. I can only heal them by having positive relationships with other people.

Do your current wounds and issues universally affect every aspect of your interactions with other people? i.e. Are there types of interactions or relationships you do feel more comfortable in? Could you use those kinds of relationships (even if it's something like patient/therapist or student/teacher) to practice using the parts of yourself that are good for other people?

I suspect there are ways to heal beyond "get somebody to volunteer to grant you external validation", but I don't know 'em. Sad

The Wisp wrote:Furthermore, many of the aforementioned psychological wounds and issues make me have difficulty even liking other real life people. I'm very uncomfortable receiving positive attention from others, but I also felt resentment in past friendships where I was giving all the positive energy and getting none back. I generally don't like other real life people.

It sounds like you are saying your discomfort with positive attention (including general compliments? Expressions of appreciation or gratitude?) is a barrier to healing some of your psychological issues. Is this something that you feel like you could practice to improve? To echo something Dan said elsewhere, how much desire, time, and energy do you have to exercise this part of yourself?

ETA: I suspect showing discomfort with positive attention discourages most people from offering it to you in the first place, which exacerbates resentment when you don't get it and suspicion when you do. But hiding your discomfort is not ideal; it would probably benefit you greatly if you could become comfortable with the feeling.
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Re: [Rant/Advice] Catch-22

Post by Mel on Fri Nov 14, 2014 9:13 am

I don't have a lot of advice to offer because this is a difficult issue to work with (and one I can relate to more than I'd like). I think nearly's suggestion of looking for other types of interactions where you could "practice" is great. I'd also suggest, start small. Don't worry right now about being someone a person would want to spend the rest of their life with, or get into a serious relationship with. Just focus on seeing if you can create small positive relationships--being a person that acquaintance trades jokes about [common interest here] with, or that casual friend can share work vents with, or whatever. Even little things add value to other people's lives. That may help you build up a little more confidence so that then it's easier to try to create somewhat deeper connections, and build up even more confidence, and so on. And if a person isn't reciprocating even with the little things, then you can shift your attention to other people without feeling you've invested very much (and hopefully therefore not adding to your resentment much).
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Re: [Rant/Advice] Catch-22

Post by Guest on Fri Nov 14, 2014 9:33 am

I am seconding wholeheartedly what Mel said. I have been where you are, where it feels like I am a gnawing black hole of need and neurosis, and the whole world is in a place where they can give from sufficiency, and I am just absolutely desperate to get into that. The secret is to figure out what you can reciprocate, and then approach casual relationships from that perspective. Do you like gaming? Maybe a gaming group would be fun. A sports league, if you're into those. A book club. For me it was a Bible study. Go somewhere you can give and receive the same "type" of social currency, and practice that give and take. It may help to actually write it down. In this relationship, I give X, and am willing to give Y&Z, so I can ask XYZ.

The other piece of concrete advice is VOLUNTEER. Find something you care about, and go out and do it. Doing something that is all about service can really help you to see what you have to offer. Don't do it to get anything in return, just do it because making people's lives better is in and of itself a worthy goal.

I'm fairly sure there's research out there (which I'm not going to track down) that says that doing things for other people makes us happier than having things done for us. Being the recipient of what feels like charity makes us feel shame. When you do things for others, it makes you feel good, and it teaches you what you have to offer. Maybe that's working at a food pantry, or stuffing envelopes for a political candidate. Maybe it's working in an animal shelter, or helping out at your library. Maybe it's carrying around $5 grocery coupons to hand out to homeless people. Whatever works for your circumstance and helps you feel you're doing a good thing.


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Re: [Rant/Advice] Catch-22

Post by reboot on Fri Nov 14, 2014 9:34 am

Just to jump on the practice bandwagon, social skills are like any skills and require practice. I would highly recommend things like practicing light conversation with as many people as your anxiety will allow, be it one a day, one a week, one a month, etc.. Nothing high stakes, just see if you can get a person to engage, with laughs or smiles as bonuses. The things I am thinking of are conversations like you had with the nurse this week (sans drugs). You likely made her day just that much more enjoyable (patients can be jerks often - fear and pain can be asshole inducers).
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Re: [Rant/Advice] Catch-22

Post by kleenestar on Fri Nov 14, 2014 10:21 am

Actually, Wisp, I feel like I would really enjoy hanging out with you. I certainly do enjoy it online! Yes, for some people "respect" and "enjoy" are orthogonal but for many people they are tightly related. Those are the people who are going to most appreciate you.
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Re: [Rant/Advice] Catch-22

Post by Enail on Fri Nov 14, 2014 12:42 pm

The Wisp wrote:However, there is a difference between being able to earn the respect of people, and being someone people could enjoy being with and have fun being with. I feel like I lack the latter two qualities.

