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Post by nearly_takuan on Sun Jan 25, 2015 8:41 pm

I've been thinking a bit lately, again, about that whole thing where someone remarks that they don't want to risk being "accidentally" creepy, or that it's frustrating that we sometimes feel like we have to first prove we aren't creepy, or that it's frustrating when someone else is creepy and still gets the happier ending, and then that gets turned into an argument about entitlement or monoliths or free will or something. But today I'm more interested in what to me feels like a somewhat different idea.

Perhaps this will help illustrate:
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Of course, the experiences that inform our beliefs are not limited to hypothetical other people; we often can plainly see other people's flowcharts—parts of them, at least—and sometimes they have regions mapped that we don't, or we have regions mapped that they don't.

And other individuals will of course see different sides of the same person's behavioral flowchart. As groups of individual people explore each other's behaviors and react, more information is revealed to all parties.

For my part, I'm glad that the mapped portion of my flowchart aligns with Cool Guy's and disagrees with Creep's. But I'm frequently miffed about the unmapped portion, the utter futility of my past efforts to map it, and the fact that absolutely everyone else I know in "meatspace" has by now at least begun to map out that area.

So I suppose I would like to discuss whether others feel similarly, and ask how one copes with that, long-term. Or...stops, I suppose, except that I don't know if I really want to be a less perceptive sort of person even if I could.
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Post by Werel on Sun Jan 25, 2015 9:53 pm

I like this flowchart idea. I wonder what you mean by "unmapped areas," though-- are these situations you've simply never been in, so you don't have any behavioral options laid out (have never needed to, so have never thought about it)? Or are they areas where you've thought about it, attempted to figure out behavioral options, but found yourself at a loss to do so?

For me, I have a tendency to focus only on the ways I line up with the Hypothetical Creep (or other undesirable epithet) flowchart, without even acknowledging (or realizing) that there's a corresponding Hypothetical Cool flowchart-- feeling like the only behavioral options available are mediocre-to-bad ones, and the Cool flowchart for that situation is unmapped because I've never seen it modeled successfully. Specifically:

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I've really only got two filled-in flowcharts in my head for this scenario, neither is who I want to be, and I'm going with the lesser of two known evils because the "good" (or better) option is a blank. Result: "Oh God I'm a fake-ass phony No" How do we map new behavioral flowcharts when we've never seen anyone do it in a way we'd like to emulate?

Wish I had something more useful to say about your specific situation, but I'm kind of in the same boat.
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Post by nearly_takuan on Sun Jan 25, 2015 10:20 pm

Werel wrote:I like this flowchart idea. I wonder what you mean by "unmapped areas," though-- are these situations you've simply never been in, so you don't have any behavioral options laid out (have never needed to, so have never thought about it)? Or are they areas where you've thought about it, attempted to figure out behavioral options, but found yourself at a loss to do so?

In a way, all of the above. With situations I haven't been in, or haven't seen others in, all I have are vague predictions of how I or they would react. So, on good days I might temporarily think "yeah, I'd probably be an okay partner," but most of the rest of the time I'm just thinking, "how would you know? Fool!" I haven't seen many "yes she's interested" arrows on my own flowchart. I've only seen that a "creep" and a "cool guy" can both reach the same outcome from their different flowcharts, depending on whom they interact with.

Because, well, until I get to really know another person, I treat most people mostly the same way. Not because they're a monolith, but because that is my default behavior. My "flowchart".

Werel wrote:For me, I have a tendency to focus only on the ways I line up with the Hypothetical Creep (or other undesirable epithet) flowchart, without even acknowledging (or realizing) that there's a corresponding Hypothetical Cool flowchart-- feeling like the only behavioral options available are mediocre-to-bad ones, and the Cool flowchart for that situation is unmapped because I've never seen it modeled successfully. Specifically:

I've really only got two filled-in flowcharts in my head for this scenario, neither is who I want to be, and I'm going with the lesser of two known evils because the "good" (or better) option is a blank. Result: "Oh God I'm a fake-ass phony No" How do we map new behavioral flowcharts when we've never seen anyone do it in a way we'd like to emulate?

