[Rant/Advice] Catch-22

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Re: [Rant/Advice] Catch-22

Post by kleenestar on Sun Nov 16, 2014 9:55 pm

I wonder whether you would benefit from non-conversationally-oriented hangouts, like building relationships with people by playing games with them. That would let you get used to having shared experiences and make their behavior more predictable, without requiring you to take on more vulnerability / intimacy than you are ready for. Do you have people you regularly share an activity with? If so, what's it like for you?
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Re: [Rant/Advice] Catch-22

Post by kath on Mon Nov 17, 2014 1:04 am

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. That adds another layer preventing a positive relationship with another.

It feels impossible sometimes.

The Wisp wrote:
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.

I wanted to say that I can understand that as a response to those past experiences and also understand the feeling of just ... disliking someone on that kind of immediate, basic level.

I generally think of myself as being pretty positive about people and non-judgmental and then I will hear someone talking and have a "ugh I really hope I don't need to talk to that person!" reaction and ... nope. Not so positive and non-judgmental after all.

Do you find that small positive interactions help you like people in general more? It seems like maybe no? I think Kleenestar and Reboot's suggestions for meeting people who might be a bit more in a similar headspace to you could help. You would certainly meet some people who you go "nope nope nope" to right away, and you can totally choose not to engage with them on a deeper level ... but you might also find someone you do find interesting, for whom you might want to try to both be enjoyable to be around, and might get comfortable talking about what you need from them too - over time, of course Smile. Often those people are like you in some ways, but very unlike you in others, which can help you identify positives in people you might not have felt were kindred spirits.
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Re: [Rant/Advice] Catch-22

Post by The Wisp on Mon Nov 17, 2014 2:44 am

kleenestar wrote:I wonder whether you would benefit from non-conversationally-oriented hangouts, like building relationships with people by playing games with them. That would let you get used to having shared experiences and make their behavior more predictable, without requiring you to take on more vulnerability / intimacy than you are ready for. Do you have people you regularly share an activity with? If so, what's it like for you?

That's an interesting idea. Right now I do not have people I regularly share an activity with. My hobbies are very solitary, at least, the ways I engage with them are.

My recent attempts at Doing Things with other people haven't been entirely successful. I tried out the philosophy club at my university earlier this semester, and it was okay, but there really were no regulars so I never really became comfortable with any individuals. I also was in a math-focused club at community college last spring, but similarly, there were no regulars, and it was really more of a fun extra class than a space where I actively did things with my peers. Besides those two, the last time I tried to go out and Do Things with people was my sophomore year of high school (five years ago) where I tried out the school play. That didn't go well. I wasn't disliked, but I was basically invisible and nobody really reached out to me.

Maybe something like gaming would be a place where I could find a group that has regulars but is also introvert-friendly?

Could you maybe flesh out this suggestion for me?

kath wrote:I wanted to say that I can understand that as a response to those past experiences and also understand the feeling of just ... disliking someone on that kind of immediate, basic level. 

I generally think of myself as being pretty positive about people and non-judgmental and then I will hear someone talking and have a "ugh I really hope I don't need to talk to that person!" reaction and ... nope. Not so positive and non-judgmental after all.

Do you find that small positive interactions help you like people in general more? It seems like maybe no? I think Kleenestar and Reboot's suggestions for meeting people who might be a bit more in a similar headspace to you could help. You would certainly meet some people who you go "nope nope nope" to right away, and you can totally choose not to engage with them on a deeper level ... but you might also find someone you do find interesting, for whom you might want to try to both be enjoyable to be around, and might get comfortable talking about what you need from them too - over time, of course Smile. Often those people are like you in some ways, but very unlike you in others, which can help you identify positives in people you might not have felt were kindred spirits.

It's nice to know I'm not alone in that feeling sometimes.

Small positive interactions generally make me not be super cynical and suspicious of the person, but they don't really seem to remove the discomfort, the reluctance to open up at all, the awkwardness, the lack of motivation to (platonically) escalate, etc. 

I agree that that suggestion may be a good way to go. 

I guess my worry is that I won't find somebody who I find interesting, and that I will feel as if I had wasted my time. I fear that I may be too closed-minded to even be capable of finding another real life person interesting. I hope I'm not being too negative, that's just where my thoughts lead me (which is frustrating because I know this web of ideas, feelings, beliefs, and thoughts are holding me back, but just trying to ignore them or pretend I don't believe them hasn't actually helped).
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Re: [Rant/Advice] Catch-22

Post by kath on Mon Nov 17, 2014 3:21 am

The Wisp wrote:My recent attempts at Doing Things with other people haven't been entirely successful. I tried out the philosophy club at my university earlier this semester, and it was okay, but there really were no regulars so I never really became comfortable with any individuals. I also was in a math-focused club at community college last spring, but similarly, there were no regulars, and it was really more of a fun extra class than a space where I actively did things with my peers. Besides those two, the last time I tried to go out and Do Things with people was my sophomore year of high school (five years ago) where I tried out the school play. That didn't go well. I wasn't disliked, but I was basically invisible and nobody really reached out to me.

