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May. 27th, 2003 | 04:00 pm
music: sad

So I was chatting with the cute coworker, and spent some time talking about people being attracted to others. In the process she strongly hinted that she was straight. (I briefly tried to suggest being bi was an option, but don't think that went anywhere). Though this was the expected answer, it's still a bit sad to loose the last few scraps of hope.

Then I helped show the photos for my other coworkers wedding.

So once again I'm feeling depressed about my inability to

Feh... Of recent times my solution to try avoiding being depressed by being reminded of the existence of romantic relationships is to throw myself into various projects (work and personal). One would think that living in the purely intellectual realm of code and science one would be able to avoid reminders of physical human contact, and yet reminders keep hunting me down.

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Comments {16}

T e s s

(no subject)

from: soulsong
date: May. 27th, 2003 04:06 pm (UTC)
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I'm not sure that lack of actual physical contact is the cause of loneliness. My partner is in Oceanside and I see him for only a week every three months, but talking every day and knowing he absolutely loves me is the thing that keeps the lonely pangs at bay. Just having one person who thinks I'm wonderful is all the self-esteem boost I'd ever need, however often we actually get to touch each other.

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Diane Trout

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from: alienghic
date: May. 27th, 2003 05:41 pm (UTC)
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I'm still trying to figure out how to describe the differences between romantic relationships and close friendships. To me it seems that the major differences from close friends (at least in US society) and "Relationships" are prioritizing spending time together, level of commitment in planning for the future, and physical contact.

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T e s s

Re:

from: soulsong
date: May. 27th, 2003 05:48 pm (UTC)
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For me the difference is when someone makes you their number one priority in their life and you reciprocate.

I guess this doesn't work for poly people, but then I'm not polyamorous.

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Diane Trout

(no subject)

from: alienghic
date: May. 27th, 2003 06:12 pm (UTC)
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Poly people do provide an interesting data point in trying to define the difference between romance and friends, since in their case the line can be much fuzzier.

Also there are certainly examples of people for whom work or other causes are highly important to them, and their significant other is secondary, though their friends receive even less attention, and yet they still think they're in a "Relationship". (Though I'm not sure I want to define whether or not they actually are in a "Relationship" right now).

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T e s s

Re:

from: soulsong
date: May. 28th, 2003 02:10 am (UTC)
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I thought about the 'work before relationship' thing before you posted it, and yes there are things I'd put before any relationship, but this doesn't nullify my 'giving someone 1st priority' definition since the people I would give 1st priority to in my life would also share the things that have even higher priority. Otherwise, I'd just be asking for trouble.

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T e s s

Re:

from: soulsong
date: May. 28th, 2003 02:25 am (UTC)
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I know what you mean though about the distinction between friendship and relationship being blurred. I said this myself for many years, spending a lot of time craving physical affection but not anything more intimate, trying to find the middle ground - the affectionate friendship.

I found it, but in every case it broke down if one of us made the other 'number 1', but the other wasn't so interested. I remember the intense pain and jealousy of wanting to hang out with someone - an affection-buddy if you like - but they weren't interested that day.

This is what led me to the doctrine of 'first prioritisation' as a pre-requisite for relationship. :-)

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Diane Trout

(no subject)

from: alienghic
date: May. 28th, 2003 02:29 pm (UTC)
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My struggling to define what is the difference between "romantic relationships" and friendships stems from my observation that I can be reasonably successful at having friendships but all the times I try for romance things fail.

So as a result I get lost trying to figure out if romantic relationships are an extended form of close friendship or a completely different kind of relationship.

Occasionally I've wondered if I could appease the part of me that wants a relationship by some form of intentional community for long term support and friendship supplimented with occasional bouts of physical contact with friends.

Though I could easily view that as me being desperate.

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T e s s

Re:

from: soulsong
date: May. 28th, 2003 02:56 pm (UTC)
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Yeah I've been there.

I never found a solution, except that when I did finally start getting into full-on relationships, all that other stuff became totally irrelevant. (Not that I dont still want intentional community, but that it's now secondary, something to share with my boyfriend, not a replacement for relationship.

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T e s s

Re:

from: soulsong
date: May. 28th, 2003 03:08 pm (UTC)
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So as a result I get lost trying to figure out if romantic relationships are an extended form of close friendship or a completely different kind of relationship.

I think the 'intent' is different. A relationship can (and hopefully should) have a strong friendship as its base, but it's not just a closer ('extended') version than that. Nor is it an entirely different thing altogether. Maybe it's both. A romantic relationship has the quality that you desire to be interwoven with another person's life, to share their successes and failures, to allow these things to impact your own life, for better or for worse. This is why friendships are so much easier to find than relationships. Full-on relationship can literally redefine your world. The provide new opportunities and new limitations. It's a heavy responsibility, though most people are only vaguely aware of it as they're trying to get each other into bed.

