Creeping everyone out no matter what I do.

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Post by Enail on Tue Mar 03, 2015 1:20 pm

AtlachNacha wrote:
Enail wrote:
Maybe think about in reverse. You have a lot of anxiety around interacting with people, right? Say someone asked you for the time and it stressed you out, do you think that would make them a terrible person for asking the time to begin with?  What about if you were really obviously in a hurry to get somewhere, and they probably should have noticed you were too busy and not stopped you? You might think it was rather rude or inconsiderate, but do you think they would be a terrible person for that?

Let's say, hypothetically, I googled 'asking people for the time' and got a bunch of results of people saying that anyone who asks a stranger for the time should be shot because they are terrible people. Whether or not other people or myself would be bothered by being asked the time now seems sorta irrelevant because I now know there's someone out there who will shoot me for it, which then makes me think that asking people the time must be something Very Bad because people are getting freaked out enough by it to give out death threats over it. Am I making any sense?

It makes sense why you react that way, absolutely. But the internet is a very large place, and so basically it's like listening to everyone in the entire world (not literally, of course), talking about it in every possible context.

You'd find some people with severe anxiety letting out their feelings about a stressful day "Agh! People, just stop asking me for the time already!" You'd find some people who've encountered people who start off by asking the time but really want to convert them to their religion complaining about how transparent and manipulative it is to ask for the time. You'd find someone giving advice to someone who's afraid to ask people for the time to just stop worrying, grab someone's wrist and look at their watch. You'd find someone giving advice to someone who's angry at being told that there are more and less polite ways to ask the time and it's not fair that they have to pay so much attention to know if it's okay, getting frustrated and telling them "then you shouldn't ever ask anyone the time."  

The challenge of the internet is sifting through all the advice, all the commentary, all the complaints out there to figure out which opinions are relevant to you, which ones are potentially reasonable, and so forth, and synthesize them into something useful to you.

AtlachNacha wrote:
JP McBride wrote:You have to decide for yourself what advice you're going to trust. If something makes you feel worthless or paralysed with fear, ditch it as best as you can. Don't bother to argue with it or try to redeem it, just move on to the next thing the best you can.

The whole 'find your own way' trend running through these responses just makes me think 'well that's what MRAs/PUAs do/think they're doing and look where it gets them.'. Having your morality based internally risks it being WAY too out of sync with everyone else's, I guess is my problem here. And if I followed your advice exactly as you worded it, I would've had to ditch a lot of feminist stuff, among other things, because of my anxiety blowing things out of proportion and because some of those things are initally hard to swallow for people without anxiety.

I'd say it's not 'find your own way' as in 'do whatever you want,' but a balance. You have to use your own morality and intelligence to make your decisions - what else could you use? it's impossible to follow everyone's opinions! - but being a moral and reasonable person requires that you recognize that your perspective isn't absolute, and that you also have to consider local/societal norms and the perspectives of others who may be affected, with an open mind and an understanding that they may see things you cannot.

Ultimately, everyone has to find their own balance between their own raw opinions/beliefs/morals, relevant norms of acceptability, other perspectives and pragmatic requirements, and between their own rights and wellbeing and those of others.  Some people choose a balance that I would consider highly unfortunate, but that's not being a hive mind for you Razz There's no easy key to 'the best thing to do in all situations.'
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Post by Caffeinated on Tue Mar 03, 2015 3:11 pm

Enail wrote:
AtlachNacha wrote:
Enail wrote:
Maybe think about in reverse. You have a lot of anxiety around interacting with people, right? Say someone asked you for the time and it stressed you out, do you think that would make them a terrible person for asking the time to begin with?  What about if you were really obviously in a hurry to get somewhere, and they probably should have noticed you were too busy and not stopped you? You might think it was rather rude or inconsiderate, but do you think they would be a terrible person for that?

Let's say, hypothetically, I googled 'asking people for the time' and got a bunch of results of people saying that anyone who asks a stranger for the time should be shot because they are terrible people. Whether or not other people or myself would be bothered by being asked the time now seems sorta irrelevant because I now know there's someone out there who will shoot me for it, which then makes me think that asking people the time must be something Very Bad because people are getting freaked out enough by it to give out death threats over it. Am I making any sense?

It makes sense why you react that way, absolutely. But the internet is a very large place, and so basically it's like listening to everyone in the entire world (not literally, of course), talking about it in every possible context.

You'd find some people with severe anxiety letting out their feelings about a stressful day "Agh! People, just stop asking me for the time already!" You'd find some people who've encountered people who start off by asking the time but really want to convert them to their religion complaining about how transparent and manipulative it is to ask for the time. You'd find someone giving advice to someone who's afraid to ask people for the time to just stop worrying, grab someone's wrist and look at their watch. You'd find someone giving advice to someone who's angry at being told that there are more and less polite ways to ask the time and it's not fair that they have to pay so much attention to know if it's okay, getting frustrated and telling them "then you shouldn't ever ask anyone the time."  

The challenge of the internet is sifting through all the advice, all the commentary, all the complaints out there to figure out which opinions are relevant to you, which ones are potentially reasonable, and so forth, and synthesize them into something useful to you.

AtlachNacha wrote:
JP McBride wrote:You have to decide for yourself what advice you're going to trust. If something makes you feel worthless or paralysed with fear, ditch it as best as you can. Don't bother to argue with it or try to redeem it, just move on to the next thing the best you can.

The whole 'find your own way' trend running through these responses just makes me think 'well that's what MRAs/PUAs do/think they're doing and look where it gets them.'. Having your morality based internally risks it being WAY too out of sync with everyone else's, I guess is my problem here. And if I followed your advice exactly as you worded it, I would've had to ditch a lot of feminist stuff, among other things, because of my anxiety blowing things out of proportion and because some of those things are initally hard to swallow for people without anxiety.

I'd say it's not 'find your own way' as in 'do whatever you want,' but a balance. You have to use your own morality and intelligence to make your decisions - what else could you use? it's impossible to follow everyone's opinions! - but being a moral and reasonable person requires that you recognize that your perspective isn't absolute, and that you also have to consider local/societal norms and the perspectives of others who may be affected, with an open mind and an understanding that they may see things you cannot.

Ultimately, everyone has to find their own balance between their own raw opinions/beliefs/morals, relevant norms of acceptability, other perspectives and pragmatic requirements, and between their own rights and wellbeing and those of others.  Some people choose a balance that I would consider highly unfortunate, but that's not being a hive mind for you Razz There's no easy key to 'the best thing to do in all situations.'

I like Enail's take on this.

An additional thing to consider is scrupulosity. Ozy over on Thing of Things today has a post on scrupulosity which I think fits well in this discussion (plus some other discussions I've seen on this forum). Here's a link: https://thingofthings.wordpress.com/2015/03/03/scrupulosity/

Here are a couple points they made in the post (but the whole thing is very worth a read):
Scrupulosity is bad. It is really easy to fall into the trap of “oh, my scrupulosity is the only thing that is making me be a good person.” This is not true. In my experience, when I am trying to obey arbitrary rules that my brain makes up to hurt me, I am less kind, empathetic, and hard-working than I would be otherwise. It isn’t even good on a social justice level: a lot of times, scrupulous people wind up obeying the rules rather than actually engaging with the marginalized people they’re interacting with, many of whom don’t agree with or are even harmed by the rules. And think about it: even if you stop hating yourself, you’ll still prefer that people not be hurt and want to help them be happy. Your morality will still be there if you stop hating yourself. I promise.

