Friday, June 17, 2011

I'm not mean, I just don't give a damn...

I admit it, I'm an odd guy. A lot of people dont understand my actions or motivations. A lot of people don't get me in general. A lot of people don't like me.

I'm okay with that; and I'm certainly used to it.

I was chatting online to someone, who was expressing their frustration about being a very intelligent person, trying to find someone who they could have a real relationship with.

He had recently spent a few weeks casually seeing someone who was as geeky as he was, but not quite as smart; and she told him that she found that he used his intelligence almost like a club, and that he could be intimidating, and push people away.

Oh boy... been there.

I've been told by many woman something like "I'm sorry, it's not like you do it on purpose, but I know I'm smart, and I just feel stupid around you" or "I try, but I just can't keep up with you", or some variant thereof.

I've had some people call me an intellectual bully, or say I use my intellect and knowledge like a weapon. I've had people call me cruel, or heartless, or arrogant, or mean (or frankly, a lot worse).

This isn't my intent, but I am a large and physically strong; and potentially intimidating guy (though I am conscious of this and generally actively try not to be). I'm very passionate. I am very confident, assertive, and can sometimes be agressive. Combine that with a big voice, big hand gestures...

I've got a very large presence, which can be imposing.

I can be the sweetest guy in the world. I am a genuinely good guy in many ways (not necessarily nice, but good). I'm funny. I can be a great listener. I really do empathize, and I'm good at dealing with emotion (a lot better than most guys I know). I genuinely like people, and love conversation, and debate, and argument. I actually LIKE criticism (when that criticism is thoughtful and informed). I'm incredibly affectionate, both emotionally and physically; and if I like you, there's no way you can miss it.

I give the world for my friends. When I call someone my friend I mean that I love them. That their happiness as a person is important to me. My friends love me too. And I don't keep score. There is no balance sheet. It's not a competition.

But, as I said, I'm not always a nice guy.

I don't go along to get along, and I don't believe in politely accepting that which I strongly disagree with.

If it's a matter of subjective judgement or opinion, I'll strongly present my views, and listen to yours; and I'll defend and argue mine as long as you want. Maybe you'll change my mind, maybe I'll change yours, and maybe we'll both learn something along the way...

And it's not a competition. Conversation is about ideas, and information, and argument, and personality. It's not about winning and losing.

When I'm wrong, I'm the first guy to admit it. I'm harder on myself than anyone else could be. I do everything I can to fix my mistakes, and to make sure they don't happen again. I REALLY hate being wrong, but I'm glad when someone points out I am, because I have to opportunity to fix it.

Thing is though, not everything is a matter of opinion. You can't always "agree to disagree". Truth is truth, facts are facts, and the real world doesn't give a damn if you don't like something, or something makes you feel bad. Reality is what it is. You can have your own opinion, but not your own facts; and if I know for a fact I'm right, I'm not going to back down just to make you feel better.

That is, unless I don't give a damn about you whatsoever, in which case I won't even bother. If I'm actually arguing with you, it's because I respect or value you enough to think you're worth the time and effort... Well... unless you've really pissed me off, or unless I'm just doing it to amuse myself.

I may be a good guy, but I'm not always a nice guy... and I am often an asshole.

Oh and I don't think my opinion is necessarily more valuable than yours... but if I know a hell of a lot more about a subject than you do, have a lot more knowledge and experience in it, have spent a lot more time thinking about it and analyzing it; and have listened to your opinion and found it flawed for whatever reason...

...I don't think my opinion on that subject is more valuable than yours, I know it is.

Like I said, I am often an asshole.

The other thing is... I don't play "like me' games; because frankly, unless I really like you personally and value your opinion... I don't give a damn what you think or feel about me.

I don't try to earn peoples good opinions; except in trying to make my actions the right ones as much as I can. I say what I want, when I want, and do what I want when I want; based on my own rules, and my own code.

I don't mean to make myself out as some punk rock rebel "he marches to his own drummer" or anything like that. I'm just saying that I do and say what I believe is right, without respect to what you may think (unless I think that giving respect to what you think, is the right thing to do of course).

I don't do things for attention... though I often do them for amusement.

That whole asshole thing again...

I don't do or say things to impress people, or make them like me; nor do I refrain from doing something or saying something to gain or preserve someones good opinion of me. I do them because it's who I am, or what I want or feel I need to do.

I'm secure in myself, and in general I don't desire or require validation or approval from others.

This doesn't mean I'm deliberately least most of the time. Most of the time I'm polite and respectful of others.

MOST of the time.

Sometimes, I get very passionate about something, or involved in something, and I run right over people. I don't mean to do it, and it's one of my biggest personal flaws; but I recognize it, and I try to control it, and apologize for it when I see it happening.

And god knows, I've never claimed to be perfect... hell, I don't even claim to be particularly "good", except at some specific things where I know for a fact I am an expert, and/or damn good at whatever it is.

I've tried being "other" ways. I can be other ways when necessary, or when I think it's appropriate, or the right thing to do, or when I think I'll be screwed if I'm not...

God knows, my life would be easier if I played the game more and better... IF I went along to get along. If I agreed to disagree...