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Josh

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from: irilyth
date: May. 30th, 2003 06:51 am (UTC)
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Few quickie random thoughts:

Agreed that the line between friendship and romance can be fuzzy, especially for poly folks. It varies from person to person, of course; some people have much clearer boundaries than others. I personally don't -- I've had close friendships that feel internally romantic, but aren't for external reasons (e.g. she's married), and relationships that looked like casual friendships to outsiders, and friendships that looked like romantic relationships to outsiders.

Avoiding relationship depression by distraction sounds more like a coping mechanism (and not necessarily a bad one), but focusing on yourself and your own stuff can also be a good long-term strategy for developing relationships. All that stuff about self-confidence, and believing that you're an interesting and attractive person, doesn't just happen by thinking hard -- it's a lot easier if you actually do stuff that builds your confidence and lets you show yourself (and also, eventually, others as well) that you're attractive and talented and interesting.

If you met yourself, would you think that you were attractive and interesting? If so, good. :^) If not, why not?

You mentioned the bi option; random question, do you consider yourself bi, or are you strictly interested in gals?

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Diane Trout

(no subject)

from: alienghic
date: May. 30th, 2003 03:29 pm (UTC)
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My self-doubt meme is quite clever as it's quite dualistic. So I can feel confident that I am creative, intelligent, skilled technically, and even socially and yet that none of that matters as I believe that I am fundamentally unattractive.

(well the feeling intelligent can sometimes suffer self-doubt, but that's because most of my time is spent around 'techers.)

The unattractive feeling stems from feeling that my interests are too alien from most of humanity (considering I actually do have a tendency toward transhumanism, I could actually be somewhat alien). I've carried the feeling that being a hard-core open-source/linux computer geek is unattractive. (Well except for a class of guy whose typically rather desperate).

Additionally I just feel physically unattractive, part of it is just having a suspicion that it's not possible to be attractive as a trans-woman. Also I feel quite overweight and oversized. Our culture tends to want women to be thin and somewhat fragile looking, short of some really impressive transhuman technology I cannot look like that.

I can understand to some degree that both of those assumptions are flawed and as of yet haven't been able to convince my emotions of this.

So as for the do I consider myself attractive, no I don't. But it's largely because I'm biased against people who are overweight, and I worry that even if I was at my "ideal" weight I'd still feel to big. (I may have avoided an eating disorder by believing it wouldn't have helped any).

Also I tend to reinforce my belief in my unattractiveness by pointing out that historically people have rarely found me attractive. (Though that can spin off into wondering if I'm unattractive because I'm really good at discouraging people from being interested in me).

As for bisexuality, I tried for a while and discovered I seem to be more attracted to women. Partially as I was woman-identified from a young age, partially because I may want the reassurance of my gender that might come from a lesbian being interested in me, and partially because I seem to enjoy lesbian sex better than heterosexual sex.

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Josh

(no subject)

from: irilyth
date: May. 30th, 2003 04:20 pm (UTC)
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Lessee...

What do you think is the basis of fundamental attractiveness, if not creativity, intelligence, and technical and social skill? Those all sound like very attractive features to me. Being pretty is nice too, but doesn't seem essential to me. Pretty gets you noticed, but it's not the basis of anything more than a totally superficial relationship.

What I actually meant to ask in the first place wasn't so much "do you think you're attractive", but "would you be attracted to yourself if you met yourself"? And not just "would you think you were pretty if you saw yourself across the room?", but "if you talked to yourself for (some short period of time), would you think 'wow, she's really interesting and attractive'?".

(Of course, some people are attracted to other people who are very different from themselves...)

Understood about the gap between believing intellectually that society's standards are lame, and having trouble shaking them emotionally. About your own bias: When you see other people who look like you, do you think they're physically unattractive? Does that stop you from being interested in getting to know them better, or making a pass at them?

I said earlier that your Cute Straight Woman Coworker (and now I wonder if she's reading this :^) was indeed cute, but while I still think that's true, I don't necessarily think that she's drop-dead gorgeous in a mainstream conventional way. I do think she's very attractive, but I thought that much more after I met her and hung around with her for a while, not based on her looks alone from the moment I saw her. (If she is reading this, hopefully she won't be offended and sock me in the arm the next time she sees me. :^) And I think people generally tend to look better the more you get to know them -- you focus on their personality, and their physical qualities that you like, and gloss over their sub-par physical qualities. (grin) Seriously, though, friends who have known me for a while are often surprised by things that I mention as physically unattractive features; they might've noticed at some point, but their image of me has long since overridden the minor physical flaws.

