Damned If I Do. Damned If I Don't Give a Damn.

For years, I thought I wanted to be famous. I would dream of my music or acting propelling me to a career in New York or Hollywood, getting paid to be the center of attention, on a stage in front of thousands of people. I actually did perform quite a bit in my teen years, and a little when I was in my twenties... But every time I had a shot at going further, doing more with my (then) chosen career, I turned away from it. 

I spent years thinking that I was a failure, and that I was too old for fame and fortune. I spent my youth on music and acting, and then just gave it up. It wasn't until I was older that I really accepted that I sabotaged my own career goals because I was terrified of being surrounded by people all the time. While I'm an artistic person, I'm also an INFP who doesn't just crave solitude, but absolutely requires it. 

So instead of getting moving to California or New York, I stayed home and got married when I was in my early twenties. I sold my musical instruments, and started working in retail. I attached myself to someone who I felt grounded me, somehow, and although we were always decent friends (when we weren't arguing), we made lousy lovers. 

Correction- We were barely ever lovers at all. My spouse has never been a particularly feminine or affectionate person. She's her mother's daughter, and that includes a healthy disdain for men that I probably should have detected prior to standing in front of a magistrate and signing a legal contract. 

But that issue aside, I recognize that a lot of my misery that I would eagerly heap upon my spouse is as much my fault as it is hers, and it's all due to my odd personality type. We INFPs are a small section of the population, and we're also some of the brightest, most creative people you'd meet. The only problem is that you probably won't meet us, because we're staying home tonight, and every night, because the thought of walking into a room full of strangers makes us feel uncomfortable. 

It seems odd that I was once able to be the center of attention at a small gathering of friends when I realize that today, as my brain is right now, I couldn't do that with the same amount of confidence. 

Some people want to say I'm "shy", but that's not true. I'm not shy at all. I'm hesitant to get involved with other human beings on a personal level because I simply don't know if I can deal with all their emotional baggage on top of my own. I don't function properly when I don't get "alone time." In fact, if I can't get some peace and quiet (by my own definition, of course) then I just freak out and become a very unhappy, unlikable person.

I have recently been watching the TV show "House, MD" because the lead character, Gregory House, reminds me so much of myself. His attitude. His wit. His general disdain for sentimentality and all the little oddball rituals and myths people cling to... If I had become a doctor, House is who I'd be. Even more interestingly, House is based loosely on Sherlock Holmes, whom I always liked as a character. 

Of course, House and Holmes are fictional, and as such they can get away with being short-tempered, unwilling to put up with peoples' bullshit, or just eager to be left alone, and they get away with it. In the real world, people who aren't willing to jump into the middle of society and swim with the butterflies are considered unusual, rude, or antisocial.

And perhaps I am antisocial, but I don't hate people. . . Well, not all of them, anyway. I just like things kept small and intimate. I just want one person who understands me, loves me, and has sex with me, but who can understand that sometimes I need them to go away and let me have some "me" time, and that it's nothing personal. 

That's where my problems in my marriage come in. She doesn't give me a lot of "me" time. Even if she doesn't disturb me in my room (we sleep in separate rooms... Another subject for another time) she hangs around on the periphery of my hearing and vision on my days off, making me change my behavior and giving me this feeling that I cannot stand: The feeling that I'm being observed, or that I'm simply "not alone". For my personality type, just feeling like I'm not alone can be enough to make me edgy. 

My inability to speak to her anymore, outside of chit-chat and small talk, is directly responsible for our complete and utter lack of intimacy, too. She plays her part, to be sure. When I build up the courage to make a move or approach her, she doesn't reciprocate, and I end up feeling rejected, unattractive, and horrible. . . Which makes the gap between attempts expand even further. Perhaps I'm just so out of touch with her that I can't convey my desires properly anymore. Perhaps my "moves" are so subtle that she simply cannot detect them. . . Or maybe she's just plain not interested in me now that I'm in my late 30s and have retreated further into my own world.

But who can blame me? Shortly after we were married, she scared away every single one of my friends, including my best friend of almost 20 years. I haven't had a solid, real friendship since the late 90s, and currently, the only people I talk to outside of my family are my boss, a colleague, and my spouse.

