Creating Deeper Emotional Connections

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Post by Gman on Wed Oct 01, 2014 2:08 pm

Hey everyone, so I think I'll be the first to post here something that's been bothering me for a while. I have been quite busy during the downtime of the old forums, so I won't bother you all with the details. In short, I'm enjoying dancing now more than ever, I just got a score of 100/100 in a course I took towards my M.A. degree, my psoriasis is mostly under control and all in all I'm doing great.
The problem I would like to share here is this: Dancing has done wonders to my social interactions. I can today ask a women to dance with me (even a more intimate dance) without really knowing her like it's no biggie. I get CONSTANTLY complimented by a variety of women that I am really fun to dance with and that I have a wonderful lead. It's truly exciting and encouraging to hear. I can also even make some small talk here and there and not feel like a complete idiot in the process too.
Despite all this, I still find myself having severe difficulty in creating more deep emotional connections. I find it extremely hard to form more deep connections in the dance scene. It's the norm there to dance with someone, thank them once it's over and simply move on. I just don't feel like it's appropriate to ask someone if they want to head with me to the watercooler/bar for a moment (in an attempt to create an environment where talking is appropriate). Due to this the few attempts I did have with hitting on women (ever since I broke up with my ex, for those of you who can even remember that) didn't work well and I feel that some of it is to blame on the fact that I didn't really make a slightly deeper connection before asking them out. I don't mean something too serious, I mean that I even didn't get 5 – 10 minutes of basic chitchat…… I now realize that the dance scene is probably particularly difficult in this regard, due to its dynamic nature.  
I just wanted to hear from people here, what tips you have for creating a deeper connection with someone (in general, not just in dancing scene). I don't even mean something serious like a 2 hour talk with each other, just something that is "a little extra" than basic small talk.
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Post by fakely mctest on Wed Oct 01, 2014 2:23 pm

I'm so happy to hear that things are going well for you!

Have you taken a look at Katepreach's friending guide (I think that URL should work, but let me know!)?  I ran into it in the comments on the Captain Awkward blog during the forum hiatus and liked it so much that I asked if we could include it in our list of helpful resources.

I'm a little confused as to whether these women are ones that you see more than once or it's different women every time?  I think you'd definitely have a better position to start from if we're talking about someone you've seen at multiple events.

This Ask Polly column may be of help as well: How Am I Supposed to Make Friends in My Late 20s?

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Post by UristMcBunny on Wed Oct 01, 2014 2:26 pm

Seconding fakely's suggestion to try and make connections with women who come to the dance events regularly. After you've gotten to dance with someone a couple of times, it'll hopefully feel more natural to say hi to them.

Are there times at the dances where it's normal for people to be mingling? Do people often take breaks to sit somewhere and talk? If so, and you see a couple of people you've danced with sitting and relaxing, it would probably be fine for you to go over, ask if you can sit/take a break with them and make some small talk.

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Post by Dan_Brodribb on Wed Oct 01, 2014 2:31 pm

I find a better way to think of deeper connection is that I can help 'facilitate' it, but I'm not responsible for creating it. When I try to make it happen, it feels forced and uncomfortable.

A couple things that help:

-Self-disclosure: for me self-disclosure = Honesty + Content + Emotions. So I'm not just talking about what happened, I'm talking about how I feel about it. EX: If someone asks how I'm doing, I might answer. "I'm doing good today. Work was good today. I tend to feel inspired when I have those moments that remind me why I do what I do. How are YOU doing?" or "I'm a little stressed. Nothing big, but between the extra hours at work and getting ready for a family get together this weekend, a lot of little things are adding up. What about yourself?"

-Asking questions. If they're talking about content, I ask about feelings. If they're talking about feelings, I ask about content. For example: If they say, "I'm really frustrated today," I'll say, "what happened?" If they say, "My friend's birthday is coming up." I'll say, "how does that feel?"

-A third thing is to accept any response they give me. I don't require any specific answer one way or the other. Whatever they are comfortable telling me is fine.

