Register to reply

My girlfriend, her family, and human dysfunctionality in general

Share this thread:
ee1978
#1
Apr23-11, 08:25 PM
P: 1
I've always had an interest in physical sciences. As my username implies, I have a degree (two, actually) in Electrical Engineering. Several years ago, I browsed some of the threads here, but haven't been back, until encountering PF again today. I've had a girlfriend for the past 18 1/2 months, and we've been having a lot of quarrels lately, so I was using Google to gain some insight into female psychology in particular and human psychology in general. I found this thread today after doing a search on how social skills are valued.

The thread is from 2005, and is about nerdyness and Asperger's Syndrome. I have some of the traits of AS, and some people have told me that I may have a very mild form of AS, so after reading that thread, I realized that I have a lot in common with many of the posters here. I tend to be picky when it comes to socializing, as I only click with a small percentage of the population. From reading that thread, it would seem that a lot of other posters here could say the same thing. I have met her nuclear family and her extended family several times. She has an uncle who has a doctorate in Physics, and I have tended to converse with him during the larger events, such as her sister's wedding last May. A few months ago, my girlfriend told me that her parents don't like me, because I haven't talked with them enough, due to my tendency to find the person with whom I have the most in common during social events. They have formed a very negative opinion of me, having assumed various bad things about me. As a consequence, my girlfriend was told that I'm not welcome at any more family events.

On the other hand, her family seems to love her sister's husband. He doesn't have any education beyond high school (not that this is necessarily horrible, in and of itself, but I'll come back to that later), is fairly social and talkative, and comes off as not very profound. He was working as an airplane mechanic for several years, but quit that job because it was too stressful (he had a back injury in the Navy several years ago), in favor of an easier job at a regional airport that is actually close to my girlfriend's parents' house. That lasted for about two months (during which time he was living in his in-laws' house without his wife being there, something that I find to be quite odd), and for various reasons, he quit that, and is now unemployed, with my girlfriend's sister supporting him (she has a master's degree). Right now, they're all at my girlfriend's parents' house for Easter weekend.

I'm not religious at all, so I don't mind being alone on Easter, but I do mind being excluded from my girlfriend's life when her sister's husband is not. We give each other plenty of space, generally only seeing each other on weekends. It's the principle here that really irks me. The parents love the sister's husband, because he's social, and perhaps because he was a Navy swimmer, and those are things that the dysfunctional human herd worships, even though such things have not given us our dominance of this planet. We all know what has given us this dominance. Yet, apparently, the sister's husband's lack of education, mediocre intelligence, and current deadbeat status are less of a black mark against him than my moderate social skills (which are much better than they used to be) are a black mark against me. The irony is that her nuclear family is anything but dysfunctional: all four of them are well-educated (my girlfriend is an economist, and is nerdy, like I am, but more on that later). But, I think that they are all, in varying degrees, dysfunctional as individuals, in large part due to their bigotry (yes, bigotry, because if prejudice against homosexuals-who cannot help being the way they are-constitutes bigotry, then prejudice against introverts, nerds, AS people, etc. for their neurological dispositions is bigotry too, especially in light of all that we have done for civilization).

My girlfriend feels caught in the middle. On the one hand, she thinks that her parents are being too harsh. On the other hand, she has criticized me because she doesn't think that I put forth enough effort in getting to know her parents. As I said earlier, she is nerdy like I am, but she is also much more social than I am. I suspect this is because her two X chromosomes provide a counteracting influence. I have tried to explain to her my thoughts on this topic. I have told her that social skills are moderately important, and that my notion of social skills entails basic civility and politeness, along with the ability to carry on a conversation with one person, or with a small group, and does not necessarily require simultaneously schmoozing with thirty-seven people with one arm tied behind one's back, like some bartender or politician. I have told her that social skills may have been a necessary yet insufficient condition for the development of civilization, as wolves and other social mammals obviously lack civilization, and that, clearly, the key ingredients to civilization are those that people like us provide.* However, she has continued to criticize me for allegedly not having made enough of an effort to impress her parents.

