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I confess...

I have a problem with people who are emotionally extravagant.

(I consider this my problem and not theirs.)



I wonder why.
Is it because I wanted to be that way myself and had my emotional extravagance suppressed somewhere along the way?
(I do remember having occasional bouts of emotional extravagance suppressed when I was a teenager, but I don't remember wanting to be that way as a general rule.) ( I also remember learning that I had to be invisible in order not to attract tormenting from other kids. Maybe that was a form of suppression that I still resent now.)
Is it because I have a problem with all extravagance?
(I do have a problem with many, but not all, kinds of extravagance. But not to the same extent as emotional extravagance. Material extravagance sometimes fascinates me and sometimes makes me roll my eyes and sometimes bothers me on an intellectual level because of the unfair distribution of resources it implies. Emotional extravagance offends me personally.)
Is it because I think it uses up limited emotional resources?
(Yes, this is definitely part of it. But emotional resources, while finite, are not finite in the same zero-sum way that physical resources are. So I think this belief is based on some inaccuracies.)
There are elements of jealousy and envy in this problem.
Based on my understanding of the way my jealousy and envy works:
--The jealousy means that I believe I deserve something and someone is taking it away from me, so I want to erase them.
Do I believe I deserve not to have to witness or deal with people's emotional extravagance? (Yes.) Do I believe I deserve to be emotionally extravagant myself, only I can't because other people have taken it away from me? (Yes.)
--The envy means that I want (as opposed to "deserve") to be emotionally extravagant and feel that others have appropriated all the resources.

Disclaimer: Not a roundabout way of being catty, or an attempt at indirect communication with anybody

Do you have any confessions to make today?

Comments

( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
patgreene
Aug. 8th, 2003 11:44 am (UTC)
Clarification -- what do you mean by "emotionally extravagant"? I have an idea, but it's very fuzzy.
firecat
Aug. 8th, 2003 12:15 pm (UTC)
My idea is fuzzy too, but here it is.
jb98
Aug. 8th, 2003 11:54 am (UTC)
I confess I'm emotionally extravagant :)
firecat
Aug. 8th, 2003 12:16 pm (UTC)
You coulda fooled me...unless you've become more that way since I met you a year ago.
jb98
Aug. 8th, 2003 02:08 pm (UTC)
Mostly I don't show this side of me to people that I don't know very well. I think it is because I don't like this part of myself and feel it would turn people off. I feel like I should be more secure and not need to engage in this behaviour. It's getting in the way of at least one friendship at the moment and I've gotten called on my "drama" by a few others recently. I try to be considerate of my friends and keep it mostly inside my head and in the occasional LJ post, but I've decided it's a part of who I am and therefore I'm embracing it for now.

This part of your clarification resonated with me (emphasis mine). This is what I do.

It's not just, or even primarily, about displaying emotions. It's also, or even more, about stuff like amplifying one's emotions, spending a lot of time and energy thinking about and talking about one's emotions, expecting/wanting other people to spend a lot of time thinking/talking about one's emotions, letting one's emotions be primary drivers of one's actions, letting one's emotions be primary determinants of the life story one carries around in one's head and tells others.
firecat
Aug. 8th, 2003 02:28 pm (UTC)
It's good to embrace what's part of who you are.

Reading over my post, I realize that if I met my 24 year old self right now, I would be endlessly annoyed with her.
bastette_joyce
Aug. 12th, 2003 02:11 am (UTC)
Reading over my post, I realize that if I met my 24 year old self right now, I would be endlessly annoyed with her.

Eirawen, where are you???? You are needed! ;)
eirawen
Aug. 12th, 2003 09:44 am (UTC)
I wasn't around then, but from the glimpses I've had, I'd probably be annoyed by her too. Not for emotional extravagance, but for being interested in people who weren't worth it, among other things.
bastette_joyce
Aug. 11th, 2003 12:01 am (UTC)
It's not just, or even primarily, about displaying emotions. It's also, or even more, about stuff like amplifying one's emotions, spending a lot of time and energy thinking about and talking about one's emotions, expecting/wanting other people to spend a lot of time thinking/talking about one's emotions, letting one's emotions be primary drivers of one's actions, letting one's emotions be primary determinants of the life story one carries around in one's head and tells others.

