...by Which I Mean Mostly Friendships

There's not much to tell; I'm one of those people who doesn't like talking on the phone very much. Oh, sure, I'll TRY talking on the phone--especially if I feel pressured to--as long as I can stand it, but in general I do almost anything to avoid it.

Unfortunately, the telephone is one step in intimacy connection (struggling for words here...or maybe I want to say just that's one step of emotional connection) below actually being in-person. It's many steps ahead of texting or emailing. I LIKE emailing people because I feel like I'm completely understood/understandable in that medium. I get to say what I think, how I think it, without fearing that I'll be cut off--or that I'll stop saying whatever it is because I can see how what I'm saying is effecting the other person. Which is not to say that I'm a very rude, mean spirited, or hurtful person; but sometimes it's hard to keep talking about something--even if you really want and need to talk about it--if it's obvious it's making the other person bored.

Maybe the truth is that I don't even like face-to-face relationships, but don't really recognize this fact because I'm forced into them daily at work, and they tend to go okay. Naw, that's not it. Yes, in-person relationships (friendships, co-workers, lovers, whatever) can be challenging, but on-the-whole I enjoy them and find them rewarding.

The difference, I think, is that in-person I'm able to see/read body language (even if I suck at correctly interpreting it). On the phone I can't see anything, and the vocal tones can throw me for a loop--being overly sensitive as I am. I have one friend at work who I get along great with in person, but whom I really hate talking to on the phone. Even the briefest conversations are brutal because his tone of voice on the phone is so...well, it just sounds like he's bored, pissed, lethargic, etc. In other words, hard to talk to that guy.

It is unfortunate that I don't like the telephone though because so many people expect to maintain long-distance friendships and relationships through that medium. Some of my best friends have moved out of state, or out of city, and I find it excrutiatingly difficult to remain connected with them.

I do occasionally have decent conversations with them, and chat with them once every week...or bi-weekly...or monthly...or bi-monthly...or annually, but when I do I tend to feel (afterwards) like they must've hated talking to me, or I was boring, or they were boring, or something wasn't good about the conversation. That, in addition to being selfish with my time makes it difficult to stay-in-touch.

And maybe we've finally arrived at the soul of the problem: I'm selfish with my time. I'd rather have a one-on-one with my computer, or a book, than I would with a person.

I love being alone in some ways, but crave togetherness and connection with others too.

Because of that dichotomy, I find myself rarely satisfied. If I'm having a one-on-one with my computer I don't get much done because I'm craving people; if I'm with people then I feel bad because I'm not being productive (at home, on my computer, writing or programming).

In the end, my alone time is much less than it could be, and my people time is much less than it could be. Also, being around people is, for me, something of a minefield.
 
I hang out with a married couple and could swear-to-god that the woman (of the couple--I was friends with each one of them individually before they started dating, and have continued being friends with both after they've gotten married) hits on me. She made a big production of showing me a portfolio of pictures she took for a gallery showing. While pointing at various pictures she'd brush my hand or grab my arm--all while her husband was sitting right there. Um, awkward! Yes, she may have just been trying to make him jealous, but still.

So maybe I'm being hypersensitive to those kinds of vibes. But, then, in another example, I totally missed the queues that one young woman (who I was talking to) felt like I was taking up too much of her space. It's funny and horrifying in retrospect, because I didn't have any clue she felt invaded. Oh, well. After hearing about that incident from my co-workers (she told them that she felt a little uncomfortable with where I was standing relative to her--which, agreeably, may or may not be true) I felt like maybe I'm not so good at reading body language. Maybe I'm reading certain signs as being boredom when they're really just being good listeners. Or something.

Then there's the fact that I tend to attract really weird relationships: a good gal friend of mine told me she was thinking about committing suicide the day before she asked if we could be "more than just friends" if her current relationship didn't work out. I said no as kindly as possible.

I just don't really know how to handle the normal demands of being in friendships. Right now I'm debating how to handle a text I got from a friend. This same friend has been really erratic and nearly psychotic at times, but is fun to hang out with. However, whenever she and I get together to hang out, other stuff ends up happening. I find myself torn: I like physical stuff, but I also really feel like crap that I might have so little too offer that all she (and too many other girls to count) want from me is making out (and so on, *wink*). Then again, we did "date" for a week; and she has wanted to date me ever since--so maybe that's not the issue here. I guess I just find myself really horny and feeling validated with physical stuff (sex, etc.) but completely afraid to base my sense of worth in a relationship on my sexual prowess. Obviously that's a flimsy foundation.

When I was married I really liked the fact that there was so much "other" stuff that we did and talked about--other than just sex. Sex was good and enjoyable in it's time and place, but it had a much smaller role in our relationship. When a relationship is all about the sex, I feel like I don't matter. Anyone who's willing to have sex could fill in for me. My uniqueness and qualities--everything about me--becomes moot when we're getting it on.

Wow, this has been quite the smorgasborg of a story/entry. Still, maybe you, the reader, can see a common thread between everything I've talked about here.

So this girl (who I mentioned above) txted me today and asked if I want some cuddle time tonight. Yes, I enjoy hanging out with her just in general. The cuddle and play-time is fun and enjoyable, and I feel funnier around her. But...I hate giving up my night. We had cuddle time last night. I'd be good with having cuddle time once, maybe twice a week. See, here's the whole thing with being selfish with my time...and with being non-committal. If I could be guaranteed that I could go over there and just watch a movie, I'd probably be up for it. However, knowing that there'd be the expectation of making out (etc), I'm really not interested. I actually feel almost terrified and nauseated by the idea. Weird response, right?

So...what do I say? I've been considering saying something like "I'd love to, but I have plans." But that sounds false to me. Would it sound false to her? Or maybe say that, but include "maybe friday?"

See, I think about working on calling my friends (old and new) more often, but then I get all caught in a maelstrom of emotion: fear of rejection (if they don't answer, if they don't call back, if they seem bored or disinterested on the phone, if they don't want to hang out, etc.) and fear of getting in way over my head in terms of time demands. I have enough old friends and family that I can easily see the potential for gobbling up my cell phone minutes, and all my free time. Hell, I have a hard enough time merely getting into my days what I want to so far (writing, reading, programming, learning, working out, work, sleep, food). I guess I feel like I have to be really careful of any other obligations I accept--anything else which would require time--as I already don't have enough time for Me.

Then there's the fact studies have found that those with expansive social networks and many emotional connections live longer...if it weren't for that, and the fact that I tend to get down and depressed if I'm alone for too long, I wouldn't mind just being by myself.

Thanks for listening.
liferiot liferiot
26-30, M
2 Responses May 9, 2007

Ah you pretty much summed up every thought i've ever had in a nut shell! Especially the part about being nauseated. I can honestly agree. I get that way sometimes but I just think if i just do this and get it over with it won't be that bad. I'm always feeling guilty.

All of the phone avoidance, maintaining long distant relationships that way, preferring e-mail, wanting to be alone but getting lonely, and body language debacles I could have written nearly the same things about myself. I just wanted to thank you for sharing, sometimes it is really easy to think you are the only person in the world with certain issues. As far as all the girls wanting to get with you and your wanting more alone time, I think you are totally nuts ;)<br />
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thanks again for sharing,<br />
-David