The Problem with Dating Advice [Essay/DISC]

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Post by Guest on Wed May 13, 2015 10:42 am

Someone posted on DNL prime today: "I think I'm coming to the realization that I've read far too much of the Doctor's advice (among others) without putting enough into action, because I tend to feel overwhelmed by all of the suggestions when actually interacting with someone." -- AnarenMicr37

Bear with me, because we're going on a journey.

I just bought a new house.  Mostly, I love the house, but the downstairs carpet was a horrifying falling-apart green awfulness.  And the previous homeowners had planned to paint the kitchen and dining room, so had smeared paint sections on the wall in multiple places.  I needed new flooring.  And I needed to paint.

What did I want?  Something neutral and cream-colored for the carpet.  Something that was a lighter shade of the existing green for the walls.  I went off to my local big box store and found five million options.  Then I went to the local non-chain flooring store, and found MORE options.  And I freaked out.  How do I choose one of these 5000 shades of cream?  What texture do I want?  What's the difference between the 10-year and 25-year carpet, other than the price?  How resilient is this brand of stain resistence vs this other one?  And should I maybe actually get hardwood, instead?

And that's just the carpet.  The paint added a whole other angle.

I researched for hours, and the more I knew, the more I felt it was impossible to make a decision.  I knew more than I was capable of making sense of.  I didn't understand the stain treatments.  I couldn't figure out what was actually going on with refinishing on the wood floor.  I ended up literally going in and just forcing myself to decide.  10 minutes was all I gave myself.  When my timer went off, whatever I was closest to won.

I like my new carpet a lot.  It's a carpet.  It's cream-colored.  It's not hideous and green and falling apart.  I would have liked any of the others the same amount.

***

One of the things my kids' school has been teaching them in math is how to ignore extraneous information.  It's a skill we really need, because there is SO MUCH INFORMATION out there, and most of it is, if not useless, not relevant to us.  And when we get too many things in our head, we get lost in it.  David Rock, in his book "Your Brain At Work," uses an analogy that our brain is like a small stage.  When you put too many actors on it, things fall off.  The trick is to be consciously considering only a small handful of factors at a time.  Practicing skills gradually shifts them from something that needs concentration to something that's automatic.  When it's automatic, you don't need to put it on your stage anymore.

What this means is that reading an advice column like Doctor NerdLove isn't doing the work of changing you.  It's giving you ideas about things that might be holding you back.  Some of them don't apply to you.  Some of them are too advanced.  But none of them will change anything if you don't do the work.  And building a gradual list of everything you need to do differently will absolutely sabotage you, because you'll have this panicky list of 27 things to do, and you won't be able to track it all.

And even worse, despite the fact that you're making things worse for yourself, you feel like you're taking productive action, because you're spending so much time reading about it. Research becomes a substitute for actual improvement. You feel like you're spending all this time working on it, and nothing is changing. You're exhausting yourself, and you're not actually DOING anything.

So what do you do?

1. Write down everything you think you should be doing.
2. Circle one thing on the list.
3. Write that one thing on a new piece of paper.  Tape it to your mirror.
4. Fold up the list.  Put it away.  Stop looking at it.  Feel comforted that it exists.
5. Do your mirror item.  For weeks.  For months.  Until it's not hard.
6. Once you are comfortable with the first item, take out your list.  
7. Figure out if there's anything on there that shouldn't be.  Cross out the circled item. Add anything that's new.
8. Repeat steps 2-7.

There are no shortcuts.  You can't do everything at once. Each iteration through the list is a real, permanent improvement.  It's not an instant fix to everything.  But it's a step.  Every step makes things a little better.  None of them guarantee success.  All of them improve your odds.

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Post by rj3 on Wed May 13, 2015 11:41 am

That makes a lot of sense.

The big nerd dating fallacy is that dating can be treated like an engineering or programming problem - get everything in place and working together as it should and you'll get the precise result you're looking for. In its more belittling formulation, it's the "friend coins in, sex out" trope.

That means many advice-seekers take all the pieces at once and try to arrange everything in such a way that if they follow everything to a T, they will be successful. Inevitably, lots of people will seize up, get lost in their own heads, second-guess  (debug). I see posts on that right here every day. They'll stumble on issues of ideology and politics that, while they inform some of the advice, are often superfluous and serve only to turn a romantic failure into a Bad Person Schrodingers Rapist Entitled Toxic Man. You see that politicized paralysis reflected on these boards too.

