People often start being distant with me - trying to figure

Postby van1van » Sun Aug 23, 2020 9:13 pm

I've often had this happening to me, and despite my effort to pinpoint to anything on my part, I'm unable to. I've noticed that often people who don't know me well, started being distant, which manifests itself in them avoiding natural eye contacts with me, giving unusually brief replies, pretending not to see me when I was there and other innuendos. To give you specific details, I'm writing down three such instances that occurred this year itself:

Example 1:
In fact, I tend to think something along that line happened also in my last job from which I was eventually let go. In this case, the manager suddenly started acting distant and overly disapproving of my work one evening and it continued in one way or another, e.g. he stopped giving me the credits he gave me before for completing a certain project by calling it 'easy' later (it wasn't easy and I felt he was trying to undermine my achievement). I also observed that before he gave me more time for discussions and technical interactions but it all seemed to change one evening, an evening we and another colleague took a business trip. I tried to mentally travel to that evening and analyze if I had done anything wrong that evening, and nothing particular stood up: we were having dinner with a project collaborator in the city we traveled to, and I missed part of what he did in that city, so reiterated a question to ask him what he was doing. I absolutely meant no disrespect to anyone.

Example 2:
Just to quote another instance from today: there's a young lady (21/22 year old) in my gym whom I once caught staring at me, and I said hello passing by to deter any awkwardness. This created an atmosphere of friendliness - we started to greet or smile at each other every time we pass by. Now to day I noticed that that seem to have disappeared from her side - she saw (not stared at) me today multiple times, but upon my looking in her direction, didn't reciprocate (she wasn't exactly close, but the gym was very empty today and we all could see each other). To test the waters, I decided to go close to the machine she was using and politely asked her how many sets she still had - she replied equally politely and with a smile on her face, and I told her to take her time to finish. When she did, she didn't show the nicety of looking in my direction to indicate that she's finished which is a commonly observed behavior. Now last time (the time before today) I interacted with her, she was on a mat doing some stretches, I was coming to her direction upon entering the gym, and I did a hand movement to acknowledge her existence, she did it back, no smile or word was exchanged, and I looked up and started climbing the stairs to go to a different floor. I described our last interaction to give you the detail, if it's relevant.

Example 3:
I've been attending a walking group for three years now and know the guide, with whom I'm friendly enough (but not friends). Quite suddenly, when I started to attend his walking events after deconfinement, I noticed a sudden change of behavior on his part, he was giving exceedingly short answers, almost avoiding my questions by pretending to look at the other attendees who were new to the group, and in fact didn't reply back to one my thank you messages. All of these signs seemed very unusual - e.g. even given the fact that he's to answer to other people, not replying to me is something that never happened before. Fortunately for me, this continued for two of his events, but eventually solved itself when he greeted me in his usual, friendly manner, which I reciprocated. Now a reflection upon the first moment when I noticed this strange behavior on his part, revealed that I was back in his events after nearly four months, after saying a hello and exchanging pleasantries, I was standing isolated from the group. However,even then, afterwards, I talked to him asking how his confinement was, and at the end of that very articular walk, I sent him a thank you note, unanswered.

For other such instances, I also tried to analyze the situation, but couldn't get a definitive answer - I didn't seem to have done anything wrong to them - in fact these people weren't close to me enough that we hanged out in the same group or do - we didn't. There're certain observations though: 1) it happens much more with women than men (I'm 36, male), 2) in none of the circumstances I didn't find any single example of misbehavior on my part, and 3) Just to show you the other side of the coin: at times when I note an behavior done to me which I deem wrign, I go into a silent treatment mode. Two example follows: a) a guy whom I was quite friendly with from the same walking group I mentioned above, happened to walk into a gathering I was attending, and tried to direct all the attention from a lady I was talking to and the conversation was going well; he came and he shook my hand and then proceeded to engage the lady to talk to him only ignoring my presence, and this led me to completely stop taking to that guy (even though that lady and and I are still friendly and he didn't succeed with her): for me, what he did is an example of a behavior I'd not do to any person I'd like to be friendly with and this was never resolved- I cut contact with him, b) once a roommate behaved in a manner what I'd call rude but apparently he didn't understand that he was being rude, so I gave him a one week long silent treatment, leading him to ask the reason and me telling him, thus resolving the issue.

