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Losing the ability to appear normal

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Losing the ability to appear normal

Postby lizzardwizard7 » Mon Aug 17, 2020 8:45 pm

Hello everyone, I'm looking for sone advice on friendship,

I do feel emotions, but most of my emotional reactions or expressions are faked or extremely over exaggerated to seem less strange to others. Lately I’ve been unable to keep the mask up for as long as I could before, and people are starting to notice the lack of emotion or reactions when we talk, or how I can’t fake caring about things like I used to be able to. I may have set the bar too high; people seem to see me as kind of strange or eccentric, but normal enough for them not to be disturbed by me, but it’s getting harder and harder to keep up. Around my late teens, people used to describe me as cold, unfeeling, selfish, reclusive, eccentric, odd or off socially, constantly looking angry, etc, so I learned to fake the kind of reactions people were expecting to see, and I got decently good at it. Growing up, I couldn’t make friends even on a surface level because I was so shy and awkward, whereas now I make the shallow kinds of friends easily, then have to break it off before it gets too real, because I don’t want an actual friendship, just to keep the peace and not seem like a complete asshole.

I seem to have a high level of cognitive empathy and can read people pretty well, even if I think their emotions are irrational or inconsequential, I understand their reasoning and tell them what they want to hear, but I don’t seem to have any affective empathy at all. Even for something I would care about if it happened to me, I can’t summon the ability to care if it happens to someone else, and other people’s emotions don’t make me feel anything. I try not to hurt people mostly for logical reasons; if someone is innocent and something terrible happens to them, I would be upset because of the lack of justice, but not feel those emotions myself. If someone such as a pedophile was murdered in an overly cruel way, that doesn’t bother me at all, they got what they deserved and emotion doesn’t need to come into it at all. For the same reason, laws don’t have much meaning to me; I follow them if they’re convenient, the punishment is something I don’t want to risk, or they cross one of the few moral lines I have for myself, such as pedophelia, sexual assault, child abuse or unecessary animal cruelty. For a while, I did some research into sociopathy, but I don’t think I’m antisocial enough to go out of my way to hurt someone, mostly I just would rather not interact with them at all. I do have the tendency to use people for my own benefit, more in a Machiavellian way than psychopathic, because there is a certain limit on the damage I’m willing to cause another person to get what I want, but I also don’t feel guilty about smaller things like telling people what they want to hear or playing on their emotions or the reactions and instincts ingrained in most people, if it will help me without them realizing.

I only spend time with three people, who I also live with, mostly because of the proximity; my brother, who is the only person I’m truly comfortable around, his girlfriend, who is basically extended family now, and my “best friend”, who I also work with. I have one other person I consider a friend, but after we became close, I started distancing myself, sometimes taking weeks to text him back, and we haven’t seen each other in months. If I don’t see a person on a regular basis, either because of work or us living together, they’re pretty much out of sight, out of mind. When I’m with someone, I’m thinking about them, and when I’m not, I don’t really wonder how they’re doing or miss them very much. I don’t keep up with hardly anyone from my hometown, even relatives, because when I moved away, those people became my past, and the people where I currently live are the present. If I happen to go back to my hometown, maybe we’ll get together, but otherwise, I don’t really feel anything for them anymore. If we’re together, I’ll be in the moment with them, if we’re not, they’re barely even an afterthought. I also don’t really text or use social media because I have no need to keep in contact with people when we’re not actually together, in person.

In a year or so, I’ll be moving across the country with my brother and his girlfriend, and probably will not keep in touch with anyone from where I live now, except for maybe visiting every few years, because they will be in the past, and whoever I interact with in the new town will be the new present. I’m a very live in the moment type of person, especially in relationships, and usually don’t get bothered if I completely stop seeing someone I used to be close to, sometimes I don’t even notice for months or longer that we’re not talking anymore. It’s starting to feel like I’ve made too many connections in this town, and now people expect things relationship-wise that I really can’t give them. One of my roommates I refer to as my best friend, although I don’t feel close to him and don’t think I’ll miss him that much when I move. Recently, we didn’t see each other for four days because of different work schedules, and the next time we had a day off together, he hugged me and said how he’d missed me so much. I feel kind of bad that I honestly hadn’t noticed and had hardly thought about him at all, because he seemed so happy to be hanging out. We have fun together, but I’m pretty indifferent to it; I’d mostly rather be alone, and seeing him doesn’t make me happier than not seeing him. I’ve started avoiding him because I’m constantly hurting his feelings, but I just don’t care about his problems the way I should as a friend or as much as he cares about mine.

This morning, he was talking about how lonely he was, how long it’s been since he’s had a girlfriend, and he feels like a loser as the last one in his family to still be single, and I couldn’t think of a single thing to say other than “yeah” and nodding over and over again to make it seem like I was sympathetic. Rationally, I understand what he’s upset about, but it doesn’t affect me on a personal level, and it’s completely foreign to anything I’ve ever thought. I’d rather him be happy than not, the same with anyone else, friends, relatives, or strangers, but also I don’t really care either way, if that makes any sense. I’m partially looking forward to moving as a way to cut ties and start over with less of a mask somewhere else; staying in the same town the rest of my life, I wouldn’t be able to keep up the facade or those relationships in a way that would seem normal to most people, and I probably would end up unintentionally hurting them much more than just moving and cutting ties would.

The only person who I can genuinely say I enjoy their company as much as being alone is my brother, other than that, if it was a choice, I’d rather be alone. The few girlfriends I’ve had were people who went out of their way to pursue me, and while we did have fun together sometimes, the whole time we were in a relationship, I wished I was single, and once it ended, I stayed single until someone else came along who was overly invested in being with me. I’m asexual and kind of repulsed by the whole idea, so that’s not a concern. I can’t seem to get invested in anyone, but at least with relatives, we can not see each other for months or years at a time and still be related and have some kind of connection; I have a big extended family and will never run out of people to be around, if I had the desire to. With friends and coworkers and everyone else, most people aren’t content to see each other only once a month or two, and not talk at all in between.

I’m mostly just wondering if I should be doing something about this, because it doesn’t really bother me, but I feel like it should. Right now I’m keeping things under control, but worry that it will eventually get to the point that I can’t function in normal society at all. Thanks in advance for the advice.
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Re: Losing the ability to appear normal

Postby Oblivion » Sun Aug 23, 2020 9:20 pm

lizzardwizard7 wrote:I’m mostly just wondering if I should be doing something about this, because it doesn’t really bother me, but I feel like it should.

If it doesn't bother you, don't worry about it.

You're aware of how you affect other people, both negatively and positively. That's enough.

You care about this issue enough to make a post about it, but if you ruminate over it too much, you'll create a problem for yourself where none exists. I could relate to most of what you said, and although I don't think you stated your age, know that it took me many years to be comfortable with the way I am. I think many people with non-destructive personality disorders need to just grow into them and accept themselves. You don't sound unhappy, so don't push it.

I've found that while most people expect some kind of return when engaging in any kind of relationship, some don't. If you suspect you may be needlessly hurting somebody by simply not caring, don't walk away. Let them make that choice. Friends can come in handy at times, even if they're not truly friends from your point of view.

Yes, sometimes you have to put on your mask and play the game. Needy, clingy types will see through that, and you won't have to be bothered by them. Over time you can pare down your acquaintances and friends to those few who are not overly expectant and tend not to exhaust you just by being in the same room. The fact that you feel comfortable around your brother verifies to me that schizoids prefer familiarity. I've had a lot of people moving in and out of my life but the two who have remained thus far have been around for many years.
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