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Post by The Wisp on Sun Apr 19, 2015 1:11 am

I legitimately have a few friends now, it's a strange feeling, but largely positive!

Hung out with two of the three of them today, and it was very fun! One, A, invited me and the other person with us to a party of a friend of his. He said it would be a low key party with board games and nerds, 15 people max, knowing the guy hosting it. The woman couldn't make it, but I thought I'd push myself out of my comfort zone. We show up and it's actually more of a stereotypical college party, albeit in the quieter early stages. There were some nerds there, but they weren't playing board games! A had actually never been to a party hosted by this guy and so had been just guessing (which he had admitted before we arrived, anyway).

Nobody was drunk because it just started, but there was going to be loud live music later and there were at least 20 people there when we showed up, and more streaming in. Also, I didn't know anybody besides A so I just kinda awkwardly stood around listening to A talk with a bunch of people for a half hour. It was one of those situations where everybody knew everybody else and I had no opportunity to get involved in the conversation because the topics were all about people they knew or things they did together, and though A attempted a few times to get me involved the others moved too fast. I realized right away that I would not be comfortable there. I wanted to push outside of my comfort zone, but this was probably going to be four zones out from my comfort zone if I had stayed! After 1/2 hour, I told A I wanted to leave (we had already established that we wouldn't want to stay long) and that because he was curious about the live music it was best to take me home early so he could come back to see it, rather than have me stay for another 1/2-1 hour and drag him out right when the music was starting (also, subtext that I was uncomfortable, which I think he picked up on). He was really cool and smooth about it and quickly left and we had a good chat on the drive to my place about stuff.

Pro: A was really awesome and understanding and smooth about my wanting to leave.

Con: Very awkward being there, and definitely wasn't what either A or me expected. I didn't really feel able to even enter the conversation as everybody else knew each other.

I'm really liking how my friendship with A is developing. I like the other two as well, but I really only know them through A and I have become closer to him. It's strange, though. We do have some light-hearted conversations, especially if we're with one or both of the other two people in our little four person group, but most of out talk is about deeper topics like philosophy, politics, and our personal lives (more his than mine, but have shared quite a bit, too). It's weird, we haven't really played video games together or done other "hobby" stuff together. And though we have deep conversations and very vulnerable conversations, it doesn't so far seem like the kind of friendship where we would go to one another for immediate emotional support when emotions are raw. Also, the implicit frame in our conversations is that we're not yet established friends or close friends, which makes sense, but it's weird because we're also being very open with one another.

I'm really enjoying it! It's the kind of friendship I want, don't get me wrong. It just feels weird in certain respects, but maybe that's normal because I'm inexperienced.

I suppose it will develop the way it will develop Shrug
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Post by Enail on Sun Apr 19, 2015 11:32 am

Wisp, that sounds really awesome! Ugggh to unexpected awkward parties, but it sounds like you'd prepared for it well and that A was very cool about it. I'd call that a big net positive!

I've also had sort of weird situations like that where you're simultaneously not-close friends and sort of acting like close friends, and aside from the general weirdness of it, I don't think it actually is a problem or makes it harder to be friends.

Good luck! I'm really happy for you! Grin
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Post by Prajnaparamita on Sun Apr 19, 2015 3:20 pm

Seconding Enail, A sounds like a really cool dude who gets it--you two encountered an unexpectedly awkward party, which was pretty awful for you, but frankly sounded pretty nice for him--his friends were there, he wanted to hear the music, but rather than abandoning you to go enjoy himself, he remembered you, tried to make the situation better for you, and when that wasn't going to happen, helped you leave. The fact that he did that without you feeling bad about it I think shows that he's a really compassionate dude who is trying to get where you're coming from and be helpful, which I think is super valuable in a friend. Sure, this party didn't work out, but it seems like he's invested in hanging out with you and helping you feel comfortable.

As for the other aspects of your relationship, I think it sounds like you make friends in a similar way that I do, with a similar sort of person--by bonding over super-intense intellectual and emotional exchanges. (For instance the latest acquaintance I made, it started with an intense discussion about comics as art at the bus stop, and only 30 mins in was I like "Hey, so what's your name?") Which is great, I get high off that amazing sudden feeling of connection, but you have to keep in mind that not everyone's idea of a good time is discussing religion/philosophy/emotional history in a very in-depth way. Friend will likely have people who they hang around and very much like who just want to shoot the breeze talking sports or weekend plans or parties or whatever, and that's great for them. Personally, I've made it clear to my friends that while I like most of their friends as people, I don't really have any interest in becoming friends with them myself, and hanging out in groups isn't really my thing. I'll just be miserable in that 5+ person outing for ice cream or whatever, and they're not bad friends for not inviting me when it happens. That and being mindful that as my interaction style is really focused and passionate one-on-one conversations interacting in threes or groups is going to be awkward. I don't particularly care that others generally don't interact with people the way I do--small talk just generally leaves me feeling awkward, but all sorts of different people have different kinds of friendships!

