Talk, talk, talk
Auntie Matter on crazy people and meaningless chatter
If you have questions for Auntie Matter, please submit them at tinyurl.com/AskAuntieMatter. Questions have been edited for length, clarity, and content.
Dear Auntie Matter,
I am upset with my boyfriend because I told him I was upset about something, and he didn’t really respond. I don’t want to press the issue because we haven’t been dating very long, and I prefer being annoyed at him to him being annoyed at me. I also don’t want to play into the stereotype that women are too emotional. However, this is really bothering me. Should I bring it up?
— Crazy New Girlfriend
To answer your question, yes, you should bring it up, and preferably in person, if it’s not especially time sensitive. It sounds like whatever it was upset you enough that you’ve been cogitating over it, and in these situations, it’s usually helpful to talk about it.
You claim two things are preventing you from starting this conversation: you don’t want him to be annoyed at you, and you don’t want to play into a stereotype about crazy emotional women.
First, he might not get annoyed at all, but rather be happy you brought it up so that the two of you can resolve it. Considering his lack of response to your first attempt to bring it up, he probably doesn’t even realize you’re upset. (Men can be oblivious that way.) Even if he does get a little annoyed, it likely will be brief and a small price to pay for resolving the issue. And if he gets too annoyed with you — out of proportion to the issue — you might not be compatible with him.
Second, you should be how you are even if your relationship is relatively new and even if you think you’re playing into a stereotype. You don’t need to change, nor are you likely to. You may be a crazy woman (although Auntie suspects it’s unlikely), and if you are, you should own it, unless you think it’s a real problem you need to fix about yourself.
Finally, Auntie perceives some overthinking here. Until you can resolve this issue, you should try not to focus on it too much.
Dear Auntie Matter,
Sometimes when I'm surrounded by my friends, I feel a disconnect, just a sense of not belonging, and I often feel like I just can't relate to the meaningless chatter that most people of my age want to engage in. I often just want to leave the room immediately, since I feel like I am about to burst into tears. Will I ever get a sense of truly belonging anywhere?
— Isolated by my Brilliance
Your letter concerns Auntie, and not just because you seem to take yourself a touch too seriously. Feeling like you are going to burst into tears out of a sense of disconnect is not a normal response. It seems like there may be issues in your life, or with your mood and outlook, that extend past your friend group. In all seriousness, you ought to consider a visit to MIT Mental Health. However, that aside, Auntie has some ideas about the issue you raise specifically with your friends.
First, try not to think of the conversation that your friends are having as representative of all “people of [your] age.” It seems improbable indeed that in a city full of young people, you are the only one who sees through the “meaningless chatter.” If the topics your current friends like to talk about are not interesting to you, you can find new friends. Furthermore, wondering if you will “ever get a sense of truly belonging anywhere” is not a helpful way of framing the question. For starters, worrying about forever is only going to increase your distress right now — think about how you can have meaningful conversations in the next week instead of thinking about whether you will have meaningful conversations in your whole life. Second, why is your standard “truly belonging?” It is possible that you will only ever feel you “belong” with a small group of friends — expecting to “belong” in the larger world might be too much to ask.
Overall, it seems like your issue with your friends might indicate that you are incompatible with them, but the way you are currently thinking about it does not seem helpful. You can change your friends, but you should also probably change your thinking.