Interview With The Pedant

The Pedant is still asleep, but I’ll probably blog in short bursts in case he wakes up and comes in here or something. 😛

We had a good talk earlier.  I recently realized a thing about him, and I called him on it: “Hey…I know you’re not good at reading people’s signals, but I’ve noticed that you rarely – if ever – ask people for clarification of their signals, either.”

Long pause.  “…Have there been times when I should have?”

“Well, like that first time we hung out one-on-one, you could’ve asked me ‘hey, it sounds like you’re interested in me.  Am I reading that right?'”

“I just figured I’d wait for you to pounce.”

“Figured me for the pouncing type, did you?”

“Yup.”

“Fair enough.  But I’m sure there have been other times when I sensed you were confused about something and you didn’t ask.  Sometimes I’ve stepped in and just explained stuff because it looked like you needed it.  I can’t think of concrete examples but I know it’s happened.”

The Pedant said “I just prefer to wait and see if the person provides clarification.”

“But why wait when you can just ask?”

“Have you ever known me to be in a hurry?” The Pedant said.  Yeeeah, nice deflection buddy but I know you’re staying silent because you don’t wanna look dumb.  God, I hate when people try to conceal – or aren’t aware of – their feelings and motivations.  I can see what’s actually going on plain as day, but they can’t (and would likely get defensive if I told them what I see) so I have to sit around and wait for them to catch up on their own.

I didn’t call him on his deflection.  I just said that I don’t want to have to do all the work of dealing with his Aspie stuff so he needs to meet me halfway and ask me stuff if he’s confused.  He said he would.

Then I asked him if his “not picking up on hints” issue extended to not being able to apply a statement of like or dislike to his own behaviour.  “…Because I think I’ve seen a pattern where I say ‘I hate when someone does ___’ and you don’t necessarily make the connection of ‘Ah, so I shouldn’t do ___.’  It seems like maybe you need someone to directly tell you ‘don’t do __ to me’…..?”

The Pedant said yeah, sometimes he does have that problem.  Occasionally he can parse a general statement into something he should do or not do, but not always.  But then other times the issue is that he’ll do something that he didn’t realize counted as the Bad Thing, but the other person clearly thinks it does.  I was like “Yeah, that’s the thing about good communication…the harder you try to communicate well, the more you realize you’re gonna end up falling down this rabbithole of defining everyfuckingthing in the world.”  The Pedant nodded his agreement.

Then he somehow got off on a tangent about people who keep on talking and talking even after an issue’s been resolved.

Oh, I remember how that happened.  I was talking about the potential roommate from last night, and how I got a passive-aggressive vibe from him – that although he said he was good at communication and negotiation, I had a feeling he’d go about it in a really annoying, pussyfooting, overly earnest and drawn-out way and it would have driven me insane.  I prefer someone to just be like “Hey, I’d like it if you did __.  Would that be possible?”  Not “Ummm it’s really important to me that you do __, and when you don’t do it I feel like I’m being invalidated and it sends me into a shame spiral, so I think we should really sit down and discuss that.”

The Pedant was like “I haaaate relationships where everyone just talks about their feelings all the time!” – I hope he meant “talks about their feelings pointlessly,” because I actually like FeelingsTalks and believe they’re really important for relationship maintenance.  And The Pedant has repeatedly told me to address issues with him right away and not let them fester, so it would appear that he agrees.  Anyway, he said he hates excessive talking “…Especially when someone just harps on and on about the same thing when we’ve already come to a resolution.  It’s like ‘why are you still – ah, okay, apparently you’re venting now.'”

“Well, people can’t always stop being mad right away just because an issue is solved,” I said.

The Pedant told me some story about an ex girlfriend bitching for an unreasonable amount of time when a waiter brought her flavoured coffee and she’d ordered plain.  He spoke disparagingly about people like her who rant on and on about trivial things.  I’ve noticed that The Pedant has a habit of pigeonholing women in certain ways (he’ll say “people” but his examples always feature women) – acting like they’re “nuts” in some way or another while he himself is a paragon of rationality.  It’s bullshit, so when he started bitching about his ex who would get pointlessly angry about trivial things, I said “Okay, but you know you do that, too, right?”

The Pedant immediately tried to deflect again, being all “Well, I’ll ramble about technological stuff or philosophy.  Those are the subjects that get me engaged.”

“Sure, but I also got to hear about it for ten minutes when someone put a single sprinkle of black pepper on your food without asking first.”  (And hey, shit, another issue just occurred to me now: he used gendered assumptions again.  He implied that it’s okay to ramble about technology – which happens to be considered a “guy thing” – but it’s crazy and stupid to ramble about flavoured coffees – which happen to be considered a “chick thing.”  Goddamn, I wish I’d noticed that at the time and called him out on it.  Instead I totally bought into the idea that his preferred rant subjects are superior because manly, and focused instead on the fact that he does too bitch about girly problems like botched food orders.)

