I do it with total strangers too. Like today, some guy thought he'd be helpful by taking my grocery cart from me so I didn't have to walk it back to one of those holder cages in the rain. Except since I was still unloading my stuff into my trunk, I felt rushed, wasn't able to sort things in their place for the drive home like I like, and thus was clearly annoyed at his "help". That's rude, and I wish I could figure out a way to not do that.
And this problem rears it's head in dating too. I've been chatting with a guy, who I'm supposed to have dinner with in a few days for the first meeting, and as it often does, it has become this thing where he's all about how pretty I am, how smart I am, how successful I am. Don't get me wrong, I've been enjoying talking to him rather a lot, which is unusual enough that I think there might be something there. But I've already tired of the compliments - my looks, education and job are the *least* important things about me, and say the *least* about who I am - and I'm started to get annoyed by them.
And so that whole debate has started up in my head again. I know he thinks he's being nice (his complements aren't over the top, they are actually kind and flirty) but once that switch has been flipped .... that negative train of fuck, stop talking about how smart I am, for sure it's one step away from you saying snidely to me: "oh you think you're so smart don't you". That runaway negative train that's accurate if he's an asshole (so far, I don't think so) but exceptionally unhelpful if he's not.
I know self protection is at the root of this dynamic but I can't figure a way around it. I wish I were a nicer person, but I'm just not sure I can get there.
Can you separate out in your mind the part about receiving what someone has to give, and the part about acknowledging deeper needs?
I have had to retrain my brain to receive good things like compliments, even if they are not as perceptive as I might prefer. I've learned there is an art to receiving from others and I can allow myself some kind of nourishment this way. Of course, if it doesn't feel good to receive from someone creepy I ignore or shut it down.
I have a need to be seen for who I am, in a perceptive way, but that doesn't come often or easily. It sure is a treasure when it does.
Shopping cart guy: that one's on you, I think, for not just saying what you said here. "Thanks for offering. I've got it. I'm going to be here sorting this stuff out for the next 10 minutes. Thanks, though!"
Compliment guy: nothing wrong here. He's not deep enough for you, PROBABLY, and you're just seeing that likelihood quickly.
I can definitely relate to what you're saying. It reminds me a bit of the Seinfeld syndrome - close talker, eats her peas one at a time, etc.
I don't have any advice. I struggle with the same thing and always have. I think the answer is probably in the area of seeing the glass half full, prioritizing what is important, etc. but, I don't think I'm ever going to change, honestly. I'll give you an example. Although I'm not interested in dating right now, I had lunch a couple of months ago with a woman who has a lot going for her (strong character traits such as incredible courage fighting-off breast cancer) and who I am very attracted to. But.....her voice annoys me. Now, could I get over it? Maybe. But, it just annoys me. And there you have it!
So I will reply with what i see. In your posts I see you as direct, and, yes, I think you sometimes jump to assumptions of intent. I think I've triggered that on occasion, and it wasn't my intent because I value your opinion even when I don't agree with it. But, overall, and that's the important part, you are straight up and it's appreciated. When you post cayc people listen because you post with substance.
Nomistake makes good points about the two examples - as for the compliment guy, he is out of his league with you - you need someone who has more substance, and when you take the time to look at yourself, as you are doing, you put yourself in a better place to recognize it when you see it.
Above all, be the heroine, not the victim. - Nora Ephron
It is our choices...that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.
- J. K. Rowling
My reaction is as you describe. Scorched earth - cut out if my life. Game over.
My fuse is a lot longer since I had some anger management therapy after almost ripping a guys face off after he slapped me across the face when I was 21. I still feel the urge but I recognise the physical signs well before the rage floods my blood.
Things like voicing
You are not wrong for feeling this way - there are things you can do to have more measured reactions to it. For me it is voicing uncomfortable thoughts.
"Thank you but I like to take my time and you are making me feel frazzled".
"I appreciate the compliments but those are the least of my qualities and I am starting to feel uncomfortable the more you voice them."
I have always been fairly blunt and my brain to mouth filter is pretty flimsy. I've learned how to not feel bad about it. My discomfort isn't less important than theirs.
I hear what you all are saying regarding "voicing". That's definitely a coping mechanism that would work with people I know. It just seems like "in the moment" I'm so annoyed that getting to a calm place to recognize why I feel uncomfortable and how to say something civil/polite/not rude ... well, there's a time lag there. Persevere nailed it. I'm assuming negative intent, and reacting accordingly, and only later thinking, what if that's not what they meant?
Except of course, so often, negative intent is meant! Between shitty co-workers, ridiculous child-men, passive aggressive friends who won't bluntly tell me "hey cut it out" but instead start taking potshots trying to bring me down ... I've definitely got my guard up/am extremely defensive.
As for strangers. I'm probably SOL there. I perceive strangers approaching me as an inherently hostile act. I always have. And I was raised that way. I think it might be genetic too (I'm 100% Appalachian/Scot). Here's how I explain this one: do you remember that show the Beverly Hillbillies? How when *anyone* drove up to the mansion, Granny would run outside with her shotgun ready to shoot until the visitor was proven to be a known quantity? Yeah, well. That's me. You're an enemy until proven otherwise. Appalachians are like Southerners in that we are super friendly, but we are only friendly to people we *know* lol.
I know you all really can't solve this for me. I'm just thinking out loud about it because it came up with this guy where I was getting all het up because of the compliments, and then thinking about a friend of mine who uses compliments as a good thing/measure of interest. And as I was becoming annoyed, feeling pressured I thought about that difference. The other stuff of how I am might be on the spectrum of normal (if difficult) but this, this is not normal.
