Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Intimacy: The horror

So many people are afraid of connecting with others on anything but the most superficial level.

Society encourages this. Reality TV is full of it - oh, like anyone you please, but don't like them for too long because they'll be right the hell out of here. Don't even get me started on the amazing shows that start up and are then nixed with but half a season's worth of episodes to their name. 

Almost no one is willing to make the emotional investment to really, truly connect, and the entertainment industry just reflects that.

I am a shy, geeky sort of person, but in all the friendships I have, it's been me who's reached out to make the connection, or made the suggestion that we try to build something deeper. My husband and I go to meetups sometimes, where crowds of geeks hang out. We've managed to connect with one (1) geek on a deeper level. One. We've been trying with another, but our schedules won't match up.

We went to a picnic where there were a hundred or more of these folks, and even though we knew quite a few of them on sight, we also knew none of them would miss us if we weren't there. The geeks love to socialize as a bunch, but try to start any deeper connection and you're going to have a hard time.

There's a lingering sort of sadness when you're standing in the midst of a hundred more-or-less like-minded people and you can neither think of anything to say or seem to find anyone to hear it if you did. The opportunity is there but you can't quite grab it. It will haunt you for days afterward, lingering on your soul like an oily residue on plastic.

I am full of love. I love easily, and well, once I've had time to make a true attachment. That's how I work. I attach and I love and I do my best to make sure that my friend is happy. 

Standing there, though, on that bright, sunny day, surrounded by geeks, I felt useless. Unattachable. Unlovable. Unnecessary. Really, I just wanted to go the hell home. Eventually some kind soul took pity on me and we struck up a conversation and my world was right again, because I was having a conversation even if I wasn't connecting. I was communicating, and therein lies a possibility for connection.

When no one is attached, no one can be loved. If no one is loved, then no one can be missed, and so everyone will scuttle home to their lives, their husbands, their children, their lovers and their video games. But if they haven't connected, no one can miss them.

I see people post on facebook: "I'm in town, call me!" and I wonder, does anyone actually call those people? Why don't they just call the friends they'd like to hang out with? I'm pretty sure if I put "I'm in town, call me" on my status, no one would. No one wants to hear that you're already busy. 

I've been standing in a group of my own friends and felt out of the loop. That happens when you can't see them for a year at a time, but beyond that there's this sense of "missing out" on what goes on with them when I'm not with them. In-jokes and all sorts of random stuff that just go over my head and make me want to hide. It's ridiculous, of course, to expect to know everything that goes on in anyone's life - hell, sometimes even my husband doesn't tell me what he had for lunch. That feeling is kind of unshakable for me, that clearly they don't miss me because they're actually enjoying themselves without me. The horror!

Of course I'm not necessary, but I'm preferred. And isn't that better, anyway? For someone to choose to spend time with you because they prefer it, rather than because they can't not? Of course it is. In friendship, in love, in kink, it always is.

It's scary, though, to reach out. Even if you feel like you're being led to reach out, it's scary.

When Kitty and I met, she sort of led me to the place where I would ask if she wanted to meet up. It still took quite some mettle on my part to just come out and say "So, you wanna get together then?" As hard as it was, I am so, so glad that I did.

The idea of hearing "No," which may translate in our heads to "No, you're not worth my time you steaming pile of yuck," is unappealing at best and downright damaging at worst. It's easier, safer, to hope something will just naturally happen. 

What it isn't, though, is better. It's far, far better to have reached out and been struck down, or even ignored, than to never reach out at all. Yeah, being ignored sucks. But the friendships you build with the people who say yes are worth it.

This post was inspired by Lily's need to Water the Bonsai

29 comments:

  1. You know, I think of this as the disease of adulthood, in particular, the disease of adults who are on or who have ascended The Relationship Escalator. Each stage -- moving in, marriage, kids perhaps especially, give us less time and sometimes less in common with people who were previously our friends. And it's hard to make new friends; everybody's so busy.

    I'm relatively outgoing, so if I'm actually WITH people I rarely feel alone (unless I want to; sometimes I'm with people and I have no desire to share my inner life with, or it's inappropriate for me to share with them).

    In fact, I often take the role of Conversational Volleyball Coach; I kinda keep it going, try to make sure people don't get left out. I'm a big fan of icebreaker questions; my favorites are "Who was your favorite teacher?" and "Who was your worst boss?" Everybody has an answer to those, and the answers are often interesting and revealing.

    The thing is, I've structured my life in way that I'm probably actually AROUND people at a level that's below my natural "social equilibrium." Plus work has been kind of weird. As a creative type who thinks up new stuff for a living you spend a lot of time kinda outstanding in your field :)

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    1. Even the people who aren't busy appear to be busy, from my viewpoint.

      I always appreciate folks like you - I tend to be fairly outgoing in social settings up to a certain amount of people, but when a group passes a certain size I sort of retreat mentally.

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  2. You're right, Conina--it is so worth it to reach out to others. Sure, you expose yourself to the possibility of being hurt/dissed/ridiculed, but honestly, that risk is small. And the reward of making a new friend or strengthening a relationship outweighs it easily IMHO.