Stick to literal meanings. A lot of times, scrupulous people tend to take things to extremes. We read someone saying “it scares me when men follow me around on deserted streets at midnight” and conclude that we should not leave the house after 9 pm because what if we scare someone? We read “I don’t like it when people are only interested in my fat and not me as a person” and conclude that it’s morally wrong to be attracted to fat people at all. Instead, you should look at what each sentence actually means, and not go into what it could possibly conceivably mean in some alternate universe. If the person seems amenable to conversation, you can ask for clarification or examples.
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Post by JP McBride on Tue Mar 03, 2015 5:56 pm

AtlachNacha wrote:And if I followed your advice exactly as you worded it

Follow my advice exactly how you would have worded it.

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Post by AtlachNacha on Sun Mar 08, 2015 1:27 pm

OK, sorry I haven't responded in a while, here goes:

Caffeinated wrote:An additional thing to consider is scrupulosity. Ozy over on Thing of Things today has a post on scrupulosity which I think fits well in this discussion (plus some other discussions I've seen on this forum). Here's a link: https://thingofthings.wordpress.com/2015/03/03/scrupulosity

This was exactly what I needed to read, I think. I'm kind of having a "what the hell am I doing" moment here, like I've drifted off, lost in thought, only to come to and realize i'm holding a flaming rolling pin in one hand and a rubber chicken in the other, standing on the back porch in my underwear, without a full understanding of my actions, but suddenly aware of how ridiculous I look.

So thanks for that. (Sincerely.) Some other posts on that blog are pretty interesting, too, I think i'm going to start following it.

Some things in the comments were helpful, too:

stillnotking wrote:No doubt I would scare fewer people over the course of my lifetime if I never left the house after 9 PM, but that would be a grossly unfair sacrifice of my personal freedom; I wouldn’t allow someone else to force that restriction on me (or my equally tall father), so why force it on myself? The error of the person who concludes “I shouldn’t leave the house at night” is not being overly literal, it’s inappropriately under-weighting their own rights and preferences.
sniffnoy wrote:I’m going to suggest what might be an alternative and what might be an addition, which is, use a wrapper. (Is this the right word? Not sure this is the right word.) The people you’re listening to are implicitly using a wrapper; the best solution is to do the same, then maybe you’ll get something like their intended message. Of course, using the same wrapper as them is impossible unless you have all their common sense; but perhaps we can at least extract some commonalities, which, if not accurate, might at least be useful. One of these might be automatically placing bounds — “Usually”, “In situations I am familiar with”, “Among people I am familiar with”, etc. This helps solve the boundedness problem. That said, I’m not so comfortable with this one because it’s really hard to know just where the bounds should be; this is actually a serious problem. It’s one of the things you try to talk about and get an idea of and then get called a horrible person for. (I mean, not here, the people here are considerably better! Smile ) I don’t really know where to place them. Still, knowing that there are at least implicit bounds might be helpful, and hopefully knowing that you can start to get a feel for it.
The other suggestion I have in that direction is the “forgiveness wrapper”; if someone says “Don’t do X”, implicitly interpret that as “Don’t deliberately do X” or “If you find that you have done X, stop doing so, and, if appropriate, apologize”. There are times when that isn’t sufficient to make things OK, and stricter interpretations are appropriate, so again, knowing exactly what version of this wrapper to apply is still a problem; but I think that, once again, having it available, you can maybe start to get a feel for what version of it to apply. Personally, I think this problem is easier than the bounds problem; my own common sense seems more prepared to handle this one. I don’t know about other people obviously.


JP McBride wrote:Follow my advice exactly how you would have worded it.

OK... that doesn't make any sense to me, i'm sorry. But all I was actually trying to say is that just ignoring whatever feels wrong isn't necessarily reliable when so many things feel wrong for no reason.


I still don't get the whole '8 minutes' thing I mentioned before, and on further reflection it kind of smells a bit like PUA pseudo-psych nonsense, and my google-fu has been of insufficient caliber to find any references to it online. Would anyone care to weigh in on it? Basically what I was told was that everyone subconsciously decides whether or not they would be willing to date someone within the first eight minutes of interaction, and then that decision is final and never changes, so you have to express interest within that time frame or never... Which sounds utterly absurd, so i'm wondering if I should just trust my instincts on that, or if there's some kernel of truth and i've misinterpreted what people were saying/had it misrepresented to me, or w/e.

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Post by Prajnaparamita on Sun Mar 08, 2015 1:41 pm

AtlachNacha wrote:
I still don't get the whole '8 minutes' thing I mentioned before, and on further reflection it kind of smells a bit like PUA pseudo-psych nonsense, and my google-fu has been of insufficient caliber to find any references to it online. Would anyone care to weigh in on it? Basically what I was told was that everyone subconsciously decides whether or not they would be willing to date someone within the first eight minutes of interaction, and then that decision is final and never changes, so you have to express interest within that time frame or never... Which sounds utterly absurd, so i'm wondering if I should just trust my instincts on that, or if there's some kernel of truth and i've misinterpreted what people were saying/had it misrepresented to me, or w/e.

That is totally and utterly absurd. For instance, here is a rough approximation of the first eight minutes/eight days of meeting my boyfriend. "Oh, well I guess you're the most attractive guy in the room... But that's not saying much really, and you're so not my type. Oh well, can't bow out of this now so I might as well wait it out and see if anything interesting happens. Holy shit you are stupid--do you really, honestly believe animals aren't conscious and aren't aware of themselves through time? Let me guess, you agree with Descartes that they're actually mindless robots that can't even feel pain and there's nothing wrong with torturing dogs to death. My god you must be a horrible person. Oh, you're asking me for my contact info? I am vaguely flattered, but I will be incredibly condescending to you in every email interaction until weeks later when we finally meet again face to face and I realize the connection that we have."

Over six months later, and I can't say its always easy, but we bring joy into each others lives and I'm so glad to be with him.

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Post by kleenestar on Sun Mar 08, 2015 2:01 pm

Absurd. I do not even remember the first time I met my now-husband. (He does. Yes, he mocks me.) I remember the moment when I first saw him romantically; at that point we'd been hanging out for several months. I've also never seen anything in the literature that would suggest this is particularly common, though I'm sure it's an accurate description of how some people experience attraction.
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Post by Caffeinated on Sun Mar 08, 2015 2:23 pm

kleenestar wrote:Absurd. I do not even remember the first time I met my now-husband. (He does. Yes, he mocks me.) I remember the moment when I first saw him romantically; at that point we'd been hanging out for several months. I've also never seen anything in the literature that would suggest this is particularly common, though I'm sure it's an accurate description of how some people experience attraction.

Yep, it's that bolded part. Some people experience attraction right away or never, but not all people. Also, placing a specific number like that and making it a rule, that sounds like basically a marketing gimmick to me. It makes it catchy, easy to remember, sound more certain (which can be very valuable if you're courting an audience that craves certainty in an uncertain world).
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Post by Wondering on Sun Mar 08, 2015 4:14 pm

Yeah, that would never work for me. I'm a slow burn sort of person. I might not decide I have attraction to someone for weeks or even months. So, don't take it as a rule.

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Post by Werel on Sun Mar 08, 2015 6:52 pm

Nthing "that's not how it works for everyone." There have been plenty of people I didn't pay much attention to upon first meeting, but came to find attractive after more interaction. There have also been people I found attractive during the first few minutes or days of meeting them, and then came to find severely unattractive after getting to know them better. Don't sweat whatever 8-minute miracle-method bullshit is being advertised to you-- first impressions can matter, but they're not the be-all end-all of attraction for everybody.
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Post by kath on Mon Mar 09, 2015 12:34 am

Also agreed that there are probably some people who make their dating decisions that way, and lots and lots who don't! Also, if you don't work that way, following that rule would pretty much put you up the creek.

