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Why is it so darn tricky dealing with Other People???

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The thing that makes those feelings we are interested in inducing in the shy girl of our dreams so goddamn delicate is the obvious and yet frequently alarming fact that the future does not exist yet.

We don't know what it is, the future, or what it will be, in our own particular case. Often we'd like to, and sometimes we don't, but in either case, we don't actually know. We can predict, we can even feel certain, but the truth is - we are forced to guess. And our guesses, in the nature of things, will usually tend toward the I Guess Hopefully My Future Will Be Kinda Good, or the I Am Afraid My Future Will Not Be That Great. We will call the first kind of guess a Hope and the second kind of guess a Fear. Again, we are paddling around in the waters of obviousness here, but since it is in the realm of obviousness that most of us get really screwed up, we're going to do some exploring.

Some of our Hope guesses and our Fear guesses will be correct, and a lot of them will not be. This element of incorrect guessing is what makes everybody's feelings so damn delicate. They're built on air. We're just fucking guessing! We don't actually know! Everybody knows this, that our feelings are based on air, although we often forget it. Forget it or not, it makes us nervous. Sometimes really really nervous. We are always dancing at the edge of fatally embarrassing wrongness - our most cherished Hopes and our most worrying Fears can be all prove at any moment to be equally groundless - making us look like a complete fool in front of everyone we know. No wonder we're so delicate - and no wonder we so often hide the Hopes and Fears that are most important to us.

Meanwhile, your shy girl has got a lot of nervousness going on. See, the thing about Hopes and Fears is that, wrong as they potentially are, we really really need them. Particularly Hopes, although Fears come in handy sometimes. But Hopes, those wishful longing Guesses, are both essential and very very fragile, built as they inevitably are, on the expectation of an airy future that does not exist yet. The reason we need Hopes is, as we explained earlier, that our brains need some expectation that the shit they do will be helpful in gearing us toward a better future than we'd have otherwise, the most Desirable Future we can reasonably set our sights on. If a brain looks around and assesses its situation to be one where there is no possible More Desirable Future and nothing it can do will produce one, it gives up. It twists and thrashes around in a monstrous panic and then it self-destructs. Not a pretty picture, and even if no one ever explains this to you, you know it, or at least your brain knows it, and it safeguards its Hopes with jealous ferocity. DON'T MESS WITH YOUR SHY GIRL'S HOPES! There is no surer ticket to shy girl dating disaster than to endanger or injure her Hopes. It is precisely because her brain is fiercely guarding her Hopes that she has become shy. You should already know this on a subliminal level, that shy people are fragile because their Hopes are both critically important and fiercely guarded.

Now you need to know what your secret weapons in the care, feeding, and manipulation of her Hopes will be. They are:

Secret Weapon #1: Patience. Possibly your least favorite secret weapon. You probably already knew you needed Patience and you don't like it, and your own Hopes are being endangered by the excessive deployment of Patience, but it is part of the deal with shy people - yourself included. So we'll deal with Patience Issues in a bit.

Secret Weapon #2: Attention. One of her jealously guarded Hopes is for optimum quantities of Attention. Attention is a vital Hope-sustaining nutrient, that is paradoxically toxic when inappropriately applied. So you will need to get used to using it wisely.

Secret Weapon #3: Kindness. This is the super-duper secret weapon, often overlooked, ignored, or clumsily deployed. This is the heroin-addiction secret weapon and you'll need to pay close attention to mastering its secrets for maximum effect. Kindness, by the way, is not exactly the same thing as being nice, although to the Kindness and Niceness Starved, Niceness can be a form of Kindness. Confusing? Sure, but in our logical fashion, we'll parse it out.

So our shy girl is hoping to be treated well, to be liked, loved, understood, supported, admired, respected, listened to, encouraged, helped, valued, appreciated, praised, needed, recognized, sympathized with, and all the rest of that stuff that everybody wants really, whether they're loud about it or not. She is hoping for satisfying human relationships, and even more secretly hoping for romantic bliss with a member of her favorite sex whom she loves. You are hoping that you are a member of her favorite sex. This is all pretty universal, even among people who say they aren't hoping for any of these things.

Meanwhile, your shy girl is fearing that she will be treated badly, ignored, mocked, misunderstood, criticized, rejected, disliked, excluded, overlooked, unloved, unsupported, un-cared for, unappreciated, embarrassed, interrupted, dismissed, degraded, looked down upon, considered unimportant, and generally shoved away from the sunshine of human affection by Brutal and Powerful Other People who will steal and destroy the vital nutrient of Hope she is attempting to survive on.