I realize that I didn't include my spouse in "family", but really, it doesn't feel like we're family. It feels like we're really, really close roommates. She's my friend, I guess. She looks out for me, and I look out for her. There's just no passion, no romance, no deep connection aside from the loyalty one feels when one has lived with someone else for a couple decades, give or take a few years. We don't seem to be in love, and we never get close.

And I wonder: Is this me being INFP, or is this her being a cold *****? Or is it a little bit of both?

See, my thoughts are bouncing all over the place. I don't have a point here. And how could I? When it comes to my life, there's a lot of build-up, but never any resolution. The story of my life is made up of dozens of unfinished chapters. College? Unfinished. The first few women I could have (perhaps should have) married? Unfinished. Friendships? Unfinished. 

When people don't get to a resolution, they just walk away. That's where my life stands... Alone. I have a spouse who's around too much, but even when she's home, she's not with me. She doesn't like the things I like, and doesn't want to do what I want to do. She doesn't want me going out to do things without her. So I sit and do worthless things that lead me nowhere.

Things that remain unfinished.

I've started hundreds of novels and stories. I've finished only a few.

I've started composing hundreds of songs. I've finished perhaps twenty.

I've made contact with hundreds of people with the intention of seeking a friendship. Since getting married, I've followed through on approximately a dozen of those, and all are long since gone because I didn't keep up my end of the friendship bargain.

Even when it comes to sex, I would like to find someone for no-strings-attached encounters, but I just can't be bothered to get past all the "get to know you" crap. 

I've limited patience when it comes to people, and I make up for it with my acting skill when I'm at work. I don't really want to get into deep conversations with strangers, because frankly they bore the hell out of me, but I do it because it's customer service and it's what's expected in this world. I grin and lie to them. 

I "hit it off" with about 1 in 100,000 people (at best). When I do find that rare person that actually clicks with me, then it's great. I feel wonderful. We get together, we get close, we share and talk and marvel at how good it feels to find someone who understands us, and then... Unfinished.

Sometimes they wander away first. Sometimes I just don't feel like calling them to do something, because I've got that "I don't want to leave the apartment" anxiety going on. Sometimes they tell me it's getting too close and they need space, so I give them all the space in the world and somehow we never speak again. 

And sometimes we touch base every few months, remind each other how wonderful we make each other feel, and then fade out again. We repeat this for years and years, but we can never say we're even "friends" because we never really see each other. We just "feel" each other, every once in a while, when the wind blows in the right direction and the stars align properly. . . Or so it seems.

I know one thing that makes it hard for me to get on with other people is my total cynicism and lack of faith. I don't believe in gods, angels, devils, or anything whimsical and mystical. I used to, but my heart was never in it, and eventually the skepticism took over. When you're a skeptic and you live in a country where about 50% of the people think they have a guardian angel, it makes it hard to meet people.

I'm also a bit bellicose. I know that. I may be uncomfortable in a crowd, but I'm not afraid to call someone an idiot when they deserve it. I'm the first guy to grumble out loud about some jackass with 34 items in the 12-items-or-less lane at the grocery store. I'm the guy who will remind people, at a funeral, that what they're saying about thinking the deceased was a "great guy" and what they always felt prior to his death are not matching up. I can't stand hypocrisy. In fact, I'd say that hypocrisy is my least favorite thing about people.

On the other hand, I'm a sweet person when I'm with people I know and trust. I'm exceptionally smart (most INFPs are) and I'm very creative. I'm moderately good looking (even though I'm pushing 40), and I'm fiercely loyal to those whom I care about... It's just that I don't care about that many people.

All that would seem to clash with my heavy liberal leanings, but really, it can best be explained by (of all things) a quote from Men In Black: "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky animals and you know it!"  I'm in favor of caring for the least among us, but just because I feel that everyone should expect compassion and respect doesn't mean I want to hang out with them.

I'm a pragmatist. It comes with the territory. When people ask, "Is the glass half full, or half-empty." My answer is "It's never empty, unless you're in a vacuum." (It may be half oxygen and half water, or to be really precise, water, oxygen, microbes, etc. but unless you're showing me the glass in outer space, chances are it's completely full of something.)

It's this attitude that makes the average person unable to connect with me in any meaningful way.

