Dealing with ex’es

All of this is very personal, but I feel like there are nontrivial things about this situation that may be of independent interest. I’d like to address the way to deal with an ex- romantic partner. Almost always, this person deserves some respect, just for the fact that they tolerated us for an extensive period of time. But to my surprise, how nice I am to them now is not proportional to how nice they were to me during the relationship. Instead, it’s more like inversely proportional. The person that was more sweet to me appears not genuine when the relationship ends – I ask myself if all those feelings were a lie? Whereas the person that expressed more dissatisfaction with the relationship as it progressed seems more logical and trustworthy – since the relationship has actually ended, maybe they were right. Of course, I should specify that in both cases I talk about the relationships that end due to circumstances and unwillingness to overcome them, not jealousy or character mismatch.

There is a form of jealousy that bothers me though. Basically, since I am at the very bottom of life, pretty much any next romantic partner they have will be better off than me. And I tend to feel bad when it is thrown in my face. I feel like everybody should have a reasonable humility about their financial status. I don’t want the first thing I learn in a rare conversation with an ex to be that they are buying a new house etc. That may well be a big thing for them, but if they want to get along with me, maybe changing the subject would be a good idea.

But that’s not only about financial status. They may also be at a different stage of life than me, with children being the new priority while for me it’s still work. In that case, it becomes meaningless to keep in touch just because even though we could have been friends at the same stage of life, it’s unlikely to be friends when stages of life mismatch and there’s nothing that we have in common anymore.

I prize myself for the fact that even if I feel more bored and irritated by a person by the end of the relationship compared to the first impression, I still am able to find good sides in that person, and come up with ways to have fun spending time together. So if the relationship ended, it’s definitely not because I became bored. Just in terms of finding stuff to do, I can go on forever with any given person.

Finally, being friends right after the relationship has ended is not a good idea altogether. Every time they are reminded about us, the feelings get continued. It is wise to have a break from seeing each other, even if one of the couple tends to ask for attention. When it is clear that the relationship is over, feeding the lonely feelings only makes things worse. One shouldn’t be rude to the partner, but should restrict communication. And it’s important to be very clear about the reason why communication is being restricted (reason is to let the feelings die quietly) – ambiguity adds a lot to the pain of breakup. All of the above is easier said than done: how would you say to a person that’s not logical that the feelings have to “die quietly”. The only thing you can do is be nice and very clear about the fact that the relationship did not work. And within a period of about 1 year it is impossible to predict how much the other person is missing you/hating you after the breakup, so demanding them to be your friend within that period is not such a good idea. Then the feelings get reevaluated, and reminding that person about yourself becomes safe.


For young mothers in academia

For young mothers in academia, is there a clear way to raise a kid who benefits from parents being intellectual elite, has personal connection to them, sees them as a role model, and is not just taking money from them?

Is “tiger mother” the only way? How to accept the kid being into parties and not into hard work? This mindset of “lost generation” is just one of the many ways the consumer society developed to take money from successful parents through their kids.

What if the only thing a kid will think about parents is how much pressure and control they exert on him, with their seemingly unachievable bar of success? Is that what the kid would complain to the counseling worker about? Counseling workers are replacing parents in this function of maintaining personal connection with their grown up kids. And while talking with their parents, the grown up kids will refrain to small talk, how everything is fine and great, and send a card.

We need more positive examples, where talented and driven parents raised talented and driven kids. Especially here in California, the only examples I hear of are the opposite.

A valuable lesson on rejection

In a movie to come out about high school a teacher is encouraged by his students to hit on another teacher. When he approaches her, he asks her instead to slap him to “teach the kids a valuable lesson in rejection”

So I realized that one of the things that makes me who I am (a shut-in) is a still-present fear of rejection. It is so strong, that I put huge efforts to make “safe” the actual situations where I need to talk to strangers. That is, even if I need to ask directions, I can only ask it if I’m sure the person will reply. I won’t ask a person with headsets on, who is facing away from me, because I’m not sure I’ll successfully attract their attention to start talking. And the situation when I tried and failed is so scary, that it discourages me from trying. Obviously rejection isn’t that scary, but how to explain it to my subconsciousness?

(this post is inspired by Scott Aaronson’s speculation that his own teenage fears were coming from bad counseling and extreme stygma against having sexual attraction to girls)

Fault in the best of us

I’ve got a massive amount of information in one evening about how people usually get to intimacy. It was a discussion about sex organized in our student residences. The typical individual message of what I heard has the structure:

This feels uncomfortable – here’s how to make it comfortable.

It made me thinking how very social people have this negativity towards any uncomfortable/awkward situation. As if, you shouldn’t really have any of them in your life.

On the contrary, people with low social skills can’t really avoid awkward situations, and after getting through them on daily basis they develop a kind of tolerance. It’s okay to go through an uncomfortable experience if it doesn’t influence your happy future too much. For example, if you come to a new place where you don’t have any friends, it’s okay to be an oddball for a first few weeks, before you get into the hang of it. I wonder if the more serious questions, like hitting on people vs. staying cool, can be resolved in this new light:

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