What kinds of things do you think make a person someone that you'd enjoy being with and have fun being with?
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Re: [Rant/Advice] Catch-22

Post by Suika on Fri Nov 14, 2014 2:07 pm

I feel a sense of kinship with you in that regard - I myself am friendless and have been so for at least a few years now, which is a bit weird as I actually don't mind talking to people or anything like that. I've also found out that people often overestimate one's capability to make friends, as they usually suggest places to find them, rather than the means.
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Re: [Rant/Advice] Catch-22

Post by Guest on Fri Nov 14, 2014 2:20 pm

If this helps any, there's much less you need to offer as friend. Basic hygiene and being generally friendly are the best ways to go. Copying people's tones and movements is another good way to do it.

I don't know how to get a lover, but I know how to make a friend. It really is that simple, people don't get particularly judgmental (generally). That doesn't mean that the friend you make will be a lasting thing, or that you'll be BFFs 4 lyfe, but at least you can be friendly with strangers and get along with them. Most people don't have very high standards when it comes to friends so you'd eclipse them in a heartbeat.

Doesn't mean you expose all the dark parts about yourself (and that's obvious advice to you, I'm saying this is a generality), because that's what a shrink is for. Being conversational and asserting your own morals are the best way to go. If someone likes Nickelback, let them. If someone tries to make you do crystal meth, you say no. Again, obvious shit.

I know that sounds a bit hypocritical since it's the exact same advice people say will get you a lover, but that's what I do. I don't make any lifetime friends, but I get along with people, and that's as good as it gets for me. And you're certainly beyond me in this regard.

Where you meet friends is another story, most of my friends are friends of friends. I don't really know how that works, I just get friendly with everyone.

I'm not saying this as someone who's got like a bazillion people to hang out with, and what little social life I had now is very easily accomplished by you as long as you find the proper starting point.

Hell, you could probably even have more friends than me since it's very difficult for me still to make good friends because I don't really trust most people. That barrier I put up scares off most people in the end. You don't seem to have that barrier, just the same fear of rejection I have in a different context.

Also, regarding the whole "giving positive energy" thing, I'm not saying to do that. I'm just saying to engage in conversation with people (not necessarily strangers, I still can't do that), but also to stop talking to people like the ones you describe. They get emotionally needy, drop them immediately. You're not their shrink, you're a dude to chill with so you're not so alone. That's why people hang out.

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Re: [Rant/Advice] Catch-22

Post by nearly_takuan on Fri Nov 14, 2014 3:27 pm

Glides wrote:Most people don't have very high standards when it comes to friends so you'd eclipse them in a heartbeat.

Seconding this, while aware that this is a very cynical way to look at things.

Until she took up residence near a completely different ocean, I had a friend for whom friendship was a transitive relation; any friends of hers were friends of mine, whether I liked it or not. Razz

So I ended up meeting all kinds of people, usually satisfying a certain benchmark of intelligence but not necessarily...scrupulousness. Sometimes the only things some groups had in common (as far as my limited understanding could determine) was a fondness for alcoholic beverages.

On the other hand, another one of those friends ended up being my roommate for the better part of the last five years, and I would actually be very pleased if we remained roommates for another five—and not just because a thousand dollars a month split two ways is preferable to eight hundred for one. I don't know if I'd say we're "BFFs" or super super close; we certainly don't share every last personal detail (and each of us probably has at least one person in a higher place of trust), but we enjoy each other's company and stay out of each other's way at appropriate times. Still, if he hadn't followed his toxic girlfriend of three years halfway across the country before getting dumped for another guy on Orientation Day, if I hadn't attended a scholarship competition event where I met a seemingly-nice actually-douchey dudebro who wanted me to sign up to room with him, if my next roommate hadn't accidentally signed us up to transfer to a dorm I wasn't old enough to live in, if I hadn't noticed a friendly name while surreptitiously scanning the floor plans, if we hadn't both met that same friend in different classes, I might be living alone right now.

(This does not, however, change my answer to the New Game+ Open Thread question.)
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Re: [Rant/Advice] Catch-22

Post by gravau on Fri Nov 14, 2014 6:34 pm

If it helps any, I have learned to accept that it does not matter what I think I have to offer, if any. The only thing that matters is what the other person sees in me, even if I do not understand. I have been in three relationships so far, I never understood what my partners saw in me.

Your opinion of yourself only matters insofar as it projects as confidence or lack thereof. The rest is out of your hands and, to me at least, ultimately unknowable.

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Re: [Rant/Advice] Catch-22

Post by reboot on Fri Nov 14, 2014 6:45 pm

gravau wrote:If it helps any, I have learned to accept that it does not matter what I think I have to offer, if any. The only thing that matters is what the other person sees in me, even if I do not understand. I have been in three relationships so far, I never understood what my partners saw in me.

Your opinion of yourself only matters insofar as it projects as confidence or lack thereof. The rest is out of your hands and, to me at least, ultimately unknowable.

