Theory of Mind: Case Study

September 12, 2008

I will share some details of an interaction I had with Dave to illustrate Theory of Mind (ToM) issues mentioned in my last post.

I am not great at making decisions and would prefer the guy figure out ideas of what to do.  Most of the time, I’m flexible.  Sometimes, however, I am in the mood to do something specific.  For example, two weeks ago, I told Dave I wanted to go to a coffee shop to mooch some wifi and then hang out with him at his place afterwards.  He had a better idea.  He said, how about we go get coffee and talk and then you can use the internet at my house afterwards.  Not exactly what I had in mind, but that worked. 

On the way to the coffee shop we had mentioned, Dave keeps driving, then says he hopes I don’t mind getting something to eat with him first.  Okay, once again, not what I had in mind, but I continue to flex my flexibility muscle (it’s in my brain somewhere) and go along with it.  We go to a restaurant he likes and proceed to sit in the back, where it was dark and gloomy.  I told him this was not going to give me my “cafe fix” and he said they have coffee.  All along, I had been thinking about ambiance and a window view, not caffeine.  He was totally missing the point.

On the way back, we were getting near the cafe we originally discussed.  I was really curious to see if he would go there, so I didn’t remind him.  This was not a trap; it was an experiment.  When he kept driving, I didn’t hold it against him, but casually brought it up after we got back to his place.  His response was that I should have told him I wanted to go to the cafe.  I know what he meant – I was supposed to ‘remind’ him.  For me, that was irritating because I’d already told him twice.  How many times did I need to tell him?

As I said in the last post, hopefully he will learn to listen to (and remember!) what I say instead of guessing what I want, which is really easy to assume is the same thing that he wants…in this case, to go to his house.  Fortunately (or not?), I recognize this “deficit” in him as well as in me.  He tends to get completely immersed in his own perspective and I tend to completely completely accomodate other peoples perspectives to the detriment of my own.  We both have work to do.  We are equally contributing to this imbalance in our relationship.

Why I (Sometimes) Hate Dating

September 8, 2008

It seems like dating requires so much thought.  Is it possible to put too much thought into it?  Probably.  Is it possible to put too little thought into it?  Heck, yeah.  Been down that road enough times.  I guess that’s why I lean towards over-thinking.  At the same time, I do my best not to perseverate on any given thing.  That’s why I like to write.  Writing allows me to think things through without going in too many circles, which is what happens if I just let thoughts roll around in my head.

Here’s where I’m at.  I am afraid I may have reached a point of no return with Dave.  Keep in mind we’re both only moderately sane at the moment, dealing with medication side effects like anxiety and irritability.  Having said that, he is starting to get on my nerves.  Since he’s tweaked his meds, he’s been grumpier…and so have I.  It’s a little early in the relationship for this to be happening, but that’s how it’s playing out thanks to medication side effects.

When I’m irritable, I usually stop talking to people.  But, I’m trying to be an adult and maintain this relationship with Dave.  I was overdue to call him, so I gave him a call.  I have been pretty quiet the last few days, so I made an effort to talk.  I told him how I was having trouble with Baby Bear turning in his homework.  Baby Bear is very smart, but flakes out with “simple” tasks like turning in assignments.  It’s hereditary.  That kind of flakiness runs in Dave’s family, too.  Some people call it ADD/ADHD.  Some people call it mild Autism or Asperger Syndrome

Anyway, I said I need to talk to the adults at his school because there is only so much I can do to help him to remember to turn his homework in.  Dave then said, in what I perceived to be a judgmental tone of voice, that Baby Bear will eventually have to learn these things in order to function in the world.  While Dave has a point, I really didn’t appreciate his comment.  I reminded him that we, as “challenged” adults, have technology to help us remember things.  I said, “We have cell phones, PDAs, Outlook…”  He interrupted me to say that Baby Bear has a cell phone.  I said “I know.”  I slowly went on to try to make the point that PDAs can be used to set reminders…and that Baby Bear has a really basic cell phone with no data services…but I lost my steam…and my interest in continuing the conversation.

While he has a point, the kid is in the 6th grade!  Dave has barely even met him and already seems impatient with him.  Maybe impatient isn’t the right word.  He’s measuring him by adult standards.  What really gets to me is that Dave has the same kind of problems…he’s really smart, but has a hard time with the supposedly easy aspects of life.  Why is he being grumpy about an 11-year-old?  Whenever people are impatient with children, I can’t help but think they must not like themselves very much. 

We’ve already been a little short with each other at times, but we have been able to easily let it pass.  Now I think he’s being difficult and it’s not acceptable to me.  Maybe I’m overly sensitive at the moment, but I need the people in my life to support me, not give me a hard time.