The Pedant remembered the whole pepper tantrum, but didn’t seem to make the connection that it was the exact fucking same behaviour he dismissed as crazy/irrational/whatever in his ex girlfriend.  Like, he didn’t get epiphany-face.  But maybe he did have the epiphany and was just so embarrassed by his hypocrisy that he deliberately kept his face neutral.

I suggested to him that perhaps his ex kept on ranting because she was looking for comfort/commiseration/whatever from him and getting none, so she kept escalating her rant in hopes of provoking some.  I told him I unfortunately got into that cycle myself with Minx back in the day.  The Pedant acknowledged that yeah, he doesn’t tend to offer comfort when people rant like that so I may very well be right.  I asked whether he’d be offended if he was ranting to someone and they didn’t appear to give a shit.  I forget precisely what he said but (to my complete lack of surprise) it amounted to no.  Aspies are kind of notorious for not noticing when others are bored by their speechifying, and The Pedant is no exception.

Anyway, I came up and kissed him and said “I like learning about people’s weird mental things.  It gives me an instruction manual for how to interact with them.”  I hope he understands from this that I don’t ask him all these questions about his thought processes as a game of “let’s poke the freak with a stick” – I’m actually trying to learn how best to communicate with him.

His Aspie-ness is endlessly fascinating to me, though.  I’d always assumed that the ability to read people easily was part and parcel of being intelligent.  The Pedant is driving home that it’s really, really not – he’s wicked smart (possibly smarter than I am; or at least much more well-read in a lot of subjects) and yet a lot of social/emotional stuff that’s elementary to me goes completely over his head.  It seems like a contradiction to me and so I ask a lot of “what is it like for you”-type questions.

And y’know, I can deal with the communication gaffes.  His lack of emotional awareness is starting to bug me, though (like not realizing – or maybe not being able to admit? – that he doesn’t ask for clarification because he’s afraid of looking dumb).  And I have no idea whether that aspect of him is part of his whole autism spectrum thing, or just the fact that he’s a guy and guys aren’t socialized to be self-aware.

More later.

3 Comments

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3 responses to “Interview With The Pedant

  1. Brugmansia

    Not asking for clarification on whether or not someone else is interested in you sounds less like fear of looking dumb and more like fear of rejection. I’m sure sometimes he does not want to look dumb, but I imagine he has to strike a balance. Sometimes things become clearer without you having to interrupt the flow to get explicit clarification. Sometimes they don’t, and then you have to decide what you REALLY need to understand and what doesn’t matter as much. By my standards, you asked the Pedant relatively quickly to rate his feelings for you on a scale from one to ten, but even so, there WAS a certain delay during which you blogged about the debatable merits of asking for clarification, yourself.

    Personally, I hate FeelingsTalks (but like your phrase) AND think they are important for relationship maintenance. For me, a lot of my negativity towards talking about feelings is the pressure I feel to evaluate the relationship during those talks. Obviously it’s damaging to run down a path together with completely different expectations of where you are going. Explicitly negotiating and agreeing to some things makes pursuing a relationship a lot safer and smoother. But FeelingsTalks can feel like ultra-serious time-outs and if they happen too often, it seems like every little blip is suddenly cause for a “what are we even doing?” freak-out, which sucks some of the fun out of having a relationship in the first place.

    Or maybe I end up in (almost) relationships that I’m unsatisfied with, and dislike FeelingsTalks because they make me realize this?

    (Also, it’s very likely that I don’t do FeelingsTalks right, because I don’t like them, and I immediately get very defensive and just focus on figuring out what the boy wants me to say, and then have to sort out afterwards what I said that I ACTUALLY feel, what I may have mis- or overstated, and what what the hell DO I feel, anyway, because I feel plenty of things that at times contradict each other.)

    Anyway, just another perspective.

    Oh, and technology and philosophy aren’t inherently ‘manly’ subjects to rant on! We all have different preferences for acceptable topics to discuss and re-discuss and explore at great length over and over. Some topics are associated with genders, sure, but preferred rant topics are not superior because they align with one’s gender role – they are superior because people get to decide what they really like to discuss. (They DON’T get to say ‘this topic is universally acceptable to rant about while others are not’ – they do need to respect that other people have different preferences.) In any case, bitching about inferior service is not at all gender-specific, in my mind.

  2. Brugmansia

    Have you seen this? Hilarious … http://vimeo.com/66753575

  3. Pingback: Yup, more barebacking. | hiding in plain sight

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