Woe Is Me! “People Confuse My Awkwardness With Arrogance. How Can I be Less Off‑Putting?”
Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.
“I tend to become awkward around the guys I like; it has happened before and happened again recently. Everything is great in the beginning — we connect well and I behave normally. But eventually, I start avoiding them for no reason. I think I come off as arrogant and so they don’t take any effort from their side, either. I’m afraid I’ll do this every time I like someone. How can I step out of this pattern?”
— Person, Impersonable
RN: Sometimes, just being upfront about these things is refreshing. This is me with virtually everyone I meet, and I’ve found that most people are nice and accommodating when you tell them to expect some awkwardness that looks like you’re being standoffish. In fact, this may even help you break the ice. It’s always better to be comfortable with who you are rather than changing yourself according to what you think you should be like. But if this is a pattern-making you uncomfortable, it could perhaps be something you can work on with the help of a therapist, just to see where it’s coming from. But on the whole, I generally tend to be on the side of not over-pathologizing everything and going with the flow. The best way to step out of the pattern would perhaps be to embrace it.
AS: It might help to try and tell them candidly that you’re not in fact uninterested, but simply awkward at times. It is also important to introspect and find out — why is it that you feel like avoiding them? Maybe you feel disinterested in them once the chase is over? Or could it be something about making small talk? It might also be the medium you use to speak to them. Sometimes making small talk over text can be much more difficult and draining than, say, speaking on a call. If you can meet them face to face, you could try suggesting plans for things you actually like doing, which can also give you space to ease into stuff — like going to a bookstore, or watching a film.
PB: Howdy, hello, how are you? You seem to be having a classic case of “pause button syndrome”, which is absolutely a real thing. Essentially you start off a relationship well, and as soon as it seems to be moving forward- in a more serious direction, you hit pause. You stop all interaction because it’s better to reject first rather than take the risk of being rejected later. I would advise you to really introspect about what’s given you these commitment issues- and why you strangle your relationships before they can breathe.
But on another note — please don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Sometimes we’re awkward, and sometimes we come off as arrogant. And that’s okay. It only takes one empathetic conversation to improve the pattern, little by little. Talk about it.
Have some chai. Lots of ginger.
BG: Liking someone is a very emotional process. What if you like them and they don’t like you back the same way? What if after a point they stop liking you? These are all questions we have in our heads. And as we navigate through this swirl of emotions and chatter in our heads, we end up coping with it in various ways — such as avoidance. For starters, try to find moments where you see yourself pulling away from the situation. Did you pull away because you were nervous to hang around them? What were your thoughts before you decided to pull away?
These questions help you understand trigger points that are specific to you. It’s also important to address that sometimes our gut understands signals quicker than our brain, which takes time. So if you think you are avoiding someone because the person is giving you the creeps, it’s important to listen to what your gut tells you as well.
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