In reality, so much is determined by being in the right place at the right time, with someone who is in the right mood. You can improve your chances, that's for sure. But to make one or two big changes requires the sort of concentration and personal resources that can't be spread around between every little thing.


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Post by reboot on Wed May 13, 2015 11:47 am

Maybe people need to think of dating more like statistics, perhaps stochastic modeling?
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Post by V on Wed May 13, 2015 11:51 am

This is excellent advice.

I saw a quote in a professional context "action requires a narrowing of focus".

It is easy to get so overwhelmed when trying to achieve goals and I've found it helpful to concentrate on one thing at a time.

In his book "The Power of Habit" Charles Duhigg writes how willpower is a muscle and we need to exercise it and build it up.

Now not everything about dating is to do with habits.  But a lot of it is.  Body language, approaching, sending OLD messages all require constant action to build new habits.  So rather than overload yourself you need to develop any new habits, one at a time, until becoming a "new normal" or until it has  served its purpose.

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Post by Guest on Wed May 13, 2015 12:05 pm

Ooh, new book to add to my reading list. (As I talk about how over-research can interfere with progress; innocent )

I really feel like we have gotten very, very bad at focusing, as a culture at large. We are constantly multitasking, splitting our attention between 3 or more tasks. Right now, as I'm writing this message, I'm listening to a meeting I'm half attending, I'm installing software on my computer, and I'm half-heartedly researching an employee at my company. I've taken 4 breaks already that required flipping out of this browser window.

People seem to think doing more things at once will make them more efficient, but the truth is that we really cannot do things effectively when we're trying to do everything at once. I'm really, really bad at it, and I have to force myself to focus for deep thought. I literally locked myself in a closet the other day when I had to read a document, because being in a room with computers/phones/TVs/laundry/boxes/windows was too distracting for me.

The real point, I guess, is going back to the "to go fast, slow down" philosophy. If you try to do everything at once, you'll fail, and that's wasted time.

And you can't set up a model of "I need to do this 26 things and then I'll be done." Sometimes you don't need what you thought you did. Sometimes goals shift. Sometimes you realize there are more advanced classes you need to take once you've finished the 101-level step.

Personal improvement is not a waterfall development model. Embrace agile development.

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Post by reboot on Wed May 13, 2015 12:16 pm

Not to get all management-speaky, but maybe before people jump in and start with ALL THE ADVICE they step back and do a SWOT (strengths-weaknesses-opportunites-threats) analysis, coupled with a root cause analysis for the weaknesses and threats, perhaps? Then, once the top barrier is identified, work on that, then the second biggest, etc.
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Post by rj3 on Wed May 13, 2015 12:29 pm

It would be nice if there were progressive rewards along the way, but in a lot of cases there really aren't. Nobody is going to tell you, "naah, not going to go out with you, but you don't dress terribly anymore!" It requires not just focus and work, but a belief that there is a good ending.

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Post by Guest on Wed May 13, 2015 12:32 pm

To extend management-speak: I was in a sprint retrospective meeting once, and we were repeating the same problems we repeated every time. "Low QA acceptance of functionality." "Unclear acceptance requirements." "Routinely underestimating time to complete." "Slow turnaround on requests to business analysts." We said them at every retrospective meeting. Nothing ever changed.

So I got up and started writing on the board. I drew four columns: Condition / Current State / Desired State / Tomorrow's Action

And then I wrote the items on the board.

"% of issues accepted by QA on first submit / 30% / 90% / Have a coworker check that acceptance criteria are met before submitting for QA build."
"Average turnaround on requests to BA / 6 hours / 2 hours / Look for and send queries in the morning, when European BA team is still in office."
"Proportion of estimated:actual time to commit / 1:3 / 1:1 / Multiply all estimates by 3?"

We called it solution boarding.

The idea was that we didn't identify problems. We identified gaps between the current and desired state, and chose something that we could do to close the gap. Problems suggest blame. Solution boarding was about figuring out what we could change to make things better. I feel that way about approaching advice columns: here's my current state. Here's where I want to be. What can I do TOMORROW to shrink that gap?

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Post by V on Wed May 13, 2015 12:46 pm

Rj 3, I think there are incremental gains along the way.

Dressing well can help you feel better and yield compliments.  Working out certainly has incremental measurable gains.  Approaching might get (longer) conversations.

And so on.  You have to savour the small victories.