All of these commonalities and repeated occurrences led me to believe that somehow I emit a vibe that turns people off. Now the very first time I recall noticing it was in 2007, when I was 23, and it still happens quite on a regular basis. I'm obsevant of my own behavior and I really don't mind apologizing for anything that I've done remotely wrong (and I've doen this in the past), but I still don't get why this is happening. Now I do have some internal anxiety problem due to my bad professional situation since 2018 and being repeatedly let go from different jobs, all decent. SO it could be that it's affecting my mind, but I receiving distance behavior started way before that.

What should I do? Next time this happens, what should I do that person? Asking is I've done anything wrong, is meaningless, as most possibly I've not. How should I go about this whole thing - what should my approach be? And why is this happening over and over again? Thank you so much for reading my story.
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#1

Postby tokeless » Sun Aug 23, 2020 9:58 pm

Well, there must be something that you do that effects those dynamics. I would say the second example looked like she realised she was perhaps giving the wrong signals so pulled back on the friendly acts, such as waving etc. I'm not sure you are insightful of your own actions or behaviours as you suggest you are, as there was nothing you did to cause the changes... really?Other than that, you sound a little intense. It could be you have some autistic traits or are just over sensitive? I don't really know why all that happened but it involved you, somewhere.
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#2

Postby van1van » Sun Aug 23, 2020 10:15 pm

Thanks for your comment/reply.

I agree that I'm at least partially responsible, this is why in the OP I wrote "All of these commonalities and repeated occurrences led me to believe that somehow I emit a vibe that turns people off." However, I can't pinpoint where this is stemming from.

It's true that I'm a bit sensitive, see: initially when it started to happen, I didn't realy pay it that much attention and let it pass, but since it's happening by leaps and bounds, it alerms me, and sometimes leads me to "fire back", i.e. if I'm sure that I've not been anything but nice but the person continues to be like this despite my effort to get back to normal, I put on a distant behavior myself and let the person feel what it's like to be on the receiver's side. At ties it worked, and at times , i didn't.

Yes I'm sensitive for sure, but I also self-criticise myself if I act overly sensitive. The autistic part needs to be checked upon: thing is, when I was young, I was socially an awkward person, but from age 25 or so, I studied books, learnt and went ahead into social situations to test what I learnt from books to see what works and what doesn't,and learnt a lot by trial and error - so now I consider myself quite social. In fact , I'm an great listener : I pay attention, stop and ask questions rather than nodding head pretending to listen. I can humor people as well, which has been well-accepted.

About the girl, if that's the case, I've nothing to worry about as I wasn't interested anyway, but otherwise I've to.

I agree it involves me, but the question is where...thanks again.
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#3

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Mon Aug 24, 2020 2:11 am

van1van wrote:...somehow I emit a vibe that turns people off." However, I can't pinpoint where this is stemming from.


In my opinion, the vibe most likely comes from the over-analysis of every little micro-behavior. People pick up on that.

It becomes a self-fulfilling downward spiral as the more you look to analyze how they are responding to you, the stronger the vibe becomes, and the further away this pushes them.

You might think that your analysis of their behavior goes unnoticed, but based on what you wrote it produces the "vibe". People can pick up on subtle body language, facial expressions, tone, etc. that you are monitoring them.

In other words, your deep need for approval might be a borderline social pathology. We all seek a degree of social acceptance, but not to the same degree that you have expressed.

If you can figure out why social approval is so important to you and then work to lessen that need for approval the issue may begin to reverse. The vibe will end as you go about your day without the need to monitor how others are responding.
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#4

Postby Candid » Mon Aug 24, 2020 10:04 am

Hello van1van, and welcome to our forum.

You've already had good answers from tokeless and Richard but maybe you'd like a female perspective.

van1van wrote:I've often had this happening to me, and despite my effort to pinpoint to anything on my part, I'm unable to.


Time to stop trying. We always find what we're looking for, including dismissiveness from others or faults in ourselves. I speak from experience, because I've done both!

Falling out with your manager is a worry, I realise, but if you continue to work to the best of your ability, things will change back again. Maybe he's distracted by some worry that has nothing to do with you. You need to stand tall, remind yourself constantly that you're doing a good job, and carry on as before.

I was bullied out of a job about eight years ago. Fortunately it was a new experience, but a group of people started taking issue with everything I did---and I was so upset about it that I started making bigger and worse mistakes. Eventually I quit. I wish I'd done things differently.

I tried to mentally travel to that evening and analyze if I had done anything wrong that evening...


This is the problem. You need to look at what you're doing right, and for evidence that co-workers approve of you.

