[disc] How to enjoy people's company.

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[disc] How to enjoy people's company.

Post by Guest on Wed May 06, 2015 10:05 am

I'll probably regret this. Whatevs. I also realize that the question in the title is somewhat stupid. It's a question I have nonetheless.

What prompted this thread was Werel's comment in the "Depression and dating" thread about how being able to enjoy the company of others is vital to being perceived as an attractive person (holistically). Like it's a value judgement on you.

I didn't feel good reading that statement because for the longest time, I don't recall enjoying myself intensely enough (socially) to warrant spending time with anyone. I don't know if this is some combination of inherent and fabricated introversion, fear of disappointment, fear of being consistently thought of as mediocre/below-average etc.

So is there a way to fix this? Perhaps this is just how I am? Could something else be going on?

Thanks.

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Re: [disc] How to enjoy people's company.

Post by Guest on Wed May 06, 2015 10:50 am

I'm not sure if it is fabricated or inherent introversion. But "a way to fix this" implies there's a big problem and it kinda is, but not really.

What I mean is, I'm a socially outgoing introvert. So for example, if a friend who I don't see often is in town, hell yeah I'll go see them. I may be exhausted by the end, but goddamn was that fun. Razz

So, if you need to work on it, what I suggest you do then when around others is: focusing on the current situation when hanging out with people (not just girls). Yeah, you can also think about other things, but when you're hanging out with people try to focus on what else is going on around you (not just what's in your head).

You don't need to be the life of the conversation, party, etc. Just be present in the moment. And also, listen to others and try to relate to others!

I dunno, that's what I think. I could be wrong and others can disagree with me. Razz

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Re: [disc] How to enjoy people's company.

Post by Enail on Wed May 06, 2015 12:55 pm

I think there's likely an aspect that's who you are, whether that means an introvert, and thus only sometimes enjoying being around people, or the kind of person who enjoys being around the right people but not just any and all people, or both (I'm both).

But I think there's also a mutable aspect, and my (ill-informed!) guess would be that all people have the potential to find at least some company enjoyable some of the time - if you care about being attractive, it probably means there's something in you that does want company in some form, even if you haven't found it enjoyable in the past.

For you, it sounds like there are some fear-based factors, which are probably changeable with developing more confidence or finding people who you feel safer with or figuring out how to align expectations with reality or whatever. And for most people, I think some form of practice does help, getting familiarity so that it's less of an uncomfortable situation, gaining skill at some of the things that tend to allow more fulfilling interactions or the ones that ease the stresses of the situation.

Some personal bits that maybe give something a little more concrete to this grab-bag of thoughts:

-A skill that's helped me enjoy spending time with others more is getting better at identifying people who I'm more likely to enjoy the company of, and tailoring my social choices so that those people make up a higher percentage of the people I interact with (by spending more time in places where they're likely to be, and by more actively initiating contact with the ones who seem like my kind of people).

-A mindset that's helped me is becoming more exploration-minded and less goal-oriented, looking for interesting threads and tugging at them rather than going in looking for my new best friend and filtering people by whether they are an instant match for the hypothetical best friend I've constructed in my mind.  That's not to say getting rid of all filters - always, always, always keep an eye open for red flags! - but trying to look for different kinds of potential and interestingness rather than just a yes/no match to a template in my mind.

-something that does come naturally to me that other people seem to feel is helpful to me, is being overtly myself. I express my opinions and show my taste and joke in a me-like way. I'm actually a pretty reserved person in many circumstances, so I don't just mean being loud and brash- but even when I'm reserved, it's an expression of my self-ness, I'm not downplaying myself and trying to blend in, I'm just not talking or not opening up a lot or whatever because that's how I am. Which is a little confusing, but I think there's probably a distinction?

Of course, I adjust to the situation to some degree (and sometimes my inflexible me-ness is a social disadvantage because I can only adjust so far to get on), but for the most part, I'm some pretty clear form of myself in all circumstances. I'm not exactly sure what the benefits of this are but I think it allows me to get more out of interactions because part of what makes an interaction satisfying is expressing yourself. And having it be recognized and responded to positively, but that depends on expressing yourself to begin with.

ETA: And I don't think it's a stupid question at all! It's certainly one I've had trouble with, and even trouble articulating, at times, and I know I'm not the only one!
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Re: [disc] How to enjoy people's company.

Post by Werel on Wed May 06, 2015 7:51 pm

Heh, sorry for any unintentional discomfort caused. While I do stand by the idea that liking people is a big component of being likable in general, I would also qualify that statement with a few points:

Like Enail said, enjoying people's company, in the abstract, doesn't mean enjoying everybody's company; in fact, some of the people I like most enjoy the company of very, very few people. (Narcissistically, that actually makes it somewhat flattering that they enjoy my company, so you can make general misanthropy work for you. Razz) It's not necessarily a problem if you don't find the presence of 90% of people to be a net benefit, unless you have a dream of being Mr. Ubiquitously Popular, which it doesn't sound like you do. It's just about being capable of finding some pleasure in interaction, even if the type of interaction that gives you pleasure is rare and difficult to find. There are some very holistically attractive people in the world who are very picky about the types of people they like (hell, I'm dating one)-- but they do like some people. I largely meant that if you want a romantic relationship, you better be capable of enjoying the company of the person you're dating, and capable of showing that enjoyment; learning to enjoy people in a non-romantic way is good practice.

