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06:07 pm: so. i am 29 this year. compared to where i was 10 years ago, i have changed a lot. i am a fully functioning adult human being with a job and a flat and friends and everything. this is good.

i have not ever been in a relationship/dated anyone. as an abstract concept this doesn't particularly upset me. i am, as noted above, a self-sufficient independent person. i can appreciate the argument that having had no relationships is better than having had bad ones. and y'know, if that was the end of the matter i don't think i'd be unhappy. but it's not.

because every so often someone makes the mistake of being nice to me. and i get painfully infatuated. and i then get rejected. and then i feel like shit for a few months, and then it happens again with someone else. i would like this to stop happening. if it could stop happening by someone actually liking me for a change this would be nice. it doesn't seem very likely though, does it?

people tell me they have no idea why people aren't interested in me, but that they are sure it is just coincidence. i don't believe that. there are clearly influencing factors. i am very worried that i'm missing huge chunks of appropriate human behaviour in my socialisation (i ought to have learned all this in my late teens/early 20s, when i was otherwise occupied), and this is just an area of life which will remain forever closed to me. this idea upsets me, because what little of it i have experienced i liked. i would like to have hope, but hope has caused pain.

i am left confused and upset.

so
  • what is wrong with me?
  • are people not interested in me because they assume i am happily single?
  • are people not interested in me because they assume there must be something wrong with me?
  • are in fact people interested in me and i am not noticing it? (note: if so please tell me)
  • should i make effort to meet more new people?
  • wouldn't it be better just to go and hide?
  • am i just hanging out in the wrong social circle to meet people who might be interested in me?
  • given how bad i am at dealing with rejection anyway, wouldn't it be a really terrible idea for me to put myself in a situation with even more potential for that?


in conclusion: argh. answers, suggestions and proposals welcome.

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From:jojomojo
Date:March 17th, 2008 04:15 pm (UTC)
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Hmm. I also had bad lack-of-socialisation type issues when I was 24 or so and was convinced I'd never be with anyone ever ever. What worked for me in the end was a) meeting people on the net rather than in person, and b) dating Americans, who tend to go for cute foreign accents. The trouble with b), of course, is one tends to end up with seriously long-distance relationships.

Unfortunately, I'm not really sure I can think of any more specific advice than that :/


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From:abigailb
Date:March 17th, 2008 04:25 pm (UTC)
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I've been online enough that I think if this was going to be the answer for me it would have happened already, if that makes sense.
From:wildeabandon
Date:March 17th, 2008 04:59 pm (UTC)
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I think that you're right to assume that it's unlikely to be coincidence, but framing it as "something wrong with you" is neither accurate nor helpful.

I expect the "assuming I'm happily single" thing is probably a big factor. More generally, I think people make the division into "potential romantic partner" and "not a potential romantic partner" very early on in their acquaintenceship with someone, usually long before they know enough about one another to see whether a relationship would work, so to some extent the trick is getting into the first box more often. I find that flirting a lot helps!

Also, and this might help with the last question as well, pursuing casual things, before you've made a significant emotional investment, can open the field somewhat, and allow you to feel more relaxed about the whole thing when you find there's someone you're interested in quite seriously.
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From:abigailb
Date:March 17th, 2008 05:55 pm (UTC)
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"what am I doing wrong" is probably a better way of putting it.

I tend to get romantically interested in people I already know quite well, which would work against getting together with such people. I find consciously flirting really hard, and I'm not sure that it's not been counterproductive when I have tried it. But keeping in this pattern isn't going to help loosen me up, unfortunately.

Your last point makes a good deal of sense, but by the time I dare even broach the question I am already far too emotionally involved for casualness to work. Maybe this puts people off.
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From:spindr
Date:March 17th, 2008 05:15 pm (UTC)
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Okay, so I've only met you once, but I've talked to you quite a bit over the years. Feel free to disregard my ramblings.

I can't think of anything wrong with you (apart from an unhealthy interest in mapping, natch), but in my experience, that doesn't mean anything in terms of coupling up; some of the genuinely nicest people I know are just *not* finding anyone and it baffles me, frankly.