I think there's a big difference between some of these things. I wouldn't put them all in the same category.

The first, amplifying one's emotions, I discussed earlier - I see it as a distraction from an internal sense of emptiness, or maybe other, more scary emotions that the person doesn't want to feel.

The key thing, to me, is that a person who amplifies their emotions is no longer being sincere about how they feel. That can certainly be a turn-off.

But I don't see how focusing on or talking about one's emotions, or wanting that from one's friends, is connected to the above. Conversations about emotional states aren't by nature contrived or insincere, or even particularly dramatic. I find such conversations kind of analytical most of the time.

As for letting one's emotions be the primary driver of one's actions or life story: that's the definition of the MBTI "F" type, isn't it? In other words, just another way of being, neither good nor bad.

Joyce
firecat
Aug. 11th, 2003 09:07 am (UTC)
Thumbs up
The more I read what you are writing, the more I suspect that the primary problem I have is with people whom I perceive as amplifying their emotions.

I also have a problem with smugness at times. I'm not sure whether I should count that under amplifying or under something else.

I also have a problem with some of the ways that MBTI "F"s behave, but I don't think it's a rational objection. You're right that "F" is just another way of being. Sometimes it happens to drive me crazy, but that's my problem, not theirs.
bastette_joyce
Aug. 12th, 2003 02:28 am (UTC)
Re: Thumbs up
For some reason, I can't copy selected lines from the post I'm responding to. I don't understand why that's happening, when I was perfectly able to do it the last time I posted. It's very annoying!

You wrote, I also have a problem with smugness at times. I'm not sure whether I should count that under amplifying or under something else.

I have big problems with smugness, myself. But I don't associate it with amplified emotions, especially. In fact I'm not sure I've seen dramatic types of people acting smug, exactly. Self-righteous, maybe. Dominating, for sure - they might try to beat you into submission so you'll agree that they are right and you are wrong. :) But when I hear the word "smug", I picture someone with a closed-mouthed little smirk, like the cat that just swallowed the canary - holding a secret sense of superiority and self-satisfaction, without having to say a word.

Joyce (who wasn't trying to be so sibilantly alliterative)
firecat
Aug. 12th, 2003 09:28 am (UTC)
Re: Thumbs up
I don't much mind people who act smug by making a little face. I know some people who act smug in much more, well, extravagant ways than that.

There's a notion in some cultures that bragging about one's good fortune invites punishment by the gods. Sometimes when I see someone bragging, some god whispers to me "Hey, punish them for me." :-)

So if I ever get carted away yelling "God told me to do it," you'll know what that's about. :-)
supergee
Aug. 12th, 2003 11:25 am (UTC)
Re: Thumbs up
I'm torn between the Death of a Salesman line, "He didn't have to brag; he did it" and the Texan "It ain't bragging if you did it." I tend to the former, but I have enough of the latter that bragging per se doesn't bother me unless there are connected problems (e.g., he really didn't and I wish I had, it's not something to be proud of even if it's true, the falsity is blatantly obvious).
firecat
Aug. 12th, 2003 05:40 pm (UTC)
Re: Thumbs up
Sounds pretty sensible.
bastette_joyce
Aug. 12th, 2003 12:39 pm (UTC)
Re: Thumbs up
I don't much mind people who act smug by making a little face.

UGH!!! That's exactly what I can't stand! People who think they're always right (and often, better than others), and think they're even above having to say anything.

I know some people who act smug in much more, well, extravagant ways than that.

What are some examples of that? I'm having a hard time imagining it. Not saying I don't believe it, just that I'm not coming up with a picture in my mind of it.

In general, it's true for me that I trust open and expressive people much more than reticent or non-emotional types of people. I also trust people who use direct communication much more than those who rely on hints and subtle cues, which is not necessarily connected to emotionality, although it often is in my experience. That is, I've found that people who are comfortable being emotionally expressive - in a sincere and honest way - are also comfortable being direct and clear *about* their feelings (ie, it's not just the physical expressions of emotion that I'm talking about, but also the ability to verbalize about feelings - in fact).