As for what you were saying about having shared quite a bit, yet don't feel like you could go to each other for support, I totally get that. I understand it like this--there's a difference between emotional intimacy, and emotional support. Emotional intimacy is that I trust the person enough to open up to them, but getting emotional support is much more complex. Getting emotional support requires me not only being able to trust the person, but feeling like they "get" me somewhat. And that's something that just generally takes time, to know what helps someone and what just makes it worse ( for example, gallows humor or reassurances that it will all be okay will likely provoke completely different responses from people, and that's something that you have to listen, observe, and learn from them.) Often if someone who doesn't really understand what I find helpful tries to comfort me when I'm anxious, it just makes things worse. For instance, a lot of people will often start by trying to dispute/disprove my negative thoughts, and while I know they're not trying to be dismissive, I feel like I'm being forced to prove to them that I'm actually depressed/anxious, and it just leaves me really frustrated and not wanting to confide in them again. People who know me well though will usually try to distract me with other things until I calm down and the feeling has passed. I don't know if that's exactly what's going on in regards to your friendship with A, but that's why I have a higher bar for going to people for emotional support as opposed to just opening up.

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Post by The Wisp on Mon Apr 20, 2015 2:40 am

Enail wrote:Good luck! I'm really happy for you! Grin

Thanks! Smile

Prajnaparamita wrote:Seconding Enail, A sounds like a really cool dude who gets it--you two encountered an unexpectedly awkward party, which was pretty awful for you, but frankly sounded pretty nice for him--his friends were there, he wanted to hear the music, but rather than abandoning you to go enjoy himself, he remembered you, tried to make the situation better for you, and when that wasn't going to happen, helped you leave. The fact that he did that without you feeling bad about it I think shows that he's a really compassionate dude who is trying to get where you're coming from and be helpful, which I think is super valuable in a friend. Sure, this party didn't work out, but it seems like he's invested in hanging out with you and helping you feel comfortable.

Well, he even said he didn't want to be there for more than 1.5-2 hours (and this was before I said I wanted to keep it short; he had also said he was mostly going because the guy throwing it was a good friend); he's not a party animal by any means (he actually lived in a buddhist monastery for 8 months out of high school, so as you can imagine he has a pretty chill personality and isn't big on loud events usually, though he seems more of an ambivert to my introvert). But, yes, I am very grateful that he was so cool and compassionate about it, because he was enjoying himself.

As for the other aspects of your relationship, I think it sounds like you make friends in a similar way that I do, with a similar sort of person--by bonding over super-intense intellectual and emotional exchanges. (For instance the latest acquaintance I made, it started with an intense discussion about comics as art at the bus stop, and only 30 mins in was I like "Hey, so what's your name?") Which is great, I get high off that amazing sudden feeling of connection, but you have to keep in mind that not everyone's idea of a good time is discussing religion/philosophy/emotional history in a very in-depth way. Friend will likely have people who they hang around and very much like who just want to shoot the breeze talking sports or weekend plans or parties or whatever, and that's great for them. Personally, I've made it clear to my friends that while I like most of their friends as people, I don't really have any interest in becoming friends with them myself, and hanging out in groups isn't really my thing. I'll just be miserable in that 5+ person outing for ice cream or whatever, and they're not bad friends for not inviting me when it happens. That and being mindful that as my interaction style is really focused and passionate one-on-one conversations interacting in threes or groups is going to be awkward. I don't particularly care that others generally don't interact with people the way I do--small talk just generally leaves me feeling awkward, but all sorts of different people have different kinds of friendships!

Well, he initiated most of our initial conversations and guided their direction, but yeah that is definitely the style I prefer and I connected with him because of that. I was wondering at that party, though: could I enjoy other types of conversation if they didn't make me nervous and make my mind go blank? Certainly when A and I are with the other two from our philosophy class I can shift into more casual conversation (though I'm unsure if that's what you mean by "small talk"), but I feel like having A as an anchor, and previous conversations with the other two before and after class, makes it easier. Also, that it ping pongs between deeper and lighter stuff makes the lighter stuff not suffocating. Still, small-talk with strangers or near-strangers is very hard for me, and not super enjoyable, like at that party (where I was both uninterested and anxious). I feel this is one of things that's making connecting with people hard for me, I can't get past that initial step. Thank god A was so persistent!