I go for comfort over 'connection.' If someone is comfortable around me and I'm comfortable around them, the connection will naturally deepen with time. Those little moments between dances add up. If someone knows you're there and willing to listen, they will find you when they are ready.

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Post by Hirundo Bos on Wed Oct 01, 2014 2:43 pm

I was also going to say something about questions. I have working a bit on that myself, and I've enjoyed finding questions that gently probe topics that appear important to the person. In an e-mail conversation, for example, we were talking about writing, and the other person said there were some topics she would like to write in debt about. It fell natural then to ask what those topics were, and we found a lot to talk about from there. (I also got a few reading tips that I'll follow up on.)

In a face-to-face conversation, the other person talked about some academic feedback she had got, and how for certain reasons it didn't mean that much to her, so I asked her what would have meant more, and she got into some personal stuff from there.

More generally, I would think that any kind of sharing of emotions will help improve the connection – including being fun to dance with in itself.
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Post by The Wisp on Wed Oct 01, 2014 2:53 pm

fakely mctest wrote:I'm so happy to hear that things are going well for you!
This Ask Polly column may be of help as well: How Am I Supposed to Make Friends in My Late 20s?

This article and the comments on it are pretty fucking depressing.
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Post by Gman on Wed Oct 01, 2014 3:20 pm

fakely mctest wrote:
I'm a little confused as to whether these women are ones that you see more than once or it's different women every time?  I think you'd definitely have a better position to start from if we're talking about someone you've seen at multiple events.
[/url]

UristMcBunny wrote:Seconding fakely's suggestion to try and make connections with women who come to the dance events regularly.  After you've gotten to dance with someone a couple of times, it'll hopefully feel more natural to say hi to them.

Are there times at the dances where it's normal for people to be mingling?  Do people often take breaks to sit somewhere and talk?  If so, and you see a couple of people you've danced with sitting and relaxing, it would probably be fine for you to go over, ask if you can sit/take a break with them and make some small talk.

I am talking about women who I have danced with at least several times and over several events. It's not like it's entirley out of the blue. There are actually social dancing events where talking on the side lines is more common, but I find that scene kind of boring so I barley go to these places anymore. The places where I usually go now are more kind of dancing clubs, but despite the fact that the dancing level is more to my liking, it's those places that are less compatible to talking, usually due to loud music playing at all times. It's not that it is impossible (I constantly see people chitchatting outside the dance floor/bar/go outside and talk there) but it is a bit more difficult.

As for asking to join a group and make some small talk, I feel like that would be extremley awkward and inappropriate. I know this EXTREMLEY tight group of friends from my dance scene and they do alot of things together outside of dancing and they spam my facebook feed constantly with inside jokes between them and stuff. I even talked to a friend of mine who is kind of a part of that group and she told me that she was just as shy as me, but they just basically CHOSE her to join thier group, so I don't think I can just waltz up to them while they are sitting together and go "hey, can I join you guys?".
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Post by UristMcBunny on Wed Oct 01, 2014 3:28 pm

Maybe if you see it less as trying to join their group and more as asking to join their table/seating area? It helped with me the last time I had to start in a new workplace, for example. At lunch I'd look around, see a group of people and ask if I could sit at the table with them. All you're asking then is for those people to include you in that one conversation/social moment, with no obligation to make you part of the group itself.

That said, I totally understand about it feeling presumptuous and awkward. It's a difficult thing to adjust to. I generally remind myself - if I was sitting with friends and someone I'd interacted with earlier asked to join us, would I feel they were being rude? And the answer is no - if I enjoyed my previous interaction with them, I would not mind their joining me at all.

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Post by fakely mctest on Wed Oct 01, 2014 3:44 pm

The Wisp wrote:
fakely mctest wrote:I'm so happy to hear that things are going well for you!
This Ask Polly column may be of help as well: How Am I Supposed to Make Friends in My Late 20s?

This article and the comments on it are pretty fucking depressing.