One of the things I sometimes wonder is whether some of them are, for whatever reason - fear, shyness, "stuff" - socialise in a totally non sexual way. Erm, I've struggled to find the right way to put that and haven't succeeded...I mean that often there are subtle ways of socialising that, whilst not indicating interest, indicate not disinterest, or the possibility that if someone good came a long there could be interest.
Of course, I don't mean turning up with a plate of sandwiches, giggling and askign the room at large if they want some of your lovely baps (although that would be marvellous!); maybe I just mean having a very subtle undercurrent of flirtyness sometimes. Oh, I'm going to stop. I can't describe it, but I can often tell when it's missing iyswim. It's not nec person-targted, so if you know someone categorically doesn't fancy you, you can still observe the attitude.

Oh, who'd have thought I communicate for a living? I give up!

But, ooh, I'd have thought that if you're crap at rejection getting used it in bulk via a dating thingy would be good; water off a duck's back after a while....and then, bingo, the no-rejection comes. I think these sites give you athick skin fast!

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From:abigailb
Date:March 17th, 2008 05:59 pm (UTC)
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Me lacking the mysterious unexplainable flirtiness sheen would explain a lot. Where can I obtain a spray-can of the stuff?

Dating websites seriously scare me. I would be seriously traumatised by the bulk rejection! I suspect speed dating would make me cry for a decade.
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From:grim_tim
Date:March 17th, 2008 05:29 pm (UTC)
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Hmm. I'd assumed this post was filtered. Oops.
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From:abigailb
Date:March 17th, 2008 05:50 pm (UTC)
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*confused* mysterious deleted comment? (lj comment notifications aren't working for me, so if you made one i didn't see what it said). post is locked against my immediate family.
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From:drtinuviel
Date:March 17th, 2008 05:32 pm (UTC)
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big hugs to you (in a condescending way), if i was with you i would bake some (egg free cake), and cook a nice dinner and share some good wine to talk it through.
As a, mostly, perpetually single girl of around the same age as you i know how lonely things can get. I doubt that there is anything wrong with you, and from my own experience if you start thinking that way it is rather self destructive. It is probably that there is something wrong with the people you are meeting, or perhaps a better way to put it would be that there is something not quite right with them in terms of their compatibility with you.
I don't think going into hiding is the right thing to do, in fact it would make you miserable, but do the things that you enjoy doing maybe you will find someone who likes the same things as you doing that. It never hurts to go out and try new things, but don't lose track of the friends you have that care for you either. Only you can decided if you want to deal with rejection or not, the unfulfilled attraction is difficult, and it can be even more difficult to deal with rejection when you have built an attachment to another person that you think is mutual, but I would rather have that bubbly feeling with the rejection than hide from the world.

I could very easily ask the same question of what is wrong with me being very nearly 31 and hopelessly single, but the answers i would give myself wouldn't help me much and i think right now really wouldn't help me much. I think with relationships it is more a case of being lucky enough to meet someone compatible at the right time of your life and their life. One thing i'm certain of is that i would rather be single than in a bad relationship. I know what i have said isn't really helpful, but it is normal for humans to feel alone and isolated even when they have family and friends who would do their best to prevent that. You sound pretty low at the moment, but you are doing a very positive thing talking about it, just pleas don't let yourself get to the point where you isolate yourself.

lots of hugs and chocolate cake, don't forget the wine

take care
T
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From:abigailb
Date:March 18th, 2008 10:27 am (UTC)
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At this point I would rather have had several not very good relationships because at least then that's something to build on. Which is probably not a good thought to have.

