In at the deep end

Reading people

September 23, 2008

I am and always have been, notoriously bad at reading people, I don’t know what it is, if I believed in all this self-diagnosis bullshit people bandy around I’d say it was a mild case of aspergers, but as I don’t, I’ll say it’s probably simply one of those things I’m not good at.
Talking to my mate James (as opposed to my dad James, though he is in many ways my mate… I’m getting sidelined here..) he tells me how he’s constantly observing people, analysing what they say, how they say it.
Of course, I do this as well to a certain extent, but always at a very basic subconscious level (this ties right back into my big theme of conscious/subconscious but anyway), and although I can attempt to observe people like this at a conscious level, I’m very bad at it.

Maybe it’s a lack of practice, but the opportunity to practice is a rare beast to come by.
When engaged in conversation, especially more in depth ones that are likely to give revealing information I’m never thinking about the other person…
Their argument maybe, but usually I’m even more self absorbed than that, thinking about my argument, my responses…
In fact, that makes sense… I’m thinking about how the other person is likely to interpret my responses, and how best to express my opinions/feelings without being misunderstood.
Maybe I simple need to find a balance between reading myself as others see me and trying to read others.

Fine tuning ones mental priorities and thought processes is never an easy business, and my propensity to “unthought” (I love newspeak) makes it all the more difficult to change my patterns in the fleeting moments of clarity.

Take for example Melahat, the girl I spent quite a few days with over the past 10-11 days.
At various points during each day my subconscious would alert me to various actions on her part that could be interpreted as ‘interest’ or generally worthy of deeper analysis.
And, as is normal for me, I would take the sum total of these incidents and weigh them up against their negative counterparts, and try and decide what in fact she was thinking.

But really a logical approach generally fails miserably unless you have quite fantastic insight (which I clearly don’t), and I get the idea I should be ‘feeling’ things more.

A differing culture doesn’t help matters, and I was very interested to engage Melahat in a discussion about the Turkish dating scene.
The conversation stemmed from a discussion me and (I think, again James) were have about how most of the trepidation about ‘making a move’ comes not from fear of your own embarassment, but infact an unwillingness to put the other person in a socially awkward and embassing situation, and also the idea that subsequently the girl will then feel uncomfortable around the guy.
Our conclusion on the last effect was that this stemmed from a misapprehension on the part of most girls that after a guy has asked them out once, he will never cease hounding them, my mate agreed.

I mentioned this to Melahat.
“Oh no, not in Turkey!”
“No, the guy will ask again and again, no matter how many times you say no!”
“Wow.. what a pain…”
We went on to discuss the dissimilarities in the subtle nature of the game.
“In Turkey, it’s quite common for a guy to ask a girl out on two or three dates, that are entirely platonic and then on the third or fourth date, say ‘I love you, what do you think about that?”
“Really? Wow, if I guy did that in England the girl would think he was completely mad!”
I got the impression that Turks were generally a lot more up front with their emotions, where further west we’re generally fear our own emotions and in some twisted subconscious way thinking that being in love with someone is a weakness, dependence is a weakness, to be strong you have to be independent, if you’re independent you don’t need anyone, if you don’t need anyone you can’t be in love.

I envy the Turks for that freedom and shall champion it whenever I can…

Still, I never did ‘make a move’ as I didn’t want to spoil the friendship Melahat and I had and from various comments I become convinced of the opinion that she felt the same way.

Excuses, will be the first thing running through your mind I should imagine, retroactively changing my feelings to protect myself, ‘Pfft, I didn’t want that anyway…’.
And that’s what I’ve told myself when I’ve felt that before, as I’ve had it drilled into me (by peers and media) that I should want every single attractive girl that I interact with, but… (even though I certainly wouldn’t be averse to such opportunities should they present themselves) I really don’t see the point most of the time, I’m simply happy to be around nice people.

I do fear that it’ll be something I regret in later life, but… Maybe by that point I’ll have matured enough to fully ignore the ‘notches on the bedpost’ mentality that seems to pervade male society at the moment….

  • Lu-Tze

    There’s no question about it…

  • Anon

    Your trip is amazing!! I deeply envy you, I will have to make one of my own sometime – I am especially amazed at how easily you met people.Awesome stories too

    oh and you should have definitely tapped that :D