In light of all of this, I'd like to leave you with a few questions. First, can female nerds ever genuinely understand male nerds, in light of their female nature probably pulling them in the direction opposite to the direction that their nerd nature pulls them? Second, do you agree that humanity suffers from significant dysfunctionality, with its over-valuing of things like social skills and its under-valuing of things like creativity, ingenuity, and intelligence, as salient examples of that dysfunctionality? Third, do you think that the world would be a better place if everyone was like us?

*"If the world was left to you socialites, nothing would get done and we would still be in caves talking to each other."

Temple Grandin
Phys.Org News Partner Science news on Phys.org
Security CTO to detail Android Fake ID flaw at Black Hat
Huge waves measured for first time in Arctic Ocean
Mysterious molecules in space
rootX
#2
Apr23-11, 08:35 PM
rootX's Avatar
P: 1,294
Quote Quote by ee1978 View Post
. I've had a girlfriend for the past 18 1/2 months, and we've been having a lot of quarrels lately, so I was using Google to gain some insight into female psychology in particular and human psychology in general.
I have told her that social skills may have been a necessary yet insufficient condition for the development of civilization, as wolves and other social mammals obviously lack civilization, and that, clearly, the key ingredients to civilization are those that people like us provide.* However, she has continued to criticize me for allegedly not having made enough of an effort to impress her parents.
I suspect this is because her two X chromosomes provide a counteracting influence.
I think your approach here is extremely wrong!

You don't need to have high education to have a smooth relationship however social skills are essential.
lisab
#3
Apr23-11, 09:28 PM
Mentor
lisab's Avatar
P: 2,977
Root is right, social skills are important. I wouldn't discount them as less useful than technical skills. For example, they're clearly important in families, which evolutionarily speaking were pretty damned important.

But I recognize the disconnect you having with your the family, and to a lesser extent your girlfriend. I think it's going to take effort from both sides to find common ground here. IMO, it's wrong for the family to ban you for no reason other than a personality quirk.

Despite their lack of sensitivity, you have to do your part too, to work on this. You're going to have to find tools to deal with them. Perhaps things like talking with them one-on-one in quieter settings, or finding ways to help them (fixing their computers, e.g.).

I'm not an Aspie so I'm not a good source of ideas for you, I'm afraid. But there are many Aspie forums, I'm sure they have ideas and tools for how to deal with NTs. (Btw I'm not diagnosing you as Aspie, nor them as NT.)

Welcome (back) to PF!

ee1978
#4
Apr23-11, 09:54 PM
P: 1
My girlfriend, her family, and human dysfunctionality in general

Quote Quote by rootX View Post
I think your approach here is extremely wrong!

You don't need to have high education to have a smooth relationship however social skills are essential.
Do they deserve as much emphasis as they are receiving?

I think that education is essential, but some of the people who harp on social skills being essential don't seem to give a flying copulation about education being treated as essential. And yes, I'm aware of the saying that two wrongs don't make a right.

Quote Quote by lisab View Post
Root is right, social skills are important. I wouldn't discount them as less useful than technical skills. For example, they're clearly important in families, which evolutionarily speaking were pretty damned important.

But I recognize the disconnect you having with your the family, and to a lesser extent your girlfriend. I think it's going to take effort from both sides to find common ground here. IMO, it's wrong for the family to ban you for no reason other than a personality quirk.

Despite their lack of sensitivity, you have to do your part too, to work on this. You're going to have to find tools to deal with them. Perhaps things like talking with them one-on-one in quieter settings, or finding ways to help them (fixing their computers, e.g.).

I'm not an Aspie so I'm not a good source of ideas for you, I'm afraid. But there are many Aspie forums, I'm sure they have ideas and tools for how to deal with NTs. (Btw I'm not diagnosing you as Aspie, nor them as NT.)

Welcome (back) to PF!
Thanks for the welcome.

I've never been diagnosed with AS. I just have some of the diagnostic traits. I'm not even convinced that AS is a valid concept, a possibility that was raised in the thread that I linked to in the OP. The possibility raised in that thread, that the AS concept may be nothing more than a malicious attempt to demoralize people with certain traits, intrigues me.

Families were, and are, important to wolves, too. I don't envy wolves. My girlfriend has told me that eventually they will cave, if she and I stay together, because if we stay together, we'll have children, and they'll be forced (by their emotions) to set their bigotry against me aside.

