"i miss you." "UGH, really?"
October 17, 2012 12:41 PM   Subscribe

How to deal with feelings of revulsion when others are expressing their need for your time and care?

I'm having a really hard time figuring out if I should be dating people at all, and I'd love the green's help, insight, or dare I hope, validation that I'm not the only person who does this. First, I'm early 30s, and so happy flying solo. I love my life, my jobs, my friends, my hobbies. I meet, quite literally, all my own needs via these things and am flat-out most of the time. I have a lot of passion for life and a bunch of causes that are dear to me. I have a few lovers who provide so much fun and affection, and it's really lovely. Life is good.

Here's the thing. As soon as anyone -- whether it's a friend or a lover -- says they "need" something from me (usually my time, in some form or another -- ie. "i need to see you soon, i miss you"), my gut reaction is annoyance. It feels so demanding to me! And it immediately puts me off, and I have a hard time dealing with, and even continuing said friendship, romance, whatever it may be. I find it terribly off-putting that folks might need something from me, and that they can't find a way to tend to it themselves. It feels... energy-leeching almost.

Now that I type that, I feel like it sounds totally absurd. Of COURSE people have needs. I guess I am from the ilk where I assume everyone is meeting their own needs, being happy with the life they've built, and not expecting/needing me to fill some kind of gap that exists. Even when people say they "miss" me, I completely bristle. What's that about? I really don't know. These things used to make me feel cared for, but now they prompt such a knee-jerk "UGH" feeling that I don't even know what to do. A lover today told me by email that they miss me, and I found myself frowning so hard at my computer screen that it hurt my face.

I don't "miss" people. I care so intensely, and even am in love with people! But I don't feel like getting told that I'm "really missed" is very caring. It just makes me feel like people aren't happy on their own, or don't know how to deal when I'm not around. This seems like common emotional currency to exchange... but it's just of no value to me. It makes me feel so awkward. I feel affection for people when we're apart, but there's no pain of missing people.

Asking because: I'm hitting the point where I feel like I'm perpetually in the position of not meeting people's needs or hurting their feelings because I only have a certain amount of time to offer. Because I really do care about these folks, I am hitting the point where I don't even know if it's ethical to continue. And I can't deal with feeling so annoyed about it all the time! I'm a generally happy person, this is basically my one serious sticking point that I'm having a terrible time sorting out.

Therapy: happening. No need to sell me on it. BUT, what I really want to know is -- does anyone else experience this? How do you deal with it?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (31 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

I've felt this way when I broke up with a boyfriend and then got back together with him. In other words, in a relationship where I knew I didn't want to be "in a relationship" even if I liked my boyfriend and enjoyed intimacy with him. Do you feel like any of these people are pushing too hard for a committed relationship (or for you to be closer or more available to them) in a serious way? Do you feel like any of them are trying to manipulate you? Saying you miss someone can be a manipulative tactic. If this has happened to you recently it might have soured the whole idea for you.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:49 PM on October 17, 2012

OK. You start of by saying: "I love my life, my jobs, my friends, my hobbies. I meet, quite literally, all my own needs via these things and am flat-out most of the time."

I would propose that the heart of your problem stems from the error in that statement where you incorrectly assert that you are meeting your own needs via your friends. Where your friends are involved in meeting your needs, that's not you meeting your own needs. That's you needing your friends to help you - to be there for you when you need their time and care.

Start off by recognizing that you have opened your question with an admission that your friends are there filling your need for their time and care. When you've internalized that fact, then turn to the role that you must play in their lives in order to make that relationship of mutually-filled need work.