Really?  How so?  I mean, the first rule of the internet is generally don't read the comments so I didn't, but I appreciate the response itself.  I've found it true to my experience of getting older insofar as I do open myself up to knowing and hanging out with a lot of disparate people.  That and trying to keep in mind that most people don't have super glamorous action-packed lives has helped me deal with a lot of the anxiety I used to have about making friends and getting to know people romantically.

Gman wrote:I am talking about women who I have danced with at least several times and over several events. It's not like it's entirley out of the blue. There are actually social dancing events where talking on the side lines is more common, but I find that scene kind of boring so I barley go to these places anymore. The places where I usually go now are more kind of dancing clubs, but despite the fact that the dancing level is more to my liking, it's those places that are less compatible to talking, usually due to loud music playing at all times. It's not that it is impossible (I constantly see people chitchatting outside the dance floor/bar/go outside and talk there) but it is a bit more difficult.

Well, maybe you can split the difference?  It sounds like the talking events are more conducive to meeting new people and making connections even if the dancing level isn't what you'd like it to be?  Small talk is sometimes a little boring, but it's also kind of the price of entry when it comes to potentially making a more personal connection.  

Gman wrote:As for asking to join a group and make some small talk, I feel like that would be extremley awkward and inappropriate. I know this EXTREMLEY tight group of friends from my dance scene and they do alot of things together outside of dancing and they spam my facebook feed constantly with inside jokes between them and stuff. I even talked to a friend of mine who is kind of a part of that group and she told me that she was just as shy as me, but they just basically CHOSE her to join thier group, so I don't think I can just waltz up to them while they are sitting together and go "hey, can I join you guys?".

So, joining a group in conversation uses a lot of the same skills as a person would use to talk to a stranger on their own!  Typically, groups stand in a circle but keep an eye on body language because some groups are more open while others are tightened in on themselves.  Some groups are inward-focused while other groups may have members who aren't part of smaller in-group conversations.  Those are the ones it's going to be easier to join.  As for the awkwardness: practice?  It does get less awkward-feeling over time, in my experience.


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Post by Gman on Wed Oct 01, 2014 3:49 pm

UristMcBunny wrote:Maybe if you see it less as trying to join their group and more as asking to join their table/seating area?  It helped with me the last time I had to start in a new workplace, for example.  At lunch I'd look around, see a group of people and ask if I could sit at the table with them.  All you're asking then is for those people to include you in that one conversation/social moment, with no obligation to make you part of the group itself.  

That said, I totally understand about it feeling presumptuous and awkward.  It's a difficult thing to adjust to.  I generally remind myself - if I was sitting with friends and someone I'd interacted with earlier asked to join us, would I feel they were being rude?  And the answer is no - if I enjoyed my previous interaction with them, I would not mind their joining me at all.


To be honest, I don't want to become a part of that group, because it looks like it will be to exhausting for me. I just want to get to know some of the people just a bit better. This way I can judge better if it's appropriate to ask someone out or do I feel that it should be left as a friendship and that's that.
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Post by The Wisp on Wed Oct 01, 2014 3:54 pm

fakely mctest wrote:
The Wisp wrote:
fakely mctest wrote:I'm so happy to hear that things are going well for you!
This Ask Polly column may be of help as well: How Am I Supposed to Make Friends in My Late 20s?

This article and the comments on it are pretty fucking depressing.

Really?  How so?  I mean, the first rule of the internet is generally don't read the comments so I didn't, but I appreciate the response itself.  I've found it true to my experience of getting older insofar as I do open myself up to knowing and hanging out with a lot of disparate people.  That and trying to keep in mind that most people don't have super glamorous action-packed lives has helped me deal with a lot of the anxiety I used to have about making friends and getting to know people romantically.

Yeah, I got that message, it just made making friends as an adult seem rather dreary. She literally said you have to have low standards for friendships and that you probably won't have many or any close friends.
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Post by fakely mctest on Wed Oct 01, 2014 4:04 pm

The Wisp wrote:Yeah, I got that message, it just made making friends as an adult seem rather dreary. She literally said you have to have low standards for friendships and that you probably won't have many or any close friends.