I'm unsure what I can and will enjoy, tolerate, be competent at, etc. from a social point of view, mostly due to a lack of experience and the clouding effects of anxiety. I'm glad I'm not alone in preferring the deeper stuff, though.

As for what you were saying about having shared quite a bit, yet don't feel like you could go to each other for support, I totally get that. I understand it like this--there's a difference between emotional intimacy, and emotional support. Emotional intimacy is that I trust the person enough to open up to them, but getting emotional support is much more complex. Getting emotional support requires me not only being able to trust the person, but feeling like they "get" me somewhat. And that's something that just generally takes time, to know what helps someone and what just makes it worse ( for example, gallows humor or reassurances that it will all be okay will likely provoke completely different responses from people, and that's something that you have to listen, observe, and learn from them.) Often if someone who doesn't really understand what I find helpful tries to comfort me when I'm anxious, it just makes things worse. For instance, a lot of people will often start by trying to dispute/disprove my negatve thoughts, and while I know they're not trying to be dismissive, I feel like I'm being forced to prove to them that I'm actually depressed/anxious, and it just leaves me really frustrated and not wanting to confide in them again. People who know me well though will usually try to distract me with other things until I calm down and the feeling has passed. I don't know if that's exactly what's going on in regards to your friendship with A, but that's why I have a higher bar for going to people for emotional support as opposed to just opening up.

I don't think A would be that way. We have opened up about fairly recent stuff and been compassionate with one another: he his very recent break-up* (about two weeks ago IIRC) and me my difficulty making friends at university. But, it still feels like there's a distance there where he wouldn't contact me the night of a break up, nor would I contact him after a social rejection. He actually even disclosed his finding one of the two other people we hang out with (both female) attractive, but wondering if it was a rebound, as the woman is, according to him, very different than his ex in ways that he desires. I suppose that was a moment of emotional support, though I didn't really have any coherent advice to give. I still feel there's a barrier though,  we still are getting to know one another, and we wouldn't contact each other solely for emotional support in the moment, but it might come up when we're hanging out. I imagine this barrier will disappear over time if we maintain our platonic chemistry. EDIT: By the way, it sucks that people have treated you that way when you were vulnerable to them, I'm sorry Sad

Anyway, I'm glad both you and enail have affirmed that this pattern of a friendship isn't unusual.

*Side-thought: This just occurred to me. A did start really start making an effort to deepen our connection from "philosophy class buddies" to "genuine friends" right around when he and his girlfriend broke up. He did mention not making a ton of effort socially while in the relationship. This seems pretty common.
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Post by reboot on Mon Apr 20, 2015 9:23 am

First off, he sounds like a good person and someone whose company you enjoy, so YAY!!

As for emotional support seeking, it takes time to develop. You two have known each other for, what? 3-4 months? Be patient and it might develop to that point, maybe for both of you, maybe just for one of you.

And on the topic of him not trying to be friends with you earlier, if he was in the process of having a relationship go south and then fall apart, new friends might have been a low priority or he was just out of the emotional reserves necessary to meet new people. It is a pretty draining experience to go through a break up
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Post by The Wisp on Mon Apr 27, 2015 12:33 am

reboot wrote:And on the topic of him not trying to be friends with you earlier, if he was in the process of having a relationship go south and then fall apart, new friends might have been a low priority or he was just out of the emotional reserves necessary to meet new people. It is a pretty draining experience to go through a break up

Apparently the breakup was more of a gradual drifting-apart-to-mutual-breakup type rather than one filled with drama. But maybe that is still draining? He has said he almost takes relationships too seriously, so even when it was going well he might have been not focused on other socializing.




So I successfully initiated seeing a movie with A (the other two we've hung out with are N and H, both girls, weren't interested, though I invited them, too)! It ended up being delayed until tonight after a study session with me, A, N, and H. Only A and I went, though (it was "ex machina", which was really really good by the way). Afterwards we had a really open and deep conversation for 1.5 hours, which was really great. I don't feel drained after interacting with him, which is a new experience for me.

Also, I had lunch with N Friday on campus, which was good too. That also wasn't draining (though our friendship isn't nearly as deep)!

