The habit of social doubt

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The habit of social doubt Empty The habit of social doubt

Post by Hirundo Bos on Sun Jan 25, 2015 10:53 am

Following on the confused and scared thread, I'm posting something with more specific questions. I may be asking for more advice than I've used to in the near future, because things seem to be changing fast for me right now.

As good as every time I get close to someone, or get close to someone, I get a lot of anxieties, uncertainties, doubts. What am I really feeling? Do I really feel what the other person trust me to feel? Is this-or-that thing they said an indication of some great future incompatibility, or maybe a red flag even? Will the person need things from me that I currently don't know how to give? Were my feelings so strong last we met that I almost lost my sense of self (a pervasive fear I have)?

It was that way back when I was in relationships, it's been that way when friendships have evolved, and now I'm closing in on a place where I can act on and respond to attraction, the habit of social doubt is one of the obstacles that remains. So I need to understand it a little better.

1) The first thing I'd like to ask is whether other people have it this way too... or I suspect they do, but I don't know how intense it is, how much of an obstacle it is, how long into a relationship it lasts... with me before, it could last for years. I'm asking because if I try to work with this, I need to know what's a realistic goal.

2) While some of these doubts are jerkbrain stuff, others have turned out to have substance. For example last summer I met this bright, lively, flirty person through someone else I know, but had a vague sense that this, this and that could turn into big problems fast. Then later she had a great argument with that someone else I know, and this, this and that turned out to be the exact things that blew up.

This and other experiences tell me I do have a fairly good danger sense. But I also get the habitual fear when imagine intimacy and vulnerability, and this fear and my danger sense appear almost identical to me. So how do I tell them apart?

3) How to I know the difference between dealbreakers and smaller incompatibilites, because, you know, absolutely everyone have smaller incompatibilites with one another?

4) And finally... This is something I know the answer to, I just don't know where to get there. I feel like I have to be certain about my feelings before I make moves to get to know someone. The answer is that I can't, noone can, and people who say they are certain are people one should usually stay away from.

But it's a case for me, possibly magnified by autism, where things blend together in my head, the steps from first meeting to deep connection blend together so the first steps are equal to the later, big commitment. I feel... dishonest, in a way, untrustworthy, if I ask someone out with the knowledge in my head that I can always back away of it doesn't work out. I mean, one thing is that it might not work out, another is to be prepared for it from the beginning.

Uhm, or maybe that actually would make me dishonest? I'm not really sure. It feels equally weird though to say "hi, I don't really think this will work out in the end, but do you want to have a cup of coffee with me"... If nothing else, weird because thinking that far ahead borders on creepy.

So I don't have a specific question no. 4, but it's a mess of ideas that I really need to disentangle. Uhm, any new perspectives or ideas about how?
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Post by readertorider on Sun Jan 25, 2015 2:46 pm

Don't know if I have anything figured out, but if you're crowdsourcing opinions:

Hirundo Bos wrote:
1) The first thing I'd like to ask is whether other people have it this way too... or I suspect they do, but I don't know how intense it is, how much of an obstacle it is, how long into a relationship it lasts... with me before, it could last for years. I'm asking because if I try to work with this, I need to know what's a realistic goal.
I think trying to compare feelings between people is difficult, and the number of doubts you're comfortable with or level of closeness you have in a relationship is very individual dependent--if it works for you it works for you, if it doesn't work it doesn't work. I think everyone has doubts about their feelings or times when their feelings surprise them-- I've definitely had a moment where I drove for several hours to visit old friends, left them briefly to run an errand, and then sat in the car crying when I realized I didn't actually want to go back up to their apartment. I think the only thing you can really do is listen to your feelings and be truthful with yourself and your partner. Ideally your feeling of vulnerability should decrease though after you spend more time with the person have a foundation of trust built up.

Hirundo Bos wrote:
2) While some of these doubts are jerkbrain stuff, others have turned out to have substance. For example last summer I met this bright, lively, flirty person through someone else I know, but had a vague sense that this, this and that could turn into big problems fast. Then later she had a great argument with that someone else I know, and this, this and that turned out to be the exact things that blew up.

This and other experiences tell me I do have a fairly good danger sense. But I also get the habitual fear when  imagine intimacy and vulnerability, and this fear and my danger sense appear almost identical to me. So how do I tell them apart?
I think you could try to figure out if your sense is being triggered by someone's actions (and if so what actions) or if it is just a general feeling that ebbs away after you spend more time with this person. Maybe try remembering what was happening when/before your danger sense reacted, see if your danger sense reacts then try and figure out why it reacts?