The woman in the gym is presumably there to exercise. So are you, aren't you? Do that, accept whatever friendliness is offered, and above all don't over-analyse it. Most women get lots of positive interaction from men and the wiser ones learn quite early to nip any particular interest in the bud. As a female supervisor decades ago said to me, "You can't afford to be nice to them". We may misread things sometimes, but that's much better than what happens if our signals are misinterpreted.

When it comes to the walking group, I agree with tokeless that "you sound a little intense". I get it because I'm the same. Can't tell you how many times I've stood "isolated from the group", then agonised for ages over the wording of "a thank-you note" that goes unanswered. I know I still have an expectation that if someone wants to get to know me better, they'll let me know unambiguously. It's a matter of introvert/extravert. My extravert husband makes friends wherever he goes, and because he's on the autism spectrum he doesn't notice when someone's trying to get away from him. I on the other hand am alert to every kind of social nuance. We can't help who we are, but we can learn not to take things personally.

1) it happens much more with women than men (I'm 36, male),


I think I've answered that. Women have to walk a fine line between narcissistically assuming every man we speak to wants to get us into bed and, as it all too often turns out, that we're being too "nice" to a wolf in grandma's clothes. I can assure you it isn't personal when we err on the side of safety.

2) in none of the circumstances I didn't find any single example of misbehavior on my part,


Good. Now stop looking! As a very wise older woman once said to me, you just have to know you're doing the right thing, and if someone goes away and makes a dog's breakfast of it, that isn't your problem.

3) Just to show you the other side of the coin: at times when I note an behavior done to me which I deem wrign, I go into a silent treatment mode. Two example follows: a) a guy whom I was quite friendly with...
and what follows: yes, this one sounds like a wolf. And the woman knew it, because "that lady and and I are still friendly and he didn't succeed with her", so all good, right?

The trouble with giving someone the "silent treatment" is that another introvert (like you) may NOT ask what's wrong but simply melt away, leaving the issue unresolved. I've written a lot under Anger Management here about assertiveness, as a reminder to myself but not because I'm much good at it. Anyway, for you the "silent treatment" has worked out well. The other guy in your walking group got the message and you're better off without a hanger-on who's automatically going to make a play for any woman you speak to.

somehow I emit a vibe that turns people off.
I'm obsevant of my own behavior and I really don't mind apologizing for anything that I've done remotely wrong (and I've doen this in the past), but I still don't get why this is happening.


It's happening because it means too much to you. I wonder whether your colleagues apologise to you for every minor transgression? Best not to keep examining your own behaviour for any little thing you might have done wrong, and start considering that other people have their own concerns that have nothing to do with you. An introvert with sound self-esteem will be fine in company as well as alone, but an introvert with a lot of self-doubt will be in trouble pretty much all the time. Know that you always do your best, and let it go.

Now I do have some internal anxiety problem due to my bad professional situation since 2018 and being repeatedly let go from different jobs, all decent. SO it could be that it's affecting my mind, but I receiving distance behavior started way before that.

why is this happening over and over again?


It starts with you, van1van. Have a look at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMTOZNL_Ybk and skip ads.
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#5

Postby van1van » Thu Aug 27, 2020 10:10 pm

Candid wrote:Hello van1van, and welcome to our forum.

You've already had good answers from tokeless and Richard but maybe you'd like a female perspective.

Thank you for your detailed reply - appreciate it! Also, it took me a while to write a reply back.


van1van wrote:I've often had this happening to me, and despite my effort to pinpoint to anything on my part, I'm unable to.


Time to stop trying. We always find what we're looking for, including dismissiveness from others or faults in ourselves. I speak from experience, because I've done both!

I think you're right when you say that I should stop trying but please read the new example regarding my previous manager, which wasn't part of the OP but happened in 2019.

Falling out with your manager is a worry, I realise, but if you continue to work to the best of your ability, things will change back again. Maybe he's distracted by some worry that has nothing to do with you. You need to stand tall, remind yourself constantly that you're doing a good job, and carry on as before.

So I joined in 2019 this job at a tiny startup, and the first two weeks were quite amiable. Then I noticed that from the third week onwards, my manager, whose desk was right beside mine, started to show off a distant behavior - he still replied to my questions, but I felt that something went off. And guess what, five more weeks and I was let go! Honestly speaking, now when I enter a new job, I'm in a fear that people might pick up some vibe off me, and then use it against me to fire me. Trust me - I'm not a slacker by any means and I take my work very seriously: I can't help feeling that that distant behavior had nothing to do with my being let go in these two times. I'd be glad to be wrong, though.