Another thing behind this as I am thinking it over (and thank you for letting me just talk this all out) is that I think I'm laboring underneath a feeling of not having any value (instilled in childhood, cemented in place by xWH) so a compliment is just a step ahead of someone being angry that I'm letting them down because I'm not as smart as (or whatever) as they thought. It's like I'm discounting the compliment and the genuine feeling behind it because to me, it's akin to ammunition to take me down later.
Good lord, I'm insane, aren't I?
As for this guy, the jury is still out. It could be he's just a genuinely enthusiastic person (which is what I suspect) so that he'll always be effusive about everything. I've accepted that if what I want is a partner to share my life, then to get there, I have to entertain discomfort in order to date.
[This message edited by cayc at 8:30 AM, August 10th, 2014 (Sunday)]
I also suspect that you don't show your 'soft' side to people. You are understandably proud of your accomplishments in the business world but that is your public persona. Showing the world some of your outside interests would help, but it can be scary. I was always a workaholic and I defined myself by my jobs. My bliss is birding, but birders are nerds (to the unknowing ) so I rarely talked about it. Now I proudly identify with it, and people are interested!
Let your shine. You deserve accolades for what you are and what you've accomplished.
How would he compliment you on deeper parts of you if he has only been chatting with you?
You need time to get to know each other.
There is an international group called non-violent communication founded by Marshall Rosenburg, PhD. There are many communities that have training and groups that explore the ideas he put forth and there might be one in your area too.
My mom went to meetings for 3 years when she lived in upstate new york. I just attended an intro meeting in my town. I think these are very helpful.
They help explore how to speak without using judgemental words but still get your needs across so that both parties feel heard and understood.
At advanced levels it's used in political and activist confrontations, but certainly most use it for everyday and personal relational needs.
Just a thought. Ignore if it doesn't feel right.
[This message edited by InnerLight at 12:30 PM, August 10th (Sunday)]
Showing the world some of your outside interests would help, but it can be scary. I was always a workaholic and I defined myself by my jobs. My bliss is birding, but birders are nerds (to the unknowing ) so I rarely talked about it. Now I proudly identify with it, and people are interested!
I definitely agree with this. I hide some of the "embarrassing" parts of myself from the world. I'm on a competition colorguard team. I think it's cool, but assumed that most of the world thinks it's dorky. I've started sharing that part of myself, and I've been surprised at how many people ask really good questions about it and seem interested. So, I'm letting more people inside by sharing that part of me.
For now, IC isn't going to happen.
So, to narrow this somewhat, and as I've been mulling this over today, I don't find the world inherently hostile, I do find strange men hostile (so that old joke, men are afraid of being laughed at by women, women are afraid of being raped and killed by men).
As for dating, it's like LG says. I'm not the one who brings the career thing up, all I talk about are my hobbies and how I see the world I'm exceptionally open about who I am. But guys hone in on my professional success and gush about it and do the whole "I can't believe you're talking to me, I'm not worthy bullshit, you're too beautiful and awesome for me" and it's annoying as all get out. I'm not my job. I'm not proud of my accomplishments b/c they aren't accomplishments. It's just work, I show up and do it. It's just a degree, I paid the money, showed up and turned in the work. Anyone can do these things, there's nothing special about it.
And once I'm annoyed, I can't shake it. I can't talk myself out of it by saying "well, he means well".
It could be that I'm reacting negatively to someone coming on strong, invading my personal space and/or emotional space too quickly. That's the common thread I'm seeing in all of these interactions I'm describing.
[This message edited by cayc at 3:19 PM, August 10th, 2014 (Sunday)]
anyone can do these things
You'd be surprised how many people can't do stuff you consider to be trivially basic.
There has to be a happy medium. I think it's somewhere between the close talker and the loud talker......
But guys hone in on my professional success and gush about it and do the whole "I can't believe you're talking to me, I'm not worthy bullshit, you're too beautiful and awesome for me" and it's annoying as all get out. I'm not my job. I'm not proud of my accomplishments b/c they aren't accomplishments. It's just work, I show up and do it. It's just a degree, I paid the money, showed up and turned in the work. Anyone can do these things, there's nothing special about it.
I felt like I was reading my own words here. I completely agree. I get the same thing from guys. It really annoys me when they tell me that they told their friends they're dating a lawyer, and the friends reply "wow." I usually roll my eyes inside, and instantly feel annoyed. I realize that they're trying to compliment me, but I think it's annoying because I have the same conversation with every single guy where I try to explain that my job is not that big of a deal. I think it's also a small trigger for me personally because my xwSO used me being "better" than him as a reason for why he cheated.
I don't really have a solution for you, but I definitely feel the same way.
I did go on a date tonight with a guy who didn't do the usual "wow" thing on my job. His job is pretty impressive too though, so maybe that's the trick.
do the whole "I can't believe you're talking to me, I'm not worthy bullshit, you're too beautiful and awesome for me" and it's annoying as all get out. I'm not my job. I'm not proud of my accomplishments b/c they aren't accomplishments. It's just work, I show up and do it. It's just a degree, I paid the money, showed up and turned in the work. Anyone can do these things, there's nothing special about it.
In my effort to be *concise*, I often come off as blunt and harsh. Sorry, don't mean to be offensive.
I have the same issue, when a guy starts complimenting me, my "shields" go up. My BFF says that I'm simply not used to men complimenting me since ex never did.
With one of the last guys I was dating, he starting complimenting me really early and I just kinda point blank said, "Thank you. But I don't reciprocate until I'm more "in" a relationship and feel like I know you better." That kinda slowed it down.
"For whatever we lose, like a you or a me, it's always ourselves we find in the sea" ee cummings