Hirundo Bos wrote:
3) How to I know the difference between dealbreakers and smaller incompatibilites, because, you know, absolutely everyone have smaller incompatibilites with one another?
This is for you to decide. If it's a big deal to you (no matter how big or small a deal it would be to someone else) it's a deal breaker. If you don't notice or care too much about it it's an incompatibility. Captain Awkward has a thing called the sheelzebub principle which might help clarify your thinking--basically you ask yourself if this thing doesn't change, would I still be happy in this relationship X years down the road?

Hirundo Bos wrote:
4) And finally... This is something I know the answer to, I just don't know where to get there. I feel like I have to be certain about my feelings before I make moves to get to know someone. The answer is that I can't, noone can, and people who say they are certain are people one should usually stay away from.

But it's a case for me, possibly magnified by autism, where things blend together in my head, the steps from first meeting to deep connection blend together so the first steps are equal to the later, big commitment. I feel... dishonest, in a way, untrustworthy, if I ask someone out with the knowledge in my head that I can always back away of it doesn't work out. I mean, one thing is that it might not work out, another is to be prepared for it from the beginning.

Uhm, or maybe that actually would make me dishonest? I'm not really sure. It feels equally weird though to say "hi, I don't really think this will work out in the end, but do you want to have a cup of coffee with me"... If nothing else, weird because thinking that far ahead borders on creepy.

So I don't have a specific question no. 4, but it's a mess of ideas that I really need to disentangle. Uhm, any new perspectives or ideas about how?
I'm still a bit uncertain on this point (there's a question I want to ask sometime on this forum about "leading people on"), but my thoughts are in general that both parties know that the chance that they will go from one date to spending the rest of their life together are slim, but they aren't agreeing to spend the rest of their life together initially, they're agreeing to meet up for lunch. If they both have a good time at lunch they might agree to meet up for lunch next week, and so on until someone asks for an agreement beyond lunch--a label or physical closeness which then comes into effect and the process continues until someone decides this isn't working out for them. After certain points leaving the relationship honorably (if there is no bad behavior/abuse) has certain expectations--in a boyfriend/girlfriend arrangement, for instance, you can't simply stop answering the other person's calls and expect they'll know it's over, property needs to be divided etc. etc. People do also discuss the future they see (or want to see) in the relationship and gradually start to make their plans by factoring in the other person so the level of commitment can mirror what both parties feel and build on previous commitments.

Don't know if any of this helps, but best of luck figuring things out!
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Post by Dan_Brodribb on Tue Jan 27, 2015 5:57 pm

Hirundo Bos wrote:
As good as every time I get close to someone, or get close to someone, I get a lot of anxieties, uncertainties, doubts. What am I really feeling? Do I really feel what the other person trust me to feel? Is this-or-that thing they said an indication of some great future incompatibility, or maybe a red flag even? Will the person need things from me that I currently don't know how to give? Were my feelings so strong last we met that I almost lost my sense of self (a pervasive fear I have)?

This also happens to me a lot. I'm quite happy with my relationship life and it still comes up, especially the fear of losing myself or being needed.

What has most helped me is working on recognizing the difference between the things I'm seeing/hearing/saying/experiencing/doing/having done to me and the stories in my head about what I think/fear/hope/doubt/feel those things mean.

It also helps me to remind myself I can't see the future. I have seen those red flags too. Sometimes I have been right about what they meant and sometimes not. I try to treat them as something to keep an eye on, but not get hung up on them until I see how things play out outside my head.

It's an ongoing process. Those 'anxieties, uncertainties, doubts' still show up. And I've also seen progress in my own thinking and the quality of my relationships.

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Post by Hirundo Bos on Thu Jan 29, 2015 4:10 pm

Thanks for replies. I suppose readertorider is right, in that I'm the only one who can decide how much doubt and how much closeness I'm comfortable with. It's one ofte things that will be clearer when I get to know myself a more, something I'm in the process of doing. I'm still interested in other people's experiences though, and it's helpful with the ones the two of you have shared.

The stories in my head... are a couple of worst case scenarios, I admit. A couple of situations where I failed to meet someone's need in a chrisis, or where staying on high alert meant I could never relax, never shut myself away from the world and recharge. A couple of situations where the feelings of closeness and distance mixed together and overwhelmed me, and I ended up doing hurtful things. So mostly the stories are about my own inadequacies under pressure... and they might not be all that valid anymore, somI should definitely examine them again.

