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I've lost the ability to talk to strangers

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nowiknow23 posted 6/24/2013 09:26 AM

Had a great weekend with a whole lot of family celebrating my niece's wedding out of town. Fun times, great food, happy tears, and a bit of wine.

But I realized during the weekend that I no longer am able to make small talk. I can talk up a storm with my family, my friends... But when we were sharing a table at the reception with people I had never met before, I drew complete blanks about what to talk about. Big long silences, struggling to think of something - ANYTHING - beyond the basics.

I have been so immersed in my daughter's issues for so very long, I've ignored current events, popular culture, movies, news, books, etc.. Hell - I didn't even realize they were still playing hockey. And the wedding was close enough to Chicago that it was kind of a big deal to everyone in attendance.

I felt like the most boring person on the planet. Time to start deliberately expanding my horizons again.

Where to begin...

[This message edited by nowiknow23 at 9:27 AM, June 24th (Monday)]

turned123 posted 6/24/2013 09:34 AM

you could begin by reading just one book then you can state opinions, interpretations, ask questions, recommend and more! All from one book

wonderingbull posted 6/24/2013 10:53 AM

I've started the best conversations by asking good questions...

People love talking about how they see the world through their own eyes and perspectives...

WB

Sad in AZ posted 6/24/2013 11:52 AM

I know how you feel, but it's not because I'm out of touch with the world; it's because I'm an extreme introvert and get overwhelmed by a 'crowd' (which can be as few as 3 other people ) I also don't hear as well as I used to, and in a crowded, noisy situation, I get lost very easily.

So if you ever meet me in person, and I sit there like a lox...

little turtle posted 6/24/2013 12:08 PM

I never had the ability to talk to strangers. I'm fine sitting in silence. I've noticed though, others find it uncomfortable and will struggle to fill the silence with noise. I'm starting to get better though. I do as wb suggested... I ask people questions about stuff. But that only if there's 3 or less of us. If there is more, someone else can take charge of conversing!

Threnody posted 6/24/2013 12:16 PM

Small talk makes me crazy. So much of it anymore seems to revolve around reality TV shows, which I don't watch, so I just sit and look at the speaker with a blank expression. I can't even try to look interested -- I mean, how can they not realize they're talking to me about a reality star like they're discussing a neighbor or something? Do they know how goofy they sound? And WHO CARES what so-and-so is using for her facials now? How's that useful information?

I think overall it's just that I'm not only introverted, but that I've been somewhat removed from my circles of interests for logistical reasons.

I can only recommend reading the news once or twice a day, just skim the headlines or something so you can honestly say, "I saw something about that but didn't get to read the article. What did YOU think?" and let them talk. You'll get the reputation for being a fascinating conversationalist because you'll be letting them do all the talking.

[This message edited by Threnody at 12:16 PM, June 24th (Monday)]

nowiknow23 posted 6/24/2013 14:31 PM

"I saw something about that but didn't get to read the article. What did YOU think?" and let them talk. You'll get the reputation for being a fascinating conversationalist because you'll be letting them do all the talking.
Thren - I do this, too. And it does work every time.

I think my issue is less about being out of the loop and more about being out of steam. I honestly don't have the energy and desire to engage people, as cold as that sounds. It all seems like too much effort at the moment.

Maybe I'm just not ready to de-cloak yet.

NaiveAgain posted 6/24/2013 15:04 PM

For me, I didn't do the small talk thing for the longest time after d-day because honestly, after dealing with a life-altering trauma like infidelity, who gives a damn about what actor played who and what stupid thing some reality star is doing this time.....

I still don't have too much tolerance for the superficial crap because it just doesn't interest me, but I run in circles where it is important that I win people over (dabbling in politics and student government, etc...) so I have tried to take more interest in things that other people may be talking about and I file as much useless information in my head as possible so I can talk a little bit on just about any topic.

But to really get me talking and listening intently, I generally ask people real questions such as what they do, what they find interesting, where are they going in life, etc.....

Amazonia posted 6/24/2013 15:10 PM

I skim headlines. Occasionally I'll manage a whole article, but my ability to carry on conversation is pretty limited too. It's a bandwidth issue. There just isn't any...

tryingagain74 posted 6/24/2013 15:27 PM

I'm very introverted and stink at small talk, especially in large group situations. If I have to be somewhere where I can bring a book to read and not be perceived as rude, then I do. One of the reasons I had such a great time at my g2g is because we were a tiny group. Unless you were extremely outgoing before, then it may not be that you're boring-- you're just introverted!