I tried to mentally travel to that evening and analyze if I had done anything wrong that evening...


This is the problem. You need to look at what you're doing right, and for evidence that co-workers approve of you.

The woman in the gym is presumably there to exercise. So are you, aren't you? Do that, accept whatever friendliness is offered, and above all don't over-analyse it. Most women get lots of positive interaction from men and the wiser ones learn quite early to nip any particular interest in the bud. As a female supervisor decades ago said to me, "You can't afford to be nice to them". We may misread things sometimes, but that's much better than what happens if our signals are misinterpreted.

Sorry but I'm not sure how what you wrote here in this paragraph is relevant to my case. To be clear: I was not interested in this girl, but since I caught her staring at me, I said hello to make the situation look normal. And then I noticed the behavioral change on her side. What you wrote corresponds to the other direction: me showing her any form of interest, I wasn't even a bit interested in the woman in her. My point here was about a human interaction, not one that's born from a sexual interest. Speaking about the latter one though: if someone becomes 'wise' and shows explicitly that she's 'nipping in the bud my interest (even though there was possibly none and I was just being nice and human with no intention to get in anyone's pants)', then it'd be the last time ever I'd talk to that woman. However, this topic isn't part of my OP, so I'd not delve into it any further, at least not here.


When it comes to the walking group, I agree with tokeless that "you sound a little intense". I get it because I'm the same. Can't tell you how many times I've stood "isolated from the group", then agonised for ages over the wording of "a thank-you note" that goes unanswered.

May be I should tell you the size of the group. Consider roughly 50 people (not 5) spreading in different part of a street hidden from a big, main avenue. Now I come in, say hello to the organizer, and mind my own business, standing alone from the group. Later I did talk to the organizer but suddenly he was givng brief replies, and eventually didn't respond to my thank you. However, things are better now without further effort.

I know I still have an expectation that if someone wants to get to know me better, they'll let me know unambiguously. It's a matter of introvert/extravert. My extravert husband makes friends wherever he goes, and because he's on the autism spectrum he doesn't notice when someone's trying to get away from him. I on the other hand am alert to every kind of social nuance. We can't help who we are, but we [b]can learn not to take things personally. [/b]

This is super important: I didn't use to pay attention when it began, but it just happened so many times, that I've a fear that one day it'll happen with every person I'm friendly with and they'll start being distant, or I'll lose a job (I did several times and twice it did follow that distant behavior, how can I not relate these observations? But I'll try stop searching, thanks!)



1) it happens much more with women than men (I'm 36, male),


I think I've answered that. Women have to walk a fine line between narcissistically assuming every man we speak to wants to get us into bed and, as it all too often turns out, that we're being too "nice" to a wolf in grandma's clothes. I can assure you it isn't personal when we err on the side of safety.

Doesn't matter if it's personal or not, it hurts being on a receiver side as a man who didn't try to sleep with them in the first place, so the women who ever did, do or will show this inhumanity to me, can expect a lifelong ignorance of their existence until or unless they make the verbal effort to talk to me like I did first (it happened with roughly 40% of the women who started being standoffish, the rest 60% are clearly cut off). But this is off-topic, as the question is more general.

2) in none of the circumstances I didn't find any single example of misbehavior on my part,


Good. Now stop looking! As a very wise older woman once said to me, you just have to know you're doing the right thing, and if someone goes away and makes a dog's breakfast of it, that isn't your problem.

I think she was right - I'll still talk to a psychologist about it. But I know I'm right most of the time, but not all the time.

3) Just to show you the other side of the coin: at times when I note an behavior done to me which I deem wrign, I go into a silent treatment mode. Two example follows: a) a guy whom I was quite friendly with...
and what follows: yes, this one sounds like a wolf. And the woman knew it, because "that lady and and I are still friendly and he didn't succeed with her", so all good, right?

The trouble with giving someone the "silent treatment" is that another introvert (like you) may NOT ask what's wrong but simply melt away, leaving the issue unresolved. I've written a lot under Anger Management here about assertiveness, as a reminder to myself but not because I'm much good at it. Anyway, for you the "silent treatment" has worked out well. The other guy in your walking group got the message and you're better off without a hanger-on who's automatically going to make a play for any woman you speak to.

somehow I emit a vibe that turns people off.
I'm observant of my own behavior and I really don't mind apologizing for anything that I've done remotely wrong (and I've done this in the past), but I still don't get why this is happening.