If you've never felt pleasure in any type of interaction, then maybe you do want to look at why that's the case. I'm not sure what "fabricated introversion" means, but fear is the ultimate pleasure-killer; if you're spending all your social interactions afraid, no wonder you're not having a good time. Does that hold when it's an interaction with people you see regularly, of a type that's socially low-stakes (e.g. going over a work schedule with a coworker)? Or is that kind of interaction more "apathetic" than "scared"? It takes two different toolkits to address finding people boring vs. threatening/anxiety-inducing, and I think the latter might actually be easier to work on, while the former is more a "who you are" thing.

And as far as liking people being a value judgment on you, well, like I said-- I like a lot of misanthropes. I find a lot of people who like everyone deadly boring. It's not a one-to-one correspondence between Liking More and Being Liked More.

And all of Enail's points are spot-on, especially being resolutely "you." If you can give yourself permission to be you in social circumstances, without forcing yourself to contort into an imagined image of The Guy They Want to Be Talking To (which is so much effort that it probably drains all enjoyment anyway), you might find you can eke out some pleasure from expressing your actual self to people and having them respond positively-- and if you don't really want their company in the first place, it's not running a big risk to discern whether they enjoy the authentic you.

I don't think this really answered your questions in a useful way, but the main takeaway intended is that there's nothing inherently wrong with only liking a select handful of people, and this trait does not make a person unattractive. Not being capable of liking anyone is the sticking point, and not having a history of liking people much ≠ not being capable of liking people.
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Re: [disc] How to enjoy people's company.

Post by nearly_takuan on Thu May 07, 2015 12:04 am

I have anecdotes which would corroborate the following:

The Mikey wrote:if a friend who I don't see often is in town, hell yeah I'll go see them. I may be exhausted by the end, but goddamn was that fun. Razz

Enail wrote:I think there's likely an aspect that's who you are, whether that means an introvert, and thus only sometimes enjoying being around people, or the kind of person who enjoys being around the right people but not just any and all people, or both (I'm both).

Werel wrote:Like Enail said, enjoying people's company, in the abstract, doesn't mean enjoying everybody's company; in fact, some of the people I like most enjoy the company of very, very few people. (Narcissistically, that actually makes it somewhat flattering that they enjoy my company,

(i.e. cosign'd.)

This is still a problem you and I will both want to solve, though, I think, because when you don't enjoy the company of most people (or perhaps enjoy it some but find it exhausting in greater measure), you tend to make fewer choices that would put you in that company. So it's an obstacle to meeting people, not just to "impressing" them.

And I guess a partial answer is to try to figure out where you have the best probability of meeting a sufficient proportion of people who do warrant spending some time with. But the only way I can think of to accomplish that is via lots of trial and error...and my experience so far has been that the latter is going to almost equal the former.

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Re: [disc] How to enjoy people's company.

Post by Guest on Tue May 19, 2015 10:33 am

Enail wrote:
-A mindset that's helped me is becoming more exploration-minded and less goal-oriented, looking for interesting threads and tugging at them rather than going in looking for my new best friend and filtering people by whether they are an instant match for the hypothetical best friend I've constructed in my mind.  That's not to say getting rid of all filters - always, always, always keep an eye open for red flags! - but trying to look for different kinds of potential and interestingness rather than just a yes/no match to a template in my mind.

I think I gave up on the concept of 'best friends'. Unfortunately for me, I'm not interested in enough things/qualities for me to go, "Yes! I definitely want this person in my life".

Werel wrote:
If you've never felt pleasure in any type of interaction, then maybe you do want to look at why that's the case. I'm not sure what "fabricated introversion" means....

Fabricated as in learned introversion. My family are very anti-social and keep an arm's length distance even within our ethnic community. It's something that I've inherited and it's not something that I enjoy in spades. I also think that withdrew in on myself even more when I found myself in a different cultural context over a decade ago.

...but fear is the ultimate pleasure-killer; if you're spending all your social interactions afraid, no wonder you're not having a good time. Does that hold when it's an interaction with people you see regularly, of a type that's socially low-stakes (e.g. going over a work schedule with a coworker)?

Well...yes and no. The more I find having to divulge about me as a person, the higher the stakes.

Or is that kind of interaction more "apathetic" than "scared"? It takes two different toolkits to address finding people boring vs. threatening/anxiety-inducing, and I think the latter might actually be easier to work on, while the former is more a "who you are" thing.