What do you think about the three questions at the end of the OP?
lisab
#5
Apr23-11, 10:18 PM
Mentor
lisab's Avatar
P: 2,977
First, can female nerds ever genuinely understand male nerds, in light of their female nature probably pulling them in the direction opposite to the direction that their nerd nature pulls them?
OK let me be clear, we're just talking nerds and not Aspies. Yes, I think female nerds and even non-nerds can understand male nerds. See, I don't see being a nerd and having social skills mutually exclusive.

Second, do you agree that humanity suffers from significant dysfunctionality, with its over-valuing of things like social skills and its under-valuing of things like creativity, ingenuity, and intelligence, as salient examples of that dysfunctionality?
From an evolutionary perspective, no I don't agree. Look at us humans, we're everywhere, the planet is crawling with us...over 6.5 billion of us ! Success as a species...we're doing it right.

Third, do you think that the world would be a better place if everyone was like us?
Interesting question. Wasn't there a Twilight Zone where some guy wished that everyone were like him, and it came true? As I recall it didn't end well for him.

But do really like the idea of everyone being more accepting of science, and despite that Twilight Zone episode I do think we'd be better off if there were more scientists (just not *everyone*).
ee1978
#6
Apr23-11, 10:37 PM
P: 1
Quote Quote by lisab View Post
OK let me be clear, we're just talking nerds and not Aspies. Yes, I think female nerds and even non-nerds can understand male nerds. See, I don't see being a nerd and having social skills mutually exclusive.
The idea was put forth, in that thread, that that which is referred to as "AS" may be synonymous with "nerdy".

From an evolutionary perspective, no I don't agree. Look at us humans, we're everywhere, the planet is crawling with us...over 6.5 billion of us ! Success as a species...we're doing it right.
What is your opinion, from the perspective of where we could be now if we weren't plagued by certain things, as opposed to from a perspective of mere survival?

Carl Sagan speculated on where we'd be if mysticism didn't displace early science in ancient Greece. That's the first example that came to mind.

Interesting question. Wasn't there a Twilight Zone where some guy wished that everyone were like him, and it came true? As I recall it didn't end well for him.

But do really like the idea of everyone being more accepting of science, and despite that Twilight Zone episode I do think we'd be better off if there were more scientists (just not *everyone*).
Fair enough.

I would like to add my thoughts on the importance that even some nerdy people give to social skills. To me, it appears to be giving in to a form of mob rule when people (especially nerdy people) indicate that social skills are important, ipso facto, because that is what society demands. The message seems to be "Do as the majority wants you to do. Conformity is the key.", which conjures up images of lynch mobs and people being burned at the stake. Do you understand why I detest the idea of treating something as great just because the mob demands that I should?

A lot of people who are obsessed with social skills are scum: certain politicians, psychopaths who harangue those with fewer social skills, etc. Why should one want to be associated, even indirectly, with such riff raff? To me, that seems like appeasement: "Be as 'normal' and as social as you can be so that you can fit in with pompous, self-serving liars and mean-spirited jerks."
cristo
#7
Apr24-11, 03:27 AM
Mentor
cristo's Avatar
P: 8,308
If you want an honest opinion, I think you are focussing far too much on education and "degrees" when you are describing these people (for example why does it matter if this other guy left education after high school?). If you do this in real life, you will come off as incredibly pompous, especially if you go around saying things like "[he] comes off as not very profound". You must have been doing this quite a bit to have been banned from her family's social events.

As for the importance of social skills, you need to get over your gripes and start talking to people. Social skills are very important in all walks of life -- even if you plan on staying in the academic world!
Andre
#8
Apr24-11, 03:28 AM
PF Gold
Andre's Avatar
P: 5,458
You bring up interesting points, ee1978, albeit that the multitude of subjects is somewhat confusing. Trying to summarize:

Maybe I am aspie or maybe only a nerd?

Are nerd and aspie equivalent?

Can nerds/aspies of different genders understand each other?

Why is there a prevalence of social skills?

Where would the human society have been, if it wasn't plagued by certain things (maybe things like herd instinct, groupthink, moral panic, decision taking by fear rather than rationality, rivalry etc)

I have some ideas about all of these, but going into detail in any specific would maybe obscure the thread.