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Post by rj3 on Wed May 13, 2015 12:55 pm

V wrote:Rj 3, I think there are incremental gains along the way.

Dressing well can help you feel better and yield compliments.  Working out certainly has incremental measurable gains.  Approaching might get (longer) conversations.

And so on.  You have to savour the small victories.

Most advice-seekers don't see these as victories in their own right. Much of the time, "dateless and alone" is the state they want to change, with "fat and sloppy" an acceptable state if it didn't impede progress on "dateless and alone."

Me, I discovered that I liked my exercise - biking. It helped me explore my city and the areas around it. But it certainly wasn't what got me started and kept me at it for a long time.  I'm lucky I didn't try P90X or something like that.

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Post by The Wisp on Wed May 13, 2015 1:09 pm

rj3 wrote:It would be nice if there were progressive rewards along the way, but in a lot of cases there really aren't. Nobody is going to tell you, "naah, not going to go out with you, but you don't dress terribly anymore!"  It requires not just focus and work, but a belief that there is a good ending.

This is the hardest part about improving in dating, and improving social skills in general. The rewards are all very much backloaded. I've been in therapy for 7.5 years at this point for social anxiety, social isolation, and related things, and through all that work my only "rewards" have been an unhealthy and shortlived friendship two years ago and, recently, a couple of healthier, though not super close, friendships that formed in a fluky manner. I've still never really even had a taste of dating or sex, and the close communal friendships I want still seem far away. Sure, there have been side benefits to the improvements I've made, I try to recognize them, but the primary things I'm working towards still remain elusive.

On the broader topic, I think this is very smart, Eliza. It's something I've thought about that holds me back not just in dating but in many aspects of my life, though I've been bad at doing anything with that knowledge. One non-dating example is this last semester I found myself one day procrastinating on a major paper that was due the next day by instead planning out which classes I would take next semester. Now, I caught myself and did the paper, but still I felt rather absurd when I became aware of what I was doing.

I do try to work on one thing at a time, and I bring those things up around here occasionally. The thing is that I'm not even taking dating 101 but rather taking remedial social skills prerequisites for dating 101. And that can be discouraging at times. So, I think posting around here about more advanced dating topics actually is a coping mechanism that helps me to remain motivated to work on the remedial stuff. It helps me feel a connection to the dating world, somehow, where it would otherwise feel so distant that I would feel very unmotivated. I care a lot about dating and sex and so it's good to maintain that connection. Of course, there are times when I take it too far, and let my day be ruined by something that is like dating 301 or something. But, I still find value in thinking about the more advanced stuff sometimes. Plus, there's at times a trickle-down effect where some of the skills or knowledge from the advanced stuff can be applied in some way to what I'm working on. I think obsessing about dating has improved my social skills at the level I am working on them.
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Post by PintsizeBro on Wed May 13, 2015 1:20 pm

rj3 wrote:
V wrote:Rj 3, I think there are incremental gains along the way.

Dressing well can help you feel better and yield compliments.  Working out certainly has incremental measurable gains.  Approaching might get (longer) conversations.

And so on.  You have to savour the small victories.

Most advice-seekers don't see these as victories in their own right. Much of the time, "dateless and alone" is the state they want to change, with "fat and sloppy" an acceptable state if it didn't impede progress on "dateless and alone."

Me, I discovered that I liked my exercise - biking. It helped me explore my city and the areas around it. But it certainly wasn't what got me started and kept me at it for a long time.  I'm lucky I didn't try P90X or something like that.

This right here is the other reason that dating advice-seekers tend to fail. ElizaJane's post is excellent because it addresses exactly what you need to do, but that takes a long time and - more to the point - it requires the advice-seeker to change a whole lot of things that he doesn't really want to change.

That, I think, is the appeal of PUA. It tells "dateless and alone" types that there's a shortcut to dating success, just learn this formula and you can succeed in dating without changing anything about yourself. But it doesn't work. There's no shortcut. You can't go from "dateless and alone" to "women flock to you at parties" without changing the reasons that you're alone first.

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Post by The Wisp on Wed May 13, 2015 1:38 pm

PintsizeBro wrote:That, I think, is the appeal of PUA. It tells "dateless and alone" types that there's a shortcut to dating success, just learn this formula and you can succeed in dating without changing anything about yourself. But it doesn't work. There's no shortcut. You can't go from "dateless and alone" to "women flock to you at parties" without changing the reasons that you're alone first.

