Author Topic: On pessimism  (Read 3065 times)

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M-theory

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On pessimism
« on: August 22, 2010, 02:31:01 AM »
I have longstanding depression. I live in a perpetual state of waiting for the other shoe to drop. I'm also somewhat pessimistic, though I generally believe that everything will be OK. I hasten to specify that I'm not the sort of person who dominates dinner conversation with my unhappiness. I generally try to avoid unhappy subject matter altogether, although I do have the gallows humour. I smile often, I laugh a lot, and I do enjoy some things.

The last person I dated had the philosophy that everything is NOT going to be OK. He didn't enjoy anything he did, either alone or with other people. He didn't see the point of ever getting another dog because no dog could ever be as good as his childhood dog, for example, and eventually revealed that he didn't want to have (or adopt) children because the world is such a horrible place. I literally never saw him smile in almost 5 years. As far as I'm concerned, he has depression a dozen times worse than mine, just undiagnosed and untreated despite my gentle nudging.

Now that I'm on the market again (sort of), I'm finding myself coming around to a rule about not d@ting anyone more pessimistic than myself. I obviously can't require anyone I date to be 100% sunshine and cotton candy optimist, as that would be both hypocritical and annoying for me, but I also don't want to date someone else so incredibly glum. However, upon discussion with a friend, I've been told that not wanting to date someone more pessimistic than myself is also hypocritical.

Opinions? I'm not saying that I'm closed to d@ting someone with clinical depression or other issues, or that whoever I date has to be in tip top emotional shape to clean up after me. It's just that d@ting someone who's gloomier about life than me sounds a lot like going Dumpster diving hoping for a Ritz-Carlton quality meal. If that analogy makes any sense.

ETA relevant details.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2010, 02:33:29 AM by M. »

Allyson

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Re: On pessimism
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2010, 03:05:42 AM »
I think it is absolutely reasonable to have expectations about this sort of thing, especially as it contributes to your own mental health/wellbeing. For example, I would really try to avoid anyone with extreme mood swings. I grew up with a parent like this, and it had a really bad effect on me. If I do something and get a positive response one day, but a freakout the next, it makes me horribly anxious, I feel as though I'm walking on eggshells all the time, and I'm always waiting for the other shoe to drop, as it were. And even if it isn't their *fault* they are like this, I have the right (responsibility, even, perhaps) to not become involved. And so do you. It's not a comment on their worth as a person. It's just an incompatibility. Like how an animal lover might not want to date someone who was allergic.

guihong

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Re: On pessimism
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2010, 03:24:17 AM »
Totally reasonable, and a major part of someone's character you can suss out before you invest years in a frustrating relationship.   After all, a major point of a relationship is to share beautiful moments together and hopefully share genuine joy, and how can you do so with someone who sounds as funny as bubonic plague and as cheery as leprosy? 

The problem with dating someone more gloomy than you are is that you are always trying to "pull them up", to cheer them up, and that sounds exhausting.  It's supposed to be a partnership, in which the "strong" one comforts the other, and the roles switch. 

Life's tough and hard and ugly enough.  But it's also wonderful and beautiful, and you want someone who can see that and who has a kind of joy inside, to share with you.  I hope that made sense.

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M-theory

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Re: On pessimism
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2010, 03:32:45 AM »
The problem with d@ting someone more gloomy than you are is that you are always trying to "pull them up", to cheer them up, and that sounds exhausting. 

That's exactly what it was, only totally futile because he was completely nonreceptive. So I was trying to stay on my own feet while helplessly watching him suffer. And I'd really rather not do that again, certainly not for the rest of my life (i.e. marriage).

mechtilde

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Re: On pessimism
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2010, 03:36:32 AM »
It sounds eminently sensible to me.

Don't get me wrong, DH is quite a pessimist, and is much more pessimistic than me, but then I'm quite an optimist myself.

As you are already aware of your own issues, and are aware of the effects of dating someone more pessimistic about yourself, I think it makes sense to avoid someone who may make those issues worse. Had you said that you would not date anyone who suffers from depression, that might have been hypocritical, but taking care of yourself by avoiding someone who could make your own issues worse is a very good idea.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to date someone who shares your goals and makes you happy.
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blarg314

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Re: On pessimism
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2010, 05:34:49 AM »

I think it comes down a lot to how you phrase it when you're discussing it - the difference between saying "If I'm with someone who is too negative, we feed off of each other and drag each other down" and "I'm not willing to date someone who has the same frailties that I do."

It's perfectly reasonable to want a balance in your relationship - you recognize that someone who is very glum and negative is bad for you in a relationship, and know to stay away from it.

But I can easily see it coming across as wanting more from a partner than you can provide yourself - you want them to put up with your negativity, but you won't do the same.


M-theory

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Re: On pessimism
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2010, 05:55:54 AM »

I think it comes down a lot to how you phrase it when you're discussing it - the difference between saying "If I'm with someone who is too negative, we feed off of each other and drag each other down" and "I'm not willing to date someone who has the same frailties that I do."