Excellent questions I wish I had answers for. I do the fake-ass phony thing too, for sure, so....
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Post by Guest on Sun Jan 25, 2015 11:01 pm

I certainly feel the same when it comes to people around me seemingly having things worked out better. At least, when it comes to anything even remotely social skill related.

So, things get fuzzy when it comes to anything past 'Interested?' outside what not to do.

I would go so far as to say I'm quite well calibrated in what not to do to the point that because I don't know what to do it's almost a problem - when you don't know what to do but you know what to avoid, you're going to preoccupy your mind with what you shouldn't be doing instead of actually being there in the moment.

I think that leads me to compare myself to creeps to much even though I have a proclivity towards disengaging or not engaging because it makes me incredibly awkward when my junky flowchart is thrown off. Without experience I'm similarly left with little but vague hypotheticals trying to observe others.

When I get the chance to actually do it, I'll boot up Dia and try and illustrate this, I like the flowchart concept.

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Post by LadyLuck on Sun Jan 25, 2015 11:06 pm

On the "fake-ass-phony" thing: I don't think its necessarily mean/bad to disengage from conversations you're not interested in. Your time is valuable, you shouldn't be required to spend a boundless amount of it solely on validating someone else's interests. I think the delineation between "mean" and "cool" depends heavily on how exactly you execute your disengagement.

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Post by kath on Mon Jan 26, 2015 1:07 am

Agreed on disengaging from conversations you don't like being totally fine! And on it all being in the execution.

Does the knowledge that some people only mapped it out very cursorily / by chance (and not through exploratory skill / being Shackleton etc) help at all ... I'm imagining no? Or that their map includes flows that you don't particularly like (like, mine - which is pretty much down to chance, not dating skill on my part - includes a lot of "unsure" and "keep talking to them" over a long period of time, and I know that dating style isn't one you're interested in)?

Does the flowchart thing change significantly how you're thinking about the interactions, or is it more a convenient annotation style?

EDIT:

Also curious, do you compare yourself this way in other areas of your life, or is it only / primarily romance? Or is romance the only area where you're not satisfied with the comparisons?


(Also feel free to ignore all these questions if you don't find them helpful, I'm mostly curious.)
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Post by nearly_takuan on Mon Jan 26, 2015 3:04 am

kath wrote:Does the flowchart thing change significantly how you're thinking about the interactions, or is it more a convenient annotation style?

EDIT:

Also curious, do you compare yourself this way in other areas of your life, or is it only / primarily romance? Or is romance the only area where you're not satisfied with the comparisons?

It's a new way of attempting to communicate what, for me, is kind of a fundamental component of the way I think I have been modeling human behavior for myself as well as other people. Because if I had to use succinct adjectives, I might say Bob is a "dependable friend", but my actual thought would be somewhere between that and "when I was stranded on the other side of town and unable to walk, I called Bob and he drove me back home with my bike in his trunk." I don't necessarily keep all the specifics of an event in active memory, you see, but I have some sense that Bob's behavior and decision-making follows some kind of flow chart where his response to "a friend somewhat out of the way nonetheless needs my help" is "help friend". Reflecting on my own actions in similar situations gives me some confidence mapping that kind of section out for myself as well.

I don't think I go around consciously making my decisions in this way; it's just when I sit down and reflect a bit on my self-image, I think, "I am the kind of person who...". Sometimes things come up that are unlike anything I've been through before, and I get to learn more about what kind of person I am in hindsight. But then of course my sense of "who I am" does heavily influence my decisions and actions; it's just not an explicit, conscious effort.

It may even be the case that this approach to finding and following role models in the rest of my life is why I end up applying it to dating as well.
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Post by nearly_takuan on Mon Jan 26, 2015 5:21 am

kath wrote:Does the knowledge that some people only mapped it out very cursorily / by chance (and not through exploratory skill / being Shackleton etc) help at all ... I'm imagining no?