    Of course, easy to say, hard to do. And perhaps you're on to something when you talk about not having the time.

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    1. I think we're all seeking to really connect but aren't quite sure how to do it since everyone is equally afraid of each other. Add to that the fact that some people really do suck and will treat you badly and you have a recipe for sadness.

      Time is definitely a factor - once there are children involved, especially.

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  3. Don't you just hate when you write a long reply, and it disappears?!? Well the jist of my reply was this…

    As a life-long geek, I used to think that social situations like at the picnic that you were at were due to the lack of social skills that often comes with serious geeks. As I changed lives (read as careers), I learned that the superficial, know-of-you but not really KNOW you sort of relationship is the norm.

    Unfortunately, I’ve also learned that I’m an all-in friend. I crave friendships where I CARE about a person and am considerate and know them and vice-versa. These are hard to find and what’s more, you become vulnerable when you put yourself out like that. It’s this double edged sward…no-one can hurt you if they don’t really know you…but you’re alone when no-one really knows you which is hurtful.

    I’ve found that this online community has a lot of similar minded folks who seem to be a smidge less judgmental (although it’s still out there). Thanks for sharing your posts…It’s great to know that there are people who have similar experiences. You’re not alone.

    I’ll be your friend :-)

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    1. I am an all-in friend, too. Random acquaintanceships don't work for me, "strength of weak ties" or no.

      I like your double-edged sword description - and thanks for writing all that out again.

      I am delighted with the friendship we've already begun, so that's awesome. :)

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  4. You know everything that goes on in MY life. Hee :) I want a "geek" friend. I don't have one. I wish I were friends with the characters of The Big Bang Theory.

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    1. Ha, that's us. Well, except we're not insanely brilliant... just averagely brilliant. :)

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  5. Hi,

    I have been to lots of big conferences; superficial conversations, but not real connection. It is very sad how we humans treat each other.

    When I attended my first spanking event, I was surprised how different the group was compared to other events. We became good friends and were sad to leave each other at the end of the weekend. I made many friends and communicate with them in emails and via chat much more than my vanilla friends.

    I have lots of geek friends and have a bit of geek in me as well. Do you like Star Trek? Do you have a favorite math moment? LOL.

    Thank you for a very thougthtful post.

    Hug,
    joey

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    1. I think there is something about having a bunch of people really know what is probably your deepest secret that leads to a better connection, definitely. It's a little beyond a shared interest in sci-fi.

      Like Star Trek? Yeah, you could say that. :) It was instrumental in our meeting. And one of my favorite books? "The encyclopedia of mathematics." - I was a college math tutor for many years... the stories I could tell!

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    2. Math was my favorite and best subject. At a dinner one night with some geeky friends, someone suggested they share their favorite math moment. No one laughed, they all had an excellent story to tell. So, do you have a favorite math moment?

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  6. This post makes me think of the adage, better to have loved and lost then to have never loved at all. I generally feel sorry for people who can't/won't connect, they may save themselves some pain, but how much joy have they denied themselves?

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    1. I was thinking of it too, so good that it brought up the same idea for you.

      There's a lot of joy even in transitional relationships - ones that can't last forever for whatever reason. If everyone could just enjoy each other a little better the world would be a happier place.

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  7. I agree with everything that people have said above and will add if you come out west to Arizona I would love to meet you- just putting it out there - applies to everyone!

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    1. Arizona's actually sort of east of me, but offer definitely taken and I will let you know if we ever are in the area. :)

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  8. What a lovely post. And sad. We seem to become shyer as adults when we should have the words and the perceptions. Maybe too much conditioning. You know what it's like when you see toddlers, or infants in strollers, catch sight of each other in the line at the grocery or the post office and they literally will stretch their hands towards each other? Like "Oh, I recognize you! You're of my people. Touch me".

    We see it and feel it but we can't do it.

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    1. I do notice it - because my little boy is doing that all the time too. I try not to inflict my own adult conditioning on him, and I have been friends with people who don't seem to have it - never met a stranger, light up the room sort of people. They're awesome.

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  9. Isek Dinesen wrote words about this to the effect of: I will not let you go until you bless me.
    I've made it my motto, although I am by nature a shy woman.
    Have you seen the movie Ten Items or Less?
    Check it out. It says so much about connections, however brief.
    Hey- want to have coffee? :)

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    1. I have not seen it - but I am adding it to my list right now.

      I would totally meet you for coffee. :)

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  10. Too sometimes I think people are just not built for tons of social connections. I wish I had more friends in this lifestyle personally. I only have one friend who I would consider a friend and that is nobody's fault but mine. I am, however, the type of person who isn't really social so therefore I don't keep a lot of friends. I only have two good female friends and I wouldn't go to either of them with deep problems, that bugs Adam to death which is strange because he is a private person too.

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    1. How lame is this that I am replying to my own stupid post.

      Last post back you wrote about your confusion over Mr. AP's name and I will admit that got me too. However, I've finally found someone I can talk to about The Doctor. I'm freaking thrilled to see it in your post too.

