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I get really, really sick of that look.

 

You've probably never received it, yourself, and I bet you've never looked at another human being that way. No, the look I'm referring to is usually reserved for computers that don't work, some-assembly-required crap that doesn't actually fit together, and other similarly-defective things. It's a moment of dawning comprehension, when you first realize that something is seriously wrong--even if you can't quite put together the details yet.

 

I lost a FWB, the other day, and she gave me that look. To be clear, she was a legitimate friend. But there came a point when our ability to emotionally connect--even on a casual, friendly level--absolutely fizzled out, and I can safely say that it's all my fault. I've seen it happen before. The woman thinks, "I'm saying/doing this, you should be saying/doing that in response, because it's what functional human beings do...but you aren't. * * * ?"

 

To be clear, I'm not just talking about social skills, here. You could put two mute people in a room, and they'd still know how to engage each other. No, this isn't verbal...it's something deeper. Also to be clear, I am not emotionless. I actually have way too much emotion inside me, I'm just very good at repressing it. But I've gotten so good that it's like there's a glass wall between me and everyone else in the world. Maybe it's entirely a result of that, or maybe I have some weird emotional inability, and my desire for control combined with it to trap me forever.

 

It's been happening by degrees, basically. There was a point when I realized I couldn't connect with anyone on a truly intimate level, so I gave up on the idea of serious relationships. (It wasn't the only reason, but it was one of them.) I didn't really care, frankly...I've never gotten much out of being around people, and I figured that, as long as I could connect enough to deal with people on a casual, everyday basis (for work, whatever), I'd be okay. But that's starting to devolve.

 

I'm not really sure why this is happening. Ironically, it might have to do with the fact that I'm increasingly content. When I was more insecure (I love oxymorons), I tended to long for human contact...now, I'm fine without it, so I don't have the same motivation to try. Likewise, I've gotten my sex drive somewhat under control. Without it to force me into social situations, my desire to connect is pretty much nil.

 

I don't know what exactly this is, but I've been viewing it as a condition (partially my own fault, I'm sure), and I think I'm managing it well. I have no interest in therapy or medication, I just want to be able to function enough to do what I want in life, which is a pretty basic, limited list of things. But it's a weird feeling: the lights are going off one by one, and I'm at the center of it all, waiting to be in the dark.

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Dude....most of us here know you have emotions....strong ones.

Along with a massive chip on your shoulder.

Maybe due to the BS you have been through with the people who surround you as stated here.

 

How does this ex FWB expect you to act exactly?

What have you done which makes her think otherwise?

 

I'm sure you know at one time or another FWB will get awkward.

 

There is definitely a reason why you disconnect from people.

The reasons are always negative.

So why stay connected when there is no reason to?

 

Safer to be away from people when you know they can hurt you when thats what you have experienced right?

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Is it contentment, or is it apathy?

 

My concern for you would be, without a feeling of being connected to others in some way emotionally (if this progresses and you do nothing to change it) - that can easily and most predictably lead to depression. And depression leads to more isolation and difficulty connecting (even when you want to) and anxiety, which becomes a vicious circle.

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It sounds like depression because I am depressed too. My therapists have diagnosed with me with "dysthymia" which is a low-grade, chronic depression that sometimes goes under the radar because you aren't staying in bed and crying everyday but you are functioning under your potential. Your apathy is probably keeping you dealing with your life but you harbor a deep sadness underneath. I wish I had answers for you, but I just felt I should respond because I see your condition is similar to mine and thought I would shed some light.

 

I think your thoughts may have become very irrational--you jump to conclusions about your social skills and want to give up. It becomes a cycle of self-pity. You keep putting yourself down, thinking you aren't good for anything. You probably learned it somewhere and now it's a bad habit. I am trying cognitive bibliotherapy. Maybe you oughta try it. There are plenty of books on the subject. I like Aaron Beck. I have to admit...it's a lot of work though. I am still feeling really bad. It's a cycle that you have to break. I understand how you feel.

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Dude. I know EXACTLY what you are talking about (PM me if you want to talk more). In my case I'm pretty sure it started after my parent's marriage dissolved. I witnessed them having horrendous fights and it stressed me out so badly that I learned to "push down" my feelings so I could remain functional. This strategy worked at the time and so I started using it all the time. I basically went all the way through high school and college doing this. Now when I have a chance to emotionally connect with somebody, it's like I can't do it. Kind of like when you are about to cry and you catch yourself, and then that nervous emotional energy builds up in your gut and chest. So I became isolated from people due to past emotional trauma that was outside of my control.

 

I know precisely what you mean by the "glass wall" metaphor. And with me it's not a verbal, social skills thing either. I am perfectly able to talk to people and engage in superficial communication. The problem comes when there is intimacy. My mind just goes completely nuts, almost like recoiling from a hot burner.

 

I think we all have the ability to love ourselves and other beings. I don't believe that can be damaged. Hidden or repressed? Sure, but it's still IN there. And I think with you, that ability to connect with people is there, perhaps you just need to find it.

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