My INTPness and people

I have such huge issues with people I think. But it always will seem that way to the person involved, wouldn’t it? So it may not be such a big deal at all. Yet, it seems to be so for me.

My brother posted a FB status update on how he was always too slow to open up. I could feel his pain. At the same time, I feel it’s a different thing that I have compared to what he feels. He has mentioned to me before how he felt like an “other”, always on the outside of other people’s lives when he wants in. I understand how he feels. There’s a stereotype that INTPs don’t “get” other people. I think it’s not that we don’t get them. It’s that we choose not to. That’s at least true for me. I’m pretty good with the empathy thing, but it affects me too much I’d rather be rid of it. Do not like that I have this surge of emotions that makes me feel I could be out of control.

So I understand how he feels. And I kind of feel the same, but not really. You see, where he is certain he wants in, I’m not too sure of that myself. I’m vacillating between wanting in and going “nah, I’m all right”. I think people sense the ambivalence. People want to feel welcome and liked, right? They gravitate towards people who generally feel chummy about them. I don’t think I give that vibe. I think my brother might be an INTJ so he’s kind of judgemental. I think they see that. It’s kind of different. I’ll be the first to admit I judge people. Seriously, who doesn’t? Please. I do always leave a space for mind-changing though, and I’m mindful of that space. I don’t think people sense that I judge. I think people sense that I may or may not like them, and that uncertainty makes them not want to take that step.

I very seldom make the first move because while my EQ is pretty strong, I’m also aware of how I might come across. You may say I’m hyperaware. 15 years as a high school teacher tunes your sensitivity to these things up quite a few notches. So I’m cautious, and distant. I believe the usual words to describe me are “aloof”, “distant”, and maybe “strange”, which I take to be a compliment of sorts. The hubs (ESTP) doesn’t think so but *shrug*.

Of course even after they attempt to make that first move, the other thing is that there are few with whom I can really talk. I really cannot talk with them. Most of them are touch-and-go’s. That’s not quite like hit-and-run’s. Hit-and-run’s tend to shock you with something and then leave the conversation just when it was getting fun because they had to go somewhere. I hate that. That’s like being jerked around. Touch-and-go’s have a very surface understanding of the topic and that’s what happens, they talk a little about it, then move on to another topic. I cannot continue a conversation focused on that topic because either they don’t know enough about it to engage in a conversation, or they are too flighty and easily distracted. It’s frustrating to say the least. Most times I would just rather not engage than to have these sorry excuses for conversations. And thus I have very very few conversations. I think I have more conversations with my cat in which I imagine a response. I don’t imagine an ideal response, of course; just _a_ response that is developed and thought-provoking. I get so few of these with my human friends.

I don’t think it’s because they are shallow, but then not having had a chance, I wouldn’t really know. It’s probably due to the differences in interests. I can’t talk to many other women because the ones I know talk about clothes, about shoes, about trends in fashion. Sometimes they talk about cupcakes and baking them. (I secretly think these women bake all these cupcakes to make everyone else put on weight – they are usually the skinniest in their families.) I am so not interested in these topics. At all. I think if I wanted them to give me an in-depth evaluation on the role of fashion trends in our changing human society, some of them could probably come up with it. Hell, I’m not even interested and I can come up with it. But come on! I can’t talk to them about world events or FGM or atheists being hacked to death in Bangladesh or philosophy, or archaeology or linguistics etc., mostly because they don’t pay attention to issues and the world. And where’s my discussion on Interstellar and the fourth dimension and the implication that everything is predetermined? Where’s my discussion on how Mad Max: Fury Road has so many messages about gender, society, and dogma that it’ll take a super long time to unpack? Where’s my discussion on the use of mind-controlled exoskeletons and what that will mean in regard to how we will value our physical bodies in the future?

It’s not for the lack of trying. Mostly, what I get is “Cool, I didn’t know that”, and the topic will fizzle. They will have nothing to contribute. There will be this silence which I feel is stretched and tormenting and obviously awkward, but I have no sense that they feel so too. I have better luck with guys but even then not many can sustain a conversation.

I know only one other INTP in real life. She’s in England right now and has been for a long long time. I doubt we’ll meet frequently or at all even if she were back here, though. When she was around, there was this instant connection that was rather obvious.

In any case, it’s difficult for me to connect with people. I’m not even sure if I want to.

Even if I do, I tend to do this yo-yo thing. I don’t like it if it’s too close. Too close and I veer away. Need the distance. I’m wondering if it’s because I’m generally suspicious of people. I don’t like them too near because too near means they’ll know my weaknesses and they may use them against me. I’ve had enough of that for a lifetime.

Nowadays, I look on in an odd mixture of envy and relief when I see a gathering of friends. I don’t think I could do it but I sometimes still yearn for good face-to-face conversations with a different mind.