Ah, I don't see it that way. It's more that people make friends differently as the pressures and demands on their time change. I'm still friends with the super-tight group of women I lived with for 3 years in college and we did all that small town college-y stuff (midnight runs to the supermarket because literally nothing else was open, farting around campus doing not much in particular, going for drives with no destination in mind). The friends I've made in the years since then have a different amount of available time and come from different circumstances and that's okay. We don't do the same things that college-me did to make/establish friendships because I'm not college-me anymore, but the thing that's the same with good friends now is the support and care we have for each other.

And, in general, I think anything that people can do to remind themselves to be more open-hearted and accepting of difference is going to be good in the long run. I have some friends now who I most likely never would have tolerated in college, not because I've lowered my standards, but because I was more judgemental back then.

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Post by The Wisp on Wed Oct 01, 2014 4:08 pm

fakely mctest wrote:
The Wisp wrote:Yeah, I got that message, it just made making friends as an adult seem rather dreary. She literally said you have to have low standards for friendships and that you probably won't have many or any close friends.

Ah, I don't see it that way.  It's more that people make friends differently as the pressures and demands on their time change.  I'm still friends with the super-tight group of women I lived with for 3 years in college and we did all that small town college-y stuff (midnight runs to the supermarket because literally nothing else was open, farting around campus doing not much in particular, going for drives with no destination in mind).  The friends I've made in the years since then have a different amount of available time and come from different circumstances and that's okay.  We don't do the same things that college-me did to make/establish friendships because I'm not college-me anymore, but the thing that's the same with good friends now is the support and care we have for each other.

And, in general, I think anything that people can do to remind themselves to be more open-hearted and accepting of difference is going to be good in the long run.  I have some friends now who I most likely never would have tolerated in college, not because I've lowered my standards, but because I was more judgemental back then.

I like this perspective Smile

Sorry for the brief hijacking gman, back on topic!
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Post by Guest on Sat Oct 04, 2014 1:40 am

Is this referring to emotional connections to friends or romantic/sexual partners, I can't quite figure it out.

That is absolutely my biggest problem in dealing with people. I don't actually have a single friend, I just have acquaintances. I'm hanging out with people regularly, but it's not with people who think I'm the cooliest cool person in Coolsville, just "eh it's that guy."

I just can't connect with people. I don't really know what it is, but something prevents people from wanting to get close to me. It's not "creepy" necessarily, since no one is repulsed by my presence, nor do they want to go away when I'm around. I'm basically treated by everyone I meet with apathy. I'm there or I'm not. If I suddenly vanish, no one will give two shits. When anyone else vanishes, suddenly people are concerned. Nothing short of getting a physical injury will actually motivate them to care about my existence.

I think it's my main problem in dealing with women I'm attracted to. I know the rest of my acquaintances can connect with potential romantic/sexual partners, I can absolutely read those signs. But the same doesn't happen to me in any circumstance. I'm basically just a ghost to them. I'm not unwelcome, I'm just dull.

I dunno, at this point I really think I'm basically just meant to be like this. Not really a way I can solve either problem. My problems with women have been well documented in the old forums, and it's only recently where I'm realizing I don't actually have any friends either.

Some people just don't connect, don't get to enjoy intimacy and sex and all the stuff that other people get to. They were born without some crucial component. I'm missing that something that draws people to you, makes them want to be around you. Whatever pheromone that is, I don't have it. It's a little deadly truth that the PUA and MRA movements don't exactly want to admit: they're packed to the gills with men who are simply incapable of wooing women. The same could apply to the SJWs too.

I can blame it on my ugliness (hyperbole) or my complete lack of hand eye coordination or how clumsy I am or how boring I am or how small my dick is or any number of reasons I can use, which are certainly factors. But I really think it's just that "something" is missing. That x-factor, that natural charisma. I think many of us here have the same problem. I really don't know how else to explain how some people are able to do so (G-Man, Lemmi, Gentleman Johnny) and how others are simply incapable (me, everyone else with my condition).

So yeah, I got nothing else. I've been awake for too long.