It's a mix of both? I see the disinterest as an extension of my own lack of interest in...things. And there's always a background level fear that I've come to live with. I keep a distance from my own family who I'm ideally supposed to be 'close' to, so why would I be any different in my relationships with other people?

And all of Enail's points are spot-on, especially being resolutely "you." If you can give yourself permission to be you in social circumstances, without forcing yourself to contort into an imagined image of The Guy They Want to Be Talking To (which is so much effort that it probably drains all enjoyment anyway), you might find you can eke out some pleasure from expressing your actual self to people and having them respond positively-- and if you don't really want their company in the first place, it's not running a big risk to discern whether they enjoy the authentic you.

While I won't contest the idea of being 'me' in all situations, I have to ask: Isn't this just an extension of the 'Be Yourself' argument that comes up ever so often. If being myself wasn't working out doesn't something have to change?

For the record I am 'myself'. Now more than ever. It's just that the sum total of what constitutes as 'myself' aren't very likeable or happy-making in the long run.

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Re: [disc] How to enjoy people's company.

Post by Enail on Tue May 19, 2015 12:33 pm

HermitTheToad wrote:
And all of Enail's points are spot-on, especially being resolutely "you." If you can give yourself permission to be you in social circumstances, without forcing yourself to contort into an imagined image of The Guy They Want to Be Talking To (which is so much effort that it probably drains all enjoyment anyway), you might find you can eke out some pleasure from expressing your actual self to people and having them respond positively-- and if you don't really want their company in the first place, it's not running a big risk to discern whether they enjoy the authentic you.

While I won't contest the idea of being 'me' in all situations, I have to ask: Isn't this just an extension of the 'Be Yourself' argument that comes up ever so often. If being myself wasn't working out doesn't something have to change?

For the record I am 'myself'. Now more than ever. It's just that the sum total of what constitutes as 'myself' aren't very likeable or happy-making in the long run.

Yes and no? The 'be yourself' idea usually comes up WRT being liked by other people, I think it's a bit different and more specific when we're talking about how it relates to liking other people.

You are of course yourself - but it sounds like you aren't able to feel comfortable expressing yourself in social interactions, which I think makes it difficult to enjoy the experience, makes it almost something non-interactive-feeling where the other people are just talking at a mask rather than responding to the person you're showing yourself to be. You're not getting much air-time in the interaction, and you're not getting much in the way of positive reaction, which I think tends to make it rather unfulfilling and frustrating.

Right now, it sounds like not giving too many opinions and details about your life or personality is part of who you are - but presumably having those opinions and details is also part of who you are, isn't it? It seems like you might get more pleasure out of interactions if the part of you that has those opinions and details got to come out and play more, and the part of you that prefers to keep a mask up stepped back a little to allow that to happen.

It sounds like you don't think the hidden part of you is likeable and that you're scared of negative reactions because of that. If you've had bad reactions from being yourself in the past (I'm extrapolating from 'being myself wasn't working out'), maybe that does mean something should change - but that 'something' might be fine-tuning your people radar so you spend more time with compatible people who are not assholes, not expressing specific aspects of yourself or being more selective about the contexts and means by which you express them, or developing some new social skills to help the self-expression work out better in the future.

If you haven't had bad reactions to cause that fear, that sounds like there might be some jerkbrain talk going on there and it might be worth thinking a bit about what qualities you think make a person likeable and if you might be downplaying some that you have or mistakenly excluding them from potentially likeable traits. You might also want to think about getting some professional help on this, especially if the lack of interest you mention is a long-running and pervasive thing, that sounds a bit like depression.
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Re: [disc] How to enjoy people's company.

Post by Guest on Thu May 21, 2015 7:22 am

Enail wrote:...but presumably having those opinions and details is also part of who you are, isn't it?

It sounds like you don't think the hidden part of you is likeable and that you're scared of negative reactions because of that.

What details? What opinions? I am an empty person who lives an empty, mediocre life. I don't look forward to anything and I hope for nothing. Last time I checked it's hard to be around someone who struggles to offer the bare minimum of positive human interactions, barely speaks, who tends to be sour and serious and doesn't know what it means to viscerally be fun/curious/interesting/whathaveyou.

How is anyof this likeable?

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Re: [disc] How to enjoy people's company.

Post by Enail on Thu May 21, 2015 11:22 am

Okay, so this sounds like something other than likeability, this sounds rather like it might be depression. I would talk to your doctor about this. It's hard to feel like you have much to offer when you're not able to feel much in the way of good feelings.

I'll also note that you're having a discussion here which includes giving your opinions, so you clearly do have some! Razz
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Re: [disc] How to enjoy people's company.

Post by Guest on Fri May 22, 2015 5:25 am

Oh ha ha, very clever.

You're too patient, you know that?

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Re: [disc] How to enjoy people's company.

Post by Enail on Fri May 22, 2015 11:38 am

HermitTheToad wrote:Oh ha ha, very clever.

You're too patient, you know that?

Are you sure the word you were looking for wasn't 'obnoxious" rather than 'patient?' Razz
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