Well...in this case, not really? I mean, I know that. Several important things on my own chart I kind of blundered through, and have modified over years of trial and error. Focusing on that knowledge, though, just makes me conclude that I'm one of the unlucky ones and there's nothing to be done about it, and that currently isn't a liberating thought.

kath wrote:Or that their map includes flows that you don't particularly like (like, mine - which is pretty much down to chance, not dating skill on my part - includes a lot of "unsure" and "keep talking to them" over a long period of time, and I know that dating style isn't one you're interested in)?

I'm not entirely sure what you mean on this one. I guess... there are certain flows I'm not going to use as role models even if they include outcomes I view as desirable, because they also include outcomes I am opposed to or ways of thinking that are alien to my personality. Others, I've just tried without success to mimic—generally involving one or more externally-determined factors.

It is like... Charlie flips a quarter every time he goes to the arcade; if it's Heads, he plays the slots, and if it's Tails, he doesn't. Observing that Charlie does far better than chance at the slot machine, I adopt the same pattern...but every time I go to the arcade my quarter comes up Tails. Sometimes I go to the arcade and flip three quarters at once, three times each, and get Tails, Tails, Tails, Tails....

There are times it's nice having a weighted coin; I've seen plenty of demonstrations of correct and incorrect behavior under the influence of alcohol, but I've never really had that dilemma tested myself because my tolerance for the substance is so low. I've seen friends and family handle getting pulled over (edit: unrelated to previous sentence; I try very hard to ride with sober drivers) amazingly well, but I'm not sad that I haven't yet had to deal with that. There have been other possibly-similar high-pressure situations I handled well and others I handled badly, and I think that pretty much goes for everyone, but there usually is only that one that I wish I did have some experience with.

There are worse things, I know. And if that's my only real concern, that's probably a fair indication that my life's objectively pretty good right now. But I can't seem to stop measuring myself against the people around me—people who are still as approximately "successful" in that sense as I am, who yet also find themselves in a more reasonable domain on the bell curve of romantic experience. I am conflicted about that because paying close attention to other people's behaviors and motivations and histories in this way is incredibly useful for navigating social interactions and anticipating what other people will do or want, but it always turns out far more disappointingly useless than I hope when I try to apply it to my own life. Is there a better way?
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Post by Werel on Tue Jan 27, 2015 1:42 am

LadyLuck wrote: I think the delineation between "mean" and "cool" depends heavily on how exactly you execute your disengagement.

I agree! The main problem is that I rarely see anyone execute that disengagement without leaving their interlocutor looking snubbed or offended*, hence my not having any good models to emulate. While I know there's probably a good option to stick into that flowchart, if I haven't seen someone else do it, and I'm not able to brainstorm it out of thin air for myself, what can I do? Well... I could ask people who have a similar-ish flowchart (i.e. people with a decision labeled "genuinely engaged in convo?" with an option labeled "no", which is probably most people) what they've got written down there. People whose behavior I admire, or whose choices (and outcomes) are mostly pretty acceptable to me, should be good source material for filling in the unmapped spots on my flowchart.  

So for takuan and others, do you find that you can only fill in unmapped spaces on your flowchart through personal experience/trial and error (i.e. vicarious experience isn't useful)? Or do you think that you could pretty confidently sketch in some unmapped spots by, say, posting them here, so that others who have that area mapped in could show you what they've got and you could pick one or two options that mostly fit your personal paradigm? For example, I know I'd be grateful for kind, non-dishonest scripts to disengage from a conversation in a way that doesn't hurt feelings, and I'm pretty sure somebody here must have one. Razz

*the other problem being that I am extra sensitive to folks who expect & are accustomed to social rejection, and I am really averse to contributing to their experiences in that vein. Which means I'm usually willing to waste some of my own time if it means I don't have to make anybody feel like they're wasting my time. But that's more of a personal issue I can work around!

nearly_takuan wrote:I am conflicted about that because paying close attention to other people's behaviors and motivations and histories in this way is incredibly useful for navigating social interactions and anticipating what other people will do or want, but it always turns out far more disappointingly useless than I hope when I try to apply it to my own life. Is there a better way?

How similar to you are the people you're paying attention to? How closely do the rest of their flowcharts map onto yours? Pulling a subroutine from a program that's not even in the same language is hard to swing (my CS knowledge is piss-poor so forgiveness if this metaphor is all wrong).
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