As for your interaction with those parents, I know what you are talking about and indeed there is not a lot of choice, try to overcome your feelings and force yourself to do social. I managed to do that and even had a career in a place where social skills were predominant. However, I never felt comfortable.

Anyway I may just be rather introvert, while some aspie-like symptoms I had in my childhood seemed to have vanished.
Lichdar
#9
Apr24-11, 08:39 AM
P: 6
I think you're a lot more focused on what you think is right and wrong than actually resolving the issue to your satisfaction(a harmonious relationship with your SO's others). I'm not disputing your arguments, which are in many cases compelling, but ultimately, social skills are a necessity and being defensive about it won't help.

One could also argue that consuming of meat is both unethical and inefficient and that it can be argued to directly contribute to human starvation - this doesn't change a single damn thing about the fact that people are still going to eat steaks and if you run around complaining about people who do to, you will rapidly become very unpopular.

Remember this in the end:

"The True Gentleman is the man whose conduct proceeds from good will and an acute sense of propriety, and whose self-control is equal to all emergencies; who does not make the poor man conscious of his poverty, the obscure man of his obscurity, or any man of his inferiority or deformity...a man with whom honor is sacred and virtue safe."

You may indeed be better or superior; but it is still crass to call attention to that fact.
ee1978
#10
Apr24-11, 11:20 AM
P: 1
Quote Quote by cristo View Post
If you want an honest opinion, I think you are focussing far too much on education and "degrees" when you are describing these people (for example why does it matter if this other guy left education after high school?). If you do this in real life, you will come off as incredibly pompous, especially if you go around saying things like "[he] comes off as not very profound". You must have been doing this quite a bit to have been banned from her family's social events.
I have only focused on education and degrees because of their regressive attitudes.

As for the importance of social skills, you need to get over your gripes and start talking to people.
I do talk to people when I have a specific, practical goal in mind. In recent years, when I've been single, I would go places and strike up conversations with women, despite me being horrible with such things when I was younger. I have used social skills in job interviews. I have been told that I am quite good at mimicing the herd when I need to be.

Why should I practice mimicry with possible future in-laws?

Social skills are very important in all walks of life -- even if you plan on staying in the academic world!
Are social skills the most important aspect of human civilization? Do social skills trump education? Social skills are treated as if they tower over everything else in importance. If that really is the case, then how are we better off than wolves?
ee1978
#11
Apr24-11, 11:31 AM
P: 1
Quote Quote by Andre View Post
You bring up interesting points, ee1978, albeit that the multitude of subjects is somewhat confusing. Trying to summarize:

Maybe I am aspie or maybe only a nerd?

Are nerd and aspie equivalent?

Can nerds/aspies of different genders understand each other?

Why is there a prevalence of social skills?
That is a reasonably accurate summary. I will add "Is humanity dysfunctional for placing so much emphasis on social skills, to the detriment of other human abilities?"


Where would the human society have been, if it wasn't plagued by certain things (maybe things like herd instinct, groupthink, moral panic, decision taking by fear rather than rationality, rivalry etc)
Exactly. Clearly, humanity's social traits have been a source of much misery. Religion is but one example.

I have some ideas about all of these, but going into detail in any specific would maybe obscure the thread.
I won't mind.

As for your interaction with those parents, I know what you are talking about and indeed there is not a lot of choice, try to overcome your feelings and force yourself to do social. I managed to do that and even had a career in a place where social skills were predominant. However, I never felt comfortable.
It's hard for me to muster the motivation to mimic a "normal" person. It feels like I'm betraying myself when I do it, so there has to be a very good reason for me to do it. My girlfriend's parents are not

1) offering me employment, nor

2) offering sex (I am heterosexual, so that leaves the dad out, and the mom is quite good-looking, but even if she was offering me sex, and I lacked ethics, I still wouldn't do it because I am reasonably sure that it would get back to my girlfriend), nor

3) anything else of value

So why should I do something that I find to be very tiring and humiliating when I don't have a very good reason to do so?