I also simply connect well with such people, maybe because their energy matches mine? Or because their values match mine (that it's socially valuable to be emotionally open, and verbally open vis-a-vis emotions). Bottom line: I *like* people who can talk comfortably about their feelings. I'm drawn to that.

I'm not drawn to people who throw insincere emotions around in an attempt to manipulate others (or for whatever reason). I usually avoid people who do that - I don't think they're trustworthy. I don't find people like that very pleasant, nor do I have much respect for that behavior. But it's not the intensity of the emoting that turns me off, it's the insincerity. I want to say, "Come off it and just be REAL already!" If a person's not being real with me, I just feel like my time and energy is being wasted by that person and I resent it.

I also feel manipulated and drained by people who go from one crisis to another, where everything is an emergency that demands all my attention and support. People like this aren't necessarily insincere, but they lack perspective and self-awareness, and also often lack respect for my personal limits. But even here, it's not the emoting itself that bothers me - it's the fact that the person is unable to stop making choices that cause all these crises to keep happening. OK, sometimes you can have a string of bad luck - it never rains but it pours, etc - but there are some people I've known for years and years and they've consistently gotten into trouble because they keep repeating the same mistakes. Then they're always in the midst of a huge upset (which I of course have to be drawn into). This feels extremely draining to me.

So I love being around people who can be emotionally expressive and who can talk about what they're feeling (and who like to talk about it), but it's important to me that they also be thoughtful, self-aware, and honest.

Joyce

PS - would someone please tell me why I can no longer copy and paste excerpts from the post I'm quoting? It has suddenly stopped working, and I had to type the quoted excerpts in this post by hand.
firecat
Aug. 12th, 2003 02:10 pm (UTC)
Re: Thumbs up
UGH!!! That's exactly what I can't stand! People who think they're always right (and often, better than others), and think they're even above having to say anything.

If I knew that was what the little smile was about, I'd be annoyed. But I don't tend to assume that's what a little smile is about. So that's why I have more of a problem with more "obvious" forms of smugness.

If someone says "Well, I'm just the greatest," I have a problem with it.

Examples of people acting smug in obvious ways: The OH used to have a habit of blowing on his fingernails and buffing them on his shirt as a way of saying "I'm smug." (I know it was meant semi-ironically, but I made him stop doing it around me, because I wanted to throttle him whenever he did it.) Some people just come right out and say "I'm smug because I did X or I have Y." Or in the poly community, I've heard people brag about how many partners they have or how many people come to their parties or how often they get laid, not just as a fact about them, but as a way of implying that they have more knowledge than someone else or they're more evolved or whatever.

I've found that people who are comfortable being emotionally expressive - in a sincere and honest way - are also comfortable being direct and clear *about* their feelings (ie, it's not just the physical expressions of emotion that I'm talking about, but also the ability to verbalize about feelings - in fact).

I haven't found a correlation myself. I know a lot of people who will express one set of emotions and really have a hard time expressing another set. (For example, some people will be free with praise but less free with criticism. Other people are the opposite.) So I don't assume that open expressions of one kind of emotion means openness about emotions in general.

But it's not the intensity of the emoting that turns me off, it's the insincerity.

I'm sometimes turned off by intense emoting even if it's sincere. I just thought of another reason: my early experience with drunks. When a drunk emotes, zie's often very sincere about it, but all of it is gone when zie's sober again.

I also feel manipulated and drained by people who go from one crisis to another, where everything is an emergency that demands all my attention and support. People like this aren't necessarily insincere, but they lack perspective and self-awareness, and also often lack respect for my personal limits. But even here, it's not the emoting itself that bothers me - it's the fact that the person is unable to stop making choices that cause all these crises to keep happening.

The emoting bothers me here because I feel internally compelled to respond to it in kind. And the Nth time someone is upset about a crisis and I feel internally compelled to offer an outpouring of sympathy, I also feel incapable of offering the sympathy, and I don't like that state of mind.