When I want to, I can be a totally different person. I can be nice, subtle, suave, slick, agreeable... I can go along to get along.

But I don't like it. I prefer my way, so that's what I choose to do most of the time.

Faced with all this, some people are intimidated, or even feel assaulted. They feel I'm arrogant, or conceited.

And yeah, I can see why some people feel that way. Intent or not, actions or not, tone or not... yeah I can see it.

But I don't care.

At least not most of the time.

I'm not arrogant, I just really don't give a damn.

I have a very few, very close friends who I would kill or die for; and who put up with my bullshit (and I with theirs). I have a larger group of people who I really care about, and who I think care about me, and who I would do almost anything for within my power.

I'm very lucky in this. Frankly I count myself among the luckiest men alive because of it.

Everybody else... Sorry, just don't give a damn.

...But, back to the original conversation... about relationships, and in particular finding and keeping a good one going.

I've had a few really great relationships, a few really bad ones, and a lot of really short mostly sexual ones.

I was with my ex-wife for four years, but she spent a lot of that time in various states of mental illness, where I was the caregiver, so that doesn't really count. Other than that, and my current wife... nothing longer than 18 months, and mostly less than six.

Melody, my wife of almost 6 years, is the only woman who has ever been able to deal with me long term, who I've been able to deal with back; and sometimes it's hard for her.

Before me, my wife was used to being the smartest person in the room most of the time. She was used to thinking of herself as smarter than most of the people around her. She was used to being the best informed on any given subject etc...

Unfortunately, she went to a shitty highschool and dropped out of college after freshman year to marry an asshole in Canada (we both have ex spouses), and then mostly stopped reading anything other than fantasy novels.

I on the other hand self educated, went to a great highschool, went to a great college where I got three degrees in technical subjects, self educated some more, and have had now almost 15 years of professional education, training, and experience; plus I still read like a maniac (I've read -start to finish - 2 books, five or six magazines, several hundred web posts - from my rss feed -, about 200 corporate and personal emails, and a number of white papers and design documents; all in the last 24 hours).

As a result, her general education, reasoning and problem solving skills, study habits, knowledge of history and culture, and vocabulary are all generally poor in comparison to mine. She's got the brains, but not always the tools and knowledge to make her brain work efficiently and effectively if you understand what I'm saying?

Basically, even understanding me conversationally sometimes, is a continual challenge for her (and for almost everyone, once I delve beyond shallow smalltalk, or outside specific areas of their expertise). I don't talk over her or anything like that, it's just I have a breadth and depth of knowledge that is hard to keep up with. Anything I become interested in, I am driven to learn about to a great depth.

She's got an IQ of around 140 (several different tests ranging from 136 to 147), mine is somewhere around 180 (lots of different tests at various ages, 180 is about the mean). Lots of people have said more than 20 IQ points difference doesn't work, but we do.

Frankly, I've tried having relationships with plenty of less intelligent women, and it just doesn't work. Either I make them feel stupid, or they make me feel stupid for trying to be with them... It just gets frustrating, and boring, and irritating, having to slow down enough for them to understand what I'm talking about. Having to explain concepts over and over again. Having to wait for them to puzzle stuff out and come to their own understanding of it before I can go to the next thing.

Here's kind of an assholish thing that I'll use as an example, but it's also a neat party trick...

Frequently, after a few minutes of talking with someone, I can tell them exactly what they are thinking, and what the next thing, or even next few things, they were going to say would have been; sometimes even the exact words. It's not psychic, it's just that most peoples thoughts and word choices tend run in predicable patterns, so when you know what the stimulus you provide them means (whatever you're talking about), you can then often know what their reaction will be, and how they would express that verbally.

Basically, I'm already three or four steps further ahead in the conversation. I'm paying attention to them or I wouldn't be able to do it, but once I hear them start to say what I figured in my head they were going to say, I don't need time to process it. I've already processed it and moved on to the next thing.

Of course, sometimes people surprise me, in interesting ways; and that's when a REALLY good conversation happens. I love that.

But it illustrates what I'm talking about. Most people... I'm just three or four steps ahead of them all the time. I don't try to be, that's just the speed I operate.

My wife keeps up. Barely sometimes, but she keeps up most of the time; and when she doesn't she's either OK with it, or she works her ass off to learn what she needs to know to keep up; and I'm ok with explaining things to her until she gets it, or sending her down the path of self education so she can.

But I don't think any of this would be possible if it weren't for one big thing. She accepts that I'm smarter and better educated than she is, and is OK with it. It doesn't cause her an ego problem, it just makes her want to use her (not inconsiderable) brains more, and to educate herself more.

And god, among so many other things I love her for, I love her dearly for that.

Let's just say I've driven a lot of women who couldn't deal with that crazy.

And I know for a fact that it's far worse for very intelligent women, because men are generally far more competitive and have far greater ego sensitivity about their intelligence.

So, find someone who keeps up with you, who surprises you, who challenges you... or someone who doesn't care if they don't and loves you anyway, and who you love anyway... or both...

Otherwise, you're in for a lot of disappointment.