Edited at 2008-03-18 01:27 pm (UTC)
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From:psych0naut
Date:March 17th, 2008 06:03 pm (UTC)
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I have nothing particularly helpful to say, but because I suffer from much the same malady I am keenly interested to read the suggestions you receive. (For what it's worth, you don't seem to me to have any particular behavioural or social problems, and I find it hard to believe that people don't find you physically attractive. Girls with freckles are cute, and I know I'm not the only one who thinks so. :) ) I could probably offer some more analysis/commiseration on the general topic of rejection, sensitivity thereto, avoidance thereof, and dealing therewith, though it's not something I feel particularly comfortable discussing in public. If you're interested let me know and we can talk about it over coffee or something.
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From:abigailb
Date:March 17th, 2008 07:11 pm (UTC)
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but, but you have a ferret! you cannot be lonely with a ferret.

it is ok for girls to say "your freckles are nice" at me. that happens. but they never seem to say "nice freckles. wanna fuck?" though, which would be a more appropriate thing to say. i probably am not hanging around with enough freckles-liking girls.

what time are you expecting to be at the pembury tomorrow? maybe we could talk then.
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From:tearsofzorro
Date:March 17th, 2008 06:21 pm (UTC)
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I'm also one of these mostly perpetually single people (although, if I remember correctly, you have a weird/tenuous connection with my first gf), but there's one thing that I've found to be true, once you're in a relationship, more possibilities open up. I don't get it myself, but in my recent persuit of Cute Redhead Nerdgirl (someone from Toastmasters) I found that once I thought I might get to the point of asking her out (although I've not seen her since *grumble*) I found myself getting attention from two separate people that very weekend.

Unfortunately, it's analogous to the work experience paradox ("How can I get experience in the field if all employers want experience in the field?") but I think it's about having some signal of "I'm attractive to somebody" that kickstarts everyone else into looking at you with a view of "Oh, she's attractive to somebody".

Anyway, I know where you're coming from... good luck.
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From:abigailb
Date:March 17th, 2008 06:33 pm (UTC)
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[hmm, i wonder who do you mean? i was unaware of any link between you and anyone i may have had tenuous connections with]

Yeah. I can appreciate that analogy. Some people seem to have only relatively short gaps between relationships; other people remain perpetually single-but-looking. (I exclude people who are single through choice from this analysis). I wouldn't want to think that this is because the people in set A are any better. But it's a very easy thing to believe.
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From:blue_mai
Date:March 17th, 2008 07:29 pm (UTC)
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i've only met you a few times in the pub, and you seem alright to me.
but since you're looking for clues... if anything, you're quite intimidating at first, you seem like you might be quite stern and not appreciate people flirting with you. also, you don't have an obvious 'status' that says "i am single and looking" (that's alright though - that is often received ambiguously with lechery), nor "this commonly-defined sexuality is part of my public persona feel free to interact with it" what i mean by this is you're fairly inscrutable on first impressions. you aren't obviously straight or gay or whatever, nor transmit sexuality vibes generally, which is no bad thing at all, but probably has an influence on how comfortable people feel flirting with you. sometimes people completely ignore lack-of-sexuality-signal (even if you're trying very hard) but i think you don't put yourself in those situations.
i don't know if what you're after is exclusively a proper romantic relationship, or whether you want to act on feeling horny on a friday night. i think people probably are interested in you (i don't know specific people but you are attractive), but in terms of proper romantic relationships, luck really is a major factor. like me you tend to go for people you already know, so the pool is small (and remains so unless you want to go and meet new people and socialise like crazy - but then how do you spend the time getting to know them and then fancy them...) and then they might not be available, or not really looking etc. if you want to get some casual practice in, that's much easier to solve but you're probably hanging out in the wrong places (not enough clubbing with horny/drunk people) .
are you meeting enough new people for opportunities to arise? or even, are you doing enough new things with the people you already know?
the obviously-sexual-being thing is tricky if it doesn't come naturally. perhaps you need to become master of the ambiguous suggestion (that might be innocuous but is enough to raise the possibility of you being sexually/romantically available), y'know the way of asking someone if you can buy them a drink, or telling them that they look good, without being a blatant chat-up line, but you might mean something by it. or if that's too difficult - well even telling someone you fancy someone else (like off the telly) tells them that you are interested. it's hard to explain, you need (some) people to see you in a certain sexual light. or you could start a witty and fabulous comic, gain legions of adoring fans, and become powerfully desirable...

if it's bothering you it really wouldn't be better to just go and hide.
rejection is hard but much less so if you start to test the waters before you are totally committed to the idea yourself. this may land you sticky situations with people you later decide you don't really fancy, however.
(i am probably not telling you anything you don't already know here so i'll stop)
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From:abigailb
Date:March 17th, 2008 08:13 pm (UTC)
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Thank-you, this is useful feedback.