(I am one another counterexample - I first met my husband a good 4 years before we started dating, and 2 years before we became friends)

Also, thanks for the scrupulosity link, Caffinated! There are a lot of places I think I can use that link in the future (and also, scrupulosity is something I struggle with a lot).
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Post by jcorozza on Mon Mar 09, 2015 10:22 pm

Oh man, I have a lot of thoughts on a lot of things here, so hopefully I'll remember them all.

First of, as a fellow sufferer of anxiety and depression (including the occasional panic attack when they collide), mental health high fives! (That's a thing, right?)

It sounds like you're working with your therapist/psychiatrist (do you just have the psychiatrist?) on figuring out what meds are good for you, which is great. Just make sure you give them time to work (for me, Lexapro is the clear winner. Lorazopam, Klonopin, and Xanax all made me either sleepy, or would make me wake up anxious and shaky, and Wellbutrin made me bawl uncontrollably), and don't settle if the person you're working with thinks that there's a better option. Also, the more conditions you have, the harder to medicate, and the longer it will probably take to figure out what combo is best for you. One of my bipolar friends spent years figuring out what worked for her, and finally found something that is really, really, good.

Regarding the situation with the girl whose hair you complimented: the others are right - the setting was fine, the compliment was fine, and her reaction was fine. Now the real question is, was it meant strictly as a stand alone compliment, or as an opening to either friendly conversation or flirting? I don't think there's much of a problem with a stand-alone compliment like the one you gave in most environments, but if you wanted to take it to the level of flirting, then you have to consider the setting. Social spaces (meetups, bars, etc. ) are the best, safest place to attempt this (or online on a dating site, but I'll stick to in-person), but there are also some neutral spaces where some flirting might be possible (a book store, coffee shop, grocery store - assuming you're not trying to flirt with the check-out girl). Then there are the "no, just don't" spaces - public transportation, a dark alley, anywhere people are going about their business quickly and don't want to be interrupted.

As far as the "8 minutes" thing... I have never heard this nonsense before. The best way to do flirting is to do it in a way that YOU are comfortable, because as soon as you become anxious, it will make her anxious as well. If you are most comfortable talking for awhile, and not initiating physical contact, go with that. Keep it mind that there are anxious women out there, too (just like me!) and that many of them may be uncomfortable with early physical contact. Chances are a woman who moves on quickly because you didn't make the "right move" (not a real thing) soon enough isn't going to be the best match for you anyway.

I've found that for me, because a lot of my anxiety is social, my most comfortable way of "flirting" is really just talking to guys the way I would a friend I enjoy talking to. I takes a lot of the pressure to seem flirty off, and allows me to relax a bit. Not entirely, but enough so that I don't come off as scary in any way.

Now here's something I don't think anyone's asked yet. You mentioned that being goth was an important part of your identity, and I want to ask you to examine that. What aspects are important to you? Is it the types of clothing? Dressing in a non-conformist way? The music? some other aspect?

I'm asking this because sometimes there are ways to still accommodate expressing some of things, but in ways that are less off-putting to the average Jo/Jody. I actually think the combat boots may be the thing that's triggering the most responses - a tall, broad-shouldered dude in big heavy boots could definitely come off as off-putting. I like the idea you had of adding some element to make it clear that while you look serious and dark, your actually a goofball, so some sort of whimsical clothing or accessory might help with that (I do this with jewelry, because wearing fun t-shirts isn't super appropriate for working in a school).

Here's something else I was mulling over. I haven't met tons of goth people, but the ones I have met have been pretty nice, often shy people. And I've actually done a bit of research on it for a paper I was writing about teen alienation (the subjects were Scandinavian, but I think enough of the information is still relevant), and one of the things that stood out to me was that young people (teens, early 20-somethings) who dress in nonconventional ways (goths and punks, specifically in the study) are often not the most socially comfortable, and choose to dress differently as a way to distance themselves from others - not because they don't want to relate to other people or have friends, because they are afraid that others will judge them, and so they kind of jump the gun so that the judgment is no longer about them, but about their clothing/makeup. Another thing they looked at was that sometimes those people would connect well with other nonconventionally -dressed peers, but that, as a group, it was then harder for them to relate to the rest of the peer population. I.e., they feel alienated, so they often dress differently as a kind of protection, and that protection ends up making it harder for them to make more friends (at least, outside of their small circle).

Now, I'm not saying any of this describes you specifically, but I think it's useful to think about if you choose to dress this way, even subconsciously, so that others won't approach you, or if you just genuinely like the look. It might even be a combination. But I worry that something fairly superficial, that you could maybe adjust, is keeping you from making as many human connections as you could, because you seem to otherwise have a very friendly, silly, enthusiastic personality that I think a lot of people would find appealing to be around.

I'll second, third, fourth (whatever number we're on) those who are saying that people here are being kind because you have led with being kind. I think it's also nice, and a welcome change, to have someone come in for advice, take it very seriously, and be very thankful for it. A lot of people aren't like that. They fight it, or don't want to change, and you seem extremely willing to change yourself in positive ways, which is a rare and endearing quality.

Oh, and regarding the collapsing in Hot Topic story: be careful not to assume that everyone reacted as they did because they were afraid of you - it's very likely they were afraid of the situation ( I know I would be! No amount of CPR/First Aid training prepares you to not freak out or freeze when a real emergency happens). They absolutely should have acted, and it sucks that they didn't, but that's on them, not you.

Hope at least some of this helps!
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Post by AtlachNacha on Wed Mar 11, 2015 2:44 pm

First off, thanks for the counterexamples and the confirmation that my instincts actually are reliable sometimes. The 8 minutes thing wasn't some kind of pickup artist thing though, I heard it from my father and my therapist confirmed and supplied the actual number... I'll ask her about it next session, I can't possibly have understood her correctly. I do know better than to pay attention to ads saying things along the lines of "GET INTO ANY GIRLS PANTS WITH THIS ONE WEIRD TRICK CLICK HERE NOW".

jcorozza wrote:First of, as a fellow sufferer of anxiety and depression (including the occasional panic attack when they collide), mental health high fives!  (That's a thing, right?)

I don't think there's anyone here that can stop us from making it a thing. *high five*

jcorozza wrote:
It sounds like you're working with your therapist/psychiatrist (do you just have the psychiatrist?) on figuring out what meds are good for you, which is great.  Just make sure you give them time to work (for me, Lexapro is the clear winner.  Lorazopam, Klonopin, and Xanax all made me either sleepy, or would make me wake up anxious and shaky, and Wellbutrin made me bawl uncontrollably), and don't settle if the person you're working with thinks that there's a better option.  Also, the more conditions you have, the harder to medicate, and the longer it will probably take to figure out what combo is best for you.  One of my bipolar friends spent years figuring out what worked for her, and finally found something that is really, really, good.  

No psychiatrist, I just see a... her official title I think is 'clinical social worker' so am I incorrect referring to her as a therapist? IDK, the terminology confuses me sometimes. I get prescriptions from my normal doctor.

I was on Lexapro for a long time, and it helped a lot, I was functional, but I lost almost all creative ability, couldn't write music anymore, which is... apparently a common thing with SSRIs, for some reason? Which is why I never want to be on an SSRI again. Then it just stopped working. I almost get anxiety from the word Xanax, it worked so hilariously counter to it's purpose.