Maybe something like gaming would be a place where I could find a group that has regulars but is also introvert-friendly?

Ugh, that's frustrating, I think you definitely want somewhere with regulars. I think you may just have to try places out, and chalk them up as data points / info / places ruled out rather than wastes of time if one particular one doesn't work out for you.

That's also quite interesting because it really wasn't my experience with things - I've found that most recurring groups I've gone to more than once have regulars, if not many - at least the people who organize the thing. Could you volunteer to help organize? My preferred type of social interaction is something publicly scheduled where I can pretty much rely on seeing some people I know, so that very much fits the "group that has regulars that freely invites anyone to join". Here are some of the places I've found that, or think I could:


  • I did find this at clubs in university. I tended to volunteer to help out with the clubs I was involved in instead of being a member at large - I'm much better at helping out with something specific and structured than with being an Unstructured Friend, so that worked well for me even if I don't tend to be great at taking those relationships outside the structured thing (I'm kinda trying to decide right now if that's kinda just how I roll, or if I want to try to get better at taking friendships outside of those structures).
  • I did this through volunteering. I started volunteering at the place I now work, found a really good niche for me to volunteer in, and I think basically found my people there. I really regret that I wasn't better at taking those friendships out of the structure, because after the particular project I was volunteering with moved on, there was a time when there weren't really volunteer roles at that organization and I got busy in the meantime and totally fell off that bandwagon, until I happened across a job posting that I thought I could actually do and would be really fun, so I applied and I did get the position, working with a lot of those same people I volunteered with, and they remain awesome (and a lot of the other people who work there are just as amazing so now I know them too).
  • There are some more nebulous groups of people who share an interest and are regulars in a community. For me, I worked in the theatre community / arts administration, so I know a lot of people that way and can hang out / talk to them. There are a lot of events that I can go to and expect to know people through that. I also got into this community by volunteering - I joined the board of an art gallery.
  • There are some things that are like clubs - for example, in my city there's a craft night that seems to have a lot of regulars but that you can just show up at. There was also a Critical Theory Reading Group, which would essentially be the art version of philosophy club, but it was probably a lot smaller than the philosophy club and it was usually the same group of people. It was public, but I think most people came because they knew other people who came.


Games-relaed meetup groups might be a good place to start? If you really want to find the regulars right away, you could message the organizers and offer to help.

The Wisp wrote:
Small positive interactions generally make me not be super cynical and suspicious of the person, but they don't really seem to remove the discomfort, the reluctance to open up at all, the awkwardness, the lack of motivation to (platonically) escalate, etc. 

Hmm. Do you feel like if you wanted to platonically escalate, you would have a good idea of how to do that, and your main issue is finding people you want to do that with? (Also if you want to fix finding people you want to platonically escalate, and then deal with how to do that, that is also fair).

The Wisp wrote:
I guess my worry is that I won't find somebody who I find interesting, and that I will feel as if I had wasted my time. I fear that I may be too closed-minded to even be capable of finding another real life person interesting. I hope I'm not being too negative, that's just where my thoughts lead me (which is frustrating because I know this web of ideas, feelings, beliefs, and thoughts are holding me back, but just trying to ignore them or pretend I don't believe them hasn't actually helped).

I think this is going to be a lot like dating, where you would need to reframe trying things where you don't find anyone you click with as a useful data point rather than a waste of time. Like in science, disproving a hypothesis is actually as much of a success as proving one, because each will just mean you need to do more research and know a little more about the subject. Not that that's easy, but I think a way to start is to worry about wasting your time (like, give it the time to be in your head and acknowledged and accepted as something you are worried about), and then think the next thing, "but each place I try in which I don't click with someone is a place I can move on from".

As for fearing that you may be close-minded / unable to find someone else really interesting, I can again totally empathize (like, I can imagine having that fear, I'm not trying to say I know exactly what you're feeling) with that and no, denying it isn't going to help. It is a catch-22. As for ways to get past it, I think there are a couple possible strategies:


  1. Acknowledge it, and be aware of it. Use your knowledge of this fear to try to help you balance it - if you know you may be experience a bias towards finding other people uninteresting, you can use knowing that as an opportunity to take a step back, thinking about what might be interesting about them that you might not want to think about or acknowledge in them. You can ask yourself if you're evaluating them fairly, which is at least a starting place.


Darn, I had another strategy that was more completely formed than that, but it fell out of my brain when I was sorting that one out. I will add it if/when I remember it, sorry.
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