You know, their advertisements say that, but actually even they emphasize that you have to work hard to improve. There's a PUA saying to the effect of that you have ask out 1000 women before you'll see success.
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Post by Gentleman Johnny on Wed May 13, 2015 1:52 pm

I think this is a common geek problem. Taking it to a larger life context, of course I want to go to Ren Faire, Pirate Fest, Comicon, Labyrinth, the zombie apocalypse LARP, Uranium Springs, Wasteland Weekend and run two other shows a year. If I try to do them all, something's going to suffer. The first step for any show is to ruthlessly cut away other things from my life to make time for development. Even then, there are a million things that need to be done. So today has to be JUST music playlist and confirming a sound system. Tomorrow has to be just final run throughs. Trying to do all of that and prep for an unrelated event a week or two after is a recipe for disaster.

Its the same thing with dating advice. If you try to remember all your conversation starters, check your body language, figure out exactly how much flirting is the right amount and try a completely different look on the same night, you're going to look like a spastic marionette. Even if improving your romantic life is going to be Your Thing (ie primary leisure activity), you can only put so many nights a week into it without burning out.

This is one reason why decoupling self improvement activities from romantic success is helpful. If you're going to ninja training class because ninjas are cool or to improve your career prospects, its not going to be a drain like it is if you're only going to lose weight to increase attractiveness to get more dates. Find things (activities, fashions etc) that you enjoy that also help make a better you and its a lot easier.

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Post by AnarenMicr on Fri May 15, 2015 3:53 am

To ElizaJane: This is really good advice... I've found that I "do" much better (and enjoy myself more) when I'm not thinking about strategy, but engaged in the moment. Very difficult to recreate or voluntarily summon that state of mind, but still a useful idea.




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Post by Solvi on Wed May 20, 2015 7:32 pm

ElizaJane wrote:
One of the things my kids' school has been teaching them in math is how to ignore extraneous information.  It's a skill we really need, because there is SO MUCH INFORMATION out there, and most of it is, if not useless, not relevant to us.  And when we get too many things in our head, we get lost in it.  David Rock, in his book "Your Brain At Work," uses an analogy that our brain is like a small stage.  When you put too many actors on it, things fall off.  The trick is to be consciously considering only a small handful of factors at a time.  Practicing skills gradually shifts them from something that needs concentration to something that's automatic.  When it's automatic, you don't need to put it on your stage anymore.

What this means is that reading an advice column like Doctor NerdLove isn't doing the work of changing you.  It's giving you ideas about things that might be holding you back.  Some of them don't apply to you.  Some of them are too advanced.  But none of them will change anything if you don't do the work.  And building a gradual list of everything you need to do differently will absolutely sabotage you, because you'll have this panicky list of 27 things to do, and you won't be able to track it all.

And even worse, despite the fact that you're making things worse for yourself, you feel like you're taking productive action, because you're spending so much time reading about it.  Research becomes a substitute for actual improvement.  You feel like you're spending all this time working on it, and nothing is changing.  You're exhausting yourself, and you're not actually DOING anything.

So what do you do?

1. Write down everything you think you should be doing.
2. Circle one thing on the list.
3. Write that one thing on a new piece of paper.  Tape it to your mirror.
4. Fold up the list.  Put it away.  Stop looking at it.  Feel comforted that it exists.
5. Do your mirror item.  For weeks.  For months.  Until it's not hard.
6. Once you are comfortable with the first item, take out your list.  
7. Figure out if there's anything on there that shouldn't be.  Cross out the circled item. Add anything that's new.
8. Repeat steps 2-7.

There are no shortcuts.  You can't do everything at once. Each iteration through the list is a real, permanent improvement.  It's not an instant fix to everything.  But it's a step.  Every step makes things a little better.  None of them guarantee success.  All of them improve your odds.

While this sounds reasonable in the abstract, my question is: what do you do when you write that list, and you realize that achieving all those items isn't likely to happen within a human timeframe?  Sure, I can get through items incrementally, but when there's so much that I need to do in order to be a good potential partner for someone, I start to wonder if it's even worth trying.  It's clear that I'll never get there.  I'm already at the point where most of my friends are now established in their careers and becoming parents, while I'm still a part-timer who's never even been on a date before.