(Chrome wants to correct Lexapro to leapfrog, Lorazopam to paparazzo, Klonopin to klondike, and Welbutrin to wellspring. What would YOU do for a Klonopin bar? And is it just me or do wellspring and leapfrog sound like some kind of creepy futuristic street drugs you'd see in a weird cyberpunk movie or something? Spellcheckers are funny sometimes.)

jcorozza wrote:
I've found that for me, because a lot of my anxiety is social, my most comfortable way of "flirting" is really just talking to guys the way I would a friend I enjoy talking to.  I takes a lot of the pressure to seem flirty off, and allows me to relax a bit. Not entirely, but enough so that I don't come off as scary in any way.

My confusion with this: if you're talking to someone like they're a friend, how do you go about expressing that you would like to be something other than a friend? Is it really a valid approach to just do that and then bluntly say "Hey I like you let's go out" without any buildup or lead in to it? And as for flirting, is there a way to do it without sexual innuendo? What even IS flirting, can I get a decent definition? ughgdsfdfglh.

jcorozza wrote:
Now here's something I don't think anyone's asked yet.  You mentioned that being goth was an important part of your identity, and I want to ask you to examine that.  What aspects are important to you?  Is it the types of clothing?  Dressing in a non-conformist way?  The music?  some other aspect?

Ugh, it's going to be difficult for me to not get off topic now. I'd say the music is probably the main thing, to the point that, if I can get my shit together, making goth/industrial/metal music is pretty much what I want to do with my life. Back when I was contemplating suicide on a regular basis the main thing that seemed to help the most was, paradoxically; sad, morbid music, in particular Emilie Autumn. I used to think that was weird, but I've heard so many people say similar things now, and found out there's such a thing as music therapy, so... And the clothes: I really do like dark colors, and slightly old fashioned clothes, and I find having a tie around my neck oddly comforting, and mainly I just like the way a dark suit looks on me, and it makes me feel like myself, and more 'together' if that makes any sense. And I love Lovecraft, and Stoker, and Shelley, and old Conrad Veidt movies and... you get the idea, basically every aspect of the whole thing, all the way back to the art, architecture, literature, and films that inspired and influenced it all. It's wonderful and I love it so.

I'm wary of the term 'non-conformist' because it brings to mind the type of people who smugly and condescendingly throw out stock phrases like 'I don't subscribe to labels' and insist they aren't goth and that they hate goths despite dressing completely stereotypically and having a music library full of nothing but Bauhaus and Siouxsie and etc...

jcorozza wrote:
I'm asking this because sometimes there are ways to still accommodate expressing some of things, but in ways that are less off-putting to the average Jo/Jody.  I actually think the combat boots may be the thing that's triggering the most responses - a tall, broad-shouldered dude in big heavy boots could definitely come off as off-putting.  I like the idea you had of adding some element to make it clear that while you look serious and dark, your actually a goofball, so some sort of whimsical clothing or accessory might help with that (I do this with jewelry, because wearing fun t-shirts isn't super appropriate for working in a school).

Not combat boots: http://www.zappos.com/images/732/7324341/6220-431453-p.jpg polished shiny with my pants down over them, rather than tucked into them unlaced punk style like my father told me to wear them. And to clarify: no makeup, no piercings, no spikes, (admittedly because I can't find anyone who sells spikey stuff anymore, but still.) no pentagrams, skulls are present but subtle (crosses are actually my preferred, don't know why I didn't mention that. And I'm a believer in 'crow makeup for special occasions only'. I really just need to post a picture in the style thread...). When I can actually manage to not look like i'm giving people death-glares, I get compliments pretty regularly, from people who aren't even remotely gothy, Like, for example, clergy (not kidding). Since I've started following the advice in this thread, the positive comments have gotten a lot more common, and I've been getting a lot fewer uncomfortable looks, and had perfectly pleasant conversations with random people in public once or twice, so my resting expression/body language does seem like it's most of the problem, if not the whole problem. I don't want to seem too argumentative, or anything, but I just really don't think my clothes are that much of the problem. And on the occasions that they are a problem, as elaborated further down, I don't care.

As for whimsical accessories, I have a few sewing projects going and I am open to ideas.

jcorozza wrote:
they are afraid that others will judge them, and so they kind of jump the gun so that the judgment is no longer about them, but about their clothing/makeup.

Thinking back, a part of the reason I started dressing weirder back in high school was because I got weird looks even walking around in a t-shirt, (this runs in the family, by the way. my dad is a foot taller and a couple hundred pounds heavier than me, and he has long hair as well. Come to think of it, he tends to wear loud hawaiian shirts most of the time...) so part of it was realizing that if people gave me weird looks wearing a floor length coat covered in chains and rivets (ahh, memories... haven't worn that monstrosity in years) I could easily chalk it up to a fairly obvious factor, then dismiss it, and it rather helped my anxiety when out in public, because most of it was 'oh god people are looking at me why are they looking at me' and with that it was like 'yeah, I knew I was gonna get weird looks the moment I put this on, everything within expected parameters, moving right along...' so there might be a little bit to this part, but once again, I dress the way I do because I like it.

jcorozza wrote:
Now, I'm not saying any of this describes you specifically, but I think it's useful to think about if you choose to dress this way, even subconsciously, so that others won't approach you, or if you just genuinely like the look.  It might even be a combination.  But I worry that something fairly superficial, that you could maybe adjust, is keeping you from making as many human connections as you could, because you seem to otherwise have a very friendly, silly, enthusiastic personality that I think a lot of people would find appealing to be around.

I kind of feel at this point like people who genuinely dislike me on sight because of the color scheme of my clothes - and I say color scheme because I don't foresee many people having an actual problem with me wearing a three piece suit everywhere - aren't really people i'd get along with anyway. I'm willing to make small adjustments to my appearance, and i'm willing to make changes in things i'm actually DOING that are off-putting,  but I mostly like my appearance the way it is, I do have friends, I have had a girlfriend before (funny thing, and relevant: I just remembered she told me once she actually thought I was creepy when we first met... and yet she asked me out, and initiated physical contact first, and kissed first. I mean, she was psychotic, and abusive* later on, but when she wasn't having a rage-fit it was some of the happiest times of my life.), I do get compliments from strangers, and things seem to be getting better as long as I can get myself to smile. (I guess my phrasing made the problem seem a lot more... constant? but that's probably because it seemed that way in my head at the time, I'm sorry if I've confused anyone with that, I honestly wasn't trying to misrepresent or exaggerate anything, I just haven't really been clear-headed. And people here have been a big help pulling me out of that, so I want to reiterate how grateful I am for that.)
And some things in that linked blog post and its comments got me thinking: I wouldn't find restricting someone else's clothing choices justifiable, nor would I find pre-judging them as bad people for those clothing choices particularly reasonable (to a point, see previous comment about racial slurs and rape jokes), so it doesn't make sense to restrict my own clothing choices or pay any attention to people judging me for them, does it? Seems a bit hypocritical of me.

So I guess it boils down to this: if my clothes are the root of the problem, I'd like to think I'm prepared to no longer consider it a problem, but rather a useful tool to weed out people I wouldn't like anyway, and who wouldn't like me. So in that sense maybe you're a little bit right, that on some level I'm trying to deter closed-minded, judgmental people, in which case... why would I want to not do that?

And thinking about how I got together with my ex has really made me realize this isn't as complicated as I thought, because all that happened was we talked a few times, connected over a few things, then she told me she had a crush on me. My jerkbrain has a habit of blocking my memory of positive things somehow. So... I guess I really am safe just reciprocating, rather than initiating, for the most part?