For reference: I am quite gay. I have been recently vaguely wondering whether identifying as bi would be helpful. Probably not, given the ratios of people I find attractive.

It is kind of hard to see myself in that impression of me. I am somewhat reserved, yes. It is hard shell of hardness which will protect me from the world. Vibes. Hmm. How do people transmit sexual vibes usually? It is not something I am aware of at all. The thing is, most of the time I am either (a) recovering from being rejected, and (b) recovered from being rejected and trying to avoid people in general who I might be attracted to. I've certainly not been looking the last couple of times I got interested in people.

I feel a bit like I've not met enough new people recently. I have not been out night-clubbing for ages, due in part to headaches (but also the last few times I didn't particularly enjoy it) - I need to fix that. But the idea of pulling someone in a nightclub is just an alien concept to me.

You do, however, speak sense, and I do need to fix my behaviour in that way. I just don't know if that's even possible.
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From:owlfish
Date:March 17th, 2008 08:02 pm (UTC)
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I don't know you terribly well, but I can tell you about my early impressions of you: it took me a while to figure out what gender you were/identified as. Not everyone cares about gendering in a partner, but it is a prerequisite for many of them. It may have just been my cautiousness and unwillingness to leap to conclusions - perhaps others are quicker on the uptake. Also, it was a few times before I got your name down, which was a Clue.
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From:abigailb
Date:March 17th, 2008 08:23 pm (UTC)
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That is interesting. I do seem to do this to some people sometimes. I guess being a fairly androgynous mtf lesbian does that. It happens rather randomly. I remember at a party once fjm being terribly surprised that someone had used wrong pronoun on me. But it's not really something I can help.
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From:vjbseven
Date:March 17th, 2008 08:24 pm (UTC)
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I'm not sure I'm really qualified to give advice, but it might be an idea to sort of spread the word via your social network that you are looking for a partner (not necessarily 'on the pull', but more 'casually searching'). That way, people won't already assume that you already have a partner.

It might also be a good idea to let people know what kind of partner you want (as someone said before, you don't come across as definitely gay or straight). If you want a woman, bear in mind that many women are straight so this will affect your number of available partners. (However you may find that many straight women are willing to experiment).

Either way, don't give up. You're certain to find your perfect person, and you're doing exactly the right thing by socialising lots.
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From:abigailb
Date:March 17th, 2008 08:29 pm (UTC)
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Well, hopefully this post counts as that! :)

This is a good point as to whether I trigger people's gaydars or not. I should ask people. There do seem to be an awful lot of bisexual (and indeed poly) people in my social circle at the moment, so finding people who are theoretically obtainable is not the hard part. (it'd maybe be nice to have a crush on someone absolutely unobtainable, because then I wouldn't need to worry about what to do with it, but this has not yet happened).

Edited at 2008-03-17 11:37 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:hairyears
Date:March 17th, 2008 11:37 pm (UTC)
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Socialisation and the confidence that comes with it are a matter of practice, and that comes with a lot of mistakes. There are a great many people who detest me - many of whom are truly wonderful and often physically and spiritually beautiful people - and there is nothing I can do to go back and rework the first and second and third impressions I made on them.

Ultimately it is a numbers game: get out more - and never miss a weekend - see more people, network more, systematically seek out places and occasions and social circles that contain the people who interest you. A lot of it is simply being 'on the radar' for about 12-18 months, at which point people will sort-of-recognise you and feel at ease starting a conversation and begin deliberately including you in group activities.