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Post by Gman on Sat Oct 04, 2014 12:30 pm

Glides wrote:Is this referring to emotional connections to friends or romantic/sexual partners, I can't quite figure it out.

That is absolutely my biggest problem in dealing with people. I don't actually have a single friend, I just have acquaintances. I'm hanging out with people regularly, but it's not with people who think I'm the cooliest cool person in Coolsville, just "eh it's that guy."

I just can't connect with people. I don't really know what it is, but something prevents people from wanting to get close to me. It's not "creepy" necessarily, since no one is repulsed by my presence, nor do they want to go away when I'm around. I'm basically treated by everyone I meet with apathy. I'm there or I'm not. If I suddenly vanish, no one will give two shits. When anyone else vanishes, suddenly people are concerned. Nothing short of getting a physical injury will actually motivate them to care about my existence.

I think it's my main problem in dealing with women I'm attracted to. I know the rest of my acquaintances can connect with potential romantic/sexual partners, I can absolutely read those signs. But the same doesn't happen to me in any circumstance. I'm basically just a ghost to them. I'm not unwelcome, I'm just dull.

I dunno, at this point I really think I'm basically just meant to be like this. Not really a way I can solve either problem. My problems with women have been well documented in the old forums, and it's only recently where I'm realizing I don't actually have any friends either.

Some people just don't connect, don't get to enjoy intimacy and sex and all the stuff that other people get to. They were born without some crucial component. I'm missing that something that draws people to you, makes them want to be around you. Whatever pheromone that is, I don't have it. It's a little deadly truth that the PUA and MRA movements don't exactly want to admit: they're packed to the gills with men who are simply incapable of wooing women. The same could apply to the SJWs too.

I can blame it on my ugliness (hyperbole) or my complete lack of hand eye coordination or how clumsy I am or how boring I am or how small my dick is or any number of reasons I can use, which are certainly factors. But I really think it's just that "something" is missing. That x-factor, that natural charisma. I think many of us here have the same problem. I really don't know how else to explain how some people are able to do so (G-Man, Lemmi, Gentleman Johnny) and how others are simply incapable (me, everyone else with my condition).

So yeah, I got nothing else. I've been awake for too long.

[ltr]I was meaning an emotional connection on a romantic/sexual level, but I think that it pretty much applies to my platonic relationships too, as I do not have many people I can actually call friends as well. So you can almost say that at least on this measure, we are kind of similar.
However, I don't think you are some sort of lost case, Glides. I say that because only about a year ago, I pretty much had the same mindset going on like yours right now. And I am 26 years old, so trust me, I know how you feel. That I was somehow broken, irreparable. But using internal powers that I can't really fathom how I managed to muster, I pulled myself up and worked H-A-R-D on myself, mostly by getting involved in the thing I love doing the most – dancing. I started going to new places, going to festivals and meeting new people along the way. Through that, I started becoming more social and better at handling social situations. Today I go places and people that recognize me come and say hello here and there. It's not something dramatic, but it's still something that I notice today happening that it didn't happen in the past.
But I'll be honest – the other half of my success was that I was also lucky, because no matter how you turn it, luck is always involved in this process. The point is that by working on yourself, you maximize the chances that when you DO meet someone you like that it will turn out for the best. That's why my advice to you is to try to find something that you like doing and stick with it because you like doing it – not because you there just to meet potential partners. That should be a natural side effect by just being there.
But like I originally wrote in my first post, through all this process I began identifying my social weakness that I feel I need to work on more in order to increase my chances of success. [/ltr]
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Post by Enail on Sat Oct 04, 2014 1:12 pm

So, I think it makes sense to distinguish between 'drawing people to you' and 'connecting with people.'

From what you've said elsewhere, Glides, it sounds like you've developed a lot more skill at the first one lately - people seem to react positively to your friendliness and joking, and it sounds like you're quite popular with most people you talk to. Do you think it's possible that you're assuming people notice you less and think of you as more dull than they actually do?