Oh, I'd be perfectly willing to date someone who has the same frailities I do. What I don't want to do is date someone who is, for lack of a more succinct term, worse.

shhh its me

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Re: On pessimism
« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2010, 06:48:27 AM »
   The thing is you can be hypocritical in dating ,  as long as your honest about it.   

There are plenty of couples where one person is horrible with money, hates to clean, a dreamer etc etc etc. and the other isn't or is the polar opposite. What works for one couple may not work for others there is no "you must accept your own flaws in other" rule whether it's the flaw in degrees or in entirety.   The only issue is you might not find someone willing to accept your flaws and/or understand them if they never experienced them.


veryfluffy

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Re: On pessimism
« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2010, 07:17:17 AM »
I think your position is totally reasonable. Your have identified one particular weakness of your own, and recognised that someone with an even harsher version of this weakness is not a recipe for a good relationship or way of life.

Put it this way: there are lots of different weaknesses or characteristics that people may be subject to. It would only be hypocritical, or unreasonable, if you said that someone who was worse than you on any one of these would be rejected.
   

Aggiesque

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Re: On pessimism
« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2010, 10:46:46 AM »
I think it's smart.

You want to find someone who helps your mood, not puts you into a worse one! That goes for any couple- not just depressed or whatever. DH and I cheer each other up (not in a purposeful way, just by being ourselves). That's what I would think everyone would go for- finding someone who makes you feel good about yourself/others, not worse about it!
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magician5

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Re: On pessimism
« Reply #10 on: August 22, 2010, 02:25:47 PM »
It's just that d@ting someone who's gloomier about life than me sounds a lot like going Dumpster diving hoping for a Ritz-Carlton quality meal. If that analogy makes any sense.

It does.

You are engaged in a personal struggle and you're winning, but it's tough. Do you need to make it any harder by the dates you choose? Is such a potential partner a good candidate for permanence? Heck no!

You get to be selective about who you date, and your reasons are not subject to anyone else's judgement. You might want to reduce the amount of your private thoughts you share with the friend who clearly does not sympathize with your struggle.
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JordanX

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Re: On pessimism
« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2010, 09:01:41 PM »
In healthy relationships, I see a lot of balance or a yin/yang kind of thing among couples I know.

For example, a quiet homebody may actually seek out a more outgoing type, because the outgoing one encourages the homebody to get out a bit, and the homebody gives the outgoing one encouragement to take the night off and stay in.

Or, a worrywart will marry a carefree type because the carefree person takes the edge of her worries, and the carefree person can relax knowing the worrywart will handle the details.  Two worrywarts together will make each other crazy with worry, because there is no one to say, "Don't worry about that, it will be okay." 

Not sure if I'm expressing this exactly right, but I'm a pessimist/realist and DH is an optimist and we balance each other nicely.  I wouldn't want to be with someone more pessimistic than I am, either.

Larrabee

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Re: On pessimism
« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2010, 09:54:44 AM »
I actually think its really important to 'match' on fundamental outlook on life.

I'm very optimistic, I always like to assume the best of people and make the most of a bad situation.  I'm possibly annoyingly positive at times.

My last ex wasn't terribly negative, but he would sometimes assume bad intentions in others and he responded to bad situations completely the opposite way to me.

For example, stuck in traffic my approach was to say 'oh well, nothing we can do about it, let's talk about something else while we wait" and his approach was to wallow in the negativity of it and keep complaining and going over all the different routes we could have taken to avoid the traffic.

It wasn't working for either of us, I wanted someone to talk to about other stuff and to distract each other, he wanted someone to agree with him when he complained and validate his negative take on the matter.  Neither of us were getting what we wanted and both of us would get more frustrated until we'd end up arguing!

The traffic thing is just one example, but its the clearest!

So, in future, I will be looking for signs that the person I'm dating has roughly the same general level of positivity/optimism as I believe it will make things go a lot smoother and mean that we'll be on the same page more of the time.

Red1979

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Re: On pessimism
« Reply #13 on: August 23, 2010, 10:35:46 AM »
To summarize you are asking if it's okay to search for a partner who has the same temperament you do.

I'd say that's a smart thing to do.  I imagine someone much more pessimistic than you and much much more optimistic would probably not be a good match.  The best thing is to aim for someone who fits you.  Where its not a lot of "work" per se.

No one should always be "cheering" the other person up.  From time to time, of course--on a daily basis, absolutely no.

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Namárië

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Re: On pessimism
« Reply #14 on: August 23, 2010, 11:01:33 AM »
I think it is perfectly valid to want to be with someone who doesn't constantly bring you down. I have depression as well, and there is no way I would ever date another depressed person. I spend so much energy trying to make myself behave like a normal person that I simply cannot expend the same effort on another person as well. I like to be with someone who makes me feel good, and who feels good when I'm with them. I don't see that as hypocritical.
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