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.

Three questions to tell if someone is a douchebag

From dating website, people create shaming walls for profiles that are way off. This one is for profiles of guys who call themselves nice but aren’t: former okcupidsniceguys.tumblr.com

(for those who want more intense shaming go to foreveralonefedoras.tumblr.com, you will never be the same again)

The ultimate proof that someone is a douchebag is his answer to three questions: Is homosexuality a sin? Would you strongly prefer to date someone of your racial background? And last but not least: do you think women have the obligation to have their legs shaven?

Apparently that one is a deal breaker. If you need to prove someone’s a douchebag just that is enough. Luckily I haven’t answered it – I may have gotten myself on those shaming walls. First of all, the question does not have the tone of “importance”. It’s not phrased like “do you think police should catch women with unshaven legs and fine them”! So it’s easy to not read much into it..

Second of all, how are men even supposed to answer this question? It’s not like we ever saw a woman with unshaved legs. And we never thought about this question either. My first thought was “I have no idea”. It’s hard for me to imagine a man arguing about this with someone. If one tries to imagine women’s legs looking the way men’s legs look – ugh, that’s actually quite disturbing on many levels.

I’d like to conclude this faint stand-up routine with the description of a picture I was drawing for an army’s wallpaper. There, a new recruit is dreaming about tropical island, martini and a tanned lady in bikini, just to wake up to the sight of a hairy male butt of his barrack neighbor. This is how he knows this is the very bottom of life.

A comparative list of ways to meet people

  1.  At a social event or networking event. The one where you get free food, name tags  and questions like “where are you from?”, “what’s your major?”. Pros: You can friend them on facebook afterwards. They typically won’t mind. In a big school, there are no free food for everyone, but social service club meetings were basically the same – you get tons of names, and you can add them on facebook. In my case, in ucsb, it was circle K. When the food is involved, the above is not time-consuming at all. You do need to get your meals somewhere. Cons: It may be a little bit frustrating – nobody really tries to be original while getting to know you. I never got one interesting question for all these years. Also, the people of younger age group (students) may very well friend you, but they actually have zero interest in anything you can tell them, and will react with surprised silence if you ask them to meet with you for lunch. Not that I tried too many times, but I can tell that it feels so out of line. Just keep that in mind.
  2. At a non-networking event: in a class, on a public lecture or panel, on a tour, in a gym. The criterion is: no name tags, and it’s not about having fun. You typically have a few minutes before, at intermission or after the event – and then everybody leaves. Pros: this is where most of the new people we see during the day would be. I can’t overestimate how many people one would meet if one just puts a little bit of effort here every day. Cons: There’s nothing to say. And here, you’re the one who’ll have to initiate the conversation. Ideally, the event itself can be a topic of the conversation. Like asking for help in the homework. But it’s not something you’ll do often. So you can get contacts from some people, but then only if they’re into chatting in fb you have any chance of getting to know them. And, believe me, there are not too many people who are into fb chats with strangers, and your top choice certainly isn’t.
  3. Dating websites – these ones are for meeting the opposite gender. Pros: you get a priceless experience of what the typical “lots of fish” are like. Sometimes, you even get a response. Sometimes, you get a date. It’s a best place to practice buddhist mindset for such things. Cons: Other times, you just waste time. You may as well practice your pickup lines with the wall.
  4. Through friends – now that you’ve met some people who consistently hangs out with you, there’s a chance that an extrovert, a very social person will be among them. Pros: Then you’ll end up spending time with that person’s friends Cons: whoever they are.
  5. At a dance class – you don’t need to come with a partner, there will be a rotation so you’ll hear the names of all partners present in the room. Good luck remembering them! Pros: you may meet people who are there for the same reason as you 😉 Cons: you have to waste an hour feeling like you’re a beta male/ <whatever women feel> while the most attractive and popular dance class regulars are dancing in the middle of the room with all the moves you’ll never learn.
  6. At the bar. Or other “fun” place. A party, a dance club, an open-air. Pros: that’s where we should meet people, the mass media says. Cons: it involves drinking, and the communication in the noisy environment may be hard for non-native speakers. Also, most of the people come there to hang out with their own friends. So be prepared to just stand there. For hours.

We omitted the hikes, which are healthy and much alike #1 – the nametag events. The only problem being, people who go on hikes will never do anything except hikes in their life.

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:

Continue reading “Fault in the best of us”

More on sororities

I was not informed about fraternities and sororities, before I watched Monsters University. In that movie, stakes were high for the main character, so I didn’t question his desire to join the lettered community. Nor did I question the whole system of elite societies within the student body. Now I started reading about them on the web, and found a strange inconsistency between wiki and blogosphere. Basically, wiki says that membership reduces the academic performance, whereas the posts by sorority members claim increase in GPA:

^^^here

The most impressive propaganda in the posts is that almost all politicians and CEO’s come from greek organizations. Indeed, in every motto they promise to make you a leader. If I have a kid, I would hardly worry about vanishing chance of him becoming a politician, unless my kid is an outstandingly bad person. My bigger worries would be if he will have disturbed sleep by parties around the house every friday night, and grow up into a neurotic.

Yesterday I was present on a charity walk against cancer that involved all the student organizations. Most had a little tent, some did fundraising, some just chilling. This is where they practice their leadership skills, I was told. The effect on the outside world is negligible, but the students get confidence that they can set things moving. They also want to be a role model, which is easy if you have so many lines about extracurricular activities in your CV. Circle K that I joined, however, was not in greek, open to everyone, and with events that do have an immediate effect on the outside world. Basically the local communities employ this organization’s volunteers, work-for-food workforce. I find the existence of always available volunteer worker pool here quite shocking, given the basics of economics supply/demand curves, wall between us and mexico etc.

So do elite greek organizations make themselves available as volunteers in that workforce pool? I somehow doubt that, they’re elite after all. I really look forward to be disproven, but my first impression is that the greek culture subtly encourages you to abandon any hope of becoming a professional, and work your way up using connections instead. That aside, I kind of like how one of the triplets had taken ‘greek’ literally and is living up to the tradition of having a perfect body (ancient athletes) and clear mind (ancient philosophers). I think there should be more of this.