This pretty much describes everybody all the time. The difference with your Shy Girl is that the Hopes are More Important because the Fears Are More Powerful. Fear has taken the upper hand in the Hope/Fear equation and is running the show. Fear has decided that it is more life-preserving in her case to avoid rejection and embarrassment, let's say, than to obtain understanding and appreciation or whatever other good stuff she is actually desperate for. It thinks this because it's come to the conclusion that any dose of rejection over a certain limit will prove Fatally Toxic to her Hopes - and while a person can live a long time on the hope of love, even if they aren't actually getting any, the projected lifespan of a person without Hope is dreadfully short. She's in a dilemma, she can't get what she wants - because if she tries to get it and fails; always a possibility with the Unknown Future, she could die. It's a life-threatening situation from her point of view. This may seem overblown, and in the case of some shy people, it is, but the cold, hard logic underneath applies to everyone. This is the prison of shyness, and everyone's subject to it, even if not in this dating area, because we all require airy Hopes for survival.

Logically Enough Then, When Dealing with Your Shy Gal - you must GUARANTEE that the dreaded Rejection will not happen. This is partly why the enterprise requires patience. It's all logical enough, even overly logical, and you could probably figure it out on your own, and maybe even have. But you need to actually act on it. You need to guarantee that you are not going to reject your Shy Girl or otherwise fatally injure her Hopes. What makes this tricky, the thing that's bedeviling you is - how can you prove you won't reject her if she's too fucking shy to do anything you could reject? You know that if she flirts with you or says she likes you or goes out with you, that you won't reject her. But she won't fucking do any of these things. So how can you prove you won't reject her?

It's a chicken and the egg situation. You are waiting for a her to lay an egg and she doesn't want to because she's afraid you'll smash it and laugh. Make a mockery of her Hopes. Prove their fragile unreliability. Reveal her Hopes to be horribly mistaken over-optimistic Guesses. And so on. You can't wait for her to lay an egg! You can't wait for her to say or do anything that even vaguely resembles flirting or opening the door to a romantic encounter or anything else that you might want her to do such as taking all her clothes off in front of you. No, my friend, you are going to have to un-reject her in advance, repeatedly, and subtly. For example, if she won't fucking flirt with you, even when you try to flirt with her, you're going to have to go around the fact that you are getting nowhere. For example, you remove the flirting attempts from the realm of yourself and you start saying things like 'I bet all the guys flirt with you.' And when she says coldly 'No, not really,' you say 'yeah sure, I bet they do, you're cute. I bet you get lots of guys who want to go out with you.' And when she says 'No, I'm not kidding, not really, that doesn't happen' and seems uncomfortable, you say 'No? Why not? I would think you'd have tons of guys interested in you all the time.' And when she says, uncomfortably, 'I don't know, maybe they think I'm intimidating or something. Anyway, I'm not really all that into dating or anything right now', you say 'Hmmm...gosh, well I don't think of you as intimidating. I think of you as intelligent. I would think people would appreciate it.' And when she says 'well they don't usually' instead of graciously saying thank for you the compliment, you ignore her tone and say 'hmmm. that's surprising. I guess some guys are stupid (or not perceptive or whatever).' Etc. This is flattery; this is charm; this is pursuit. Shy girls are very susceptible to all these things. Develop them. It doesn't matter if you are shy yourself. You are not revealing your own precious Hopes and Fears. You are simply being charming. You can't be rejected really. She can tell you to shut up; she can tell you she's not intelligent; she can tell you to change the subject but she can't really reject you. Because you merely stated an innocuous opinion, makes no difference to you if she doesn't agree. You didn't tell her you liked her. You stated an opinion. And even more importantly, you made a loud announcement of Un-Rejection. Because the clear implication of your innocuous opinion is that you don't see her as the sort of person who would be romantically rejected. You are playing directly to an almost universal set of Hopes and Fears. Got it? I hope so.

The thing about shy people is that they often lack confidence. Again, this is something you can probably figure out. Because shy people often act like they lack confidence. When you are shy, you often feel a lack of confidence. And so on. Confidence, for our purposes, is the thing that brains develop when their Hopes in a given area come true more often than their Fears. Sometimes this happens, and brains automatically start making something like a mathematical and statistical calculation - 'if 7 out of every 10 people seems to like me pretty well and 2 out of every 10 doesn't seem all that enthusiastic but not real hateful, then the remaining one of 10 is obviously an aberration and an asshole. Therefore I, the majestic future-predicting brain, predict that approximately 7 out of every 10 people will like me, which means I ought to approach most people as if they like me, and if someone doesn't, it means they're an asshole and statistically speaking, another person who likes me ought to come along soon.' You don't ask your brain to do this kind of analysis and sometimes you wish it wouldn't, but it does. In making its predictions, your brain is much like a stock-market watcher and it relies a great deal on current trend. So that if 3 people are mean to you today, it says to itself, 'jesus what the fuck is up with people today. This is a really bad day.' And it tries to adjust it's expectations for the day. If things go well, on the other hand, it gets all elated and thinks 'this is my lucky day!' and so on. It responds to the chemical effects of current events and uses them in its prediction process.