It's happening because it means too much to you. I wonder whether your colleagues apologise to you for every minor transgression? Best not to keep examining your own behaviour for any little thing you might have done wrong, and start considering that other people have their own concerns that have nothing to do with you. An introvert with sound self-esteem will be fine in company as well as alone, but an introvert with a lot of self-doubt will be in trouble pretty much all the time. Know that you always do your best, and let it go.

Yes you're right : perhaps I'm thinking too much, I should just let it go!

Now I do have some internal anxiety problem due to my bad professional situation since 2018 and being repeatedly let go from different jobs, all decent. SO it could be that it's affecting my mind, but I receiving distance behavior started way before that.

why is this happening over and over again?


It starts with you, van1van.
Will watch it, thanks!
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#6

Postby Candid » Fri Aug 28, 2020 10:52 am

van1van wrote:So I joined in 2019 this job at a tiny startup, and the first two weeks were quite amiable. Then I noticed that from the third week onwards, my manager, whose desk was right beside mine, started to show off a distant behavior - he still replied to my questions, but I felt that something went off.


There's another interpretation of the manager being okay with you for a couple of weeks, then becoming distant—you were asking too many questions, taking too long to settle.

My supervisor once warned me that the new woman I'd be sharing an office with would probably drive me crazy with her questions. I got on with her immediately. She didn't ask the same question twice. She was a brilliant worker, and a lot of us were truly sorry when she found a better gig.

Wanting to know how to do the job properly isn't going to cause trouble. Wanting to get on with someone who's just doing his job is different. Of course you want to get on with people; most of us do. However, after two weeks there's an expectation that a new person will extrapolate from one situation to another and start thinking for himself. If the manager in your case was 'just doing his job', maybe when you still had questions after a month on the job, he figured you lacked confidence and that the questions would never end.

I can't know what happened, I wasn't there, but there's a big difference between professional and personal. Maybe you were as much wanting the manager to like you as you were wanting to do the job properly, or even more so. In that case he would have picked up the vibe and started to think there was something wrong with you. If you care too much about personal rejection, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If your questions were not repetitive and you weren't trying too hard to get on with him, it would be his problem—but you've been 'let go' several times for no apparent (to you) reason, in which case I can see why you need help.

I was not interested in this girl [...] My point here was about a human interaction, not one that's born from a sexual interest.


And my point was that not every world-weary woman can be expected to know the difference.

Later I did talk to the organizer but suddenly he was givng brief replies, and eventually didn't respond to my thank you. However, things are better now without further effort.


Good! You've found your MO. Do you see how this situation is similar to the one cited above? Ask the questions you need to ask, start transferring them to other members of the group (or co-workers), then start backing off. I get the feeling you try too hard to persuade the people in charge to like you. Again, most people prefer to be liked—but not at the price of disappearing up the leader's backside. You sound likeable enough to me, maybe just lacking in the Self-Esteem and Confidence department.

I've a fear that one day it'll happen with every person I'm friendly with and they'll start being distant, or I'll lose a job (I did several times and twice it did follow that distant behavior, how can I not relate these observations? But I'll try stop searching, thanks!)


The breakthrough is realising after a few similar incidents that it isn't about Other People, it's about you. I understand that after what you perceive as several personal rejections you feel a bit frozen and unsure how to proceed, and I'm here to suggest that these people aren't thinking anywhere near as much about you as you are about them. If you start wearing the Misfit Mask and thinking you have to try much harder than anyone else does, you're going to have more and worse problems.

the women who ever did, do or will show this inhumanity to me, can expect a lifelong ignorance of their existence until or unless they make the verbal effort to talk to me like I did first (it happened with roughly 40% of the women who started being standoffish, the rest 60% are clearly cut off). But this is off-topic, as the question is more general.


It is and it isn't. It makes me wonder how you get/got on with your mother. The primal relationship sets us up for every subsequent one, and it's a tough one to shrug off if your infant perception was of mother rejecting you. No infant can stand that and come up smiling, because a rejecting mother threatens your very survival. You have to find a way to get on with her or you're one dead baby, and your wounded response as an adult to a standoffish woman ("I'll show her") looks well-entrenched. Maybe you had to be like that around your mother, first sycophantic and then rejecting.

Just a thought. It both is and isn't about you, and you're probably as much of a puzzle to Other People as they are to you. How would it feel to stop taking things personally and just pursue your own best interests? Let them come to you?
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