I think the internal compulsion to respond might also come from my experience with drunks. When they emote, IME, they want a response, and sometimes get scary if they don't get the correct one.

PS - would someone please tell me why I can no longer copy and paste excerpts from the post I'm quoting? It has suddenly stopped working, and I had to type the quoted excerpts in this post by hand.

I don't know. Have you tried quitting and restarting your browser?
bastette_joyce
Aug. 13th, 2003 05:01 am (UTC)
Re: Thumbs up
If I knew that was what the little smile was about, I'd be annoyed. But I don't tend to assume that's what a little smile is about. So that's why I have more of a problem with more "obvious" forms of smugness.

That sounds more like an attitude of "what you don't know won't hurt you." And sure, if someone successfully keeps their negative feelings to themselves and you never know about it, then why wouldit bother you? That wouldn't bother me, either! :)

If someone says "Well, I'm just the greatest," I have a problem with it.

Depending on the seriousness of the comment, that might bother me a lot, too. Actually, it's hard for me to imagine someone saying that without irony. Someone who said something like that without any irony would come across to me as pretty clueless and not especially bright. People I've known who have considerable smarts, talent and/or skill and who believe that this makes them superior to others are usually not quite so blatant about that attitude... not that that improves things much.

I'm sometimes turned off by intense emoting even if it's sincere. I just thought of another reason: my early experience with drunks. When a drunk emotes, zie's often very sincere about it, but all of it is gone when zie's sober again.

Heh... yeah. Well, OK, let me add drunkenness to the list of reasons not to like strong expressions of emotion. I guess you could call a drunken confession of feelings "sincere", but I would not call it *honest*, because honesty requires more than just sincere intentions, or saying whatever's at the top of one's head. It often requires self-awareness and the willingness (and ability) to engage in some deep and probing thought. It can be hard work to be truly honest! I wouldn't expect drunkenness to be a very conducive state for doing that.

So far, I've established that I don't like the kind of emotional expressiveness that comes from people who are insincere or manipulative, clueless about themselves, or in a chemically altered state. I'm sure there are more...

What I think about this is that I simply have problems with people who are insincere, manipulative, clueless, and chemically dependent (or just high a lot). When such people express themselves with a lot of intense emotions, those problems become highly visible (and audible :)). But it's still those issues that I dislike. If someone had one of those problems, but was much more circumspect about expressing it, I'd be less likely to be aware of it so might not be as bothered by it. However, if I were aware of that person's underlying {insincerity, manipulativeness, cluelessness, addiction}, I would be bothered by it no matter how discreet they were. Again, it's not emotionalism itself that bothers me, but the underlying characteristic (in these cases) that turns me off. When someone is honest, respectful, self-aware, clear-headed, kind-hearted, and genuine, and is also emotionally expressive - WOW!! I love that!

The emoting bothers me here because I feel internally compelled to respond to it in kind. And the Nth time someone is upset about a crisis and I feel internally compelled to offer an outpouring of sympathy, I also feel incapable of offering the sympathy, and I don't like that state of mind.

Hmm... ahem... <<>> I know, because you posted a disclaimer, that your comments on this aren't meant to be an indirect communication to anyone in particular, so I don't think you're trying to drop any hints here. But if you truly feel this way, then I can't help but wonder how this relates to some of our interactions...
firecat
Aug. 13th, 2003 10:27 am (UTC)
Re: Thumbs up
That sounds more like an attitude of "what you don't know won't hurt you.

I think of it as an attitude of "I won't assume the worst without specific evidence." The person might be feeling smug/superior, but a little smile doesn't tell me that in particular.

Again, it's not emotionalism itself that bothers me, but the underlying characteristic (in these cases) that turns me off. When someone is honest, respectful, self-aware, clear-headed, kind-hearted, and genuine, and is also emotionally expressive - WOW!! I love that!

I'd like to be there. Sometimes I am - rather a lot more than I used to be - but sometimes even emotional expressions I believe likely to be genuine in all those ways bother me if they take certain forms.