*So that I don't look like i'm pulling the stereotypical 'man, my ex was a crazy bitch. *crushes beer can against head* friggin' WOMEN, man...' thing: she once had a nightmare where I hit her, and called me at 3:00 in the morning to scream at me about how that meant I was actually going to do it in real life and she could never trust me, she constantly accused me of cheating on her, then tried to say my denying it was emotional abuse somehow, tried to kill herself in front of me when I tried to break up with her... and so on.

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Post by Caffeinated on Wed Mar 11, 2015 4:52 pm

AtlachNacha wrote:
jcorozza wrote:
I've found that for me, because a lot of my anxiety is social, my most comfortable way of "flirting" is really just talking to guys the way I would a friend I enjoy talking to.  I takes a lot of the pressure to seem flirty off, and allows me to relax a bit. Not entirely, but enough so that I don't come off as scary in any way.

My confusion with this: if you're talking to someone like they're a friend, how do you go about expressing that you would like to be something other than a friend? Is it really a valid approach to just do that and then bluntly say "Hey I like you let's go out" without any buildup or lead in to it? And as for flirting, is there a way to do it without sexual innuendo? What even IS flirting, can I get a decent definition? ughgdsfdfglh.

Well, yeah, it really is a valid approach to be talking with someone and then bluntly say you like them and ask them out. Sometimes flirting is just like talking to a friend only your heart rates are higher.

AtlachNacha wrote:Not combat boots: http://www.zappos.com/images/732/7324341/6220-431453-p.jpg polished shiny with my pants down over them, rather than tucked into them unlaced punk style like my father told me to wear them. And to clarify: no makeup, no piercings, no spikes, (admittedly because I can't find anyone who sells spikey stuff anymore, but still.) no pentagrams, skulls are present but subtle (crosses are actually my preferred, don't know why I didn't mention that. And I'm a believer in 'crow makeup for special occasions only'. I really just need to post a picture in the style thread...).

Yes! Yes you really should post a picture in the style thread! (Or two pictures, one with special occasion crow makeup and one daily look.)
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Post by jcorozza on Wed Mar 11, 2015 5:37 pm

My quote thing is being a jerk, so I'm going to do this the lame way.

"No psychiatrist, I just see a... her official title I think is 'clinical social worker' so am I incorrect referring to her as a therapist? IDK, the terminology confuses me sometimes. I get prescriptions from my normal doctor."

Therapist is a pretty broad term, and includes social workers, mental health counselors, and psychologists. If you have the money, or your insurance covers it, I highly, highly recommend seeing a psychiatrist for meds. Regular doctors are notoriously terrible at writing mental health prescriptions, especially if you have multiple diagnoses.

"I was on Lexapro for a long time, and it helped a lot, I was functional, but I lost almost all creative ability, couldn't write music anymore, which is... apparently a common thing with SSRIs, for some reason? Which is why I never want to be on an SSRI again. Then it just stopped working. I almost get anxiety from the word Xanax, it worked so hilariously counter to it's purpose."


I'd talk with your doctor about this - different SSRIs affect different people...differently. My friend who also takes Lexapro tried to take the generic for Lexapro, and even THAT didn't work the same for her! (We're also both writers, so it hasn't affected the creativity of at least two people out there. Again, it may take time to figure out what your best drug match is. That sounds weird.)
ummm


"My confusion with this: if you're talking to someone like they're a friend, how do you go about expressing that you would like to be something other than a friend? Is it really a valid approach to just do that and then bluntly say "Hey I like you let's go out" without any buildup or lead in to it? And as for flirting, is there a way to do it without sexual innuendo? What even IS flirting, can I get a decent definition? ughgdsfdfglh."

I might skip the "I like you", but yeah, if you're having a decent conversation, yeah, ask the woman out. Even something simple, like "I'm having a great time talking to you - do you want to go on a date?"



"I really do like dark colors, and slightly old fashioned clothes, and I find having a tie around my neck oddly comforting, and mainly I just like the way a dark suit looks on me, and it makes me feel like myself, and more 'together' if that makes any sense. And I love Lovecraft, and Stoker, and Shelley, and old Conrad Veidt movies and... you get the idea, basically every aspect of the whole thing, all the way back to the art, architecture, literature, and films that inspired and influenced it all. It's wonderful and I love it so."

Ah, okay, so while I don't think the clothing is really your issue either, I think it could be advantageous to go towards the Old fashioned/Lovecraft goth/steampunk/dark Victorian direction, rather than what I would call "modern goth". I think the former reads more "likes to dress interestingly/has a unique style" whereas the latter can read more as "I like to dress in a way that is intentionally unapproachable". I think it can be seen as adding some dramatic flare rather than being "scary". I may be biased, though, since I think Victorian's men's clothing is fabulous - ahh, those long tailored jackets!


"When I can actually manage to not look like i'm giving people death-glares, I get compliments pretty regularly, from people who aren't even remotely gothy, Like, for example, clergy (not kidding). Since I've started following the advice in this thread, the positive comments have gotten a lot more common, and I've been getting a lot fewer uncomfortable looks, and had perfectly pleasant conversations with random people in public once or twice, so my resting expression/body language does seem like it's most of the problem"

Definitely. Body language and facial expressions are incredibly important. I only recently realized that when I reprimand kids, I often have a smile on my face, so they all either think I'm nutty, or not serious, and they often continue to do whatever crappy thing they were doing.


"I could easily chalk it up to a fairly obvious factor, then dismiss it, and it rather helped my anxiety when out in public, because most of it was 'oh god people are looking at me why are they looking at me' and with that it was like 'yeah, I knew I was gonna get weird looks the moment I put this on, everything within expected parameters, moving right along...' so there might be a little bit to this part, but once again, I dress the way I do because I like it."

I think it's all about find a compromise between what you like, and what's going to be appropriate for your environment. In a goth club, or other places where extreme dress/costumes are the norm, you can pretty much do whatever you want. At work/school, you might need to tone things down a tad, but there's usually a way to at least keep a little but of your distinct style intact.


"I kind of feel at this point like people who genuinely dislike me on sight because of the color scheme of my clothes - and I say color scheme because I don't foresee many people having an actual problem with me wearing a three piece suit everywhere - aren't really people i'd get along with anyway."

In general, I'd agree with this, and it's a good way to weed out who wouldn't be a good friend/partner. But there are people you are going to interact with who will fill roles somewhere in between "stranger" and "friend", and those are the ones you may need to adjust a tad for (though to me, now that I've seen the boots and have a better description, I think the clothing probably isn't that unusual - is it common for Texans to wear full suits even when it's really hot? That may be why so much darkness is out of place? It wouldn't seem that odd for, say, 8 or 9 months of the year where I live, but if I saw a guy in an all dark suit in July, I might look twice)



"I wouldn't find restricting someone else's clothing choices justifiable, nor would I find pre-judging them as bad people for those clothing choices particularly reasonable (to a point, see previous comment about racial slurs and rape jokes), so it doesn't make sense to restrict my own clothing choices or pay any attention to people judging me for them, does it? Seems a bit hypocritical of me."

Ideally, yes. But humans are judgmental creatures, and we make snap decisions about people based on what they wear, their hair style, expressions, all kind of stuff. Sometimes it's not a bad thing to sway people to think of you in a positive way for that initial meeting (like we do on interviews). But again, I think some changes in body language will go a long way for this.