You already know that they're there for you. You're just mistaking their time and care for your own. Now channel the energy you erroneously thought you were spending on meeting your own needs via your friends on instead meeting your friends' needs by offering your time and care. You can even think of it as a selfish exercise in quid pro quo if you want to. Just don't ever put it that way to them, as doing so would render your time and care ineffective, thereby negating the quid you're offering in exchange for their quo. Yes, selfless friendship and giving are the ideal. But you can take baby steps to get to that point if it helps.
posted by The World Famous at 12:51 PM on October 17, 2012 [40 favorites]

Your revulsion's a little over the top here, if you're frowning angrily at computer emails. Ok, you're getting your needs met, grats. Your lovers, however are not; their 'miss you's' aren't for your sake, and don't have to have value for you. They're expressing what they need to be fulfilled in whatever relationship bracket you've got going with them. I guess you can just not fill that, and it's still in the realm of 'ethical' as long as your relationship isn't preventing them in some form from seeking one where their 'needs' (step down your obsession with this btw) are met as well. You do realize that the only reason you don't have to express a 'need' to them, is because they are currently filling whatever that need was for you? Or would you truly be okay without their affection and sex?

Honestly, you probably wouldn't be bothered by the 'miss you's' if you liked the person more.
posted by MangyCarface at 12:58 PM on October 17, 2012 [4 favorites]

What TWF said.

You also have needs, and you are fulfilling them via other peoples' time and energy. You're just not verbalizing it in the way they are.

There are, of course, whiny, annoying ways to express one's needs, but "I miss you!" is generally not one of them if the person and your relationship with them is healthy and respectful.
posted by rtha at 1:01 PM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

When I have felt revulsion at expressions of emotion and caring it has had to do with my own fear of weakness (disgust that others are 'weak' and have feelings because I am afraid that I too may be 'weak' and thus be hurt); my own feelings of resentment ("I am not allowed to ask for help or express feelings; I have spent lots of effort training myself not to do this; why do you think you're so special and get to break the 'rules' that I have to live with?); and my own inability to set boundaries ("great, now you 'miss' me, I am afraid to be honest with you or express needs for my own time, so I have to lie and be bored and frustrated and I wish you would not make this demand that 'forces' me to lie).
posted by Frowner at 1:01 PM on October 17, 2012 [28 favorites]

Also, most people say "I miss you" in an effort to express affection and to make you feel good, not as a way to express their own need for your time and care. Most of us like knowing that people miss us - that we are loved, liked, missed, valued. Feeling missed is one of our needs, and telling friends we miss them is part of us being good friends to them, not a request for help. Maybe try viewing your friends' communications with you that way - that when they reach out to you, it is to express their affection for you and fill the need they assume you have for that affection. If you view their communications as them trying to be nice to you, rather than as them trying to get you to be nice to them, then you may react more charitably to them.
posted by The World Famous at 1:06 PM on October 17, 2012 [13 favorites]

Is it possible that you are reading too much into these words? For example, I need air. I actually don't need people the way I need air. If I say that I miss someone, it doesn't meant that they really should do anything -- it's just an expression of a sentiment I'm feeling. I don't need them, but maybe I want them to be around or whatever. If they aren't around, it's really not that big of a deal. My life doesn't depend on it, after all, and I can still have a fulfilling life without them. Is it possible that's true for your lovers, too?

On the other hand, if people are expressing to you what they want out of the relationship, and you cannot provide it, then yes it's time to stop those types of relationships. That means foregoing what you're getting from the relationship, too. I've had times when I mostly wanted to do my own thing without other people, and I think that's ok. Maybe it is problematic if it's all the time, though, because at least for me it can lead to a period of self-absorption that's a bit unhealthy. Is it possible that you're in a period of self-absorption, too?

To me, it kinda sounds like you want sex but no other involvement with people outside of that. (I say that solely based on the one statement that you have "lovers who provide so much fun and affection" and your polyamory tag). It's a little more difficult to find people who want no involvement outside the bedroom, but you can find people like that to replace the "needy" ones. Just be very clear from the beginning. Do you think you are stringing them along a little, giving them hope for more with you than you will provide?

