by isaac black

I had lunch with a friend the other day, like a real grownup. (Bonus detail: I’m getting coffee with another, grownup friend tomorrow). We talked a little bit about relationships, which came out of a conversation about autism. She said she gets a lot of satisfaction out of relationships, almost to the point where she wished she could de-prioritize them in order to do other things. I am the opposite. I have been trying to train myself to get satisfaction out of maintaining relationships, rather than seeing time spent socially as wasted. I feel most productive working on something in my room by myself.

I still get anxious sometimes, even with all my free time, about not being productive enough. I think part of it stems from my taking on very longterm projects, like learning to code and learning Spanish, projects with no real endpoint. But these are similar to keeping up relationships–you put time and effort into other people’s feelings; what’s the end result? I know this makes me sound like a robot, but I think it comes from this impulse in me to finish things, to wrap up loose ends. It’s a trait I inherited from my father.

Earlier this week I felt a craving for human interaction. I live with roommates, so I see people and have casual interactions regularly. But, for the first time I can remember, I wanted to socialize with people on a friendly level. Historically, romantic and/or physical relationships have been how I have felt validated, so I can remember feeling romantically lonely as far back as fourth grade, but it’s more rare that I want to engage in small talk or catch up with a friend. I choose to see it as a positive development, that I’m learning how to recognize an impulse in myself to feel human warmth from other people. Yes, I’m a robot learning how to love.

I don’t know how much stock I put in Myers-Briggs tests, but I’m an INTJ. The profile does seem to fit me. My ex girlfriend was also INTJ, which is especially rare for women. Apparently the romantic profiles for INTJ’s–cerebral, cold, abstract thinkers–are not very encouraging. But I related to her better than anyone I’ve dated previously. The way she approached the relationship was how someone might approach a business partnership. It didn’t kill the passion, though. In fact, it drew me out. Being so verbal about our feelings made me feel more effusive. I wrote her a couple dozen poems, something I’m not in the habit of doing. Granted, I tend to be more improvisational in relationships but that may be owing to my failure to recognize and communicate my own boundaries. So, yes, I’m a robot, but when we were two robots figuring things out I was the romantic one. I miss feeling that way.

That’s all there is to say about that.