"So I guess it boils down to this: if my clothes are the root of the problem, I'd like to think I'm prepared to no longer consider it a problem, but rather a useful tool to weed out people I wouldn't like anyway, and who wouldn't like me. So in that sense maybe you're a little bit right, that on some level I'm trying to deter closed-minded, judgmental people, in which case... why would I want to not do that?"

Again, useful for finding friends, but will make everyday interactions harder! So maybe that just means around friends you can dress in more extreme versions of your style (because right now your style doesn't seem that extreme, but that may just be because I don't live in TX - seriously, get thee to Austin!)

"And thinking about how I got together with my ex has really made me realize this isn't as complicated as I thought, because all that happened was we talked a few times, connected over a few things, then she told me she had a crush on me. My jerkbrain has a habit of blocking my memory of positive things somehow. So... I guess I really am safe just reciprocating, rather than initiating, for the most part?"

I think this is really useful to know about yourself - that if you are approachable, especially to women (in particular, the ones you're attracted to), the flirting stuff kinda happens without you even really noticing. Some women will be completely comfortable approaching you and initiating contact, or even a date. If this is easier for you, make sure you're giving them positive signals (lots of smiles, occasional eye contact if you can, but, most importantly, make it clear that you're listening to her and care what she says!) and then she'll be more likely to know that her next move is a safe one to make!


"So that I don't look like i'm pulling the stereotypical 'man, my ex was a crazy bitch. *crushes beer can against head* friggin' WOMEN, man...' thing: she once had a nightmare where I hit her, and called me at 3:00 in the morning to scream at me about how that meant I was actually going to do it in real life and she could never trust me, she constantly accused me of cheating on her, then tried to say my denying it was emotional abuse somehow, tried to kill herself in front of me when I tried to break up with her... and so on."

Sounds like she definitely has some of her own issues to work out before she can be a remotely good partner for anyone. Sorry that happened to you - that sounds awful!
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Post by AtlachNacha on Wed Mar 11, 2015 6:28 pm

Caffeinated wrote:Well, yeah, it really is a valid approach to be talking with someone and then bluntly say you like them and ask them out. Sometimes flirting is just like talking to a friend only your heart rates are higher.


Seriously? Well hell, I think I can do that just fine.

Caffeinated wrote:Yes! Yes you really should post a picture in the style thread! (Or two pictures, one with special occasion crow makeup and one daily look.)

Confession time: I don't actually own any makeup, as I have not had occasion to wear it in a long time. And I've never actually worn it, (voluntarily, anyway, I've been held down while it was forcibly applied.) it's more of a theoretical thing. Clearly I am a failure at this whole goth thing. Laughing I will post pictures though, once I get the courage up.


(Your avatar is... the most authoritative looking cat I have ever seen.)


jcorozza: You posted while I was typing, so no quotes here either. Anyway, I believe I used the term 'corporate goth' in the OP, that was not something I made up, google if you're interested in examples. Though to be more accurate, my style is sort of CorpGoth with victorian touches, so we are on the same page here. (and 'modern goth' is such a massive oversimplification of the whole thing you have no idea, there's like 200 different sub-styles, it's insane. It confuses me so much when people say goths all dress identically, because... look up a picture from wave gotik treffen, and you'll see a couple in fetish gear, a group in victorian clothes, a couple people in medieval clothes, some people in neon with glowing fiber optic stuff in their hair...) It is not common for texans to wear full suits ever unless they are required to, and I have to ditch the jacket in summer and go down to at most a vest or I would literally die. There are many reasons why I'm currently saving up for a white linen suit. Who are these people between stranger and friend that I'd have a problem with? I have never had difficulty tweaking for interviews and the like, just swap out the boots for dress shoes, fish my one white shirt out of the neglected depths of my closet, tie my hair back, use a less unusual tie knot, and a less unusual tie... or in the case of the last interview I went to, lose the jacket vest and tie, and I was pretty much in uniform for that particular place when I showed up. I know what I'm doing here Razz. And women approaching and initiating isn't just easier for me, it's actually something I find really attractive.

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Post by jcorozza on Wed Mar 11, 2015 6:57 pm

It's definitely not something I know enough about to really differentiate - I mostly know the stereotypes, what I saw in my high school...10 years ago (or what I see at the high school I work in), and what I've seen in places like Hot Topic. I would have though those in medieval garb would be a whole separate thing, though, no? And I would have thought the same for fetish-wear, though I can't say that I'm an expert in that, either. I wouldn't mind wearing fiber-optics in my hair for a special event, though - I have an obsession for all things that glow in the dark.

As for the in between strangers and friends: coworkers (this will heavily depend on your job - lately I've been really wanting to dye my hair dark purple, but since I'm still looking for a better job...maybe once I get one, and have tenure? Or, over the summer), store clerks, servers - people you'll still need to interact with, and who you need services from. I guess it's not the worst thing ever if many of these people find you intimidating, but it will generally make your life easier if they don't, and would probably alleviate a lot of anxiety.

I think a lot of women would like to hear that last bit - I haven't always had a luck being the one approaching dudes (even online. But then again, the guys who are uncomfortable with it wouldn't be the guys for me, and it sounds like the women who wouldn't initiate contact with you might not be your type, either! Earning a reputation as Mr. FriendlyAndApproachable will help with this tremendously!
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Post by AtlachNacha on Sun Mar 15, 2015 7:30 pm

So... Thinking... Some things I still don't get. Let me know if I should start a new thread/ask in a different thread for any of this.

Why do some guys regularly get positive responses from leading with a sexual comment as the first thing they say? (the LW on DNL who started a conversation by accusing a woman of feeling him up immediately comes to mind.) I honestly can't find any contextual difference in any examples one way or the other, it's the FIRST THING said, but sometimes there's a positive response and sometimes it provokes physical violence, even within the same setting (a bar, for example.)

Other than her initiating first, what is the context for touching being okay? Innuendo? Can I go without innuendo entirely?

How do I go about seeming 'approachable'?

Basically I would really like some elaboration on all of this:
kleenestar wrote:If context is hard for you to read, we can help you come up with some rules that will minimize the need for you to be context-sensitive, and maybe even some techniques for you to safely practice your context skills. If you are interested in having her initiate physical contact, we can help you develop your come-hither skill set
(Also, I'm not sure if context sensitivity would be difficult for me, because... I'm not even sure exactly what we're talking about there.)

And... I'm sure this is going to come off completely wrong and make me look like an asshole, but: how exactly are the attitudes of 'confidence' and knowing that you might have to back off if necessary at all reconcilable? They seem like two separate and mutually exclusive mindsets: "she's absolutely going to love talking to me and everything is going to go well, and I have no reason not to just go up there and talk to her now" vs "she might not want to talk to me and i'll have to analyze her body language before approaching to make sure" are... directly contradictory, but they're apparently both necessary simultaneously? It seems like an approach is inherently an imposition, but trying to acknowledge that through, ex; "I hope you don't mind me saying this" "I hope I'm not bothering you" etc. apparently ends up being perceived as lacking confidence? I have to be missing something stupidly simple here.

I kind of feel like a complete moron for not understanding any of this, and i'm sorry i'm asking so many questions, I hope i'm not coming off as... demanding, or anything. But I just feel kind of lost, and kind of... deficient.

Also I'm confused that elsewhere on the forums and on the DNL comments everyone seems to be against men not approaching/initiating, but in this thread I'm getting opposite responses.

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Post by Enail on Sun Mar 15, 2015 9:11 pm

AtlachNacha wrote:So... Thinking... Some things I still don't get. Let me know if I should start a new thread/ask in a different thread for any of this.