Anyway I may just be rather introvert, while some aspie-like symptoms I had in my childhood seemed to have vanished.
I can say the same.
ee1978
#12
Apr24-11, 11:40 AM
P: 1
Quote Quote by Lichdar View Post
I think you're a lot more focused on what you think is right and wrong than actually resolving the issue to your satisfaction(a harmonious relationship with your SO's others). I'm not disputing your arguments, which are in many cases compelling, but ultimately, social skills are a necessity and being defensive about it won't help.
If the world is less than ideal, it should be changed. Other injustices, such as the treatment of homosexuals, have been at least partly remedied.

One could also argue that consuming of meat is both unethical and inefficient and that it can be argued to directly contribute to human starvation - this doesn't change a single damn thing about the fact that people are still going to eat steaks and if you run around complaining about people who do to, you will rapidly become very unpopular.
Heterosexuals who advocated for homosexuals' rights to be respected and for them to be treated well, were very unpopular a few decades ago.

Remember this in the end:

"The True Gentleman is the man whose conduct proceeds from good will and an acute sense of propriety, and whose self-control is equal to all emergencies; who does not make the poor man conscious of his poverty, the obscure man of his obscurity, or any man of his inferiority or deformity...a man with whom honor is sacred and virtue safe."

You may indeed be better or superior; but it is still crass to call attention to that fact.
I brought my education and intelligence into this because if my moderate social skills are horrible, then, to any sane people, the sister's husband's current deadbeat status should be ultra-horrible.

Is that clear enough?
Mentallic
#13
Apr24-11, 12:11 PM
HW Helper
P: 3,515
Quote Quote by ee1978 View Post
Are social skills the most important aspect of human civilization? Do social skills trump education? Social skills are treated as if they tower over everything else in importance. If that really is the case, then how are we better off than wolves?
No, but it helps to build a bridge between you and her family. You need a connection in some way, and since that connection isn't going to be through academics, there is only but one other way.
Would you enjoy it if an athlete only ever spoke about sports to you, and belittled you at every turn because you weren't as good as him? In his world, sporting would be the most important trait, and for good reason too in its own right - cavemen needed to be fit and strong to hunt efficiently.

Anyway, you're not taking the right approach here. Good social skills are necessary to be popular amongst the group, but some social skills will get you by (and by this I mean the ability to act appropriately in each setting, which you've failed to do with her family). Don't frown upon it, just accept it.

Quote Quote by ee1978 View Post
2) offering sex (I am heterosexual, so that leaves the dad out, and the mom is quite good-looking, but even if she was offering me sex, and I lacked ethics, I still wouldn't do it because I am reasonably sure that it would get back to my girlfriend),
...
So why should I do something that I find to be very tiring and humiliating when I don't have a very good reason to do so?
lol a very unappealing attitude right there.
So being on your girlfriend's family's good side isn't a good enough reason to not act like a snob around them? Are you here to get advice or just to complain about them?
cobalt124
#14
Apr24-11, 01:44 PM
PF Gold
cobalt124's Avatar
P: 147
Welcome to PF. You have come to a good place for advice, but you are showing signs of not wanting to listen to it. So my first piece of advice is to take heed of what has been posted here so far. It is sound advice. My advice you can take or leave. From my own personal experience, you approach will not work. You will not be able to intellectualise your way through this, its relationships, its different. Like it or not, we need social skills to get on with people, talking is the thing we all have in common. The advice given in this thread previously is good advice.

Quote Quote by ee1978 View Post
So why should I do something that I find to be very tiring and humiliating when I don't have a very good reason to do so?
Why humiliating? And would not a very good reason to do so be for your girlfriends sake?
Antiphon
#15
Apr24-11, 01:53 PM
P: 1,781
You left out The really important information to the issue.

1). How much money do you make? ( don't give a number, but is it more than $70k which would fit your two degrees, or is it less than $40 k which would make it hard for you to give her a future?)

2) how old are you and how old is she?

3) When do you plan to propose? It's been 18 months and her parents may think you can't commit.

4) Sometimes a jovial mechanic who makes his family happy is a better mate than a brainy engineer who stresses his family out. Which are you and which is he? (by your family I mean your girlfriend, their daughter.)
Lichdar
#16
Apr24-11, 03:14 PM
P: 6
They are potentially offering respect, which evidently you seek as part of your logical belief toward "fairness" in how much they value your sister-in-law's ex versus you and your respective values to society. If you didn't then you shouldn't even care - assuming that could not fit into the company of apes because you did not exhibit proper behavior, you most likely would not care. Since you do care and you have extended this analogy to the entire human race, then it may be helpful for you to understand from their perspective.