In my opinion, I don't know about the ethics but it's probably a good idea to end involvements with people where they are satisfying you but you cannot satisfy them -- better for everyone involved, really, including yourself.
posted by Houstonian at 1:07 PM on October 17, 2012

When I tell people I miss them, I'm usually not asking them to shower me with more attention- I'm just letting them know I care about them and that I like having them in my life. "I miss you too, looking forward to seeing you again" is often what they're probably hoping you'll say. It's not necessarily a big deal.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 1:22 PM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

When I get this way (and I do, often) I'm usually a little oversubscribed and pushing it off on other people rather than myself. I am a busy person and like my life but also want to have a social life and friends and a partner and see my family. However, doing all this stuff is not just showing up but also taking the time to nurture these relationships. And, on the one hand, you can try to prioritize and preference people in your life who need as little maintenance as possible, but there are downsides to those sorts of people and it's important to me personally to mix it up. So any time I'm thinking "UGH a ten minute PHONE CALL, what do these people think I am MADE of free time just to CHAT??" I sort of listen to myself, as you have been doing, and decide I need to build this time into my life and schedule in some way or admit that I'm being sort of self-centered and only want people to interact with me in my terms.

Also I feel terribly guilty if, for example, it's not a convenient time for me to talk on the phone but the other person has called me and has something they want to talk about, I seem ot be unable to properly prioritize myself and then I feel bad afterwards. Part of this, for me, was growing up in a family with one self-centered alcoholic and one narcissist and it was my sisters and my job, as children, to basically continually feed their need for attention in precisely the way they wanted it. As a result I am terrible with boundaries and I have to sort of make them up and hope that other people will find that they are okay.

So it sounds like you may also think that people's expression of emotion creates an obligation with you (if you are a control freak like me, this is totally what you think "You miss me? I CAN FIX THAT, I wasn't busy or anything living my life, let me hop on a bus!!") and you find that frustrating because you are not doing the same thing which makes you feel (I am projecting) like you are low maintenance and they are not.

So, anyhow, I feel like you do. I have taken some steps to try to work through this including

- figuring out what I really want and why I can/can't express that
- realizing that nurturing the friendships I want to keep is normal even if I didn't grow up with people who felt that way (My aprents had very few friends and seemed to hate the ones they had)
- realizing that it's easier to nitpick other people than to try to see them and understand them as they are and trying to do more of that even though it's harder
- doing less stuff so I have some free time for the unexpected stuff that comes up when you have to interact with other humans.

Best of luck, it's a weird place to be and I feel your pain.
posted by jessamyn at 1:24 PM on October 17, 2012 [28 favorites]

What jessamyn said. Lest anyone mistake me for someone who does not live in a glass house, I should add that I often catch myself having knee-jerk grumpy reactions like what you're describing. I'm not sure whether everyone in the world does, but I sort of hope they do just so I can feel a little more normal about it.
posted by The World Famous at 1:32 PM on October 17, 2012

Do you allow for the possibility that people are in mutually invested relationships for reasons other than, "filling a gap"? Relationships are often about building something larger than each individual can build on their own, and aren't necessarily about filling in some void created by lack of personal development. Your presence isn't the glue that keeps the lives of your friends/lovers together.

You seem very invested in seeing yourself as someone who is totally self-sufficient. It's not only not true (as you claim to have relationships that you find fulfilling), but it also seems to indicate that there's something deeper in you that desperately needs to cling to the myth that you're a perfectly self-sufficient entity to the extreme that you feel revulsion when others aren't engaging in the same myth.
posted by quince at 1:36 PM on October 17, 2012 [5 favorites]

This may be waaay out of left field, but here goes:
Is it possible that you're so proud of where you've finally landed and what you've set up for yourself that you're fiercely protective of it? To the point that even the words "need" and "miss", etc. are potential threats to the secure and free space you've carved out for yourself?