Now to my question 4), "leading someone on" is exactly the thing I'm thinking about. Raising expecatitions, appearing to promise too much, disappointing or hurting someone, breaking hearts... I'm trying to get a grip on when I ought to raise certain topics (like feelings about monogamy, unprocessed fears around intimacy)... when it would be way to early to speak of such things... when certain actions, like asking to meet up, or giving a compliment, go from innocent to loaded with promise, or if they even do at all.

It probably has a lot to do with context.
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Post by OneTrueGuest on Thu Jan 29, 2015 7:04 pm

Here's the thing about leading someone on. If you are doing it on purpose, it's bad. If you don't know you're doing it and it comes out that you accidentally have been, it's unfortunate but it's not a morally bad thing.

People get broken hearts. I've been dumped . . . a lot. Obviously when one is dumped one is the one who wanted the relationship to continue who was obviously invested in it more than the other person who you didn't realise wasn't. But never once have I thought of it as being led on. I thought of it as we tried, we weren't compatible in his mind, it sucks, but he didn't do anything wrong.

I think the key is the moment you know you have to end it, end it. There is no easy way to end a relationship with someone. You will hurt the other person regardless. The best way to minimise trauma and pain is to end it as early on as you can when you realise it because then the person can start getting over you sooner and moving on from you faster.

My advice: Don't make any promises you don't mean. Don't talk about trips in the future if you really don't know if you have a future with that person. That sort of thing. Don't get caught up in play acting something that you know you aren't interested in just because you think that's what she'd like to hear. Be in the moment. And if you sincerely start to see a future with someone and want to discuss it, that's a big serious conversation to be had. I know so many women who after they have been dumped after maybe a couple months, a really short time say, will be all, "But he was the one making plans for the future, he was the one who asked if I wanted to go away next Christmas, I wasn't even that sure about us yet! When he said those things I got a little nervous because I wasn't ready to commit like that but I was all, okay. And then HE'S the one who dumps ME??" We like to say things to another person to make them happy. We like to vocalise our fantasies and play act that we are already at a more committed place in our relationship. But that can only make people hurt more if it was all an act. Just be honest with yourself and with her.

As for first dates etc. no one knows what to expect. And if you find yourself in a situation where your desire not to continue onto another date with someone is met by them accusing you of being terrible or betraying them or something, well that's their issues and you are best to not date them at all.

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Post by Caffeinated on Thu Jan 29, 2015 7:27 pm

I agree with OneTrueGuest. In the case of leading someone on, intent matters a lot. If you are honest with the person and then your feelings change, continue being honest about the new feelings. Expressing a feeling doesn't require you to keep having that same feeling in perpetuity, it means that you're feeling it at that moment in time. Sometimes we wish we or other people could remain static and unchanging, but that's not a realistic thought. If you're honest and you're doing your best, then you're ok.
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Post by Hirundo Bos on Sat Jan 31, 2015 1:08 pm

Intent, emotions... those are good keywords. I don't feel very confident in my ability to read my own intent. But again I don't know whether that's specific for me, or has to do with autism, or if it is how everybody feel... frequently unsure about what they want, frequently unsure whether they really want something, or are just carried away by situational factors.

Sometimes I take too many cues from the situation, from my perception of other peoples' expectations, and I'm not really in touch with my intent then... That's something to work on in any case.

Being honest about my feelings sounds right, but I'm not exactly sure about what it means. My feelings change, a lot, from minute to minute, day to day, context to context... and this is something I do suspect is the case with everybody. But it's possible I'm unusually aware of it. Sharing these changes in too much detail is likely to confuse rather than inform... When I've done it the past, people have asked me to tone it down. So finding the balance between honesty and information bombardment, that's another thing to work on.

Finally, thanks for the advice about not making plans for the future when I know I'm not sure that there even is one, that's something I'll keep in mind.
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Post by Guest on Sat Jan 31, 2015 6:06 pm

Hirundo Bos wrote:I don't feel very confident in my ability to read my own intent. But again I don't know whether that's specific for me, or has to do with autism, or if it is how everybody feel... frequently unsure about what they want, frequently unsure whether they really want something, or are just carried away by situational factors.

If it helps in anyway, I can relate to some combinations of self-doubt like you. I don't like it either.

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