In marketing, they always teach you to consider the product that you are selling from your customer's perspective. In this case, you are selling 'yourself', your personality and attitude; what is the compelling benefit that they would gain from 'spending time' with you? It is a simple question of time expenditure versus reward here.

Maybe someone who makes them happy and laugh would be of much higher value than someone who condemns them for their values and makes them uncomfortable?
ee1978
#17
Apr24-11, 03:22 PM
P: 1
Quote Quote by Mentallic View Post
No, but it helps to build a bridge between you and her family. You need a connection in some way, and since that connection isn't going to be through academics, there is only but one other way.
Eventually, if she and I stay together, they will be forced, by their own emotional need to see their grandchildren, to overcome their bigotry against me.

The oppressive, backward, dysfunctional majority has had their way for long enough. I refuse to play their game unless their is a damned good reason (sex with someone new when I'm single, employment when I graduated from college, etc.).

Read what you and others are telling me to do! It's like telling a homosexual to eschew his lisp, dress like "normal" people, stop having sex with other men and only have sex with people of the opposite gender from now on, etc. If society has progressed to the point where it no longer expects them to conform, why does it still expect us to conform?

Would you enjoy it if an athlete only ever spoke about sports to you, and belittled you at every turn because you weren't as good as him? In his world, sporting would be the most important trait, and for good reason too in its own right -
I wouldn't care, because in principle, I could be a better athlete than him with sufficiently advanced technology, something that we have given the world.

cavemen needed to be fit and strong to hunt efficiently.
What relevance does that have to today?

Anyway, you're not taking the right approach here. Good social skills are necessary to be popular amongst the group, but some social skills will get you by (and by this I mean the ability to act appropriately in each setting, which you've failed to do with her family). Don't frown upon it, just accept it.
If you read the entire OP, then you saw where I stated that I do think that social skills have their place, and that my notion of good social skills entails politeness and civility, but not necessarily acting like a politician.

lol a very unappealing attitude right there.
So being on your girlfriend's family's good side isn't a good enough reason to not act like a snob around them?
They're the ones who have chosen to not be on my good side by not accepting me. I'm not demanding that they become like me, but they're doing just that with me, so how can I be deemed to be in the wrong, by any stretch of the imagination?

I have conversed with my girlfriend's uncle, the physicist, because I naturally gravitate towards people with whom I have the most in common, during social events. It is not my natural inclination to pretend to be something that I'm not, unless, as I said, their is a damned good reason for me to do so.

Are you here to get advice or just to complain about them?
I am here to discuss this particular situation and how it pertains to humanity in general.
ee1978
#18
Apr24-11, 03:28 PM
P: 1
Quote Quote by cobalt124 View Post
Welcome to PF.
Thanks.

You have come to a good place for advice, but you are showing signs of not wanting to listen to it.
Just as a homosexual with self-respect would not dream of acting heterosexual just to make troglodyte bigots happy, unless he had a damned good reason, such as his immediate physical safety.

So my first piece of advice is to take heed of what has been posted here so far. It is sound advice. My advice you can take or leave. From my own personal experience, you approach will not work. You will not be able to intellectualise your way through this, its relationships, its different. Like it or not, we need social skills to get on with people, talking is the thing we all have in common. The advice given in this thread previously is good advice.
She promised me that her parents' opinions will not influence her decision to stay with me and eventually marry, if that's what we both want. Therefore, they are going to have to give up their bigotry if she and I marry (or else forget about interacting with the grandchildren, which, of course, they won't do).

Why humiliating?
It's humiliating to conform to the ways of people who passionately hate you. That should not require further explanation.

And would not a very good reason to do so be for your girlfriends sake?
See above. She already accepts me and will not let their opinions interfere with our relationship.


Register to reply

Related Discussions
General Relativity and the Human Body Special & General Relativity 5
Canine family tree reflects human hand Biology 1
Chimps Belong on Human Branch of Family Tree, Study Says Biology 12