Well, I mean, just think of how it affects interpersonal relations: To me, people saying "bless you" or "gesundheit" when I sneeze is just silly and annoying. Why? Because it's an old superstition based on the belief that when you sneeze the devil can jump into your body. Since that's ridiculous, there's no reason to bless people when they sneeze. Additionally, in light of the fact that we're expected to beg pardon for any other bodily noise we might make-- a cough, burp, etc.-- then it's particularly stupid to bless people for this one bodily function, which is no more voluntary or unnatural than any others. 

So I come off as a rude person when I don't bless people after they sneeze, even if I'm not doing it because I have a perfectly pragmatic, logical reason and NOT just to be a rude jerk. 

People talk about God having some hand in their lives, and I just want to roll my eyes and stick my finger down my throat. It's all I can do to withhold a groan when God comes into a conversation. It's not that I'm against you choosing a religion; It's that I just think religion is stupid, and in my mind, it makes you about 15% less appealing in a conversation because I know some day we'll be speaking normally, and then without warning you'll take a hard right turn down that blind alley of religion, and I won't be able to follow you. I've been down there, and I found it as ridiculous when I told myself I believed as I do now, when I openly say it's childish. 

See? I'm a real charmer.

So, I can't deal with religious people, outgoing people, stupid people, sexually conservative people, superstitious people, overly sentimental people, or obsessive people. That really doesn't leave many humans with whom I could have a meaningful relationship.

I figure I'm emotionally compatible with about 5% of the population, and of those 5%, I only find 3.2% of them attractive.

Oh, there are people I'm attracted to, but so many of them are not "my type" or compatible with my personality that it's a lost cause. I just look and rarely touch, because touching comes with socializing unless I'm prepared to pay for it. I used to be able to sleep with people I didn't respect, but these days I'm just unwilling to put up with them. I'd rather have sex with someone I like on all levels, even if I don't plan on being deeply in love with them.

Oh, yeah... That's another area in which I tend to lose points with people. Sentimentalities like love, the soul, the spirit, etc. I don't believe in them. 

Well, it's not that I don't believe in them, but I don't believe they are what people wish they were. Love exists, but it's not the mystical, magical thing people dream of; It's a chemical reaction in your brain that makes you feel a certain way toward an ideal mate. "Ideal" is based on past experiences, maternal/paternal feelings and history, scents, colors, and a variety of other factors. It's not mystical at all. It's closer to temporary insanity than it is to magic or spirituality. 

I don't believe in the soul or spirit, either. (Pragmatist, remember?) This is a conversation-stopper for me, as I'm of the school that knows that when you die, you're just gone. Your brain ceases working, and everything you were fades into oblivion. The best you can hope for is that you shared enough of the contents of your brain that your experiences and observations will be of some use to later generations.

And that, I suppose, is why I'm here. I don't propose to be the most likable guy in the world, nor do I imagine that I'll meet some like-mind and we'll hit it off and thank our lucky stars for the magic of the Internet that made it possible for us to find each other. I'm here because, like so many others, I have a metric tonne of thoughts and nobody to share them with, so I'm shoveling them into a jumble of words that I hope are entertaining and intriguing enough that SOMEONE reads them, and can at least try to understand me just a little bit.

Because that's what I want more than anything in the world... Someone to just fracking understand me, once, and maybe see where I'm coming from. If I'm lucky, maybe I'll even find someone who likes me the way I am. 

But I won't hold my breath. I've been waiting for that my entire life, and so far, it hasn't happened. I got close once or twice, but of course, things were left unfinished. 

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3 Responses Feb 28, 2009

I never knew that about sneezing. How interesting. I always just say it because Mom would get angry at me and call me rude if I didn't. So now it's semi-habit. I have to think about it sometimes.

I found you very intriguing though we are nothing alike in our "believes”. What’s wrong with that? Nothing. It’s a different perspective if nothing else, also I wanted to add that I heard that the reason ppl say god bless you was because it has been found that when you sneeze your heart stops for that split second. I for one don’t find it horrible to say or hear ...the better explanation I heard was on the Simpsons when homer said when you sneeze its your soul trying to escape your body and when someone say's god bless you it crams it back in :)

Welcome to EP, Vendanwir. I sense you've come to the 'right' place.. EP is a great forum to work things out and to meet like-minded people.<br />
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Relationships really ARE difficult.. particularly for us infps, it seems. Not sure if you will find this helpful, but I have an article to recommend, which may address some of your relationship issues: <br />
http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/ColeenL1.html<br />
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I wish you the best on your journey through this life.