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Post by Enail on Wed May 20, 2015 8:18 pm

A couple of thoughts:

-you don't have to be perfect to be a good partner. You need to be handling your shit in a way that's reasonably non-harmful to a potential partner, but that doesn't mean you can't have issues that are not totally worked through and be a good partner or that you can't struggle some - or a lot - of the time and be a good partner. You do not have to be perfect to be a good partner.

-especially if you're someone who's prone to negative or self-critical thinking, you might be putting a lot of things on the list that don't actually need to be checked off for you to be able to be a good partner, and ones that don't need to be achieved to the degree that you feel like they do.

-some skills about being in a relationship, you learn as you go, and some of the skills you need will be different from relationship to relationship so you can't just learn them all in advance.

-many things one might put on a list of what you need to do or achieve to be a good partner are connected to other list items, and working on one may improve things with a whole bunch of others along the way. And this kind of thing can snowball, too, it's not necessarily something where you'll have to step by slow step grind methodically through one list item after another at the same pace the whole way through.
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Post by Solvi on Wed May 20, 2015 8:37 pm

Enail wrote:A couple of thoughts:

-you don't have to be perfect to be a good partner. You need to be handling your shit in a way that's reasonably non-harmful to a potential partner, but that doesn't mean you can't have issues that are not totally worked through and be a good partner or that you can't struggle some - or a lot - of the time and be a good partner. You do not have to be perfect to be a good partner.

-especially if you're someone who's prone to negative or self-critical thinking, you might be putting a lot of things on the list that don't actually need to be checked off for you to be able to be a good partner, and ones that don't need to be achieved to the degree that you feel like they do.

-some skills about being in a relationship, you learn as you go, and some of the skills you need will be different from relationship to relationship so you can't just learn them all in advance.

-many things one might put on a list of what you need to do or achieve to be a good partner are connected to other list items, and working on one may improve things with a whole bunch of others along the way. And this kind of thing can snowball, too, it's not necessarily something where you'll have to step by slow step grind methodically through one list item after another at the same pace the whole way through.

Thanks for the reply, Enail.

I guess my quandary is partly epistemological; if I'm, for whatever reason, incapable of accurately assessing which things need to be on my list and which do not, then how can I ever know if I'm capable of being a good partner?  How can I ever know when I've reached a point in the self-improvement journey where it's okay for me to start dating?  (I guess there's also the questions of whether I'll ever feel comfortable enough to actually ask someone out on a date; or whether I'll ever be desirable to another person; or whether I'll ever be able to see myself as a desirable, sexual being.  That latter one, at least, is more ontological.)

I guess another way of putting it is that, while I grok that one doesn't have to be perfect to be a good partner, I don't know how I can ever feel confident that I'm good enough to be a good partner.

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Post by The Wisp on Wed May 20, 2015 8:54 pm

Well, one way you can learn, Solvi, is to ask us. What do you think you need that you lack? And then we can give you feedback about what's reasonable, what's not, and so on.
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Post by Enail on Wed May 20, 2015 9:37 pm

To some degree I'm not sure it's something that you can know outside of the context of a specific relationship. I'm sure I would make a terrible partner to many people, for example, although I think I'm a pretty good partner to my wife. And relationships progress gradually, so while you don't want to throw yourself into a relationship on a particular trajectory when you're not even slightly confident you can treat that person kindly, you can to some degree gauge how you're feeling about things as it progresses and choose to set the pace or the kind of relationship based on what you're comfortable with and feel you can live up to .

I think one thing that you can use as a guide is other forms of relationship. In many ways, dating is quite similar to other relationships, so how you handle friendships or family relationships can give you some sense of how you might handle a romantic relationship.

IMO, there are also a few basic things that are really important that you could say really should be on anyone's list, things like "could you speak up about your own needs and boundaries?" "do you think you could break up with someone if the relationship made you unhappy?" and "do you have some ways to cope with stress and anger that don't involve relying on a partner or taking it out on others?" Obviously, there's no test to determine for sure what you would/wouldn't be capable of, but you probably have some sense of where you sit on these.
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Post by Solvi on Wed May 20, 2015 10:06 pm

The Wisp wrote:Well, one way you can learn, Solvi, is to ask us. What do you think you need that you lack? And then we can give you feedback about what's reasonable, what's not, and so on.

I guess the problem is, I don't even know where to begin. It just seems systemic -- that there's nothing about me that's relationship material, that I'm categorically incapable of being the sort of person that a potential partner might need or want me to be.