The second one, I think, takes some different skills from the first. There's overlap, but there are some big differences. Genuinely connecting with someone requires a certain amount of vulnerability - how can people become close to you if you're working your hardest to keep them away, or if they're not seeing anything of the real you? From what you said in the cold approach thread, it seems like one of the ways you've found to achieve the first goal, being able to be friendly and comfortable with lots of people, involves putting on an act, playing up a persona.  Which means it's in some ways working against the second goal, connecting with people, feeling like you have real friends who notice you and care about you specifically rather than being just a general fun person to hang out with - because the more of a persona you put up, they less they're actually seeing of you.

Now, I don't think that means it's a bad thing - since it's hard to connect with people if you're not comfortable enough to let them close, the first step is to get more comfortable with people, which it sounds like your social style is helping with a lot. So I think in the long run, what you've been doing with the first goal is going to help a lot with the second one.

But I think the next level up from there is going to be learning how to be comfortable with people without needing to put on quite as much of an entertaining persona as a barrier between you and them. Figuring out ways to let something genuine show through, to give them something real of you - it doesn't have to be big, deep, 'confess all your deepest secrets' real, just something of what you think or feel, even minor things, without as much exaggeration or joking around to hide it - and paying attention to what they're showing you that's real.
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Post by Guest on Mon Oct 06, 2014 9:21 am

Enail wrote:So, I think it makes sense to distinguish between 'drawing people to you' and 'connecting with people.'

From what you've said elsewhere, Glides, it sounds like you've developed a lot more skill at the first one lately - people seem to react positively to your friendliness and joking, and it sounds like you're quite popular with most people you talk to. Do you think it's possible that you're assuming people notice you less and think of you as more dull than they actually do?

I'm not really popular so much as accepted. I do that stereotypical thing where I act like a crazed madman to get attention. With my "closer" acquaintances this doesn't work, since they are by nature mostly wild and crazy extroverts, and they know I'm just trying to impress them. With people I don't know well, it works a lot better, since it's behavior they're not used to, and exotic is always liked more. Doesn't help with girls one bit, they just think I'm funny.

The second one, I think, takes some different skills from the first. There's overlap, but there are some big differences. Genuinely connecting with someone requires a certain amount of vulnerability - how can people become close to you if you're working your hardest to keep them away, or if they're not seeing anything of the real you? From what you said in the cold approach thread, it seems like one of the ways you've found to achieve the first goal, being able to be friendly and comfortable with lots of people, involves putting on an act, playing up a persona.  Which means it's in some ways working against the second goal, connecting with people, feeling like you have real friends who notice you and care about you specifically rather than being just a general fun person to hang out with - because the more of a persona you put up, they less they're actually seeing of you.

I'd much rather have them connect with a "persona," just because that's in a more controlled setting. People also tend to pull back a bit when I accidentally get too vulnerable in a moment of not thinking, suggesting that the "real me" is a pretty repulsive human being (as in, Persona Me is completely apathetic, Real Me is kind of a wuss). So the persona is there for social reasons more than anything else. As long as I pretend, I get to maintain a modicum of a normal life.

But I think the next level up from there is going to be learning how to be comfortable with people without needing to put on quite as much of an entertaining persona as a barrier between you and them. Figuring out ways to let something genuine show through, to give them something real of you - it doesn't have to be big, deep, 'confess all your deepest secrets' real, just something of what you think or feel, even minor things, without as much exaggeration or joking around to hide it - and paying attention to what they're showing you that's real.

I've never actually done the "confess all my deepest secrets" schpiel to anyone, so I don't think that's a problem. I get around this by pretending to be vulnerable (which I can do really well now) about subjects that I don't actually care about. I pretended that I cared about a friend of mine like a sister, and while I do like her, I don't feel that strongly about her in any way, and I was only saying that knowing that it would make her feel closer to me. I don't do any of that because I like it, I do it because I'm trying to create the best possible results and understand that "Real Me" simply isn't sufficient to maintain social relationships with people. So being me is like perpetually acting as someone else, which I'm sure a lot of other people do too.