If this is the case, then I'd recommend working on a better sense of balance, as well as lessening the defenses you've built around this fantastic castle...it's not going anywhere and it's not under attack. Also, accept that things WILL change. But those changes won't always take away from your current quality of life. The 'demands' people are making might even be offers...try out one or two, you may find they even add more to this inevitably changing state. In other words, you can keep what you have, and even have more.

(My apologies if this is off base; it's just a possibility that occurred to me as I read your question.)
posted by iamkimiam at 1:43 PM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

I feel this way sometimes about certain people in my life, and it is usually related to a difference in what they need out of our relationship versus what I need. I'm also pretty self-sufficient, and have always been a bit of a loner who can go ages without talking to people I care about without feeling any sense of loss over it. The people in my life who make me feel annoyed by the "I need to see you" or "I miss you" type of comments are people who, to put it bluntly, just don't really get me. And I can't help but find it irritating that they continue to expect more of me than I am able to give without a lot of extra work on my part to overcome my natural tendencies.
posted by something something at 1:44 PM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

To echo what’s being said already, I think you’re misinterpreting ‘I miss you’ as a demand on your time rather than an expression of affection.

I think I’m in a somewhat similar place to you, in that I a completely in love with my life and find it very fulfilling and currently don’t have a long term partner. I still tell people I miss them though – not because I desperately need them to spend time with me, but because I care about them and want them to know that even if we’re not spending time together, they’re still in my thoughts.

Perhaps you could try to change the way you hear this – instead of hearing ‘I miss you, I insist that you come and spend time with me’, perhaps you could see it as ‘I miss you, I know that we don’t spend a lot of time together, and that’s fine, but I want you to know that I still care about you’.

Of course, there are some needy people who will place unreasonable demands on your time and attention, but it would be unfortunate if all of your friends were presumed to be similarly manipulative.
posted by twirlypen at 2:23 PM on October 17, 2012

There could be a few reasons for this - it could be situational (i.e. stress - do you have too many lovers/too much on at work/etc), depression, or related to attachment style (wiki attachment theory - I know you said you care deeply but there seems to be a revulsion in that - is it related to your self esteem or is it related to a fear of intimacy or to a fear of being trapped in a relationship when you need to be free?).
posted by heyjude at 2:32 PM on October 17, 2012

I wonder if you've ever experienced severe adversity in your life. If not, I wonder whether you would feel differently about people telling you their needs, and wanting things of you, if you experienced harsh adversity and you needed other people to help you and they did and you appreciated it very much. I almost get the sense of someone who has always gotten what they needed without too much trouble and doesn't appreciate the challenges, struggles, and adversities some people face. Like some sort of lack of empathy.
posted by Dansaman at 2:36 PM on October 17, 2012 [5 favorites]

I really need some chocolate today! And to do the dishes. I also need to get some other chores done and I need to visit my sister. It's just a word, they don't really need to cling hopelessly to your legs while you scream and try to run.
posted by meepmeow at 2:37 PM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

Wow, am I the first one to say this is completely me?

Just so completely that I'm really bewildered that everyone else isn't like "OMG LOL all the time."

I just absolutely get you and this.

I'm in therapy, too. This has tangentially come up.

Now in my case, this is because no one needed anyone else emotionally in my family. Needing someone else is for wusses, or for emergencies. If I ask someone for a favor it's because it's an absolute last resort, after I've tried to do it all by myself and physically can't. Whereas I've learned that some people express their closeness to others by needing things from people and meeting other people's needs. They are like, enhancing our friendship when they ask me to drive them somewhere instead of just figuring out their own transportation.

This is a big issue for me. It sways between resentment and guilt (which I guess are pretty much the same, really). I feel guilty that I'm not calling people enough, not gushing on their Facebook wall enough, avoiding them when I think they're trying to ask for (non-emergency) favors.

I have one other friend who is exactly like this, and we commiserate. That helps.

Also Seinfeld.
posted by thebazilist at 2:45 PM on October 17, 2012 [14 favorites]

What happened when you expressed your needs as a child? Did you? Were you taken seriously?
When your family said they needed something from you, were they valid needs or overdemanding, manipulative, or controlling?