Whichever you prefer is fine. We're not too fussy about long rambly threads versus short focused ones.


Why do some guys regularly get positive responses from leading with a sexual comment as the first thing they say? (the LW on DNL who started a conversation by accusing a woman of feeling him up immediately comes to mind.) I honestly can't find any contextual difference in any examples one way or the other, it's the FIRST THING said, but sometimes there's a positive response and sometimes it provokes physical violence, even within the same setting (a bar, for example.)

One thing would be that the guys are probably talking to different people. Different women will have different tolerance for/appreciation for different ways of approaching. Some will be more open to being approached in general than others as well. And they'll find different guys physically attractive, as well.  

Another would be that there are all kinds of very small aspects to every interaction that can have a big effect on how the participants perceive it. Someone who pays attention to the approachee's body language and has chosen to approach someone who is showing that she's open to talking to new people at that time will have a better chance of positive response than someone who just picks someone at random. Someone whose tone and body language seem aggressive or leering will be less likely to get a positive response than someone who comes across as friendly, flirty and playful. There are lots of little details like that that make a big difference!

AtlachNacha wrote:
Other than her initiating first, what is the context for touching being okay? Innuendo? Can I go without innuendo entirely?

Unprompted touching is a bit of an advanced/risky thing to do. If you're not confident with your ability to read non-verbal signals to tell whether it would be welcome (your question about sexual comments gives me the sense that you might not be), it might be best to avoid it until you've got that down a little better. Innuendo I'd say is usually best to to try something on the less sexual end and see if the other person responds in kind; again, if you're not sure if it would be welcome, do use caution with this.

And absolutely you can go without innuendo! It's something that some people like for flirting, but not everyone does! Since one of your major concerns atm is not creeping out or intimidating people, it seems like it might be a difficult one to pull off without seeming uncomfortable or aggressive, and might be particularly stressful for you. And since it sounds like you do sometimes get women approaching you or initiating touch, working on responding to that might be a better route for you.

Skipping some here, b/c I don't have anything useful to say....


And... I'm sure this is going to come off completely wrong and make me look like an asshole, but: how exactly are the attitudes of 'confidence' and knowing that you might have to back off if necessary at all reconcilable? They seem like two separate and mutually exclusive mindsets: "she's absolutely going to love talking to me and everything is going to go well, and I have no reason not to just go up there and talk to her now" vs "she might not want to talk to me and i'll have to analyze her body language before approaching to make sure" are... directly contradictory, but they're apparently both necessary simultaneously? It seems like an approach is inherently an imposition, but trying to acknowledge that through, ex; "I hope you don't mind me saying this" "I hope I'm not bothering you" etc. apparently ends up being perceived as lacking confidence? I have to be missing something stupidly simple here.

IMO, a better form of confidence is "I'm a great person to talk to, so let's see if that particular person would love talking to me. If she doesn't, that's fine, because I know there are lots of good things about me, and that knowledge does not depend on any one person wanting to talk to me right now."  It's more realistic than "everything's going to be wonderful and everyone will love me," and it leaves more room for paying attention to the other person's wants and for the fact that no one is 100% loved by everyone. Does that make any sense?


I kind of feel like a complete moron for not understanding any of this, and i'm sorry i'm asking so many questions, I hope i'm not coming off as... demanding, or anything. But I just feel kind of lost, and kind of... deficient.

Nothing to be sorry for, and no need to feel like a moron - this stuff is tricky for lots of people!


Also I'm confused that elsewhere on the forums and on the DNL comments everyone seems to be against men not approaching/initiating, but in this thread I'm getting opposite responses.

This sounds like another issue of context. No one has to approach. But some women prefer that men approach them, or have personal reasons to be wary of men who don't approach them but respond positively to their approach. And people here tend to have little patience for people who complain that they can't find anyone to date but aren't willing to approach prospective partners in one way or another(including women - most of the women here who discuss not approaching have explained, and often defended, their specific reasons for choosing not to approach).  I'm not sure exactly where you were noticing that, so I'm not sure that those are the reasons for those times you were talking about, though. And also, of course, there are different people here who don't all share the same opinions!
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Post by jcorozza on Sun Mar 15, 2015 9:20 pm

If flirting and dating were easy, DNL wouldn't exist!

I think enail hit pretty much everything I want to say, but I just wanted to add that, on the point of approaching: if the type of women you prefer are the type that would approach, then it's fine to prefer that. It does mean, however, you may have to be a bit more patient. I know that I'd be willing to approach in a warmer situation, like with an acquaintance or friend I had gotten good signals from, or in a less risky place, like online, but most likely wouldn't approach a guy at a bar or a coffee shop. And some women will choose to not approach at all, because they've had bad experiences with it, or because they prefer a guy who takes charge. I think it's fine to prefer women who approach you, as long as you don't mind waiting, and aren't going to complain that not as many women seem to approach you as you would like.
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Post by Wondering on Sun Mar 15, 2015 9:33 pm

jcorozza wrote:And some women will choose to not approach at all, because they've had bad experiences with it

Yep, that's me. I approached quite a bit in earlier years but had many bad experiences with it so just finally said, "Nope, not doing that anymore. And maybe I'll always be alone, then, but I'm not again going through XYZ things that have happened when I approach."

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Post by Autumnflame on Mon Mar 16, 2015 4:55 am

AtlachNacha wrote:So... Thinking... Some things I still don't get. Let me know if I should start a new thread/ask in a different thread for any of this.

Why do some guys regularly get positive responses from leading with a sexual comment as the first thing they say? (the LW on DNL who started a conversation by accusing a woman of feeling him up immediately comes to mind.) I honestly can't find any contextual difference in any examples one way or the other, it's the FIRST THING said, but sometimes there's a positive response and sometimes it provokes physical violence, even within the same setting (a bar, for example.)

There's lots of contextual things that can't come across in a letter - how someone looks (how attractive someone is to the person they're hitting on can make a big difference), their body language, the emphasis (or not) that they put on the words, the timbre of their voice, whether the person being hit on had a shitty day or if they'd had a few and were feeling good because they just got a promotion, etc. It's not as cut-and-dry as "well, they're both in the same bar on Thursday night."

If some guys do regularly get positive responses by opening with a sexual comment, it's probably because of some combination of physical features (appearance, voice, bearing, etc.), who they choose to approach, and where they normally do so.



Other than her initiating first, what is the context for touching being okay? Innuendo? Can I go without innuendo entirely?

The context for touching being okay is unfortunately pretty intuitive and requires some evaluation of multiple factors, and still carries a risk of failure. Generally I'd look for what DNL calls "clusters of signals" - is she smiling a bunch AND leaning close AND responding enthusiastically to your words AND is the setting appropriate for flirting (e.g. not at work), that sort of thing. And if things look okay, then you start off super-light (fingertips on elbow, or the shoulder, or a light hand to the outer arm to slip on by, that sort of thing - anything that's appropriate for casual platonic touch) and see how she responds. If she responds with a touching back, that's a pretty good sign and you might be able to escalate (but always keep watching for her reactions). If she continues to be friendly without any sign of reciprocation, that's harder to tell. At that point I'd recommend using your words more than trying to escalate.

Innuendo's fairly similar, but yeah, it helps if the situation is already leaning that way. But you can easily go without it entirely and just use your words. I don't think any risque topics or jokes came up in the lead-up to and during my first date with my SO, until I looked at him in the second venue we went to and said, "I've been thinking about kissing you for a while." Which isn't even really flirty or innuendo-filled so much as a bald statement of intent. I'm not sure if we'd even touched before then, beyond shaking hands and a hello hug (which is not so much flirting as just, well, a fairly standard hello).