Anyway, I'm wondering about how to introduce platonic physical touch into a friendship, specifically with A. He's already signaled that he's pretty open to touch in friendships. I saw him hug a male friend at one point, and he mentioned to me that he values touch with close friends after a weird handshake thing he introduced me to.

I want physical touch in friendships, too, but it's hard for me to signal that. For one, I still feel social anxiety around physical touch (even if I want it, I'll feel awkward and maybe even cringe a little when it happens, as I'm not desensitized to it yet). For another, I'm very uncertain about my abilities to read when it is appropriate, which feeds the anxiety. So, I think I might come off as somebody who doesn't want touch, when I actually do. So, um, what should I do? I want to signal openness to some physical touch with A, but I'm not sure how. Advice?
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Post by kleenestar on Mon Apr 27, 2015 10:59 am

Oh, so delighted to hear about your good news!

One way to approach the physical touch thing with A might be to ask his advice. "Hey, I notice you are really good at incorporating physical touch in your friendships. I want to do that too, but I don't know what's appropriate. How did you figure it out?" That will both signal openness and maybe get you some very good advice about how to do it with other people. Smile

If that doesn't work for you, I can consider other approaches.
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Post by Caffeinated on Mon Apr 27, 2015 12:29 pm

One pretty straightforward way I've seen people initiate physical touch with friends involves the hello or goodbye hug. When the moment of greeting or leave-taking comes, the person who wants to go for the hug opens their arms a little and says "hug?" and if the other person is ok with the hug, they hug each other. If the other person isn't into hugging at the moment, they can demur and offer something else like a handshake or wave or awkward explanation about how they have the sniffles or whatever.
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Post by The Wisp on Tue Apr 28, 2015 7:42 pm

kleenestar wrote:One way to approach the physical touch thing with A might be to ask his advice. "Hey, I notice you are really good at incorporating physical touch in your friendships. I want to do that too, but I don't know what's appropriate. How did you figure it out?" That will both signal openness and maybe get you some very good advice about how to do it with other people. Smile

If that doesn't work for you, I can consider other approaches.

That feels... more direct that I'm comfortable with at this moment. That said I'll keep in the back of my mind and spring it if the moment is right!

Caffeinated wrote:One pretty straightforward way I've seen people initiate physical touch with friends involves the hello or goodbye hug. When the moment of greeting or leave-taking comes, the person who wants to go for the hug opens their arms a little and says "hug?" and if the other person is ok with the hug, they hug each other. If the other person isn't into hugging at the moment, they can demur and offer something else like a handshake or wave or awkward explanation about how they have the sniffles or whatever.

Suggesting a goodbye hug might work. Still, it's a very vulnerable thing to do and I'm feeling social anxiety just thinking about it!

What about a quick soft pat on the shoulder to get his attention or emphasize something? I'm almost certain he'd be okay with that.

This is hard. I my feelings are similar to those I had when I was trying to make small talk a few years ago with little experience.
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Post by The Wisp on Wed Apr 29, 2015 8:35 pm

I patted him on the shoulder today to say "hi" as I walked into class, and it seemed to be fine. I guess a slow build up is good. Maybe I'll suggest a hug in the future?
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Post by reboot on Thu Apr 30, 2015 5:36 am

Maybe a goodbye hug? If the touching gets reciprocated as in he pats your shoulder or touches you at some point?

Sorry I cannot be more definite. I have never really thought about how I lead to breaking the touch barrier with friends since the decisions always felt pretty unconscious
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Post by Caffeinated on Fri May 01, 2015 9:05 pm

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Post by The Wisp on Fri May 01, 2015 9:07 pm

Caffeinated wrote:Or, you could buy and wear this shirt: http://teespring.com/hugs-limited-edition#pid=2&cid=2397&sid=front

What is that thing on the shirt!?!?
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Post by Caffeinated on Fri May 01, 2015 9:25 pm

The Wisp wrote:
Caffeinated wrote:Or, you could buy and wear this shirt: http://teespring.com/hugs-limited-edition#pid=2&cid=2397&sid=front

What is that thing on the shirt!?!?

A facehugger from the Alien movie series.
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Post by The Wisp on Fri May 01, 2015 9:27 pm

Caffeinated wrote:
The Wisp wrote:
Caffeinated wrote:Or, you could buy and wear this shirt: http://teespring.com/hugs-limited-edition#pid=2&cid=2397&sid=front

What is that thing on the shirt!?!?

A facehugger from the Alien movie series.

Ah, okay, I see it now. That's an awesome shirt Laughing
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