In my last SCW post, I talked about what I am looking for in a relationship. However, because of my social awkwardness, it seems sensible to think about what success looks like on a much smaller scale: that of the individual interaction. Since I am not capable of being outcome-independent, for various reasons that will become apparent in this series of posts, it is important to know what outcomes I actually want, and what specifically I want to avoid. That way, I at least know on what I am depending!
I drew another mind map for this, but it’s not necessary to reproduce that for you, dear Reader: it turns out that the patterns in it fall neatly into a sequence: initiating (both sides), reacting (the other person, to me), concluding (what happens next?).
- What happened during the conversation
- I gave freely (didn’t feel pressured into saying or promising things – if I did say/promise, it felt like my choice)
- They gave freely (I wasn’t needy in my behaviour, and they wanted to talk to me)
- They opened up, or talked more
- Smiled warmly, were interested, laughed, relaxed
- Didn’t look away or act anxiously, didn’t look annoyed/disgusted
- Some agreed action, or
- Chances of meeting again
- Not expected to chase/push past initial (show of) disinterest
The most important point to me is the effect I have when I interact purposefully with other people. I want that to be positive, and it bothers me if I think it was negative. This is a big part of why outcome-independence is impossible for me: it sounds too much like viewing others as merely a means to an end. While acknowledging that it is impossible to remove the risk entirely, I think several of my questions or points for advice are about reducing the risk to manageable levels, or about having a back-up plan to minimise harm done if things go wrong. As I discussed in my previous post, I am cautious with risk-taking and surprises. In particular, in this case, if I start/engage in a conversation, I want to reduce the instability if I can and not take risks on someone else’s behalf.
The main thing I want for me is a certain amount of confidence going forwards: even if it’s just “see you next time”, I like to have some idea of what will happen next, as outlined in the list. While the list is written to be applicable to both dating and to making new friends, there is a slant towards dating in the mindset that I’ve held while composing it. Still, the points are applicable to both (from my point of view). I dislike feeling pressured, which (as indicated by my “People I don’t like at munches” post) includes times when I feel like the other person is competing with me or testing me on some scale that I don’t recognise. So that’s important, too, but seeing the interaction as part of a developing friendship/relationship, knowing what happens next (or if there is no such relationship) is key.
The upshot of all this is that I want ways to increase the likelihood of my giving the other person a positive experience. If someone does things that I react to with feeling awkward, pressured or “tested”, that’s something I really can’t find out until it’s too late, so there’s no use worrying about that – if it’s going to happen, then it will happen. If the conversation goes well, then I can trust that some form of arrangement to meet again would arise (although I could probably stand to improve my technique in that area). The important issue, the thing over which I can have some control (although there will always be things I can’t control that affect it) is how I affect someone else.