Issue of the Week: "Open, Friendly, And Always Disappointed."
I’m a single woman in my early thirties. I have a very good job. It’s a high level technical position in the nuclear field and it pays well. The job requires that I live in different locations four and five months at a time.
I have difficulty forming relationships. I seem to have a low tolerance for people, and always feel I get the short end of the straw. So my social life is not really satisfying.
I’m generous both with money and favors to those I meet and I find that people usually take advantage of me. I am open and friendly but it’s kind of superficial. I always keep some distance from people I get involved with. I’ve been wondering why this seems to happen to me all time.
Do you think you could give me some insight to this?
I find it bit unusual that you describe yourself as both open and friendly, and that you keep, as you say, “some distance” from those you choose to engage with.
On the surface it’s almost a contradiction. Characterizing yourself that way suggests that you maintain a certain awareness about your behavior around others, which is at minimum, a healthy self assessment.
A couple of things come up for me:
- There’s a fairly good indication here that you may find it hard to trust others with your genuine self.
- You are possibly placing a distorted and unhealthy value on the favors, or on the “generosity” that you offer to others, which can give those you interact with a sense, a feeling that you are buying their acquaintance or even their friendship.
On the other hand, your own cautiousness about revealing more of your personal self, may be the catalyst urging you to supplant a more genuine person and therefore replace it with favors and monetary gestures.
You also have to realize that it’s quite possible that the “distance you keep” from those you choose to engage with is often sensed by them. Although on a subconscious level, it can serve to make one maintain some distance of their own. The recipients of your generosity may also instill some guilt in them for accepting it, thereby making themselves uncomfortable being with you.
The very act of offering a favor or money, if not done in a timely way to allow you to get a good sense, or feeling of an individual’s character, can signal to the recipient that you are someone who will not offer more in the personal department, and influence them to see you - to use an old expression - as an easy touch.
We could say, that in a way, you are opening the door to your own inevitable disappointment. Perhaps you are moving too quickly in search of your own need to connect in some way.
Of course it’s certainly unfair, or even cold hearted for individuals to take advantage in this way, and some may be influenced by their own short comings or personal issues, so perhaps your character judgment could use a bit of refurbishing as well.
It is difficult to form relationships when you bounce from city to city every few months. And I may be reaching here, but it’s an interesting juxtaposition: A job that allows little time to develop good relationships, and your need to keep your involvement with others superficial.
Let us say that your perception of being “open” is a limited one, and some exploration of when and how that takes place in you, and the feelings associated with that, would no doubt be useful for you to pursue further.
Disappointment with some people is inevitable, there are some risks. Take a little more time with others, as well as with yourself. Hold back on the generosity, and try to offer a little more of you instead.
Tip of the Week:
"Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries, or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself." - William Faulkner
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For information on Richard's approach to psychotherapy and counseling, click on: Richard Z. Ross, MA, CGP, LMHC, LP