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Post by Enail on Wed May 20, 2015 10:07 pm

What do you think makes someone relationship material, then?
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Post by Solvi on Wed May 20, 2015 10:25 pm

Enail wrote:What do you think makes someone relationship material, then?

I don't know.  I was going to edit my previous post with an explanation, and I guess it sort of gets my thoughts on relationship material.  What follows is a mixture of that edit, and some new clarification aimed at addressing your question.

-----

Part of what's going on right now, I recognize, is that I'm currently in the midst of a major depressive episode, and I can't really talk to anyone about it.  I've got all my usual symptoms -- I can't concentrate on anything, I just end up pacing in circles around the living room, and I can't turn off the self-critical monologue running on endless loop inside my head.  And this despite being in therapy and on meds.

But I guess my understanding of what makes someone relationship material comes from the articles that my partnered friends periodically post and discuss on Facebook.  In the case of the most recent one (Brianna West, Bustle, "14 Signs Someone Is A Grown Ass Man, Because Dating Him Is So Completely Different"), I realize that I fit almost none of the categories in the article.  I'm a closed-off recluse who can't be honest about what he wants (I don't even really know what I want, most of the time).  I'm barely able to keep afloat in my own career and manage my own turbulent emotional storms; I have no idea how I can possibly be able to support someone else when I can barely take care of myself.  I'm nowhere near being emotionally and mentally mature -- I've been re-reading Love Hina lately, and one of the things it's made me realize is that I still identify with Keitaro the same way that I did in 2002; thirteen years later, I'm still an adolescent man-child who isn't really going anywhere in life except by accident.

Even if I begin to work on this stuff, I feel like I'm a decade and a half behind my peers and colleagues.  I'm a 31-year old boy who's still wrestling with the same demons he was at 18, and I feel like I'm no closer to being a grown-ass man.


Last edited by Solvi on Wed May 20, 2015 11:32 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by reboundstudent on Wed May 20, 2015 11:18 pm

Solvi wrote:
The Wisp wrote:Well, one way you can learn, Solvi, is to ask us. What do you think you need that you lack? And then we can give you feedback about what's reasonable, what's not, and so on.

I guess the problem is, I don't even know where to begin.  It just seems systemic -- that there's nothing about me that's relationship material, that I'm categorically incapable of being the sort of person that a potential partner might need or want me to be.

The sad truth is... that might be true. There might just be something fundamentally wrong with some of us that we wouldn't make good partners.

I've suffered from negative thinking too, but one of my big difficulties has been that a lot of the negative things I think about myself are reinforced by other people. It's interesting... lock me in a room by myself, and I'd come up with some flaws, but I'd say on the whole I'm a cute, usually kind, mostly thoughtful person who'd make a decent partner/friend with the right level of compatibility. Stick me out into the world, however, and I realize that most people seem to view me as idiotic, annoying, and toxic. I've come more and more to the conclusion lately that my fundamental self may just be irrevocably flawed; that the things I need out of friendships/relationships are things that are viewed as too high-maintenance, too selfish, too pushy, too much. And as much as I try, I can't completely empty myself of my needs. So what happens when who you are, deep down, the very truthful core of you, those things that are embedded into your DNA, are things that either no one else wants, or things that are actively harmful to other people?

Some of us may just be systematically broken in a way that can't be fixed enough to maintain intimate relationships. I think self-awareness of this is important, and determining whether that perspective is just negative thinking or is true. When we come out on the other side of that knowledge divide, at least there's some peace to that.
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Post by Enail on Wed May 20, 2015 11:56 pm

One thing that I think is worth mentioning is that there are different ways to support someone you care about, it's not 'stoic emotional rock who calmly weathers every storm' or nothing. And a relationship involves give and take, some pooling of your collective resources to help each other with their challenges - so while I think you do need to be in a state where you can give (and I know that isn't always a doable thing), the other person can also be helping you lighten your burden at the same time.

Solvi, something that I think speaks well to your potential to be able to be a good partner in spite of your depression is that you seem very able to recognize its workings on you and step back a bit from your reactions. I'd distinguish handling your emotional turmoil in the sense of reducing it or suppressing its effects, from handling it, however severe, in a way that is respectful and loving to the people in your life, if you can see the distinction? The latter isn't itself necessarily an easy thing either, or one that every potential partner will be up for, but I think it's a more limited thing to set as a goalpost, and maybe more manageable.
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