I ask because you seem to feel that needing others is a weakness, a fault - that if others would organise their lives as conscientiously as you do, they would not have to impose on the attention of others. Kind of how many Americans think of falling ill and not having insurance to cover it.

But...it doesn't work that way. Nobody is or should be that self sufficient. Shit happens, No man is an island Etc. If you make very very very sure that you never exact more than your fair share of anybody's time, attention and care, what you're building is a big fucking "I don't need you" wall. Need is vulnerability. Expressing it is good and real.
posted by Omnomnom at 3:18 PM on October 17, 2012 [5 favorites]

"I miss you" doesn't mean "my life is a totally empty shell without you", it means "I really enjoy the time I spend with you and like all pleasant things if given the choice I'd have more rather than less". Srrsly, no offense but get over yourself a little. I am going to guess that your upbringing was one of two things:

1) You are the black sheep in a wonderful, loving, supportive family made up of folks who are very successful at what they do, pillars of the community and multi-talented, and because you have always felt like you are disappointing them or not living up to expectations, you place an enormous amount of value on "autonomy" (as you perceive it) and project that onto others, seeing them as "weak" when they reveal any whiff of expectation from you.

2) You are the product of domineering, narcissistic parent(s) whose constant need for your validation and attention warped your sense of self and of what reasonable expectations from another human being are; as a stand-in for a cohesive sense of inner identity you substitute this delusion of total self-sufficiency, pretending to be an island of humanity population 1.

Excluding those truly clingy/whiny/obsessive hangers-on, this is about POWER, and your horror at the thought of not being in control of a situation, which usually comes from some feeling of POWERLESSNESS. Where that originates and why your mind feels it necessary to reinforce it to such detriment to you and the poor folks who have the audacity to give a crap about you and tell you so is probably extremely fertile ground for you and your therapist. Like, uh, Mesopotamia fertile. Sympathies BTW, I suffer from a tiny bit of this myself but it's gotten much better with inner exploration.
posted by SinAesthetic at 3:23 PM on October 17, 2012 [4 favorites]

Check out the book Attached. It sounds like you have an "Avoidant" attachment style. There is a lot of information in there about the different attachment styles (Avoidant, Anxious, and Secure), where the come from, and what patterns these tend to play out in relationships.

Avoidant people tend to gravitate toward Anxious people, who ironically, may have more anxieties than average in relationships and thus may play out a cycle where one person always feels too anxious and rejected in the relationship and one person always feels too smothered. There is plenty of evidence suggesting that secure pairs and Anxious-Avoidant pairs tend to look for, and find each other when dating.
posted by kettleoffish at 3:51 PM on October 17, 2012 [5 favorites]

I'm having a really hard time figuring out if I should be dating people at all, and I'd love the green's help, insight, or dare I hope, validation that I'm not the only person who does this.

You mean you need something from us? Gross.

In all seriousness, this sounds like an issue of framing to me. You've selected a couple of common expressions, and you're taking them hyper-literally. But, as your own question proves, we all need other people.
posted by Ragged Richard at 6:18 PM on October 17, 2012 [5 favorites]

The same happens to me, OP. As people get more demanding I become more withdrawn until I end up being a piece of mineral from which they cannot extract anything. It usually doesn't go too far because I become distant very easily, so usually people don't write to say those things. They probably know or feel that they wouldn't be well received. But in the cases were they ended up saying something, I did react as you do. Is it good being this way? Probably not. As someone pointed before, it shows a lack of empathy. But I've come to terms with being that way (and seems like you have too.)
posted by MrMisterio at 6:53 PM on October 17, 2012

I have a friend who behaves something like this. After years and years of observation, I can only characterize the motivation as something like: that he prefers to maintain his freedom and avoid getting into relationship/friendships that require a deeper connection or more maintenance. He's terrified of having to be accountable to someone or relied upon by someone: not being able to do what he wants, when he wants. He will often omit, obfuscate, be vague, or everything else short of lie to maintain his sense of freedom. I'm not sure exactly where this motivation comes from, but others in the thread have some good theories - need to be in control, need to avoid, etc.

