Question of the Week: April 19th

Besides sexual and romantic attraction, do you think you experience other emotions differently?

Sometimes I think I experience enthusiasm differently from most people.  My boyfriend says that this was difficult to get used to at first, since whenever I wanted to do something, I’d never express excitement about it.  For example, if I wanted to eat at a particular restaurant, I’d just say so, and mean it.  I wouldn’t jump around and make a big deal about how great it would be.  I wouldn’t do that for anything.

My subjective experience is that I don’t express excitement because I am not in fact excited.  Why do I need to be excited in order to express a preference?

About Siggy

Siggy is a physics grad student in the U.S. He is gay gray-A, and makes amateur attempts at asexual activism. His interests include godlessness, scientific skepticism, and math. While not working or blogging, he plays video and board games with his boyfriend, and folds colored squares.
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18 Responses to Question of the Week: April 19th

  1. Seth says:

    Yeah, I’d say so. As a kid, I remember being highly emotional, and occasionally frustrated by my lack of emotional control. Then puberty hit, and I gained control, but only by deadening everything. I generally don’t experience any emotion very strongly anymore. I’ve even forgotten how to cry – there have been a few times when I made a deliberate effort to do so because it seemed like it would be cathartic, but no dice.

    • Siggy says:

      Oh yeah, I remember crying a lot as a kid, and the other kids would make fun of me. Too much emotion, not enough emotion, it’s like society can’t figure out what it wants from me.

  2. I’d say I’m more the opposite. I’m incredibly enthusiastic all the time. I feel things incredibly deeply and have a hard time pushing them to the background when I need to be objective. One could say I’m more than a bit of an empath. But, like you, if I say something I mean it and that’s that.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Maybe?

    I feel like “shallow” emotions are overpowering – like, when I’m happy about something short-term it wipes everything else out, or when I’m angry about something little it’s very hard not to throw a tantrum.

    But “realer”/more complex emotions I can’t understand. I don’t know how to tell whether I really care about someone, or how I actually feel when I think about moving towards a certain career, or whether I’m actually feeling something or just convincing myself I’m feeling it. I feel like I have to work backwards from my own behavior to decipher this black box of my actual internal state.

    • Siggy says:

      Oh, I thought you were the other Elizabeth! Could you change user names for the future to reduce confusion?

      I think more complex emotions are harder to understand because they usually don’t translate to specific actions, or desires for specific actions. Actions give feelings grounding, whereas the pure sensation can be nearly impossible to describe.

      • Student says:

        Sorry for the misunderstanding. How does this username sound?

        Well, the issue is that I often don’t “feel” feelings. Very immediate and shallow ones are obvious – anxiety feels like a stomachache, happiness feels like tail-wagging (…I don’t know how else to describe it), and so on. But there’s no sensation I can connect to “I love this person” or “I am ambitious about this career path” or “I am interested in this subject/new club/new hobby in a persistent way rather than a shallow ‘cool new thing’ way and can make a time commitment.”

        As an example… I might think: okay, this person is very cool and funny and I feel happy in their company. But do I care about them? Do I want to seek out their company? I can’t tell.

        Writing that… maybe I should play with hypotheticals more? Like “how would I feel if they told me I was their best friend”, “if I could pick any schedule for our hangouts, what would be my ideal amount of time to spend with them”, and so on. I don’t think I do stuff like that often…

        • Elizabeth says:

          Hello fellow Elizabeth! Sorry for the confusion about names. I guess I should probably change my display name somehow to be a little more specific?

          (Probably contributing to the confusion is my idiosyncratic and inconsistent logins to FTB, where Siggy blogs, because their system only sometimes lets me connect to my WP account here. So I guess whatever I do here will still end up being somewhat confusing because of that.)

  4. luvtheheaven says:

    I don’t know if I’d call them emotions, but it’s probably because I don’t really experience them or don’t know if I do or I do experience them differently, but I definitely think every form of “Attraction” someone can come up with – aesthetic, sensual/touch, platonic, etc – I feel a little disconnected from. I feel comfortable with touch once I know someone well but it’s not like I crave it. I feel like I can tell when certain people are prettier than others (or some children especially cute) without it really being more than an intellectual acknowledgement, there aren’t too many emotions tied to it for me, at least not in recent years?

    Sometimes I think about how hard it is for me to understand screaming to let out excitement/”fear”? on a roller coaster. I love roller coasters!! But I prefer to be quiet during them. I don’t know if what I’m feeling is differently but when I scream is definitely different. I almost always freeze rather than scream if I’m actually scared.

    Also I can be really enjoying a comedic TV show or movie and finding it hilarious without ever actually laughing. Or only laughing once or twice despite a hundred jokes I did enjoy. I think a lot of other people laugh more often than I do if they’re enjoying something in the comedy genre, stand-up routines, etc, but I keep my emotions inside a little more? I don’t feel like I feel them differently, exactly, but I do express them differently, on a level that doesn’t really feel voluntary.