And that's about it. I've used Aikido as a first-track socialisation course - a shared activity with an externally-imposed bond of common experience - and have gradually overcome a lack of social skills that wasn't just a zero score, it was an actively negative one. But, however off-putting or offensive I was, we always stepped back onto the mat and - most times - went for a pint afterward. I have very little meaningful social life from it - and, indeed, I have acquired the barrier of a large number of people who do not quite detest me but tolerate my company for the Aikido rather than the dubious pleasure of my company... Or what their out-of-date (but firmly fixed) impression of what my company is like.

Other pursuits have been a disappointment: but it only needed one to work. The lesson: seek similar communities with a strong common bond that isn't primarily social, and use them as a training-ground.

LJ provided the second- and third-track socialisation course, and it's working. Mostly. I note that the majority - all! - of my friends are somewhat out-of-mainstream but I suspect that is what I both want and need, rather than a warning that there is something 'wrong' with me.

But note this: I cultivate circles of friends - the Tuesday Borders set that now assembles in the Pembury, the London Goths, the Cambridge CUSFS axis, the Cambridge LGBT society, the Cambridge Ardgour Shakespeare set, the BSFA, the rump of Usenet uk.misc... Some are strongly-identified groups that tolerate me as an outsider and will never progress through an 'on-the-radar' period to genuine acceptance; some will, and have largely done so; and some groups are so weakly identified that everyone is to some extent an outsider and you have to work on one-to-one friendship development without the following wind of a favourable community.

There have been failures: I fear that I will never be truly welcome in Bermondsey (or parts of it) and a quick head-round-the-door at BU made it clear that they are a members-only group and strangers need not apply. There are others, and no, I'm not discussing them. There will be more failures - but, with time and practice, they will diminish in intensity.

I hope.

I bet that sounds calculating: it is. But I've built a social life from zero and a very low base of skills and confidence indeed, and it is only in the latter stages of success that I have made headway in the 'dating' stage. And had that failed, I would be seeking out and cultivating new groups far more intensively than I am today: as in scaling back the Aikido and putting four or five evenings a week into social development, and maybe working out in a gym and looking at cosmetic surgery. Had I continued seeing the oh-so-pointed rejection signals in female body language - or worse, the not-even-on-the-radar-as-male neutrality - I would've become even more systematic: behavioural therapy, a personal shopper, speed-dating classes and whoever or whatever teaches 'flirting', pick-ups, gait and positive body language.

Thankfully that has proven unnecessary. Most of it, anyway. But there's some serious calculation in that, and a sense of direction rather than baffled frustration, and I think that this is lacking in you. There's no point in being jealous of others who - apparently - have it easy and enjoyed a wonderful upbringing that handed them the things you want and lack. If it doesn't come easy, get it by hard work.

[User Picture]
From:abigailb
Date:March 18th, 2008 05:53 am (UTC)
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I am just about exhausted from all the social activies I'm doing at the moment, and throwing money at problem isn't an option. I'm fucked, really.
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From:livredor
Date:March 18th, 2008 05:44 am (UTC)
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I've really only just met you, but I can say in general that dating is unfortunately one of those things where success breeds success. If you've never been in a relationship, though, you probably lack a lot of attitudes that would make your dating chances a lot better: the deep confidence that you are attractive to at least a subset of people, the first-hand understanding of how romantic interactions work (and how they are subtly different from just liking someone and being attracted to them).

Also, people do have a certain expectation of how much relationship experience someone "should" have had by a certain life stage. They may not consciously hold the position that someone in their late 20s or early 30s with no relationship experience must have something wrong with them, but that can be a bias. Plus of course the older you get the greater the proportion of your social circle are already permanently coupled. I have definitely observed that a lot of people who are perfectly attractive and lovely have an unfairly hard time just because they were late joining the dating bandwagon.

I am no expert, but I suspect the only way to increase your chances of finding a partner is to expand your social circle in general. You need a certain critical mass of friends who will introduce you to more new people before you find someone you click with on a romantic level. It seems likely that putting yourself out there by expressing interest in people will let you project more of an aura of being available and potentially interested in romantic approaches.