I think sometimes what happens is that I compare myself to the person expressing themselves in a genuine way and I think "I can't do that," and feel bad about myself.

I don't feel cognitive dissonance about your emotional states. You're very clear about what you want, and you don't seem to expect effusiveness from me. The kind of responses I naturally offer seem to be within the range of responses you want, most of the time. (As opposed to when someone is upset and I try to offer support and I am left feeling like they think "Well, that wasn't good enough.")

PS: I also read some of what you have been writing here and think "How can J like me? I'm exactly all the things she says she doesn't like - cramped, silent, etc. etc." :-)
bastette_joyce
Aug. 13th, 2003 09:14 pm (UTC)
Re: Thumbs up
Unfortunately I don't have time to respond to this in depth at the moment - I'm trying to get ready for Elderflower, and at the same time I'm dealing with that stupid virus (which by the way, explains why I couldn't cut and paste text). But I couldn't ignore your comment about wondering how I could like you!! :-O

I do like you a lot. We share a lot of stuff, and I respect your thinking and intelligence a lot. I would like to discuss this in more depth later (probably when I get back, but maybe I'll have time later tonight). I think we should take it to email for (1) privacy reasons, and (2) because this discussion is getting way too indented! :)

But the important issue is that, just because I happen to like a certain trait a lot (emotional expressiveness, verbal openness about feelings, inner life, etc), doesn't mean I can't like someone who doesn't have those traits. ALso, it's a contiuum, not a binary. You do talk about emotions - more sometimes, less other times. Right now seems to be a time when you feel pretty strongly that you don't want to talk about your feelings very much at all. That can be frustrating for me at times, but it doesn't mean I can't appreciate other things about you.

More later!
pir_anha
Aug. 12th, 2003 05:16 pm (UTC)
Re: Thumbs up
But when I hear the word "smug", I picture someone with a closed-mouthed little smirk, like the cat that just swallowed the canary - holding a secret sense of superiority and self-satisfaction, without having to say a word.

not so secret, eh? :) if i mean to keep something secret you're unlikely to know by me moving my face in this way. this is how i act smug, and it is about superiority -- i do it when i see excessively stupid displays of bad human tricks, and i do it as communication to somebody who's with me. i am not particularly proud of it, or even attached to it, but hey, i am not one to think all human behaviours are worthy of positive action. i'm not saying a word in those situation because there's a time and place to rant, and it's not when watching, say, a horde of drunken frat boys amusing themselves.
rmjwell
Aug. 8th, 2003 12:01 pm (UTC)
A fascinating exploration, Stef. Did you devise the analysis format yourself (if so, brava!) or is it from another resource that you can point me at?

I'm reading "emotional extravagance" as "a large, perhaps fulsome, display of an emotional state." Would that be an accurate description?
firecat
Aug. 8th, 2003 12:16 pm (UTC)
Devised myself, thanks.

Attempt at definition here.
sinboy
Aug. 8th, 2003 12:29 pm (UTC)
Given that you define this as a problem, are you working on ways of dealing with it?

Do I believe I deserve not to have to witness or deal with people's emotional extravagance? (Yes.) Do I believe I deserve to be emotionally extravagant myself, only I can't because other people have taken it away from me? (Yes.)

Where are these resources that emotional extravagance takes up being stored? Do you think that some form of equitable resource sharing could be worked out between you and others?
firecat
Aug. 8th, 2003 01:03 pm (UTC)
Given that you define this as a problem, are you working on ways of dealing with it?

I often think that naming and describing a problem is a way of dealing with it.

It's interesting how offended I am at your comment. I read into it "You'd better not trouble people by talking about a problem you have, without giving an accounting of exactly how you are going to fix it." That reading is exactly why I usually don't discuss my problems in public.
sinboy
Aug. 8th, 2003 01:31 pm (UTC)
< looks down > That tomato patch came out of nowhere. If you tell me how to be out of here without anymore disruption, I'll be on my way. I didn't mean any of what you read into my statement.
firecat
Aug. 8th, 2003 01:47 pm (UTC)
I figured you didn't mean it, that's why I said "read into". I was describing my reaction.
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )

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