I wholeheartedly second this. I have had people tell me they liked me or enjoyed my company for things that left me like this confused but that is what they saw in me and liked about me, so go figure, not my place to figure it out
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Re: [Rant/Advice] Catch-22

Post by The Wisp on Sat Nov 15, 2014 11:20 pm

nearly_takuan wrote:Do your current wounds and issues universally affect every aspect of your interactions with other people? i.e. Are there types of interactions or relationships you do feel more comfortable in? Could you use those kinds of relationships (even if it's something like patient/therapist or student/teacher) to practice using the parts of yourself that are good for other people?

I suspect there are ways to heal beyond "get somebody to volunteer to grant you external validation", but I don't know 'em. 

Let's see, I have my therapist, my brother and one his friends (I eat lunch with them a few times a week, I don't think my interactions with his friend will ever develop further than that, though)... that's it. 

I have to say that I can make pleasant small talk at a competent level, which is an improvement from even a year ago, but I wouldn't say I'm comfortable with it. I feel like I can be inoffensive, but I don't feel like I give off any positive reason people would want to interact with me more either. I tend to over-mirror the people I'm talking to.

nearly_takuan wrote:It sounds like you are saying your discomfort with positive attention (including general compliments? Expressions of appreciation or gratitude?) is a barrier to healing some of your psychological issues. Is this something that you feel like you could practice to improve? To echo something Dan said elsewhere, how much desire, time, and energy do you have to exercise this part of yourself?

ETA: I suspect showing discomfort with positive attention discourages most people from offering it to you in the first place, which exacerbates resentment when you don't get it and suspicion when you do. But hiding your discomfort is not ideal; it would probably benefit you greatly if you could become comfortable with the feeling.


Very much so.  I agree that it is a real problem. Even just general positive energy from a person towards me. Say, for instance, if a classmate tries to strike up friendly conversation (which doesn't happen that often but it still happens). There was one guy from one of my philosophy classes who approached me in a common area and struck up some conversation. We talked for like a half hour and it was pleasant and we weren't just talking about purely superficial stuff (not super deep stuff either, but we were revealing some things about our lives). I could have probably struck up a friendship with this guy. Yet, the experience didn't feel positive, but rather uncomfortable. Running into him in my classes was also uncomfortable, and he has since remained friendly but not as friendly as he was. To be honest, part of me is glad. However, as my therapist has pointed out, such a person with similar interests approaching me for interaction is exactly the sort of thing I say I want in theory. Yet, it leaves me feeling uncomfortable and wanting to avoid him.


kleenestar wrote:Actually, Wisp, I feel like I would really enjoy hanging out with you. I certainly do enjoy it online! Yes, for some people "respect" and "enjoy" are orthogonal but for many people they are tightly related. Those are the people who are going to most appreciate you.


Smile Thanks for the compliment!

(sidenote: receiving positive attention online is easier, though perhaps because I can wait around awhile and process it)

Thanks everyone else for the advice, it is helpful!

However, this brings me to the other side of the catch-22:

enail wrote:What kinds of things do you think make a person someone that you'd enjoy being with and have fun being with?


I don't know, and I wish I did; I've been looking for a long time. I'm tearing up a little just writing that.


The lack of positive past experiences also means that I am very suspicious of other people. Like I said, I often find it really hard to actually feel positive feelings towards strangers and acquaintances I have in the real world (online is a somewhat different story, though it even took me a while to warm up to the people here). I have a very strong jerkbrain voice that says "just beneath the thin-veneer of supposed maturity, everybody is just selfish and in their own heads and won't understand you and will use you". While the overt negativity dissipates as I get to know somebody, there's still extreme discomfort and wariness.


This is the other half of the catch-22: I'm wary and uncomfortable with others because of my lack of positive experiences, but because of that I feel like I can't form the relationships necessary to counter the wariness.
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Re: [Rant/Advice] Catch-22

Post by Enail on Sun Nov 16, 2014 12:02 am

The Wisp wrote:
enail wrote:What kinds of things do you think make a person someone that you'd enjoy being with and have fun being with?

I don't know, and I wish I did; I've been looking for a long time. I'm tearing up a little just writing that.

The lack of positive past experiences also means that I am very suspicious of other people. Like I said, I often find it really hard to actually feel positive feelings towards strangers and acquaintances I have in the real world (online is a somewhat different story, though it even took me a while to warm up to the people here). I have a very strong jerkbrain voice that says "just beneath the thin-veneer of supposed maturity, everybody is just selfish and in their own heads and won't understand you and will use you". While the overt negativity dissipates as I get to know somebody, there's still extreme discomfort and wariness.

This is the other half of the catch-22: I'm wary and uncomfortable with others because of my lack of positive experiences, but because of that I feel like I can't form the relationships necessary to counter the wariness.

Might it be easier to come up with some qualities at a bit of a remove? Like, do you ever see people interacting with other people and displaying traits that you think would make them enjoyable to be around in theory, even if you find the idea uncomfortable when you apply it to the idea of you being around them? Or even with fictional characters?
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