Thursday, May 20, 2010

perpetual first-date syndrome

"BAAAA! I have a whole theory about that!"

I say that about everything. I'm a developer of theories. One of my few strengths is people-watching and in my 27 years I've come up with entire theories about almost everything.

The (quite obvious) procedure:
(1) notice something (almost anything will do)
(2) ponder it
(3) explain it

Just last night, I used this procedure to formulate a theory about why Lee is so much more endearing than Bowersox, even though they both have similar down-home vibes and backgrounds--I may be the only person alive still watching this show-- and it is that Lee seems in awe of the whole thing and Crystal seems just a little too chill. LADY! YOU ARE ON NATIONAL TELEVISION! BE EXCITED ABOUT IT. (I like them both. I just find Lee more endearing.) I have this dilemma where people who are too energetic overwhelm me, but at the same time, I want to punch people who are too mellow just to see if they'd hit back or get mad, just to see some life in them, you know? People who are too ho-hum about everything are more infuriating than people who are tiggers about life. Agree or disagree?

So back to how I am constantly developing theories. I am stuck in phase 2 (pondering) of my normal theory developing procedure and would like, nay, love your feedback to help me get to phase 3 (explanation). Ready?

What is with perpetual first-date syndrome? You know how on a first date you exchange pleasantries and are super polite and may even bust out some forced laughter bc you aren't sure if you're on the same wave-length? Welp, apply this to the friend-making process. This happens to me quite a bit, which I think is weird, bc let's face it, I am a pretty awesome friend. I bet you are, too, which is why I need your help analyzing this. I've dealt with multiple people lately where it seems like we should be good friends but we never get passed first-date-esque awkwardness no matter how often we interact.

Let's use my go-to name for these situations by calling her Topenga. (This is not you, dear reader. This is an amalgamation of people.) Topenga and I have known each other for five years. We are both normal, funny, nice, relatively sharp, are in similar life stages, have mutual friends, blahblah. We seem like we should be good friends and perhaps we appear to be good friends bc we interact pretty regularly. But we still don't really know each other any better than we did five years ago. Instead, we've just spent five years exchanging recipes or compliments about earrings. This drives me nuts! Why aren't we moving on? Things stay super formal, super weird, and over time it gets super infuriating, especially bc I can't pinpoint why this happens. Come on, Topenga! We can have real conversations! We can't really be as bland as we're acting! I know there's more to you than your sensible shoes!

Why does this happen? Does this happen to you? Analyze, please.


Mrs. Beer said...

I know what you mean about Idol. Lee seems genuinely aware of how incredible his experience is while Crystal seems like she almost expects it. Lee is so sweet. He is going to win. Hands down! No competition! Also bugs me how defensive Crystal is when the judges comment. Like she knows better. Frustrating!

Mrs. Beer said...

PS. TOTALLY TOTALLY am going through first date awkwardness with people I've known for a decade. Its like we dont know how to comfortably interact on an adult level. So SO annoying!! I feel you.

danielle said...

so true! will you please post your conclusion when you figure it out?!

Matt Conlon said...

Sounds like neither of you have breached the boundaries of decency and seen what the other is willing to overlook for your friendship.

Generally speaking, after hanging out with a couple a few times (and even more likely after a few beers, if I can work them into the occasion) I'll inevitably be the first to breach that boundary with a belch.

Huh... How bout that. Come to think of it, it is always me.

Anyway, if they don't mind, I'm comfortable, which in turn makes them comfortable.

I'm not recommending you use my tactic of gastro-intestinal pyrotechnics necessarily, but maybe find something about which some people are sensitive and which you are not... let it become obvious and show that her knowing about it doesn't bother you. I bet she'll be relieved and let her guard down.

Either that, or she'll think you're nuts, and you wont have to deal with the infuriating act anymore anyway. :)

Liz said...

Yes! This happens to me all the time. Mostly it's because I assume gals I meet are only interested in talking about their kids or pregnancy so I don't really make an effort to dig a little deeper. Also, I think sometimes if the person already has several close friends, they don't really feel the need to make more and are perfectly happy with the superficial friendship you have now. But what do I know? I'm terrible at making friends.

p.s. Bowersox won't win because she looks like a homeless person. I like the fact that she's unique, but let's be honest, America in general is pretty superficial when it comes to these things.

Ariel said...

A few random thoughts here. I feel like I have way too many Topanga's in my life. But do I have time to make a Shawn Hunter relationship with all of them?
Is it unwllingness to try on my behalf or theirs, that has prevented the friendship from moving forward? Or is it that we really don't have as much in common as outward appearances would indicate.
Thank goodness for Facebook. I can continue to be friends with Topanga with little or no effort.

As for Idol. I used to feel that Lee was just as ho-hum as Crystal. However, the past few weeks have proved me wrong. He has blossomed into a very likeable guy, or gazelle, as Ellen would say. I think he will win. However I am still pulling for Bowersox. I really want to see a uncharacteristic, female as the Idol champ. I love her style, even if she does appear homeless at times.

gurrbonzo said...

Mrs. Beer: You're right on the money about Crystal's defensiveness.

danielle: at this rate, I may NEVER figure it out! Hellllp.

Matt: Would you believe I've done things like burp with no success!? So bizarre. Who wouldn't respond well to a burp?


