@JT Tran@facebook ooh my turn! OK SO. This is important: "The biggest difference is that I no longer put girls in the ‘fantasy girlfriend zone’ and instead treat them as normal human beings with all their flaws and foibles."
^ that is literally all you need to tell these guys (well, besides the general social-skills training.) Though maybe with a slight change - they should SEE women as normal human beings with all their flaws and foibles. But if they can't pull off that, treating them that way is just fine, in the hope that eventually, they'll learn to see women as people instead of goals.
So am I the only one who gets mental hives while reading people's writing about their "social groups?" I'm simultaneously cagey and a bit of an idiot when it comes to group dynamics, which means I share very little personal information and do a lot of drinking at social events.
ANYWAY. What I mean to say is -- Polly, you are a rock star for making the answer to this thoughtful and kind and readable.
Also I absolutely loved this column, because god, do I miss the cold-feet stage of a relationship when you start to notice that the person doesn't always smell nice and is kind of weird and annoying sometimes. It's like, yes, they're a dork, but they're MY dork.
@oldflame SO with you. Though I think it's important to distinguish between "nice and interested" and "possessive and emotionally manipulative." For example, men you never actually enter into a relationship with, but who still expect a lot of emotional availability from you, despite the fact that you haven't signaled that you're willing to be emotionally available at all. That's its own sort of warning sign. But "nice and interested" is usually just nice! Took me a lot of dates to figure that one out.
OK so question, along these lines, if anyone can help. What happens when you've done all this stuff and tried to be vulnerable and tried to really engage with the world and then the world kind of punches you in the face and walks away? Maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but I recently had an "open up to the world and it will engage with you!" moment and I really felt like I was making progress... I fell for someone! I decided what I'd love to do with my life! I decided on the next step I could take to get there!
... the person I fell for left! ... my current job continues to be punishing and involves long hours and not enough free time! ... my "next step" is currently on pause and I have very little control over when I'll be able to move forward with it!
So since I've been all vulnerable about it I feel a bit defeated, which makes me tired and weepy and generally Eeyore, and I'm starting to get tired of being the "sad person." I suppose things will get better, but I have no idea when. I guess spiritual/life growing pains are a thing, but when will they stop and how do I know I won't be terribly disfigured after?
@alliepants But as more evidence of how powerful not explaining yourself is, they still stick around while wondering "ummm what is this lady doing." MAGIC.
Not explaining myself is my favorite thing ever. It's gotten to the point where I need to force myself to do it more often because I'll think I'm fine and then realize I've been drunkenly picking fights with somebody and sounding like a crazy person and they're thinking "umm what is this lady doing."
LW #1: Another reading suggestion -- "On Self Respect" by Joan Didion. I can honestly say that essay changed my life.
Also for what it's worth, I think that while the compulsive drive to EXPLAIN YOURSELF and BE UNDERSTOOD drives pretty much all writers, I think that compulsion comes from the fact that lots of writers think a little differently from the people they're exposed to, or were exposed to growing up. So, feeling misunderstood, they feel the need to explain themselves to the public/the ether/the interwebs, because those things can't respond by arching an eyebrow and saying "okayyy then."
@Danzig! Ahhhhh you are so right THANK YOU. My family life was not exactly peachy when I was a kid, and I tend to carry it around. I know that in some ways I got really lucky and I'm doing very well--I have an "exciting" job and I'm always running around doing something--but deep down I'm lonely and feel like I've been stuck in this wheel of progressing but not really making lasting connections with anyone. And then I feel dumb for feeling sad and lonely, because it's like "think about how lucky you are, chin up stupid!"
One reason the loss of that friendship was so hard was that he was one of the few people I could talk to about some of the not-great stuff I grew up with and not feel judged, or like I was imposing or making someone feel uncomfortable with my problems.
So without him--and another one of my very close friends who just moved away--I'm a little bit unmoored.
But on a better note, I feel like writing about it broke the dam a bit. Maybe I cried all weekend without really knowing the reason, but I feel more like a human being.
ERHMAGERD I LOVE ANNIE DILLARD