I usually think I’ve got an okay grasp of people. Reading the situation and the like. Then I’ll have an interaction that’ll make me question how other people read me. Or whether the issue is with me, that I’m an odd duck myself. Mallard-justed, y’know?
I feel like people often mistake politeness for personal interest. It’s rare that I’ll be in a scenario and not feel like being genial. Just because we’re strangers, it doesn’t mean I can’t be friendly. On the other side of this, just because I’m being friendly, it doesn’t mean that I feel like we have any close connection. If my choice was to be friendly, grumpy, or neutral, why wouldn’t I prefer to enjoy a conversation more than less? Aside from times in which I’m feeling super low energy, of course. I’ll very often chat with people with no intention of taking anything further than that one time interaction. I try to delve beyond the more base level stuff because that’s not interesting to me. It happens at parties all the time. I’ll be making conversation with someone while we’re both waiting for the bathroom or they’re in the way when I want something that’s behind them (usually snacks or drinks). I’ll joke around with them purely because it’s less awkward than being rude or blunt. Why not, right? Then the next thing I know they’ve sent me a Facebook request and I have to feel bad because I don’t remember who they are when I walk past them on the TTC.
I dunno, maybe I’m still holding onto something that happened the other day. My girlfriend and I were at a friend’s comedy gig. As excited as I was to watch some comedy, I was also stoked that I’d get to eat the $10 fish and chips meal. Two guys came over and sat down. One was a dude who I’ve chatted with a bunch. Nice guy. The other was some dude who’s in a shared online community space. Friend of a friend kind of thing. I’d met the guy before, but he wasn’t the kind of person who interested me on a fundamental level. You know how you can sometimes sense it on others a few sentences into a conversation. Your brain sends you this reading of oh, this fellow isn’t on my wavelength whatsoever. It doesn’t make them a bad person by any means, just not compatible with you. Maybe it was his brand of confidence or something. The way he seemed to say things matter-of-factly rather than implying that they were his opinions. I found myself uninterested in not only what he was saying, but how he was saying almost everything he said (to note, I would never contradict anyone who held these same opinions of me. I just so happen to be in agreement with the way that I think). I wanted at that moment to be elsewhere, or rather for him to be elsewhere. But we were watching a comedy show and I didn’t want to leave that. So I stuck around.
The gig finished. My girlfriend and I were tired and ready to hit the sack. We stood up and said our goodbyes to friends, passed around hugs. As we were leaving the guy said it was nice to meet us. We did the typical “cheers, goodnight” kind of thing. He said he’d add us on Facebook. We nodded, said goodnight and headed for the door (also my girlfriend is her own autonomous being. We’re not The Borg or anything. She happened to be doing the same stuff). He called out “wait!” and we turned around. He had his phone outstretched, open on Facebook. He passed it to my girlfriend with the search bar highlighted. “Add yourselves” he said. I tried to think of what to do or say to extricate myself from this situation. I didn’t want to be rude, but neither did I want to have this dude in my social sphere. If I had self respect for boundaries in that moment I probably could’ve said “no thanks” and when pressed for an answer respond with “I don’t feel that kind of connection with you” or something of the like. Why did he think that I would? What about my conversation indicated that I had any interest in him as a person, rather than being trapped in a social space? Who would be that presumptuous? What remote commonalities did he see between us? I couldn’t understand what was happening in that moment and my brain shorted a little. So while I could’ve refused and given an entirely justifiable response, I didn’t. I took the phone he handed to me and added myself.
Then as soon as we left the bar, took out my phone and deleted his friend request.