So ironically, being a good liar has done more for my social life than anything else. I'm not lying all the time, I'm lying whenever I know that the truth will make people not want to talk to me. I lie to look like the kind of man society wants. i dunno if that makes sense at all.

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Post by Enail on Mon Oct 06, 2014 12:27 pm

Glides wrote:
I'd much rather have them connect with a "persona," just because that's in a more controlled setting. People also tend to pull back a bit when I accidentally get too vulnerable in a moment of not thinking, suggesting that the "real me" is a pretty repulsive human being (as in, Persona Me is completely apathetic, Real Me is kind of a wuss). So the persona is there for social reasons more than anything else. As long as I pretend, I get to maintain a modicum of a normal life.  

Totally understandable, a persona feels much safer than exposing your "Real Me". And in a lot of situations, that can be the best choice. But I think closer connections, ones that feel meaningful, tend to be based at least somewhat on the "Real Me," so if that's what you're looking for, you might need to work on ways you can do that.

I think there may be two things going on when you've had experiences of people pulling back if you get too vulnerable, and I don't think either is that you're a repulsive human being. One is that revealing vulnerability, especially on things you feel very strongly about, in a way that is also comfortable for the other person is something of a skill itself, gauging what's appropriate for the situation, and you may need to work on that skill a little more. The other is that it doesn't sound like the people in your life are terribly compatible with you on a more personal level. Not every friend is a close friend; finding the people who get on with a more genuine version of you (which doesn't necessarily mean "all vulnerability all the time") may take more time.


But I think the next level up from there is going to be learning how to be comfortable with people without needing to put on quite as much of an entertaining persona as a barrier between you and them. Figuring out ways to let something genuine show through, to give them something real of you - it doesn't have to be big, deep, 'confess all your deepest secrets' real, just something of what you think or feel, even minor things, without as much exaggeration or joking around to hide it - and paying attention to what they're showing you that's real.

I've never actually done the "confess all my deepest secrets" schpiel to anyone, so I don't think that's a problem. I get around this by pretending to be vulnerable (which I can do really well now) about subjects that I don't actually care about. I pretended that I cared about a friend of mine like a sister, and while I do like her, I don't feel that strongly about her in any way, and I was only saying that knowing that it would make her feel closer to me. I don't do any of that because I like it, I do it because I'm trying to create the best possible results and understand that "Real Me" simply isn't sufficient to maintain social relationships with people. So being me is like perpetually acting as someone else, which I'm sure a lot of other people do too.

So ironically, being a good liar has done more for my social life than anything else. I'm not lying all the time, I'm lying whenever I know that the truth will make people not want to talk to me. I lie to look like the kind of man society wants. i dunno if that makes sense at all.

It does make sense, and I think some of the skills you're developing here will ultimately be useful for closer connections as well, but I think it may be counterproductive in the long run. If you're lying, it may make them feel closer to you, which is something you value in its own right - but it won't make you feel closer to them, right?

You're not going to be close friends with "society," you're going to be friends with specific people. Not all people want the same kind of man, and if you're aiming for a general man-that-society-wants does mean you're making yourself more generic, less specific - which means a little more bland.  If you want to have meaningful connections and for people to like you specifically rather than just thinking of you as someone who's pretty fun to hang around with, I think learning how to act like the best you rather than just a general person-people-like is going to be important.


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Post by Werel on Mon Oct 06, 2014 3:53 pm

Enail wrote:You're not going to be close friends with "society," you're going to be friends with specific people... I think learning how to act like the best you rather than just a general person-people-like is going to be important.

Bingo.

I also have a handy go-to Persona Me (or several), which serves the "draw people to you" side of the equation. Persona Me is not a completely different beast than "Real" Me; rather, it's a curated version of Real Me with the fun stuff amplified and most of the vulnerabilities and insecurities papered over (because who wants to give people you're not close to access to your vulnerabilities?). Most people take great care to present their most positive qualities when getting to know people, or just when interacting with folks they're not trying to build intimacy with--it's not just you, and it's not due to any failure of integrity on your part. That kind of editing just makes existing in the day-to-day so much easier-- imagine if every time you went to buy a coffee, you got to see your Real Barista and hear about their deepest fears and regrets and wishes and dreams. It would be exhausting. So as a sort of service to each other, we deploy Persona Selves as appropriate. I've never thought of that as lying so much as being considerate.