Bluebird26 posted 6/25/2013 06:47 AM

Oh Nik, I think we are the same. I dread talking to people now, because I am stuck for words. I have no idea how to do small talk, I will answer a question if asked but won't speak up otherwise. I am now so self-conscious of it I starting to become a recluse.

I have a son with asperger's and sometimes I think that I live and breathe his condition so much that I have taken on his social issues for myself. I wonder if it's a common trend amongst autism families?

Kajem posted 6/25/2013 15:21 PM

I think my issue is less about being out of the loop and more about being out of steam. I honestly don't have the energy and desire to engage people, as cold as that sounds. It all seems like too much effort at the moment.

^^^^^This is me, and had been me for a long time.

Looking around to find the edge of my invisibility cloak...

Rest up NIK... it takes time to shift to a new focus.

Hugs,

K

better4me posted 6/25/2013 15:39 PM

Do you think that this is an indication that you are neglecting taking care of yourself? Single parenting is tough. Single parenting of a child with issues, so much tougher. Maybe her dad can step up a little bit so that you can go out with friends with whom you don't have to do small talk.

I'm shy by nature and I do read up on the news a couple of days before I'm going to be meeting new people. So many of my conversations start with "I heard this story on NPR, but I didn't catch all of it". Once a conversation turns to sports though...zzzzzzzzzzz

Nature_Girl posted 6/25/2013 16:57 PM

I struggle in this way as well. I didn't used to be this way. But now? I don't want to talk about my marriage or divorce with people I barely kknow. I don't have a job, so there's that possibility for conversation out the window. I don't have cable TV, so bye-bye for that subject. I am anti-personality cult for anyone. I don't give a shit about sports. I don't like to talk politics or religion. The things I like are generally not known about or cared about, or else I get roped into a conversation where the other person is essentially pumping me for free information when I could be charging them a consultation fee.

I just don't feel like I fit in anywhere with any social group or level.

foreverempty posted 6/25/2013 17:54 PM

I used to really struggle with this, not sure how I overcame it but I think it involved just getting drunk.

I'll talk to anyone when I'm drunk and do lots of silly things. Maybe more alcohol is your answer?

nowiknow23 posted 6/29/2013 11:17 AM

Maybe more alcohol is your answer?
Forever - I did mention there was wine at the wedding, right?

ExposedNiblet posted 6/29/2013 12:58 PM

I have no advice, but I wanted to throw my support in here too.

I don't want to talk about my marriage or divorce with people I barely kknow. I don't have a job, so there's that possibility for conversation out the window. I don't have cable TV, so bye-bye for that subject. I am anti-personality cult for anyone. I don't give a shit about sports. I don't like to talk politics or religion. The things I like are generally not known about or cared about, or else I get roped into a conversation where the other person is essentially pumping me for free information when I could be charging them a consultation fee.
I just don't feel like I fit in anywhere with any social group or level.

Do you remember that old Blind Melon video of the little girl dressed up like a bumblebee? She went through her days not ever fitting in with anyone, until she found there were others like her, and then she was happy. I'm so much like Bee Girl now, except I'm still looking for "my kind" of people. I was an introvert before my divorce; I'm not sure there's a word to describe me now.

I guess life changes people in many ways, and that's okay.

foreverempty posted 6/30/2013 00:42 AM

Forever - I did mention there was wine at the wedding, right?

Clearly not enough.

Vodka (or other spirit of choice) in your handbag next time?

Just sayin

torn2bits posted 6/30/2013 10:59 AM

NIK, I have found that when I am seated at a wedding I talk about the bride and groom. I am the opposite to where people find me intrusive sometimes, because I like anthropology and different cultures. I ask where they are from, talk about my trip there, etc.

A very good friend of mine told me to ask, so what did you do last weekend? This has nothing to do with current events or tvs shows, pop culture. I despise all of that and have not time to watch anyway.

My conversation really revolves around the person and their lives. Where did you grow up? Then I talk about where I grew up, things my parents made me do like chores. It usually sparks something.

I have found that "most" people have no trouble talking about themselves. If they stop answering my questions, then I know I have crossed the personal line and finally clam up!

OnceInALifetime posted 6/30/2013 21:05 PM

It's kind of funny that people here are talking openly with strangers about how difficult it is to talk with strangers.

No, I get it. SI is different

I'm actually OK talking with strangers so long as it's within an environment where it's expected (like a party). But random encounters in the wild (aka the coffee shop)? Nope.

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