It may have served him well when he was young. Like you, he relied on others to give him attention, entertainment and companionship when he wanted it, but seldom returned it when they wanted it. He was kind of a fun, friendly, good-time guy who felt his life was fulfilling and was the life of the party. People were always eager to see him for that reason, and pursued his company a lot, which often made him feel overburdened with others' interest. He was lousy at setting boundaries and making priorities - you know, saying "I went to college with Jim, he's a really close friend, and we haven't spent some time together in a while, so I think I'll plan to do something with him next weekend instead of going to Sally's party." Sally's party, featuring more social opportunities and more potential attention and excitement, always won. Long-term friendships suffered as a result.

In his late 40s now, I'm not sure it's really working so well. A lot of people who used to call him and say "I miss you!" have realized it's not a two-way street, and just moved on. I worry that his emotional support network has gotten a lot thinner. There will always be new people who think he's a lot of fun to have around, but it's come at a cost of the close friends he had 10 or 15 years ago who have really withdrawn from him and just stopped prioritizing him the way they used to, and have focused more on other, more rewarding friendships, marriage and family, etc. He has a partner, but it's someone who, for various reasons, is going to remain essentially unavailable as a full life partner, so this person really doesn't place any serious demands on him.

To me, all this adds up to something fairly sad. I have a fulfilled, busy life, with creative work, family, an SO, friends, community stuff. And I still have people I really care about and whom I miss and can't wait to see again and make plans with and want to talk to. There's nothing about having a fulfilled life that means you can't or don't do that - so it's not that people's lives are empty. It's just that for a lot of us - even those of us who aren't natural social butterflies, aren't needy or clingy at heart - over time you realize that there is not that much more to life outside your relationships. They are essential, and worth maintaining.
posted by Miko at 7:29 PM on October 17, 2012 [19 favorites]

I get this way when I interpret someone's I need to spend some time with you! As a blank check they're asking me to write to them. (because that's how I was raised. TRUE friends will do ANYTHING for each other, right? Which could translate to EVERYTHING if you weren't careful.)

When I remember I only have to give as much time and energy as I have freely available to give, I'm much less annoyed at them. Basically, when I'm annoyed at them, it's because my own boundaries are terrible, and my own self-esteem is low enough that I feel I can only make sure I get my own needs met by defending my fortress by only seeing people on my own terms, etc. There are less extreme ways to make sure I don't get my free time and energy trampled all over.
posted by small_ruminant at 7:41 PM on October 17, 2012 [6 favorites]

I felt similarly when my son was a newborn. You may have too many demands on your time and energy right now. Human interaction is full of give and take. Most of the time we don't notice all the little transactions flowing back and forth, but when I'm particularly overwhelmed, I get irritated by perfectly normal little requests. It's great to feel competent and busy but it's unhealthy to live that way in perpetuity. The feeling you describe is usually a red flag for me that I'm doing too much and -- perhaps ironically -- receiving too little.
posted by gentian at 7:53 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm going to guess that like me, you spent a lot of time around someone who was a kind of energy vampire? That always needed you? That never was satisfied and never got enough out of you for them to be happy? That made you feel drained and sad when they said they needed you, so you don't ever want to be needed again?