    I also think I don’t experience unconditional/irrational love for my abusive mother the way it seems the majority of abused children do. I am affected in many typical ways but even while growing up in her house I remember thinking about the fact that she may love me but I don’t love her back. I resented her and still do, but there were never many feelings of being “torn”, of still loving her anyway just because the way it seems is fairly typical of children with their primary parent/guardian regardless of what that parent does. I feel I know her really well, or as well as anyone can know someone they haven’t spoken to for eight years now but who did grow up living with her, and it’s not even just betrayal/hate/anger or strong negative emotions I feel toward her, often I feel neutral, like she’s someone in the world sure, but not like she’s “my mother”. Sometimes I think about her taste in music or her mental illnesses or her eating habits and it’s like I’m not feeling any emotions at all! And idk but a lot of the times that experience doesn’t feel typical of how other people who grew up with a really similar kind of mother feel.

  5. TreePeony says:

    Well… I’m much more calm, controlled and logical than your average person (not as great as it sounds, actually; that’s probably why I have no friends: I bore people >_<), but I don't think it has anything to do with my sexual or romantic orientation.

  6. I often don’t get the way people get really excited about things, especially pop culture things – which is why I don’t get into fandoms at all. It’s not just that I have my own things I’m into, but that I don’t seem to get into them as obsessively as many others seem to get into their own enthusiasms. This tendency on my part seems to be getting more pronounced as I get older.

  7. Nowhere Girl says:

    I’m asexual (and not even “sex-indifferent” or “sex-positive”), but I could say I’m PASSIONATE in my geeral outlook on life. I think I’s rather not live than not experience the world INTENSELY.
    An important part of my personal experience and my philosophy is a strong rejection of the idea that “thoughts” and “feelings” are two different, even opposite things. For me they are parts of the same continuum of experience – of THE INFINITY OF POSSIBLE EXPERIENCE – for me there are no “non-emotional thoughts” and “non-intellectual feelings”, all experience is fluid and there is no point in which experience could be pinned down and labelled “pure idea”, “pure emotion”, “pure perception”, “pure memory” or whatever. For me the way to loving others leads through loving my own life – through the realization that others live in their own infinities too and perhaps remembering and acknowledging the these infinities is the most important part of living next to other people.

    • Siggy says:

      I think I’s rather not live than not experience the world INTENSELY.

      Okay, maybe we should look for a better way to express our feelings, without saying that lives without those feelings aren’t worth living.

      • Nowhere Girl says:

        A life without intense thoughtfeeling is not worth living FOR ME.

        • Siggy says:

          Right, that’s the part that you should rephrase…

          • Nowhere Girl says:

            But I never said that others should feel the same as I do. I just said I have no right to ignore other people’s thoughtfeelings. I never meant they had to be all the same. On the contrary: for me diversity is something almost painfully experienced, not a purely theoretical idea. I just feel-I-can-feel the possibility of the infinity of different experiences, different lives. For me this is philosophy experienced.

  8. Sarah M says:

    I wonder if this is an introvert/extrovert thing. I once read a blog post by an author about her difficulty writing characters to show their emotions a lot, and she connected it to being an introvert. (I can’t find the post again, or I’d link to it.)

    I’m an introvert, and I don’t express enthusiasm the same way many people do, I think. I might be jumping up and down with excitement about something on the inside, but on the outside, all I’ll say is “I’m excited about…” or maybe “I’m really excited about…” if I want to get extreme. I also don’t use exclamation points (in writing comments, texts, emails, etc.) as much as most people do. I feel that if I use an exclamation point on two sentences in a row that’s a bit much, and I never use multiple together. Since reading that author’s blog post, I’ve always connected this to being an introvert.

    • Carmilla DeWinter says:

      I would concur. I’m a semi-logical introvert, so I don’t “squee” much where other people can see/hear.
      Another thing I can’t do are (quasi-)religious feelings or the “fanatic” part of being a fan, which is probably related.

  9. Jo says:

    I definitely fall into the camp of feeling certain emotions very strongly – especially ones of excitement and enthusiasm and world-encompassing-love. Since my later teen years, I often had periods where I would feel so incredibly filled with happiness and love and joy that I really had trouble containing it and somehow dealing it without bursting. At the moment, I’m in a pretty good place in my life, having just started a new job I’m really enjoying and making lots of new friends. But there are still days when I feel like the amount of happiness I have inside me is excessive. Some positive feedback at work on a Friday had me riding out a huge high for the entire weekend, where I was downright giddy. I go through multi-day phases where I feel like I’m running on adrenaline the entire time, and then am physically exhausted as a result.

    Interestingly, I don’t tend to have major periods of negative emotions in the same way – probably because I am a burier of bad emotions rather than someone who will actually deal with them. Not really sure if any of this has to do with my being asexual (or introverted, for that matter). I do think my aceness does impact on how much energy I have to invest in other things sometimes? But who knows.

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