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    2. People aren't built for tons - but so few people have ANY true, deep connections, and people are built to make those.

      I think the best friend I have in this lifestyle is pretty much where I go with anything now - my friendships always lacked a certain amount of understanding until then, though I still cherish them.

      I'm so delighted that I'm not the only one who was confused. :) And YES, Doctor Who! Mr. AP commented on my post about my husband being Rory as well, so I was aware he was quite passionate about it.

      Kinky blogger Doctor Who fans. We should start a club. :) Shelby Cross, too! (in my sidebar)

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  11. Wait, you like Doctor Who?! *runs in to join the party*

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    1. We DO like Doctor Who! Come on in!

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  12. Great post and sad at the same time. I agree with what everyone has said so far. Emen mentioned adults becoming shyer and I totally agree. Just today, I took one of my kids to his school to meet his teacher and see his room etc. he walked in and instantly started talking to the other kids and everyone connecting. The adults would barely speak to each other. I just sat and observed everyone around me....the kids and the adults. Now.....it didn't take me long to start trying to talk to the adults but some don't like to connect it seems or it is hard for them, I try to make it easy and try to be as friendly as possibly to make the people around me feel more comfortable. Sometimes it works and unfortunately sometimes it doesn't . Conina if I saw you at a picnic or gathering, I would most definitely come over to you and introduce myself and find more out about you! (((((((((((((conina)))))))))))) hugs to you!!!

    Belle:)

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    1. You're very sweet. :) I agree though, I think a lot of people are resistant to connecting, for whatever reason. Like you, I often try to talk to people. Some respond well, some just give me this "polite smile" look like "Thank you for trying, but buzz off now." :)

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  13. I touched on this subject briefly in my Expending The Self post a few weeks back, in which you were the first to comment (thank you!). It seems to be a running theme with us of particular persuasions, that we want to connect deeply yet find the ability to do so daunting or even, sometimes, disabling.

    Every time I take various personality tests and the questions of friends comes up my answer is always "A small number of very close friends." I can usually count one hand -- even without using the American Sign Language version of counting to 10 -- how many close, local friends I have. While I would never give up the remote friends that I have, arranging a get together at a local venue is far more challenging when the closest deeply connected friends live 3 states away or more.

    Albeit challenging to maintain those connections sometimes, and despite often feeling like I'm the one who must initiate conversation or dinner dates, it's almost always worth it. The few times things don't work out are painful, yes, but even that is recoverable in the end.

    And yes, we should start (or join an existing) Kinky Doctor Who club. One of our field trips will eventually be to the bar in Brooklyn that has a TARDIS in it.

    Stay SINful
    Mr. AP

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  14. You're welcome! :)

    I often wonder if everyone actually feels that way, or if something inherent in our kinkiness makes us like that.

    I think a small number of very close friends is the way to go, really, though I am a fan of larger numbers of people whose company I enjoy but who are not my bosom buds. I just don't have the energy for dozens of "very close friends," when we have geographical proximity. I'm not sure it is possible to get that close to a LOT of people... not and maintain it. So yeah, I get the challenge.

    I have a TARDIS in my living room. No lie. :)

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  15. :) Funnily enough, I just wrote a post about how I abhor social gatherings. I have never been a recluse, and was always one of the popular kids at school - the jock who was also a nerd - everything to everyone. However, I always hated the almost 'fakeness' of having many many best buds. It just doesn't work that way. There will always be just one or two people in your life who you genuinely connect with and turn to when shit really hits the fan. They are the ones who will absolutely miss you when you're not there. And they are usually people whom you met by chance. You just somehow ended up together. They're not often people you actively sought out.

    My ex husband is a convention runner of major national sci-fi cons in the UK and even some internationally. He has hundreds and hundreds of friends. I often used to have this argument with him, trying to explain to him that they are merely acquaintances. That he could probably count his genuine friends on one hand. He is the guy who would absolutely not leave you standing there at the picnic. He would see you and insist on introducing you to all his mates and you would become his best bud. Another one. Reaching out is what he does best.

    However, when we split up, he recognised that all those 100's of acquaintances were in fact just that. Even he wouldn't be missed by them. Turns out he had a total of 3 friends to whom he felt comfortable turning with actual emotional issues. As much as he was made to feel wanted and needed by all the attention he got at his events, it wasn't genuine. He had no problem reaching out, he always had much in common with these folks, but yet the relationship always remained fairly superficial - whether it lasted months or years.

    For me, I'd much rather have just one genuine connection, than expend energy building up a group, giving of myself, and not getting anything real in return.

    I guess I'm a bit jaded and cynical when it comes to human interaction. :)

    Perhaps as we get older, we have also been hurt a couple of times, and don't wish to get that deeply involved any more. Particularly with friendships, which are meant to withstand the tough times. As the saying goes: A friend in need is a friend indeed.

    Lovely post! I really enjoyed it and all the comments.
    xxx

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Thank you for reading. I hope you'll let me know you were here - I like friends!