When I first met you, I thought you were attractive, and thought about flirting with you a little, but got something of a back-off vibe. Not a strong one, but a definite sense that you weren't interested, and that I shouldn't waste my time. Could've been because I'm male, but it might be a general thing, and I suspect that as a woman seeking other women, you may have to try extra hard to convey that fact to other women. (That is, guys will often take something as small as a friendly smile from a woman, and assume that it's a "good sign", whereas other women may not jump to conclusions that quickly, and you might need to be more overt to make it clear to other women that you're interested, or more to the point, that you'd be receptive if they were interested.)

Do you have other female friends who go for women, who might be able to give you an opinion about what kind of signals they got from you when they first met you?

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Diane Trout

(no subject)

from: alienghic
date: Jun. 1st, 2003 01:24 am (UTC)
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The model that I've been using is that having a selection of attractive mental traits (intelligence, social skills, etc) are required for friendship, and that some unknown additional quantity colloquially called "chemistry" is added to go from friendship to romantic relationship. Under this model "chemistry" is somehow related to physical characteristics ranging from subtle like bilateral symmetry (which indicates genetic stability, and tends to correlate with being "pretty") to style of clothing (indicating socio-economic status, and being "fashionable"). I further assume that people do evaluate each other for suitability intimate relationships based on these criteria (and I tend to assume that I fail at the physical stuff).

I suspect that as a woman seeking other women, you may have to try extra hard to convey that fact to other women

I broke down laughing when i first read that... yes, two queer women can get quite confused wondering if they're just being friendly or if the other person is actually interested while not wanting to disrupt things by actually revealing their own interest. And it gets even more confusing if you start wondering if someone who appears to be straight might be bi (Will asking her weird her out too much?)

Though I'll try polling some queer women friends to see if I can get an idea how I'm broadcasting discouraging messages.

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Josh

(no subject)

from: irilyth
date: Jun. 2nd, 2003 06:14 pm (UTC)
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"romance = friendship + chemistry" seems ok to me, but not always; more about that in a sec. I definitely think your idea of chemistry is off, though; I don't think it has anything to do with physical appearances, and is entirely a personality thing, particularly subconscious/unconscious aspects of personality. Things like can she tell when I'm joking, can I tell when she's being sarcastic, do I know when it's not a good time to tease her, does she anticipate what I'm going to say before I say it, can we predict how the other will react to things, etc.

I think the physical side is entirely a screening thing, and has nothing to do with long-term romance. No one ever starts dating someone, and then later says "you know, she's really not pretty enough for me". Physical cues help us weed out potential romantic prospects from the overall mass of humanity, but they're really superficial when it comes to thinking about long-term happiness, or even short-term dating happiness. Genetic stability and socio-economic status can be important, but lots of funny-looking people have great genes in other ways, lots of pretty people have terrible genes (bad teeth (fixed with braces), bad eyes (fixed with contacts), predisposition to alcoholism/cancer/whatever), and lots of rich people dress like slobs. :^) So I'm sure there's some deeply-ingrained biological predisposition towards healthy-looking and successful-looking people, but it's really not the only thing. In particular, if you know you like people of a certain personality type, and those type of people tend to look a certain way, you'll start to find those people pretty, even if it runs counter to some biological imperative. I know that women I like often don't wear makeup, for example, so I tend to think that women without makeup are pretty, even if they'd score lower on some sort of "genetic perfection" scale.

All that by way of saying: Even if you don't think you're pretty (which I still wouldn't agree with, but hey :^), I don't think that has anything to do with whether you're likely to have good chemistry with someone. Being un-pretty makes it harder to get first dates, but chemistry determines whether you get second dates.

Also, I think chemistry comes into play in non-romantic situations too, like at work (a co-worker who you work really well together with), in sports (teammates who always seem to know where each other are going to be on the field), and so on.

Does that make sense, and/or help?

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Diane Trout

(no subject)

from: alienghic
date: Jun. 3rd, 2003 11:14 am (UTC)
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But the things you listed under the "chemistry" category seem to me to be things that develop as you get to know someone well. For instance, I could complete my mother's sentences but wouldn't consider there to be "chemistry" with her.

I have certainly have heard people claim that they would prefer someone who conformed to particular physical characteristics. No goths, women without makeup, several gay guys seem to turn their noses up at anyone with more that 2% body fat, and so on. (Heck, at least the sample of gay guys at caltech has left me with the impression that many of them are really wrapped up in how "hot" other guys look).