Yeah, I experience it. I don't know what to do about it, though. I go to therapy, I get lectured by everyone about my boundaries, I live an hour and a half away from mine and attempt to get some space.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:03 PM on October 17, 2012

Did you grow up in a disfunctional family? Because I did and I share your reaction to being "needed." I'm completely fine with someone asking for a favor, but the minute they pull the "I miss you, I never see you" card, I run screaming in the other direction. For me it's the suspicion of being emotionally manipulated that sets me off. Personally, I would trust your gut. If you feel freaked out by some of your friends, but are otherwise ok most of the time with most of your friends, then it's on them. Feel free to avoid. Really.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:07 AM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Could it be a matter of the language being used that upsets you? If someone said they "really wanted to see you", would that have the same effect as someone saying they "needed to see you"? If that's the case, then maybe reminding yourself that when someone else says X, it means Y in your internal language and it just got confused in translation slightly. You're still being made aware of what the other person would like, in that instance.

It's OK to not need or want people as much as they need or want you. That's completely fine. It's going to be a very rare instance where your needs mesh exactly with another person's. Generally there's give and take in a relationship. I wonder if your gives and takes are rather smaller than another person's gives and takes. You're giving someone a value of 5 and taking a value of 5, but they feel like they're giving 20 to you and expecting 20 in return. If you were both comfortable with the relative values being given and taken, there wouldn't be a problem.

It's completely OK to need less interaction with other people than some people do. Everyone sits on the Social Interaction continuum, with some people needing a lot and some people needing a tiny amount. Given that people generally experience interaction with other humans as a pleasant thing, it's quite natural to assume that "more = better". The problems occur when people who enjoy more start telling you that because you need less, you're somehow wrong or faulty.

I think if you make it clear to people that you have 5 units to give them, then maybe you'll improve the situation for yourself. They will know at that point what you can offer them, be it 7PM on a Thursday evening, once a month, or whatever. Making it clear yo people what is an option will also help them, in that they will know that you're going to be available for 5 units and they can find someone else to fill up the other 15 instead of waiting for a train that will never arrive.

If it's any consolation, I'm on the needs a tiny amount of social interaction to be happy end of the scale and I get a lot of "you should be more social/friendly/outgoing" from very well meaning people who simply can't understand what it's like to not need it, because they don't live like that. These people would be rather unhappy living with your state of affairs. They're looking through their own lens at the situation, not yours, though, so they don't have as accurate a view of it as they would if it was their own life. If you're generally happy, then you're doing well. That's more than a lot of people are.
posted by Solomon at 3:10 AM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

This sounds like a classic introvert/extrovert issue.

From the wiki article:
An extroverted person is likely to enjoy time spent with people and find less reward in time spent alone. They tend to be energized when around other people, and they are more prone to boredom when they are by themselves.
An introvert is likely to enjoy time spent alone and find less reward in time spent with large groups of people, though he or she may enjoy interactions with close friends.

It sounds like you're an introvert. This doesn't mean you're anti-social or shy. You're happy on your own, doing your own thing. You want to interact with people on your own terms. Maybe being around others is tiring for you.

Everyone is different, and maybe developing a bit of empathy for your friends who are extroverts would help you understand their motivations for saying "I miss you".
posted by fontophilic at 5:59 AM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I agree with Frowner. I find myself holding other people to standards I have set for myself. For me, I am extremely emotionally controlled. My parents were both very independent, calm, reserved people, so any outburst of emotion was looked down upon. I have taken this attitude more than I would like and am trying to get out of it myself, because often I feel that people should be more controlled, like me.

Lots of times it still freaks me out when people just let their emotions control how they act or what they say. But study different types of personalities and you will find that this is a common trait of many people.

It could also have to do with love languages...I think this plays a big part in it. I really don't even like it when people say I love you. That doesn't mean anything to me. To me, what tells me that a person loves me is: do they give me their full attention when we are together, and do we enjoy spending that time together? If so, I know you love me, and it bothers me to actually hear the words "I love you" or "I miss you". BUT to some people, words of affirmation or just words in general have a much deeper meaning. So you and I just have to get used to hearing things (and responding in appropriate fashion) that may be out of our comfort zone. Remember, to have a friend (or maintain friendships) you have to be a friend.
posted by mellosphere at 2:15 PM on October 18, 2012 [5 favorites]

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