Is "Real" me considerably more introverted, gloomy, cruel, and vulnerable than most acquaintances get to see? Totally. Those aren't traits that anybody needs to be exposed to unless they really care about me as a person and want the whole picture. Does that mean I'm not actually a relatively friendly, confident, laid-back person? Nope. It's not a lie, per se, to put away the parts of yourself that nobody needs to see*.

Once you've done the "draw people in" bit, you get to choose whether you actually like someone enough to want to become closer to them. Is this someone I'm interested in enough to want to see their Real Self, with all its flaws and scar tissue and jagged slicey bits? Is this someone I think I can trust enough to give them access to my jagged slicey bits? Do we see a bit of ourselves in each other's Persona Selves, or maybe even the glimmerings of a Real Selves connection?

I've definitely come into Real Friendships by way of Persona Friendships before-- I'm currently working on a new-ish friendship with somebody who I first interacted with as our Persona Selves. We'd go out drinking with a group I didn't know all that well (prime territory for Persona Self) and our social personas meshed nicely, played well off each other's jokes, and bore notable similarities to one another. This piqued my interest, and after some time playing Persona Selves together, we started hanging out one-on-one or in smaller groups to test the waters of Real Selves. We're still not quite to the point where all our jaggedy bits are out on the table, but there are some-- I know he has some serious problems that some people might not want to be around, and he knows I've got some similar enough problems that I'm cool with his. And there's no rush. I'm not pulling out all my flaws to show him just so I can feel like I'm being Real. But if he sees one of my jaggedy bits when it's acting up one day, okay. I trust him not to use it against me.

It's a slow process, and a scary one-- especially when you're dealing with somebody who first knew you as Persona Self. You're voluntarily going from Fun Party Jokester Badass to Actual Real Insecure Person with Problems in their eyes. But it really does build intimacy to start revealing the parts you edit out of your Persona Self; when someone whose Persona Self I like starts showing me a little bit of what's behind the curtain, it almost always builds some affection and trust for them. The key (for me) is to go slowly, and be considerate of the person you're trying to build trust with-- don't start dumping the heavy stuff on them until it's clear that you're both invested in each other as Real Selves. And once you've built that intimacy, don't forget to keep trying to be your best self with folks who've seen your worst self; just because they know your flaws are there, it's no excuse not to try to manage them.

Yeesh, that was a novel. Hope any of that is useful. Wink



*Not to say that all aspects of oneself that aren't highly valued socially should be hidden for others' sake-- if you are, say, very insolent, and consider that a key part of your identity, without which you would not be Real You, then by all means let your insolent flag fly (while being prepared for the repercussions).
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Post by Enail on Mon Oct 06, 2014 4:46 pm

Werel, that was brilliant, a perfect explanation and exactly what I wish I'd said Razz.  

A little more about the whole persona/real you/vulnerabilities distinction with a different example. My Persona Self is an awful lot like my Real Self. It's not particularly on purpose, but I'm pretty much always very distinctively Me, even when I'm in full-on persona mode. If someone's not going to like Real Me, they're going to know it pretty early on in meeting Persona Me. I dunno, I wouldn't know how to go around not being quite so much me.

But that doesn't mean I'm not putting on my best show, bringing out my good traits and leaving the less good ones in the back as much as I can. I totally am. And I do my best to be friendly and pleasant when I'm meeting people. And it doesn't mean I'm letting out all my jagged edges and insecurities - I'm actually pretty private about that kind of stuff (and that is something that makes me less good at becoming close to people than if I were more comfortable with it).

Just...who I am and what I'm like is right out there in front, whether or not it's the person who the maximum number of people would like. Something that I like about that is that I can be confident that the people who do like me, like me, even if it's not the whole show.
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