In my own guilt-ridden mind, I've been uninterested in someone for being more than 30% heavier than their "ideal" weight.

I remember reading some psychological hearsay that people tend to want to date people more physically attractive than themselves. Since that applies to all those involved in the relationship, tends to mean that people date those of equal physical attractiveness. The hearsay also claims that men tend to be more willing to date attractive people with bad personalities than women. (Women are pickier, wanting both attractiveness and good personalities).

Now admittedly this is based on summaries that I've read, and so could be urban legend. I should try and go track down the primary sources. (Perhaps I'll try that later today).

As for me feeling unattractive, I think its based on three things. First off I have a strong distaste for people being seriously overweight, and since I like to apply my rules consistently, this includes (or perhaps included) me. Second I spent a really, really long time hating my bodies appearance, since it coded me as being male. One way that still remains is as a fear that people can still tell that I'm trans, or at least look a bit different from the class of people coded as "women". The last component that I think my belief of being unattractive is based on is since people have rarely acted attracted to me I must be unattractive. Especially since the opposite reaction, trying to avoid me, seems far more frequent in my memory.

Though the last category can be most easily argued with on the grounds that being a lesbian transwoman, who was depressed for most of her life is going to be pretty off-putting for most people.

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Josh

(no subject)

from: irilyth
date: Jun. 3rd, 2003 11:59 am (UTC)
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Some of those chemistry things do develop as you get to know someone. With some people, though, a lot of that stuff just clicks soon after you meet. And with some people, it never clicks at all.

I think you probably do have good chemistry with your mother; not in a romantic sense, but in a familial sense (that I suspect that many families have), like the workplace chemistry or team chemistry. I think it's the same kind of thing.

So with this idea that there's more than one kind of chemistry, I'm not as sure any more that romance = friendship + chemistry after all. Among other things, you could have good chemistry with a group of friends, without actually being romantically interested in each other. But I do think that chemistry is more essential for a romantic relationship; you can certainly have friends (at least casual social friends, like gaming buddies or whatever) where there's no chemistry between you, but it's a lot harder to have a good romantic relationship without chemistry.

So I think what I'm saying is that chemistry seems like an ingredient to a successful romantic relationship, a really desirable one if not a necessary one; and I still don't think it has much to do with physical appearance.

People definitely have physical preferences, but I think people differ about how strongly they feel those preferences. I don't really think about what my "ideal woman" would look like, because I like women who look like lots of different things. I've dated women who were every combination of short, tall, slender, and curvy; with big and small breasts; with conventionally pretty faces and who were sorta funny looking (grin); none of that's a show-stopper for me. I stopped and said "wow, she's really pretty" more quickly in the case of the pretty ones, but I thought the less-pretty ones were attractive too, and came to think of them as good-looking as well. Some people are so physically deformed as to be actively ugly, but I think the vast majority of people are neither particularly gorgeous nor particularly ugly.

I have this sense that people talk about how they want to go out with hot/pretty/whatever people, but I don't know anyone who actually thinks that's an important factor in whether they'll have an enjoyable relationship. It's something I see on sitcoms and in movies; it doesn't seem like the way people live their lives. Maybe I'm just hanging out with the wrong (or right? :^) people, though. I've known lots of people who I thought were pretty, but wasn't interested in dating, because I didn't think we were compatible in other ways. Being pretty gets you noticed, but it doesn't always get you dates, and it certainly doesn't get you happy relationships.

It might be worth talking to some of the gay guys who talk about how hot other guys are, and see if they really think hotness is all that important, or if it's just something fun to talk about, like talking about which famous celebrity is hotter -- it's not like I'm actually going to have to choose whether I want to go out with Sabrina Lloyd or Brandi Chastain. (grin)

People may have a sense that physical characteristics imply certain things about personality traits. We may think that someone who's overweight is undisciplined (can't control their diet) or lazy (doesn't exercise). That might be true, or it might not. Ruling people out based on assumptions like that seems dumb to me, though. Doesn't mean that some people don't do it, but do you really want to go out with someone who would assume you're lazy, and refuse to date you, just because of how you look?

I also still think that people may not seem attracted to you because you give off back-off vibes. Especially if you're not interested in men -- most women get a lot of attention from men, especially at Caltech, but if you're sending out signals that you're not interested in men, guys may pick up on that, and not express interest in you. If you can put yourself into situations where it's easier for other people to express interest in you, especially people who you'd be interested in back, I bet you'll draw a lot more interest.

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