Ariel: Oooh, I sense a clarification post brewing in me. Bc there's a difference between relationships in which I'm totally content with the superficiality (and in fact, prefer it) and ones in which I'm infuriated by it. Let me think about this. (begin pondering stage) HRMMMMMM.

Liz said...

I totally understand what you're saying about that superficiality and I have experienced it many times myself. It seems to take a moment when one party risks the potential rejection and awkward moment and reveals something personal. Then it all comes down to the other person's reaction. If they can relate, comfort, or share a similar story that goes beyond the bounds of a polite acquaintance-ship then usually the closer friendship can develop from there (in my humble opinion). Otherwise it gets stuck at the polite-superficial-stage forever...

Andrea said...

This happens with my in-laws I'm afraid. The bonus is at least we are exchanging pleasantries and not anything else. Just please don't compliment me on my Ross shirt one more time...
I think in order to advance a relationship communication needs to run deeper, but in steps. So you start with the superficial, but then you gradually dive deeper. For example, you express a feeling and hope that person can either relate or empathize with what you're saying. If you put that feeling out there and they give you nothing you're at an impasse. I'm a behaviorlist at heart and I know reinforcement comes into play so you can take that next step. Another example are the ladies in my ward who are somewhat adverse to me because we are the only childless couple. They don't feel like trying to take a step is worth the effort. And I'll be honest I don't either.
And that is my deep thinking for the day. I better get back to work.

Sarita said...

Im finding this more and more since I got married and moved away from all my super comfy relationships. Somehow making friends as a married is way harder. And Im not good at asking probing questions like some are. Instead I find myself offering up way too much personal info about myself which results in (given the existing lack of comfortability) super awkwardness. Somehow I think that by exposing myself I am saying -see, Im talking about me comfortably and sharing, now you can too!- Weirdo. And Im doing it again. It's like word vomit.

I do find that facebook and blogging has broken some of those barriers for me recently, so yay for wasting my time on the internet!

Deanna said...

Well, as a tigger personality I expect that I'll be the noisier one in most of the types of pleasantry-centric friendships. That doesn't bother me. What does bother me are people with whom I have everything in common, and even have good conversation chemistry and feel like we are definitely ready for our 2nd date... I expect that we will be friendlier... mostly because there are lots of promises of getting together and doing things blahblahblah and then nothing. We are back to starting over or worse, I get the stink-eye distant freeze out from her the next time I see her. I would prefer the pleasantries than to be told by someone I am considered a close friend and then ignored the next time I see her. Jr. High was a long time ago. I think I am addressing a different issue. Ah, well. I think, for me, I end up being better friends with people who don't have everything in common with me. Having a great friendship in common is better than having everything else in common without a real frienship. That's my rambly 2 cents.

Oh, and I think Bowersox's relaxed confidence comes off a little arrogant... like she's already won. I like her all right, but we are rooting for Lee.

Mrs. Clark said...

I once heard a mother at home describe herself as a "philosopher." I think that's about as apt a description of that phase of my life as anything!

Sorry I can't help you with the friend thing. I am not sure why I am not experiencing this problem, at least not right now. I think it is because if someone doesn't want to return my friendly advances, I let it go. But I have a lot going on in my life, so I don't particularly care. If I were at your stage, it would be different.

Sara said...

I think you get to a point where you can't make that leap into "friendship" because you've been first-dating so long.

It's like when you meet someone and you forget/never know their name - all the sudden you're at a point where because you didn't speak up earlier, now it's too awkward to admit you don't know their name.

On the flip side, I did a project in college where you asked another person all these deep probing questions. After several hours of real sharing, I knew everything about this person, and we weren't even friends. It made it very strange when we ran into each other on campus after that.

teachergirl said...

i just want to agree that the friends after marriage thing is hard. my very best friend in the whole world is my husband. he's the coolest guy, and i like hanging out with him, and i have other friends, but since i spend 99.9% of my time with my husband (or working...), the small amount of time that i have left feels forced when i try to include new people into it.

that said, i'm doing it. i have a whole "we WILL have friends!" battle plan for later this summer when we live in a house larger than a postage stamp.

but i think when there's a discrepancy of circumstances (married/unmarried, children/no children) it adds a layer of awkwardness. then, even if you are able to transcend that, there's the time issue. even if you want to invest time in this friendship, it's like every adult person knows that we are no longer focused on friendships alone. remember when we were? when friendships were the sole marker of success? for me...they just aren't anymore, unless you count the eternal one that i am invested in developing. i have a few friends that are important to me, that i invest time in and want to cultivate, but everything else is like filler. that may sound callous, but i don't mean it that way.

i guess i just mean that the realities of adulthood make friendship a difficult thing to focus on, even when you're focusing on it, and that reality colors everything.

blah. i'm babbling. i hope you know what i mean.

Just SO said...

For me sometimes I just can't get past that "first date" stage because the time doesn't seem right to move it to the next level...even after 5 years. Does that make sense? Some people are really slow movers on the relationship scale. I can be one of them. And a lot of it depends on my state of mind.

Often times, because of poor self image or other crap, I tell myself that there is no way someone would want to be in a "deeper" relationship with me and therefore I keep it very superficial.

Other times it's because I'm so caught up in my own little world that I don't even notice what is going on around me.

Don't know if this helped or not but there it is.