Can you convince yourself that someone not wanting a romantic relationship with you doesn't mean they find you repulsive? Indeed, it's perfectly possible to stay friends with someone after discovering unrequited attraction. I know that's far easier to say than to actually get to that point psychologically, but pretty much all situations with the potential for starting relationships are also situations with the potential for being rejected, by definition.

I hope this isn't totally unhelpful!
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From:abigailb
Date:March 18th, 2008 06:05 am (UTC)
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This all makes sense.

Some background: I moved to London in July 2006. I knew pretty much nobody down here (a friend of mine who moved down to London around the same time was on the other side entirely), and was rather hermit-like at first, this continued until some lj-friends persuaded me to start going to Pembury. Since then I have met lots of new people (and this process is still kind of continuing as different people cycle through). I'm actually not sure what would happen if someone approached me today. I would probably withdraw because right now I'm in the not-wanting-to-get-hurt-again stage.

Remaining friends is important, yes. Doubly so if people were your friends already. Doing this is the trick. I worry that people think I was all along only interested in them as potential romantic partner, and not friend. And I'm worried that that might be true. Nonsense, of course.
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From:nou
Date:March 18th, 2008 08:01 am (UTC)
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because every so often someone makes the mistake of being nice to me. and i get painfully infatuated. and i then get rejected. and then i feel like shit for a few months, and then it happens again with someone else.

I'm wondering if this is actually the root of the problem. Neither painful infatuation nor feeling like shit are exactly great frames of mind to be in for finding a relationship — and repeated cycles of painful infatuation aren't "normal", if there is such a thing, so perhaps this is what you're doing differently to other people. (I do know what you mean though; it happened to me a few years ago, completely out of the blue, and it was really shocking and weird and uncomfortable and pointless and completely uncontrollable. Once was enough thankyouverymuch.) Having said that, I don't know how to make it not happen, so this comment is perhaps also pointless.
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From:abigailb
Date:March 18th, 2008 08:11 am (UTC)
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Yeah. This is not normal and it is getting in the way. I ought to have got this out of my system a long time ago and it demonstrates a certain lack of emotional maturity. But what can I do? Getting rid of protective shell and getting rejected by a broader selection of people at an earlier stage may be way to inure myself to it, but I'm terrified this will end up with me even more of a mess than I am at present.
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From:pplfichi
Date:March 18th, 2008 01:59 pm (UTC)
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This will end up restating things that others have said, but more personal views the better?

There is nothing wrong with you, and I don't see people looking at you as though there is something wrong with you. Being attracted to people that are interested in you and this leading to infatuation is quite natural. Dating does seem to mostly come down to experience, and getting to know more people. Getting the experience is hard (especially as more people settle into long term relationships as we get older), meeting more people increases the chance that you will meet someone who wants a relationship with you. Hiding really doesn't help here. Hiding means not interacting with people, which is a sure way staying single.

People could be interested in you. You might not be noticing the signs through lack of relationship experience - in effect being blind to people flirting with you?

I really doubt that you're hanging in the wrong group of friends. As long as you are meeting new people and maintaining friendships with people then you will end up meeting people that find you attractive, and some of those will be interested in a relationship, some of whom will try harder then others. Really expanding your circle of friends is the only way I know of to increase your chance of finding a relationship.

As for the rejection question, rejection is always a risk. I feel that in investing on your emotional resources on someone for some time and that person rejecting you is going to be a particularly nasty form of it though. The other thing that springs to mind is that if you are obviously after someone in particular, people around you start to pick that up and are less likely to see you as someone open to the idea of a relationship. At the same time, you are less likely to notice anyone that isn't the person you are infatuated with at that moment.
[User Picture]
From:abigailb
Date:March 18th, 2008 02:13 pm (UTC)
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This is all very easy for you to say. But how am I supposed to fix this? It's not like I am consciously doing any of it. this bit of angst - which I may have mentioned the details of to you before - was ultimately only resolved by me just not hanging around with that person any more. Every time I think I notice signs and act on it, it doesn't work out [bad original wording. ed.]. I don't want to be doing that for the rest of my life.

Edited at 2008-03-18 05:18 pm (UTC)
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