What happens, or happened, to your terminally Shy Girl, is that the opposite analysis took place. A critical mass of Important Other People didn't like her, treated her badly, ignored her, didn't listen, criticized, thought she wasn't pretty, or whatever mean thing people can come up with to do (and people can come up with a lot of mean things) and her brain made the appropriate adjustment. It started saying to itself 'these fuckers aren't worth it. they'll probably just laugh at my passion for the violin like everyone in high school did. forget 'em. i'm not revealing any Hopes for destruction and I'm paying big attention to Fears of future misery.' Brains learn by experience, and logically enough, they often learn unpleasant things from bad experiences. Assume, even if there is no other reason to, that your Shy Girl has an acquaintance with Bad Experiences. Most people do, so your guess is likely to be correct, and it will make the secret weapon of Kindness easier to deploy later on.

Shy people are often more affected by certain kinds of Bad Experiences than your boisterous outgoing people. This is partly the result of the Shyness Component #2: A central nervous system that freaks out. Some people, including many of your boisterous, outgoing people, have central nervous systems that don't really notice anything unless it hits them with an atom bomb. People shout at them 'Shut up, for chrissakes, SHUT UP!!!!' and what their central nervous system actually hears is 'mumble....shut up....mumble....' Their own internal sounds are so loud that they can barely hear anything anyone else says. Such people can have their Delicate Feelings massively wounded when the very loud SHUT THE FUCK UP NOW, PLEASE FOR GOD'S SAKE, SHUT UP AND STOP TALKING!!! message finally gets through because it never occurred to them before than anyone was anything but pleased with their non-stop chatter. Indeed, boisterous, outgoing people can often seem extremely solicitous of other's feelings because they have absolutely no clue what they are unless they ask very loudly 'Are you okay??? Can I get you something? God I hope you're not completely devastated!' And so on. These people are practically forced to be boisterous and outgoing to get any contact at all because their Central Nervous Systems are basically deaf. Chronically shy people, however, often have Central Nervous Systems with extremely acute hearing and they can hear everyone's else feelings at a deafening level whether they want to or not. Excessive stimulation by other people swamps their CNS's and makes them want to bail. So when someone tells a shy person, or a person with this kind of CNS to 'shut up', their CNS hears it as a devastating explosion rocking several ports in the South Pacific and undoubtedly causing permanent damage to their shattered CNS eardrums. One little 'shut up' at the age of 7, and some central nervous systems are disinclined to say anything again until the age of 70. They don't like being yelled at. It hurts and their CNS's just freak.

Therefore, paradoxically, in our dealings with the Shy Girl of our desire, we are either going to have to be very quiet and centered or we are going to have to be very loud. Either will work. If you are a certain type of loud person, you can just ask a shy girl out, be completely oblivious when she says no, show up to pick her up anyway, and eventually wangle yourself into a relationship with her by completely ignoring the fact that she has been extremely hesitant the whole time. This method, in fact, is how lots of shy girls get into relationships - they never have to lay an egg, reveal any Hopes or Fears, or actually do anything but be swept along by Mr. Loud, Boisterous, and Confident. This is a perfectly acceptable way of doing things and if this works for you, you don't need my advice. Deploy your natural Boisterousity. I am not going to guarantee whether the relationship will work out, but you can usually get one going. You may like your Shy Girl very much because she balances out your loudness with her quietness. And she may like you, because you do all the work of outgoingness that she can't. On the other hand, you may come to sincerely hate each other, if you ever actually get to know each other. It's a gamble, as love so often is.

On the other hand : If boisterousity doesn't work for you, then you are going to have to deploy Quiet Centered Listening. Some of you are naturally talented quiet centered listeners and some of you are just terrible at it. But either way, Quiet Centered Listening is the means by which you will activate your secret weapons of patience, attention, and kindness and so next we'll delve into how you actually do that shit, so that if your other attempts are getting you nowhere, at least you'll know what you're doing now. That wasn't a very good sentence but you know what I mean.

If you still have any interest in pursuing your Shy Girl and haven't completely given up under the nervous strain of reading about her quirks and foibles, there's a link below and you can feel free to click away.

 

 

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