How do I go about seeming 'approachable'?

Making eye contact, smiling, open body language (slightly turned toward the person you're signaling approachability to). Frequently glancing at that person, holding gazes for a second, then looking down also helps (continuing to smile during that is extra-flirty). The eye contact part is definitely important - if I'm trying to signal unapproachability, whether I'm not interested in someone specific or if I'm just having a bad day and don't feel like talking to anyone, I avoid eyes like the plague. If it's a "warm" setting where conversation's expected, like a party or a class, you might be able to signal extra approachability by something as simple as "hi" or a random comment, and seeing if she follows up on that.


And... I'm sure this is going to come off completely wrong and make me look like an asshole, but: how exactly are the attitudes of 'confidence' and knowing that you might have to back off if necessary at all reconcilable? They seem like two separate and mutually exclusive mindsets: "she's absolutely going to love talking to me and everything is going to go well, and I have no reason not to just go up there and talk to her now" vs "she might not want to talk to me and i'll have to analyze her body language before approaching to make sure" are... directly contradictory, but they're apparently both necessary simultaneously? It seems like an approach is inherently an imposition, but trying to acknowledge that through, ex; "I hope you don't mind me saying this" "I hope I'm not bothering you" etc. apparently ends up being perceived as lacking confidence? I have to be missing something stupidly simple here.

I think Enail covered it pretty well, but in short: it's not outcome-based confidence. It's inherent-worth-confidence. It's not confidence based on how she's going to react (because, while you can make some educated guesses, you can never really know and you can't control how someone else feels), it's confidence that you're a relatively okay person and maybe someone will be interested in that (even if it may not be this person right here, right now). It's sort of like how you've been realizing that you like dressing like a goth, and, well, if someone reacts poorly to you because of your sartorial choices, that's on them and maybe it's for the best, since it seems like you'd have different attitudes that wouldn't make for a good friendship.

Also, I'm not sure why "I hope I'm not bothering you" would be read as lacking confidence - not by themselves, anyway. This is, again, one of those context-dependent things. If someone says it while cringing slightly and stuttering, that's going to be read as lacking confidence. If someone says it unhesitatingly but with a smile, and goes on to ask the question or whatever, it's just politeness.

Also I'm confused that elsewhere on the forums and on the DNL comments everyone seems to be against men not approaching/initiating, but in this thread I'm getting opposite responses.

People are mostly against men who don't approach but ALSO complain about why don't women ever approach and how come they never get dates, etc. It's one of those "if you have preference X, then accept Y consequences at the outcome. Don't complain about Y all the time but never do anything to fix it." If you're less inclined to approach, but also aware and okay with the fact that it'll probably lead to getting fewer dates (societal conditioning being what it is), you're fine.
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Post by AtlachNacha on Mon Mar 16, 2015 10:41 am

Autumnflame wrote:(fingertips on elbow, or the shoulder, or a light hand to the outer arm to slip on by, that sort of thing - anything that's appropriate for casual platonic touch)

All of that sounds hideously awkward and unnatural and forced from here. I can't think of ever having done or seen anyone do those things.

So:

Approachability: Be extroverted and cheerful and excited all the time, even though trying to do so around people I've never met before feels like swimming through concrete.

Not approaching/initiating: I can do it, as long as I recognize that I won't get anywhere with anyone.


So in essence, my anxiety guarantees that I'm going to continue to be alone, and it's all my own fault. I don't know what to do right now, because it seems like giving up is the only option, but the loneliness almost physically hurts right now. I'm sorry for wasting everyone's time, I guess.

How do I train myself to just... not want to be around people?

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Post by Enail on Mon Mar 16, 2015 11:28 am

AtlachNacha wrote:

Approachability: Be extroverted and cheerful and excited all the time, even though trying to do so around people I've never met before feels like swimming through concrete.

Not approaching/initiating: I can do it, as long as I recognize that I won't get anywhere with anyone.

So in essence, my anxiety guarantees that I'm going to continue to be alone, and it's all my own fault. I don't know what to do right now, because it seems like giving up is the only option, but the loneliness almost physically hurts right now. I'm sorry for wasting everyone's time, I guess.

How do I train myself to just... not want to be around people?

Okay, I think you're leaping to some pretty big conclusions here. Flirting/hitting on people/being hit on is not the easiest set of social activities, no. That doesn't mean that you are guaranteed to be alone forever.

For one, since you've had women approach and flirt with you, it's likely that you already are signalling approachability sometimes, that it's something you already know how to do subconsciously, even if you're not sure how to do it on purpose. You might be able to pinpoint some of it by looking for any commonalities in the situations where you've been approached - how were you feeling that day, what kind of environment was it, that kind of thing.

For another, social skills and comfort are things that can really build on themselves once you start making headway. Working on your anxiety and working on being less intimidating, things you're already doing, can help you have more positive interactions in time and recognize them as positive, which can help you be more comfortable in future interactions, which can help you come across more positively and make it easier to work on other social skills you want to get the hang of... and so on, so forth.  Think about the fact that you've already seen changes in peoples' reactions from trying to smile more!

Don't let yourself get discouraged too quickly - these look like impossible things now, but you don't have to master them all in one fell swoop, you just go one small, manageable step at a time.  Things do change that way.
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Post by Autumnflame on Mon Mar 16, 2015 12:16 pm

AtlachNacha wrote:
Autumnflame wrote:(fingertips on elbow, or the shoulder, or a light hand to the outer arm to slip on by, that sort of thing - anything that's appropriate for casual platonic touch)

All of that sounds hideously awkward and unnatural and forced from here. I can't think of ever having done or seen anyone do those things.

It's quite possible that it mostly happens between women, and perhaps not in your social circles, but I assure you that I've seen it/experienced it from purely platonic sources, done as a natural, unthinking addendum/emphasis to whatever they're saying. Including here in Texas. I've seen it between men too, though that mostly of the "let me get by" type, or the back-of-the-hand-to-the-outer-arm "oh hey, hey, check this out/pay attention to this" variety.

Approachability: Be extroverted and cheerful and excited all the time, even though trying to do so around people I've never met before feels like swimming through concrete.

Not approaching/initiating: I can do it, as long as I recognize that I won't get anywhere with anyone.

Those are some HUGE leaps there. I would recommend dialing back on the worst case assumptions, as it's not helpful to read way more into words than are actually stated, for yourself or for anyone trying to help you. I'm actually a little offended by this. If this is stemming from anxiety, it might be helpful to learn to recognize that if something appears to be all-or-nothing, it's probably the anxiety speaking and not to be trusted as the actual truth; most things have much more nuance than that.

Smiling, looking at people and maybe (maybe!) talking is in no world required to be performed only by extroverts or people hopped up on adrenaline. If speaking up first is difficult, you can abstain from that, but you've said yourself that you've noticed better results from smiling a bit more. And the point of working on approachability is to be able to get somewhere without having to approach, but realism requires recognizing that being the outwardly-passive one does put you into the position of not having as many options (for both men and women, though the situation is admittedly more tilted against men in that position). I understand that even looking at people can be sometimes difficult to overcome, but you specifically asked how to be approachable, and those are the main signals.
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Post by AtlachNacha on Mon Mar 16, 2015 12:35 pm

and now we've reached the inevitable point where i screw up and piss everyone off like the stupid whiny little shit i am.

i'm sorry. i'll go away now.

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